The Best Pregnancy-Safe Makeup Products to Try
Best Pregnancy Safe Makeup Products to Stock Up On
Now that you’re pregnant, you’ve changed up your diet, ditched the rosé and bought a few maternity bras—but you’re not done yet. Turns out, some of your favorite makeup might not be safe for you and baby.
“There’s actually a pretty long list of products to avoid during pregnancy,” says Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City and mom of two. Some beauty products may simply irritate your newly sensitive skin, but others can be outright harmful to a developing baby.
The good news? Your pregnancy-safe makeup trade-in may call for a spree at your favorite beauty retailer (it’s doctor’s orders, after all). Ready to get the lowdown on what’s safe and what’s not? Read on for the full beauty 411, then browse the best pregnancy-safe foundation, mascara, concealer and more.
Once your pregnancy is confirmed and you start making your way through the first trimester, your ob-gyn or midwife is likely to provide you with an overwhelming number of handouts, one-sheets and brochures that review everything you should (and shouldn’t do) from now through delivery. If self-care is high up on your priority list, and you have a robust beauty routine, you’ll want to cross-reference your skincare and makeup arsenal with that pile of paperwork to determine what items may be off limits for a while.
There will always be question marks about the effects certain beauty products can have on a pregnant body and developing fetus, but here are some quick and easy tips to follow when you’re refreshing your vanity for pregnancy.
- Avoid dangerous ingredients. “I recommend looking for fragrance-, BPA-, paraben- and phthalate-free cosmetics,” says Engelman. “And definitely formaldehyde-free. Surprisingly, some nail polishes and mascaras still contain formaldehyde, which has been linked to cancer as well as other nervous system issues.” Rebecca Green, beauty concierge and founder of Bloom & Glow, echoes this warning: “Among the ingredients that can pose birth defects, cancer, hormone disruption and irritation threats are retinoids, chemical sunscreens, hydroquinone, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde and formaldehyde donors, and high doses of salicylic acid (above 2 percent).” So, for starters, you’ll probably want to strike any products with these ingredients from your routine.
- Be aware of hidden dangers. Ideally, you want to find color cosmetics without heavy metals. This can be tricky though; heavy metals, like lead, cadmium and mercury, are never purposefully added to beauty products. You actually won’t even find them listed as ingredients. Green explains that “due to the way natural pigments are mined and processed, they can be contaminated with trace amounts of lead and other heavy metals.” This is why you’ll really want to learn about the brands you’re using while pregnant. “Certain brands take extra care in examining and monitoring their ingredient sourcing and manufacturing processes to reduce heavy metal exposure,” she says. Those are the ones you’ll want on your radar.
- Opt for hypoallergenic options. You may have never worried about purchasing a hypoallergenic beauty product in your pre-pregnancy days, but now that hormones are running rampant through your body, your skin might start spiraling. That’s why you’ll want to have some extra-sensitive, noncomedogenic makeup in your kit. To that end, while they’re generally considered safe, essential oils can also be triggering to individuals with specific skin sensitivities. “You might also want to look for makeup and skincare that’s completely devoid of fragrance, both synthetic and natural,” reiterates Green.
- Be mindful with your makeup selections. As you’re curating this new pregnancy-safe makeup regimen, you’re going to want to think about the products you use most often and the ones that cover the greatest surface areas on your face. Green tells us to “focus on your eyes and mouth, and prioritize safer makeup options for those. In particular, I’d recommend replacing all of your lip products with safer ones, because we literally ingest them.”
Thankfully, if you’re beginning your pregnancy-safe makeup search, you don’t have to look too far. It’s an expanding market, and there’s a plethora of great brands and a growing number of clean beauty marketplaces you can shop from. Of course, even with the most stringent standards in place, you’ll still want to do your due diligence. Research individual products and peruse their respective ingredient lists; even the so-called cleanest of brands will occasionally use an ingredient that’s not recommended during pregnancy. That said, these brands and beauty shopping sites have impeccable ingredient standards and unrelenting vetting processes, making their goodies worthy of your time and money:
For the largest and most diverse assortment of beauty products, Credo takes the cake. The retailer stocks over 130+ brands and 2000+ products, all of which measure up to the Credo Clean Standard. And that’s a ridiculously high bar to meet. Everything you’ll find, from primers and eye palettes to bronzers and brow gels, have zero ingredients on Credo’s “Dirty List;” what’s more, they’re ethically sourced and sustainably packaged. If you need some inspiration to get your glow on in pregnancy, check out the brand’s Clean Scene blog. Get-the-look guides, trendy product spotlights and tutorials by some of Credo’s brand founders and clean beauty makeup artists make this resource a pregnancy gold mine.
If being pregnant has completely re-routed your personal care journey, you’re bound to fall in love with The Detox Market. The clean beauty marketplace features tons of green-minded brands and high-performing products formulated with nothing that appears on their banned ingredients list. And they also have a really cool monthly Detox Box subscription that comes with a sampling of one or more of their iconic brands and $90+ worth of products to try.
This brand’s whole ethos speaks to us; it’s about finding products that aren’t just safe and healthy, but also efficacious and top-performing. “I love that their teams are out there doing the hard work; I can browse with ease and confidence, knowing that their selections check off all of my boxes,” says Green. Keeping your body and baby safe doesn’t have to come at the price of sacrificing any of your beauty ambitions.
This Best of Pregnancy award-winning brand puts safety at the forefront. Every product is put through a meticulous screening and assessment process to evaluate potential dangers, including reproductive toxicity. What’s more, the brand is committed to transparency and shares a list of 1,800 questionable ingredients never used in their products or ingredients. Even their ingredient partners must follow a list of preset safety standards to ensure quality and safety. Nevertheless, you’ll want to evaluate each Beautycounter ingredient independently. While many options are safe and effective, some of their skincare and makeup products may contain talc and other ingredients you might prefer to avoid during pregnancy and beyond.
This clean beauty brand takes a less-is-more approach to their formulations with over 35 EWG-verified skincare and makeup products that are guaranteed to be clean. Using ethically sourced and renewable botanicals, such as green tea, turmeric, pomegranate, rosehip oil and broccoli seed oil, Well People’s cosmetics offer healthier ingredients that don’t skimp on coverage, color and effectiveness.
Of course, beyond these pregnancy-safe makeup brands and marketplaces, you can also shop for pregnancy-safe makeup at Sephora, Ulta, Nordstrom and other big-box retailers, if those are your usual beauty spots; just remember that their curated edits are a lot smaller than the diverse collections you’ll find at retailers with clean-mindedness woven into their mission-critical DNA.
So now that we’ve come clean about what to look for in pregnancy-safe makeup (and where you can find it), it’s time to talk about products. From vitamin-rich tinted moisturizers and lash-lifting mascaras to hydrating lip oils and long-wearing lipsticks, these are the items you’ll want to stash in your makeup bags for the next few months.
Some days your body and face feels and looks exhausted and depleted—and you just need a foundation fix. We love ILIA’s True Skin Serum Foundation, because it’s a virtually weightless option that provides a gorgeous natural, skin-like finish. Pregnancy-safe, active levels of niacinamide and allantoin work to smooth and soothe your bare skin to give you the ultimate pregnancy glow. It’s available in 30 stunning shades, so finding your match won’t take much effort.
Saie’s Hydrabeam Brightening Concealer uses tomato extract to brighten the skin (how deliciously cool is that?). Other mild yet highly effective naturals, including olive-derived squalane, plant-derived glycerin and cucumber extract, work to lock in moisture and smooth the skin, all while turning up the radiance factor. And when you’re extra tired during the first trimester (and let’s be honest, all the rest of the trimesters too!), this light-coverage concealer can “brighten your dark, dry or tired under eyes, and it’ll blend in like a dream,” says Green. In other words, it won’t settle into creases!
When you’re pregnant in the summer, a breezy maternity dress and refreshing mocktails aren’t the only things that’ll keep you happy. A great tinted moisturizer is the best kind of clean beauty product for mamas to be, and Tower28’s sunscreen-enhanced formula—available in 14 buildable shades—gives us all the sunny vibes. With the active ingredient of non-nano zinc oxide, the 100 percent mineral sunscreen protects your precious skin from UVA and UVB damage. Designed for sensitive skin, the tinted moisturizer is dermatologist-tested, non-comedogenic (which is important in the warmer months, when pregnancy sweating is next-level), alcohol-free, fragrance-free, gluten-free, vegan and cruelty-free.
Mascara can be magical, especially on rushed days when you just need to quickly elevate your look. Enter: Well People’s Expressionist Pro Mascara. This plant-based lengthening mascara defines your lashes with ingredients like castor seed oil, sunflower seed oil and cellulose plant fiber. It glides on (and stays on) like a dream, leaving you with light, feathery lashes that aren’t clumpy or spidery. It’s free of harsh dyes (only pure mineral pigments here), and there’s no petrolatum, parabens or other chemicals unsafe for moms-to-be.
Green says she loves “a one-and-done eyeshadow look.” (Who doesn’t?) And RMS Beauty’s Eyelights Cream Eyeshadow gets the job done. “They’re the easiest cream shadows to blend, with the most gorgeous finish,” says Green. This is all thanks to organic green tea and peptide quinoa extracts that nourish, smooth and depuff the eyelids. We’re obsessed with the dynamic, mixable shades, and how about this bonus: Every cream shadow comes with a reusable key that you can attach to the end of the tube to roll up to push out every last drop.
Jet-black eyeliner is always a makeup-bag must-have. But when you’re pregnant, switching things up and smudging some color on that lash line—well, it can be a stroke of genius. You can do just that with the Ere Perez Eye Pencil; it’s available in 10 standout crystal-inspired colorways. Green gives it her stamp of approval, sharing that “it comes in an array of gorgeous shades, blends like a dream and also lasts all day.” The powerhouse botanicals at play are antioxidant-rich jojoba and coconut oils that nourish skin and rejuvenate your look with essential vitamins and minerals.
Brows can make or break your look. But when you’re pregnant, it can be especially tricky to navigate the maintenance of those two sometimes unruly face framers. Microblading and tinting are most likely not advisable at this time. In the meantime, you can try this game-changing product from Kosas. The dual-action micro triangle-tip pencil is alcohol-free, fragrance-free, silicone-free, mineral-free and devoid of any synthetic waxes and/or microplastics. The clean, vegan formula uses castor oil to nourish and protect your brows while adding natural-looking volume and definition. And once you’ve used the pencil, you can finesse, shape and sculpt with the built-in spoolie. The blending is unmatched.
First and foremost, you’ll see that this item is talc-free (not always the case for powdered products). But continue to look at the ingredients list, and it only gets better. The all-natural pressed blush is formulated with soothing and oil-absorbing rice powder, and then rounded out with antioxidants and plant and vegetable pigments (read: heavy metals aren’t an issue). Infused argan oil and shea butter also hydrate and condition your cheeks, so your natural pregnancy glow shines through. And in shades like appealing pink shades, you can swipe some on and feel totally on-brand for your baby shower.
Pregnancy in the winter months can be fun, if you’re snuggled up under a blanket, binging shows and sipping fancy hot cocoa. Otherwise, it can be pretty dull. Your skin, on the other hand, doesn’t have to be. With PYT Beauty’s Faux Sun Bronzer, you can give your skin that sought-after sunkissed look with just a few swirls and swipes. This everyday bronzing duo is hypoallergenic, vegan and formulated without all the bad stuff—no talc, silicones, parabens, phthalates and other harsh chemicals. Jojoba seed oil, sunflower seed oil and Vitamin E team up to nourish and keep your skin looking fresh and fab, so you’ll be transported to the sun-streaming tropics in no time—if only in your daydreams.
Finding a pregnancy-safe lipstick is tough stuff. Most options contain waxes that aren’t recommended for use in pregnancy, along with other preservatives like benzyl benzoate (which can contribute to neurotoxicity). That’s why we like the ILIA Multi-Stick. The hydrating stick gives you that perfect flush of color (so many pretty hues!) when you want to up your regular, everyday look. And with vitamin E and shea butter in the mix, you can be sure your lips (and cheeks and eyes!) feel well indulged. Plus, with a babe on the way, what better time than the present to start getting used to multitasking products!
When you’re pregnant, your lips should get all the care they need (they can be extra dry, they can be cracked, they can be dull or lackluster!). An alternative to a traditional lip gloss, Saint Jane Beauty’s Luxury Lip Oil is a silky, vitamin C-packed and exceptionally clean lip option that not only quenches your moisture-depleted pout, but also plumps up your lips. It glides on effortlessly and brings a wash of stunning color, while sunflower seed oil, chamomile and aloe nourish and heal. Bring the tube to the hospital when you deliver—the color payoff will shine in those first few family pics.
Have you thought about nixing your manis for the next few months? Engelman says that’s totally unnecessary. Of course, you may want to avoid the nail salon because the fumes are intense, but you can still DIY your digits at home. “Simply look for nail polishes labeled 3-Free or 5-Free, which don’t use formaldehyde and other harmful chemicals,” she says. Zoya nail polish goes above and beyond with a 10-free formula that doesn’t include formaldehyde, formaldehyde resin, dibutyl phthalate, parabens, toluene, camphor, lead and more. (That’s why you often find Zoya in nontoxic nail salons.) There are literally hundreds of colors to choose from; each glides on silky smooth, and they’re one of the longest lasting natural polishes in the pregnancy-safe makeup game.
About our experts:
Dendy Engelman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Medical Dermatology & Cosmetic Surgery in New York City. She earned her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina.
Rebecca Green, is a beauty consultant and the founder of Bloom & Glow. A mom of three, former personal stylist and clean beauty junkie, she has made it her mission to help busy moms build and master their dream beauty regimen.
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