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15 Best Tested and Reviewed Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

Treat yourself to cleaner, pregnancy-safe skin care products for that mom-to-be glow.
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pregnant woman putting lotion on face
Image: Parilov | Shutterstock
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In a nutshell:
Based on feedback from dermatologists, a survey of over 300 women in The Bump community and our team of independent product testers, we chose The Honest Company as the overall pregnancy-safe skin care brand, due to the ingredient lists, quality, effectiveness and value of their products.

At around week 6 of both of my pregnancies, the exact same thing happened: I got pretty bad morning sickness (let’s rephrase, all-day sickness). One of the leading offenders was the smell of chemicals, including those found in my beauty products. I had to switch out many of my old favorites for gentle, scent-free options, while also adapting to my changing skin.

Whatever you’re experiencing during your pregnancy, be it a sensitive nose, a skin issue like acne, dryness or other unexplainable symptoms (hello, hormones!), it’s a good idea to make some skin care swaps, both for your own comfort and to avoid ingredients that aren’t safe for pregnancy. “If you’re trying to get pregnant, I suggest clearing up your skincare regimen at least six months before attempting to conceive,” recommends Dendy Engelman, MD, a board-certified dermatologic surgeon at Shafer Clinic Fifth Avenue in New York City.

So what can and can’t you use as an expectant parent? Read on for expert advice on how to select pregnancy-safe products, as well as our picks for the best pregnancy-safe skin care products on the market today, including this year’s Best of The Bump winner.

How to Pick Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

The best pregnancy-safe skin care products are gentle and nourishing, while still being effective. As you change up your go-to routine, Engelman recommends looking for the following:

  • Gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers. These “offer a safe option as they exclude harmful chemicals,” she says.
  • Glycolic acid. As per Engelman, this ingredient “effectively tackles acne, hyperpigmentation, and melasma while revitalizing dull skin.”
  • Vitamin C. Want to brighten up your regimen? Vitamin C is “a safe and effective antioxidant that works to brighten dull skin while adding an extra layer of protection from environmental damage,” states Engelman.
  • Alpha arbutin. “Derived from plants, this ingredient effectively targets hyperpigmentation,” explains Engelman. She continues, it “serves as a pregnancy-friendly method to brighten the skin and reduce hyperpigmentation/melasma without the potential side effects of hydroquinone.”
  • Shea butter. This rich moisturizer “works to alleviate dry skin, which is common during pregnancy due to hormonal changes. It can also possibly reduce the severity of stretch marks when applied regularly,” Engelman comments.
  • Mineral sunscreen. “Switching from chemical to mineral sunscreens mitigates the risk of harsh chemicals entering your bloodstream,” says Engelman. “Mineral sunscreens, featuring zinc oxide and titanium dioxide as active ingredients, don’t absorb into the skin like chemical sunscreens do.”

Another great way to identify safe products is to know what ingredients to steer clear of. “It’s very important to avoid products deemed unsafe during pregnancy,” says Engelman. “My patients usually know that they need to stop retinoids as soon as they get the positive pregnancy test, but we forget about some other toxic ingredients found in everyday beauty products.”

Some topical skin care products—such as chemical sunscreens—can be absorbed into the bloodstream, explains Julie Russak, MD, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City. If they contain ingredients that are not deemed safe for pregnancy, they can potentially impact baby’s development, especially if used in high concentration—so you’ll want to do your research and check in with your doctor before using them.

Fragrance can also be an issue—not just because it’s a morning sickness trigger, but also when it comes to baby’s safety. Engelman says to use caution when choosing fragranced products, which can potentially contain harmful chemicals, such as parabens, benzene derivatives and aldehydes. “It’s best to avoid these as a safety precaution,” she says, as they might be “linked to possible skin irritation and hormonal imbalance.” Plus, your skin may be extra sensitive during pregnancy, and fragrances can aggravate this.

Skin Care Ingredients To Avoid While Pregnant

Feeling overwhelmed already? To make it easier, we compiled a list of the main ingredients to avoid while pregnant or breastfeeding:

  • Retinoids. It’s recommended that products such as Avage, Differin, Renova, Retin-A, retinols, retinyl palmitate and Tazorac be completely avoided. While very little of the ingredient gets absorbed into your skin, studies have suggested a possible link to birth defects when it’s used in heavy doses, so it’s best to err on the side of caution. “Evidence has linked retinoids to miscarriages, premature births and birth defects, making it crucial to steer clear of this ingredient in any form during pregnancy,” states Engelman.
  • Tetracycline. Studies show that this antibiotic acne treatment has the potential to negatively affect the development of baby’s skeletal development.
  • Hydroquinone. Between 34 to 45 percent of hydroquinone—a skin-whitening agent—is systemically absorbed into your body when applied topically. While current studies don’t show a distinct link between hydroquinone during pregnancy and an increased risk of adverse effects, it’s best to steer clear of it. “Uncertainties exist regarding the complications associated with hydroquinone in pregnant individuals and newborns. Due to its high absorption rate, I recommend avoiding it during pregnancy,” agrees Engelman.
  • Salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. “Both salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide can be found in many acne treatments, but they encompass acids that can pose risks to an unborn baby,” states Engelman. While local and limited use of topical acne-fighting products that contain up to 2 percent of salicylic acid are low-risk for baby, dermatologists still suggest avoiding it. On the other hand, the safety of using benzoyl peroxide to treat acne during pregnancy has yet to be established. Consult your physician before using products that contain it.
  • Oxybenzone and octinoxate. “Oxybenzone, octinoxate and other sunscreen chemicals can be potentially harmful to the development of a baby’s nervous system,” says Engelman. “Swapping out chemical sunscreens for a mineral one helps avoid exposure to carcinogens during pregnancy.”
  • Essential oils. Engelman advises pregnant people to avoid products containing essential oils, as some have the potential to induce uterine contractions. “However,” she adds, “there are a few that can be used, such as lavender and chamomile, which both promote relaxation.”
  • Parabens, benzene derivatives and aldehydes. Often found in fragranced products, these ingredients are linked to skin irritation and hormonal imbalances. As a result, Engelman advises avoiding them during pregnancy.

How We Chose and Tested the Best Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

For more than 10 years, The Bump has been recognizing the absolute best baby and pregnancy products on the market through our awards series. To help you find the best pregnancy-safe skin care products on the market today, The Bump editors did extensive research to identify the best-selling, highest rated and all-around top-notch products out there—and then we put those products to the test. Here’s how we did it:

  • We browsed dozens of skin care options from trusted pregnancy brands and leading online retailers.
  • When sourcing products, we considered an array of factors, including ingredient lists, active ingredients, product size and cost, to name a few.
  • We read user reviews to understand how these products worked for real moms-to-be and didn’t consider anything with less than an average four-star rating.
  • We then enlisted the help of product testers (including me!) to review each option. These pregnant women in their second and third trimesters tried the products on their own skin, and rated each based on effectiveness, ease of use, style and design, fragrance and value for money.
  • We reached out to The Bump Community and surveyed over 300 new and expectant parents about their experience with and recommendations for pregnancy-safe skin care.
  • We consulted with several dermatologists to get the lowdown on what to look for in skin care products to use throughout pregnancy. Following their advice, we avoided any products that contained ingredients they advised expectant mothers not to use. This list included retinoids, tetracycline, hydroquinone, salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, oxybenzone, octinoxate, essential oils, parabens, benzene derivatives and aldehydes.
  • We read research papers from medical publications and leading experts on the topic to better understand the ins and outs of specific ingredients.

Editorial integrity is at the heart of everything we publish. Read about how The Bump develops and reviews all articles, including product reviews.

Image: Michellee, Caitlin, Emily

Best Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Products

Overall best pregnancy-safe skin care brand

What We Love
  • No animal testing on any products, either in-house or via third-party
  • Most products are EWG-verified
  • Sustainable packaging
  • Custom subscription bundle options
Things To Consider
  • Some products aren’t great for scent-sensitive pregnancies, according to survey respondents

Not only does this company have that California-cool aesthetic associated with its Hollywood A-list founder, Jessica Alba, but it walks the walk as a brand by moms, for moms (and babies to boot). Honest has a pregnancy-specific section on its website where you can shop knowing everything is deemed safe for expectant parents. It offers a robust range of body care products, from bath salts to body creams and face washes, which you can rely on for all nine+ months.

Earlier this year we reached out to The Bump readership and asked for your favorite pregnancy-friendly skin care brands. Jessie, who is currently pregnant and self-reported that she has combination skin, used "the whole Honest skin care line" and gave it a 5 out of 5 across the board when evaluating product feel on her skin, quality, effectiveness and value. Shelley (note: name has been changed), who is also pregnant and has oily skin, tested a range of Honest products, including the body lotion, face and body wash, body oil, bump butter and face wash, and spoke equally highly about the brand’s quality and effectiveness. "I've been really pleased with the Honest Company's products!” she says. “Mama's Gotta Glow body + face wash, which is designed for acne-prone skin, works like a charm at keeping my breakouts at bay."

Our product testers and survey respondents loved Honest products for being effective while offering a clean, gentle ingredient list at a reasonable price compared to other pregnancy-specific brands. So it’s no surprise that The Honest Company would be our overall Best of The Bump winner for pregnancy-safe skin care brand. (Head here to see all of this year’s Best of The Bump winners.)

Our community says:

"I switched from Peter Thomas Roth to the Honest brand skin care when we found out I’m pregnant. I don’t intend to switch back." – Jessie, expectant mom and The Bump survey respondent

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe moisturizer

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Gel Cream for Extra Dry Skin
Image: Ulta
What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Made with hyaluronic acid
  • Vegan
Things To Consider
  • High price point for a drugstore brand

This water-based gel cream glides onto the skin and sinks in, filling your cells with hydration thanks to hyaluronic acid, a water-loving molecule naturally found in the body and known to be one of the most hydrating ingredients on the market. Hyaluronic acid creates a barrier, allowing the skin to hold in moisture, and our eczema-prone product tester saw the results, giving Hydro Boost Gel Cream 5 out of 5 for effectiveness. “My skin has been super dry with the weather constantly going from hot to cold, and this has been the only thing I’ve tried that prevented my skin from getting really dry throughout the day,” she told us. “I love this and will for sure continue to use it on a daily basis.”

The consistency is light enough for daytime use (yes, it can be worn under makeup), yet dewy enough to work overnight as well. If you’re finally taking that babymoon, this is the only face cream you need to pack. “It’s super easy to use, has stress-free packaging and you don’t need to follow any instructions on how to apply it,” said our tester.

It’s also cleaner than the typical drugstore brand pick because it’s oil-free, dye-free, fragrance-free and even vegan. “I only buy products that are fragrance-free, so I was really happy to see that Neutrogena has a fragrance-free product!” our tester said. “I was a bit nervous about this being a Neutrogena product since that’s not a brand that I normally gravitate towards, and I was so pleasantly surprised to see how clean the ingredients are. There’s a minimal list of ingredients and I love that there’s no added fragrance.”

Quantity: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid

“I would for sure recommend this product! I can’t believe how much I love it. It’s something I’d recommend to anyone with dry skin!”

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe toner

Dickinson Original Witch Hazel Pore Perfecting Toner
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Great for oily skin
  • Affordable price point
Things To Consider
  • May not suit sensitive skin
  • Contains natural fragrance

If you’re looking for a tried-and-tested toner, this one has been around for some time, and there’s a reason people keep coming back to it. Its hero ingredient, witch hazel, is one of the most effective ways to keep pores clear and unclogged. The organic, New England-harvested witch hazel in this product is truly a go-to for controlling shine and eliminating oil on the skin without drying it out.

This product is best for oily, acne-prone and combination skin, making it an excellent choice for anyone experiencing pregnancy acne. “It has helped me with my skin a bit,” our product tester said, “and I’m sure it can help others with theirs.”

“There’s no scent from the product, which I love,” she added, giving the toner 5 out of 5 for fragrance. “It makes it easy to apply without having a crazy smell lingering on your skin.” She also noted that the recently updated bottle is well-designed. “It’s a good size and easy to carry around if you were to travel with it,” she added. And when it comes to value, this toner is very competitive. “It’s a good price…it does the job for anyone not looking to spend so much on a skin care product.”

Quantity: 16 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Witch hazel

“It gave my skin a sense of cleanliness and smoothness.”

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Best pregnancy-safe day serum

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5
Image: Sephora
What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Ultra-hydrating
  • Compatible with most skin types
  • Affordable price point
  • Vegan
Things To Consider
  • Helps with hydration but not much else
  • Feels sticky while drying, according to some reviewers

At the risk of gushing, hyaluronic acid really is a rockstar ingredient—especially during pregnancy if you’re experiencing dry skin. The water-loving molecule attracts and locks in moisture, and this serum features a whopping 2 percent hyaluronic acid. And while it offers that good hydrating action, it’s made without the bad stuff like parabens, phthalates, oil, alcohol or silicon. It should work well for most skin types, from oily to sensitive and dry.

“In terms of ingredients, I appreciate that this product is vegan; I’m a mom to two doggies and love animals in general,” said our product tester. “I didn’t recognize many of the ingredients but appreciate the glycerin, which I know to be hydrating. I felt my skin looked and felt more hydrated after using this product.” What’s more, “the size is one fluid ounce, so it's perfect for any bathroom drawer, cabinet or countertop,” she added, giving the product 5 out of 5 for ease of use. “The bottle is beautiful and clean, and the soft dropper top makes it easy to squeeze a drop onto your hand or directly onto your face.”

Plus, it’s not going to mess with your aesthetic if you forget to put it away (/#pregnancybrain). The style and design of the product (which earned another 5 out of 5 from our product tester) are “very simplistic and clean-looking—all white/clear packaging with a clear potion inside,” Julia said. “I appreciate the minimalism.”

Quantity: 1 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Hyaluronic acid/vitamin B5

“I would definitely recommend this product. I have used other products from The Ordinary in the past with positive results, and knowing this is a pregnancy-safe product makes me feel good about being able to care for my skin while growing a baby.”

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe night serum

Covey Sleep Tight Bakuchiol Serum
Image: Covey
Buying Options
Covey|$69.00
What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Gentle, effective alternative to retinol
  • Elevated packaging
  • Vegan
Things To Consider
  • Contains natural fragrance
  • High price point

Nothing quite replaces the power of retinol, but dermatologists and beauty enthusiasts swear bakuchiol comes close. Bakuchiol is a pregnancy-safe alternative to retinol that offers similar benefits without the same risks. Like retinol, bakuchiol—which is the star of this serum—helps fill in fine lines, improve skin texture and minimize pores. It’s balanced with niacinamide, which helps with evening out skin tone as well as tripeptide, another super hydrator.

Our product tester, who gave this product 5 out of 5 for effectiveness and ease of use, agreed that it’s something of a miracle worker. “[This serum] left my skin super smooth—it seemed brighter the few days I’ve used it,” she said.

Although the serum doesn’t contain synthetic fragrances, the natural ingredients give it a floral scent that our product tester adored. “I love the way this smells,” she told us, awarding 5 out of 5 for fragrance. “It’s floral but not heavy. It smells like lilacs or lilies of the valley, which happen to be some of my favorite flowers.” The vegan, cruelty-free formula is also free of essential oils, synthetic dyes, parabens, SLS, silicones, phthalates and sulfates, making it a great pregnancy-safe skin care choice.

Quantity: 1 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Bakuchiol/niacinamide/tripeptide

“I’m really enjoying this product. The ingredients make my skin feel great!”

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Best pregnancy-safe eye cream

Juice Beauty Stem Cellular Anti-Wrinkle Eye Treatment
Image: Saks Fifth Avenue
What We Love
  • Contains vitamin C and shea butter, which Engelman recommends
  • Brightens skin, according to our product tester
  • EWG-verified
  • Vegan
Things To Consider
  • Opaque container makes it difficult to see how much product has been used
  • Contains essential oils; not fragrance-free
  • High price point

Juice Beauty is known to be an eco-conscious brand, and this eye treatment is no exception. It features certified organic ingredients—including antioxidant-rich jojoba oil and nourishing evening primrose oil— offering a spa-at-home experience that feels absolutely wonderful. Even better, the cream also contains vitamin C and shea butter, both of which Engelman recommends adding to your skin care routine while expecting.

Delivered in an airless pump container to help preserve the freshness of the ingredients, the consistency is that of a gel cream, making it both light and super hydrating. It helps reduce the appearance of dark circles and creases around the eyes, so if you’re struggling with pregnancy insomnia, this is a solid pick. “[During] pregnancy, I feel like my skin has become drier and more tired looking. This anti-wrinkle cream brings more life to my skin and brightens it,” said our product tester, giving the treatment top marks for effectiveness.

It’s also a winning choice if you’re not feeling fragrances this pregnancy. “The product really did not have a strong scent!” said our product tester. “This is a great thing because [during this] pregnancy, my nose has been so sensitive.”

Quantity: 0.5 oz. | Active ingredients: Jojoba oil/shea butter/evening primrose oil

“It brightens my skin almost immediately!”

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Best pregnancy-safe cleanser

What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Doesn’t leave skin feeling dry
  • Gentle yet effective
  • EWG-verified
  • Cruelty-free
Things To Consider
  • Contains essential oils; not fragrance-free

We’ve named Honest the best brand for pregnancy-safe skin care this year—and this cleanser is a perfect example of why: It received a perfect 5 out of 5 across all categories from our product tester. The formula is gentle enough to use daily to wash away the day (and makeup!). It’s infused with calming ingredients such as chamomile and calendula extracts. Plus, it’s vegan, cruelty-free, dermatologist-tested and comes in a 100 percent sustainable carton.

According to our tester, this cleanser is a must-try. “It was very easy and simple to use!” she enthused. “I loved it. I’ve been looking for a good pregnancy-safe gel cleanser for a while and this one did wonders. It made my skin feel clean and soft.”

Since Honest is more of a lifestyle brand than other drugstore brand competitors, it was no surprise that our tester dug the packaging. “The style and design are good,” she said. “I love the simple packaging, and it’s cute to keep out on the counter. It’s not bulky.” This is a product you won’t mind Instagramming when you photograph your shelfie. That said, you’re not paying a massive price for a pretty package. “I feel like it came with a lot of product, and the size was great!” she noted. “A good money value for sure!”

Quantity: 5 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Chamomile/calendula extract

“I loved the Honest gel cleanser. It felt nice on my skin and made my skin feel great afterward. The price point is great, and overall I just loved it.”

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe body wash

What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Great for dry skin
  • Easy to use, according to our product tester
  • Vegan
Things To Consider
  • Contains essential oils; not fragrance-free

Using this milky body wash in the shower feels like a treat. It targets dry skin with a blend of omega-rich oils, including avocado, inchi and argan. It also features sweet almond oil (another soothing ingredient) and vitamin E, which acts as an antioxidant. “The product moisturized my skin,” said our product tester. “It left my skin feeling more hydrated as [my] dry skin has gotten more severe as I progress through this pregnancy.” I also tested this product when I was breastfeeding (which it’s also deemed safe for) and I agree with our tester’s experience: It was a truly luxurious experience, given how soft it left my skin.

The vegan formula features a citrus-forward fragrance, described as a mix of orange oil, bergamot, mandarin, may chang and lime (which I personally loved, but scent-sensitive mamas may feel differently). And if you’re environmentally conscious, know that the cruelty-free brand uses 100 percent recycled packaging, from the box to the tube, but doesn’t skimp on packaging quality. “Using the shower milk product was extremely easy,” she said. “The packaging was simple to use, as the product was easy to squeeze out of the bottle and apply to the skin. Storage was also simple.”

Although it’s a higher-end body wash, the Megamama Shower Milk is worth the price tag. “I feel the value for money is good for this product as it’s effective and made with clean ingredients, making a woman feel good about using it during pregnancy and beyond,” our product tester said.

Quantity: 6.7 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Oils (avocado, inchi, argan and sweet almond)/vitamin E

“This product made my increasingly dry skin more hydrated, was easy to use and is made from clean ingredients.”

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe lotion

Pipette Relaxing Body Lotion
Image: Pipette
Buying Options
Pipette|$12.99
What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Hypoallergenic; safe for sensitive skin
  • Light, non-greasy texture
  • EWG-verified
Things To Consider
  • Contains natural fragrance

One of our favorite baby brands, Pipette], also makes products for pregnant parents-to-be—just like this body lotion that’s perfect for tired limbs. The paraben-free formula leaves skin feeling soft thanks to the hydrating duo of squalane and glycerin. It’s also hypoallergenic, vegan, cruelty-free and EWG-verified.

But how does it feel? “I really like the texture of the lotion—it’s very light,” said our product tester, who found the lotion was a relief for her eczema-prone skin. “Left my skin feeling smooth, and for someone with sensitive skin, I appreciate that it’s hypoallergenic.”

While it’s free of synthetic fragrances, it does have a floral and citrus plant-derived scent. Those who are sensitive to fragrances may want to pick a scent-free option, but to our product tester, the smell was delightful and earned Pipette a 5 out of 5 for fragrance. “It smells good, and it feels good on the body,” our product tester noted. “This is one of my favorite things about this product. The smell is amazing!”

Quantity: 8 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Glycerin/squalane

“Personally, I am someone who is not doing well with textures and smells, but I did love the relaxing body lotion! It was not oily, it smelled wonderful and it was a great size for the price. I definitely recommend this one.”

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe body exfoliant

What We Love
  • Chemical and topical exfoliating
  • Reviewers say it makes their skin super smooth
  • EWG-verified
  • Vegan
Things To Consider
  • Contains essential oils; not fragrance-free
  • As with any exfoliant, be sure not to overuse it

To say that Biossance’s Squalane + Enzyme Sugar Body Scrub performs well would be an understatement; our tester raved about it, giving it 5 out of 5 across all categories. “This worked amazingly on my skin!” she said. “It made it feel super soft and refreshed!”

Biossance is known for its dedication to clean ingredients, and this body scrub is no exception. It’s EWG-certified, vegan, cruelty-free and made without parabens, synthetic fragrances or PEG. What it does include is a pomegranate enzyme to dissolve dead skin, sugar crystals to polish it away and squalane, which is a nourishing superhero.

These top-notch ingredients work together to create a sensorial experience that our product tester thought was right on point: “The smell was great! Not too strong but the perfect amount, and wasn’t overwhelming,” she noted. “I loved the smell, and the feeling it gives your skin is super nice.”

Quantity: 6.8 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Pomegranate enzymes/sugar crystals/squalane

“I’ve tried to find other body scrubs and they just never work out. This one is easy to use, easy to wash away, smells nice and makes my skin feel super nice and soft!”

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe face oil

What We Love
  • Makes skin glow, according to our product tester
  • Shown to reduce fine lines and wrinkles
  • Super hydrating
  • Cruelty-free
Things To Consider
  • Contains essential oils; not fragrance-free
  • High price point

Pregnancy is a bit of an unpredictable journey, where you never know if your body will respond by having acne or dry skin. Fun fact: My skin changed by trimester! In the first one I had acne, and the second it got dry. Face oil is one of the best ways to add hydration back in, and sometimes it can even work for oily skin too (chat with your dermatologist if you’re not sure about your own skin type).

This vegan, hypoallergenic and cruelty-free pick is a blend of oils, including cucumber seed, hemp, jojoba seed and ginger root. Together, these ingredients plump the skin—filling in fine lines—while offering deep hydration and antioxidants. It comes in sustainable packaging and is made without sulfates, phthalates, parabens, petrochemicals, mineral oil, silicone, talc, synthetic fragrances or gluten.

Our tester, who has oily and dry skin, said it gave her a glow and kept her skin feeling hydrated throughout the day. “It makes the skin shine,” she told us!

Quantity: 1 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Oils (chia seed, kiwi seed, passion fruit and papaya seed)/algae extract/astaxanthin

“I would recommend this oil to someone who is looking for a lightweight oil to keep their skin shiny all day.”

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Best pregnancy-safe acne treatment

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%
Image: Sephora
What We Love
  • Free from all of the ingredients on our “to avoid” list
  • Brightens skin quickly
  • Great for sensitive skin
  • Affordable price point
Things To Consider
  • Nozzle can get “gunky”, according to our product tester
  • Don’t use with Vitamin C

If you normally swear by salicylic acid, then meet your new best friend for the next nine+ months: azelaic acid. While it’s not quite as effective at combating acne, azelaic acid is considered to be significantly safer for pregnancy. Azelaic acid is known for its brightening properties, and this formula also helps with uneven texture, dullness and acne. The gel-cream texture may seem more like a lotion but is meant to be used in place of a serum.

“Even after just a handful of uses, [my skin is] clearer,” our acne-prone product tester told us. “It absorbs super quickly and left my skin feeling very soft. I have a lot of texture on my cheeks, and this seemed to smooth that out basically after the very first application—just about immediately. With further use, it will prove to be a game-changer in my skincare collection! Also, I have sensitive skin and noticed no irritation whatsoever, not even near my eyes.”

With the effusive praise our tester gave this product, you might expect a hefty price tag, but this pregnancy-safe acne treatment earned a 5 out of 5 for value for money. The Ordinary has long been praised for producing high-performing products at competitive prices, and our product tester found that their azelaic acid suspension was no exception. “This brand overall is super affordable,” she said. “High-quality ingredients and a product for a great price!”

Quantity: 1 fl. oz.| Active ingredients: Azelaic acid

“I noticed a change in the texture of my skin after the very first application. I have super sensitive skin and experienced zero irritation. Super quick to absorb, [easy to] use and store. I think I'll love it even more the more I use it, but even after a week I already am a big fan! The immediate difference in my skin texture was insane. I’m so impressed.”

Buy Now

Best pregnancy-safe makeup remover

Drunk Elephant E-Rase Milki Micellar Water
Image: Sephora
What We Love
  • Effortless way to remove makeup
  • Can also be used as a toner
  • Spill-proof packaging
  • Vegan
Things To Consider
  • Contains essential oils; not fragrance-free
  • Opaque container makes it difficult to see how much product has been used

Micellar water is a longtime French beauty staple that’s recently become popular in the US. It’s perhaps the easiest way to take off makeup since you don’t need to actually wet your face; just soak a cotton pad in micellar water, then gently swipe it over the eyelids and anywhere else you want to take off dirt or makeup. This pregnancy-safe skin care formula is also a wonderful way to add hydration to your skin.

Drunk Elephant’s micellar water features a blend of emollients to remove dirt, ceramides to add moisture to the skin barrier and antioxidant-rich wild melon seed oil. There’s also a medley of natural oils to seriously hydrate the skin. You can even use it on your lips to remove lipstick, and there’s no weird taste or smell.

I personally used this micellar water during my second pregnancy and can attest it is truly scent-free. I loved how soft and nourishing it left my skin. My skin tends to be more sensitive, so I would often use this in place of a traditional toner and as a makeup remover. It’s less greasy than a typical makeup remover, so you can wear it daily—and even under makeup.

The bottle is easy to use, and it’s pretty spill-proof. Just flip open the cap, turn it over and watch the milky drops pour onto a cotton pad. At eight ounces, it’s a big bottle, so you can count on it to last for a couple of months. Plus, it’s a colorful addition to your cabinet thanks to its cheery orange details.

Quantity: 8 fl. oz. | Active ingredients: Ceramides/wild seed melon/vitamin E/oils (virgin marula, mongongo, baobab and passion fruit)

“For those with sensitive skin and aversions to scent, this is an amazing choice to remove makeup. It’s absolutely fragrance-free and incredibly hydrating when applied to the skin. You can use it on the most delicate areas, from eyelashes to lips, as well as across your cheeks. I loved it so much, it continued to be a staple in my routine postpartum.”

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Best pregnancy-safe sunscreen

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46
Image: Dermstore
What We Love
  • High zinc protection
  • Mineral option, which Engelman advises
  • Calms and protects sensitive skin
Things To Consider
  • Has a light scent, according to some reviewers
  • Some say it pills under makeup
  • High price point

While pregnant, Engelman recommends using mineral sunscreen in place of chemical formulations as a safe alternative—just like this top-rated option. EltaMD UV Clear sunscreen has long been praised as offering not just mineral protection (thanks to 9 percent zinc oxide), but also skin care benefits. Niacinamide (vitamin B3) brings down redness or irritation, hyaluronic acid locks in moisture and vitamin E offers an extra boost of antioxidants. Influencers consistently highlight this sunscreen for its silky texture that easily blends under makeup—and our product tester, Emily, loved it equally as much, giving the sunscreen a 5 out of 5 for effectiveness. “I loved how this felt on my skin and also protected it,” she said. “It felt way nicer quality than other pregnancy-safe products I’ve used in the past.”

It may not be the most interestingly designed packaging, but it’s also no-fuss. “It was easy to use, straight from the box,” Emily said, adding that the instructions were simple and easy to follow. As for value, “I do feel you get a decent amount of product for the price point, but it was a bit higher than I expected.”

While it is fragrance-free, our tester detected a hint of scent. “The smell was small,” she noted. “It didn’t smell as great as most of the other products I own, but it didn’t linger, which was nice!” Personally, I’ve used this sunscreen and haven’t detected much of a scent, so it really depends on your nose!

Quantity: 1.7 oz. | Active ingredients: Zinc oxide/niacinamide (vitamin B3)/hyaluronic acid/lactic acid/vitamin E

“It felt nice and worked great! Simple packaging and simple ingredients. There is not much more to ask for in a product like this! It was overall a great product!”

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Best pregnancy-safe skincare set

Frida Mom Pregnancy Body Skincare Relief Set
Image: Walmart
What We Love
  • Lotion contains shea butter, which Engelman recommends
  • Specifically made to help with pregnancy issues
  • Great for gifting
  • Cruelty-free
Things To Consider
  • Some products contain essential oils; not fragrance-free
  • Stretch mark balm can be tricky to remove from the bottle

One of our favorite baby and postpartum brands, Frida Mom recently branched into prenatal care with this body care set. It features four products: An in-shower lotion (similar to a body wash), a stretch mark balm, a chafe-preventing stick and a cooling leg and foot spray. It’s noteworthy that the formulas contain zero phthalates, parabens, artificial fragrances, dyes or alcohol.

Our product tester was a particularly big fan of the lotion, telling us, “It left my legs and belly the softest it’s been since I got pregnant. My legs were silky smooth and my belly felt so soothed.” She thought the anti-chafe stick “worked beautifully,” gliding on easily like deodorant and providing protection from irritation, and the leg and foot spray “soothed and cooled my feet and legs after a workout and at the end of a day, [during which] I spent a lot [of time] standing on my feet. I loved the cooling effect.” The only item in the box that received less than a ringing endorsement was the stretch mark balm, which she found difficult to remove from the packaging. But even then, “it worked so well once I finally got a little out of the tube. It would work even better with a better applicator.”

Since it’s offered in a bundle, it’s a great value and an awesome addition to your registry. “I absolutely love the packaging of this product,” our product tester said. “The box made it gift-worthy, and the packaging looks pretty on my bathroom vanity. I would feel so good about gifting this to a friend…I love the feel of the bottles too. They have a matte finish, which made the Bump + Body In-Shower Lotion much easier to hold in the shower.” We’re obsessed!

Quantity (lotion): 6 oz. | Quantity (balm): 2.5 oz. | Quantity (stick): 1.7 oz. | Quantity (spray): 3.5 oz. | Active ingredients (lotion): Shea butter/grapeseed | Active ingredients (balm): Vitamin E | Active ingredients (stick): Vitamin E | Active ingredients (spray): Vitamin E/squalane

“I like that the ingredients are pregnancy-safe, and I enjoyed using the products. In general—and especially when pregnant and scent-sensitive—it's really important to me that skin care has no smell or a light clean smell.”

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is hyaluronic acid safe for pregnancy?

“Absolutely!” says Engelman, “Hyaluronic acid is a gentle active ingredient that primarily works to hydrate the skin. Because it’s a molecule that naturally occurs in the body, it’s considered safe for pregnant women to use in skin care products.” If you’re experiencing dry skin during pregnancy, hyaluronic acid offers unparalleled hydration. “It holds more than 1000x its weight in water, so this is always a go-to ingredient to prevent dry skin and even minimize the production of stretch marks,” explains Engelman.

What if you used a retinol cream while pregnant—before you realized that you were expecting?

Did you discover you were pregnant before you were able to swap out the retinol products in your skin care routine? If so, don’t stress too much. While it may feel alarming, “the risks associated with retinol during pregnancy typically come from consistent and high-dose exposure, especially in the first trimester when fetal development is crucial,” Engelman explains. She goes on to reassure: “The body has a remarkable ability to endure various unintended exposures, and a brief exposure to retinol might not necessarily result in a harmful outcome for the baby.”

About the writer:

Lauren Levinson has over 15 years of editorial experience in both leading content teams and writing articles. She has held staff positions as the lead editor of Verywell Family, Popsugar Beauty and a beauty and medical aesthetics site created by Allergan Aesthetics. She’s been on staff at ELLE.com, Time Out New York and Dance Spirit. Her byline can be seen in Glamour, Harper’s Bazaar, New York Magazine, What to Expect, Byrdie and more. She is also a #girlmom to a school-age daughter and a toddler.

Interesting in becoming a product tester for The Bump? Head here to apply.

Please note: The Bump and the materials and information it contains are not intended to, and do not constitute, medical or other health advice or diagnosis and should not be used as such. You should always consult with a qualified physician or health professional about your specific circumstances.

Sources

Dendy Engelman, MD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the director of dermatologic surgery at the Metropolitan Hospital in New York City. She earned her medical degree from the Medical University of South Carolina.

Julie Russak, MD, FAAD, is a board-certified dermatologist and the founder of Russak Dermatology Clinic in New York City. She earned her medical degree from the New York University School of Medicine.

Birth Defects Research, Teratogen Update: Topical Use and Third-Generation Retinoids, September 2020

Amy J. Warner, Jessica D. Hathaway-Schrader, Rena Lubker, Christopher Davies and Chad M. Novince, Tetracyclines and Bone: Unclear Actions with Potentially Lasting Effects, June 2022

Canadian Family Physician, Safety of Skin Care Products During Pregnancy, June 2011

Learn how we keep our content accurate and up-to-date by reading our medical review and editorial process.

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