Pregnancy Acne: Skin Care Ingredients that can and can’t be used

Acne breakouts during pregnancy can happen to anyone. It doesn’t matter if you’ve battled acne your entire life or haven’t seen a zit in years.

When you are pregnant, an increase in hormones causes your skin to produce more sebum. This increased sebum leads to oiliness that eventually clogs your pores, leading to inflammation and breakouts. A surge in hormones typically occurs around 6 weeks into pregnancy and throughout the first trimester. Women who tend to break out during their menstrual cycle are more likely to have acne breakouts during their pregnancy. 

Is Pregnancy Acne Different from Normal Acne?

The short answer is no. Pregnancy acne is no different from normal acne. Although the cause of blocked pores might change, acne is still a result of bacteria build-up and inflammation.

However, pregnancy acne can be harder to treat. Women are advised to watch what they eat during pregnancy, as the food they consume can affect the baby’s development. In the same vein, whatever products you apply can also be absorbed into the skin and affect your baby. Some skincare ingredients can potentially cause birth defects and should be avoided while you are pregnant. We detail which acne treatments all pregnant mothers should avoid below.

Acne Treatments to Avoid During Pregnancy

Acne treatments can range from prescription acne medication to over-the-counter (OTC) chemical spot treatments. Before starting any treatment, it is important to consult your doctor for advice on what is safe for you. If unsure, bring the skincare products you are planning to use so your doctor can look over the ingredients. It’s also important to note that the following treatments are also off-limits if you are trying to conceive.


Isotretinoin is a retinoid prescribed in the form of oral medication. Often used to treat severe nodular acne that is not responsive to other forms of treatments, isotretinoin reduces sebum production by decreasing the size and activity of your sebaceous glands. Isotretinoin can cause miscarriage, premature birth or birth defects when taken at the time of conception or during pregnancy. Doctors will not prescribe it as an acne treatment to pregnant women or women looking to conceive. 

Topical Retinol and Retinoids

Topical retinol and retinoids help unclog pores by speeding up your cell turnover rate. A form of vitamin A, they can be found prescription creams and OTC skincare products like serums or overnight creams. Experts suggest pregnant women avoid applying vitamin-A based formulations to prevent pregnancy complications. 

Oral Tetracyclines

Tetracyclines are antibiotics that slow the growth of acne-causing bacteria. Its use can inhibit your baby’s bone growth and discolour their teeth. 

Hormonal Therapy

Hormonal therapy is used to treat acne during menstrual cycles by controlling fluctuating hormones. It works by taking pills to suppress androgens – a male hormone found in both men and women that can cause increased sebum production. Like all the other treatments on this list, they should be avoided during pregnancy due to the risk of birth defects.

Benzoyl Peroxide and Salicyclic Acid

There are differing reports on whether these common OTC anti-acne ingredients are safe for pregnant women to use. Studies debate between whether to avoid them completely or allow them in limited amounts. We recommend erring on the side of caution and seek out other acne treatment methods while you are pregnant. Having gone through 5 pregnancies with only 2 successfully carried to term, I would urge you to reconsider using these ingredients, especially when there are safer ingredients that you can try first.  

How Should I Treat Acne While Pregnant?

To treat acne while pregnant, you’ll want to practice consistent self-care to keep your face clean and avoid any potential dirt or pollutants that can block your pores and cause acne.

This means using a gentle cleanser to thoroughly cleanse your skin without drying. Avoiding harsh products like facial scrubs and astringents that strip skin of its moisture, causing sebum production to go into overdrive. Our Calming Cleanser is a good choice that’s safe to use during pregnancy. 

You’ll also want to avoid touching your face and avoid comedogenic, oily or greasy products, to reduce the chances of clogging your pores.

Generally, it is better to stay on top of your skincare regimen to prevent acne from forming in the first place. However, if you must treat your acne using OTC products, check the ingredients as most products do not state if they are safe and suitable for use during pregnancy.

Our Clarifying Serum (formerly Blemish Corrector) is an effective anti-acne treatment for pregnant women. Combining Vitamin C and B3, it quickly reduces acne in just one or two applications with no peeling or dryness.

Our signature 3-step routine is perfect for pregnant mummies looking for an anti-acne skin care that’s safe during pregnancy use. Our products in the routine do not contain any of the above ingredients listed that’s unsafe for pregnant ladies. Calming Cleanser contains lactic acid(found naturally in our body), naturally-derived surfactants and calamine(safe for babies even). Hydrating serum contains sodium hyaluronate, the salt form of hyaluronic acid, which is found naturally in our skin. Clarifying Serum contains stabilised Vitamin C and Vitamin B3. Both Vitamin C and Vitamin B3 have been clinically proven to help reduce acne


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