Congratulations! You are expecting a baby and your life is about to change in so many remarkable ways. As a mom of two boys, I can tell you that you are about to embark on the most wonderful journey of your life.

If you are new pregnant, though, you may be overwhelmed by all of the information out there saying,”Don’t do this” or “You must do that” — whether it’s talking about food, exercise or skincare habits. We’re going to help you with the skincare part today as we share 5 skincare ingredients that you will want to avoid while pregnant.

Topical Retinoids

Tretinoin is a topical medication derived from Vitamin A. Retin-A and Avita are common brand names of the prescription creams used to treat acne. Renova, another brand of tretinoin, is used to treat wrinkles. Users of these drugs should not apply these while pregnant. The US National Library of Medicine says, “Tretinoin must not be taken by patients who are pregnant or who may become pregnant. There is a high risk that tretinoin will cause the baby to be born with birth defects (physical problems that are present at birth).”


Accutane is often the last course of action for those with persistent acne when all other avenues have been exhausted. This prescription medication has been deemed unsafe for use during pregnancy as it has been proven to cause birth defects, increase the risk of miscarriage and has been linked to infant deaths. The risk to an unborn child is so severe that the FDA requires women in their childbearing years to be on two forms of birth control while taking Accutane as part of the iPLEDGE, a mandatory risk management program.

Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA) is a beneficial ingredient in skincare. It can absorb into the pores with ease and is highly oil soluble, making it wonderful for acne. It also penetrates deeply into the skin, which is why it is such an effective ingredient, but one should use caution with while pregnant. Oral salicylic acid has been shown in studies to be linked to complications during pregnancy. While there are no studies showing topical salicylic acid used in skincare to be harmful, the ingredient is found on nearly every list put out my medical organizations as an ingredient one will want to avoid while pregnant.


Chemical sunscreens often contain an ingredient called oxybenzone, which studies have linked to low birth weight in baby girls. The ingredient is easily absorbed into the bloodstream, which is why it should be avoided while pregnant. Sun protection is still very important, so look for a mineral sunscreen with zinc oxide, which forms a physical barrier and sits on top of the skin.

Benzoyl Peroxide

This one is an ingredient that, unfortunately, hasn’t been thoroughly studied for its side effects during pregnancy. Dermatologist Dr. Lawrence E. Gibson of the Mayo Clinic says that “opinions about using benzoyl peroxide to treat pregnancy acne are mixed. There’s little research on the safety of benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy.” Err on the side of caution, experts say. Skip the spot treatment you may have on hand containing benzoyl peroxide and use an acne spot treatment without it.

As always, consult with your physician before adding new products to your skincare regimen while pregnant so you can make informed decisions. More importantly, enjoy these 9 months. It is an amazing time in your life.