Avoid retinoid / retinol:
Retinoids are powerful compounds proven to reduce fine lines, boost collagen, increase cell turnover, and decrease blemishes. Unfortunately, oral retinoids (like Accutane) are associated with birth defects. Though there is limited information on the safety of topical retinoids, most medical professionals recommend avoiding them during pregnancy and nursing.
Instead, use Vitamin C for boosting collagen, and azelaic acid for controlling oil and acne.
Avoid hydroquinone / arbutin:
Hydroquinone is a powerful skin lightening and brightening agent, often used to treat melasma and hyperpigmentation. However, high doses are linked with cancer, which is why most medical professionals recommend avoiding it and ingredients that break down into hydroquinone, like arbutin.
Instead, use Vitamin C, azelaic acid, and niacinamide to brighten and improve hyperpigmentation.
Avoid benzoyl peroxide / glycolic acid / salicylic acid:
Authorities are split on these common acne-fighting ingredients and their safety profile during pregnancy. Some recommend avoiding them altogether, while others believe low percentages, like those in topical skincare products, are fine as long as consumers use them as directed, and limit usage to small areas.
Additionally, many women do experience increased skin sensitivities during pregnancy and immediately after, and these ingredients often cause irritation on sensitive skin.
What should definitely be avoided, however, are in-office chemical peels containing these ingredients at high concentrations.
For those who choose to avoid these ingredients, azelaic acid (anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory) combined with niacinamide (oil control) is a great alternative. Silk pillow cases plus more frequent washing of them can also reduce irritation and bacterial buildup.
Avoid parabens / phthalates:
Debate continues to rage on whether these ingredients are safe for the routine adult consumer, but more and more evidence points to their avoidance during particularly vulnerable life stages, like pregnancy.
Avoid chemical sunscreens:
Recent studies show that active ingredients in chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream at a greater extent than previously believed, though there is no evidence increased absorption is unsafe. Additionally, oxybenzone, a common ingredient in chemical sunscreens, has been linked to an increased likelihood of a rare birth defect.
Out of caution, most experts suggest sticking with mineral sunscreens, with ingredients zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
As with anything, if you have doubts, discuss with your healthcare provider. Additionally, there are some skincare brands, like Versine Skincare, that have pre-vetted ingredients with experts to provide you with worry-free, effective productions during your fertility journey.