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Skincare Don’ts During Pregnancy- And Their Replacement

Skincare Don’ts During Pregnancy- And Their Replacement
You’ve removed unpasteurized cheeses and the cold cuts from your fridge, and fastidiously avoid changing cat litter, but did you know experts also consider many common skincare ingredients to be risky during the fertility journey and pregnancy? For many people, this comes as an unwelcome surprise. Despite the promise of pregnancy glow, for many women, preconception, pregnancy and postpartum introduce a wide array of skin issues, as fluctuating hormones and stress often wreak havoc on our skin. Individuals who have always had clear skin develop acne, melasma, excessive oiliness or dryness. The discovery that tried-and-true products may no longer be appropriate adds a level of frustration to the mix. Don’t worry though! We are here to provide a quick and dirty guide to finding your new routine during this pivotal period of life. Before we dive into the details of what ingredients to avoid during this important journey, we must first note that there is limited data on this subject, because pregnant people are a highly protected group in medical research. The recommendations below are mostly based on animal studies or analogous oral medications.

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.

Despite the promise of pregnancy glow, for many women, preconception, pregnancy and postpartum introduce a wide array of skin issues, as fluctuating hormones and stress often wreak havoc on our skin.

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.

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Jennie Gao

Jennie Gao

Jennie Gao is the founder of Versine Skincare. Motivated by her own experiences while pregnant and under stress as a domestic violence prosecutor, Jennie created Versine Skincare so expecting moms no longer have to sacrifice safety for luxurious actives and result-oriented efficacy. Versine creates its products with passionate medical advisors, including an OBGYN and two dermatologists.

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