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The Best Safe Skincare for Pregnancy Acne and Hyperpigmentation

Our favorite pregnancy safe skincare products and recommendations to treat pregnancy acne, hyperpigmentation and skin irritation during your pregnancy.
The Best Safe Skincare for Pregnancy Acne and Hyperpigmentation
Updated: March 13, 2023
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The pregnancy glow is a beautiful thing to see in a mother-to-be. But unfortunately, not all of us are blessed with skin that reacts positively to hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy

I experienced horrible acne during my first pregnancy, and I had never had an acne problem before, not even during my teen years.

While acne is mainly biological and hormonal, it can still deplete a woman’s self-confidence. If you’re dealing with pregnancy acne, the best thing to do is to consult your dermatologist or OBGYN to discuss safe and effective treatments during pregnancy. 

This article is not intended to replace medical advice. However, if you’re researching the causes and treatments of pregnancy acne before contacting your dermatologist, we’re here to help. We cover the best products for pregnancy skincare, products, ingredients to avoid during pregnancy, and the causes behind pesky pregnancy breakouts. 

Related: Real Moms Share Their Best Pregnancy Skincare Tips

Here are some of our favorite skincare product recommendations that are totally safe to use during your pregnancy! 

What Causes Pregnancy Acne? 

Hormonal fluctuations primarily cause breakouts during pregnancy. Breakouts are most common during the first trimester because of a huge influx of hormones into your system. 

Pregnancy hormones cause your body to overproduce natural oils on your skin. When your pores become clogged with too much oil, pimples occur. An influx of hormones can also cause a more severe type of acne during pregnancy called cystic acne.

Cystic acne is usually along the jawline or chin and occurs as large, hard red bumps under the skin. Cystic acne differs from standard acne because bacteria and clogged oil ducts are present, causing swelling and inflammation.

Cystic acne cannot be treated with an over-the-counter skincare routine and may require oral or topical antibiotics or other medicated face creams. 

The good news is that even if you suffer bad breakouts at the start of your pregnancy, for most women, it subsides as you enter the second and third trimesters. Likewise, if you managed to get through the first trimester with little to no acne issues, it’s not likely to flair up once you pass the first few months of pregnancy. 

Skincare Products and Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy 

Discussing your acne treatment with your OBGYN or dermatologist is best; however, some over-the-counter and prescription medications should be avoided during pregnancy. 


 Products containing retinol should be avoided during all stages of pregnancy. Retinol is a well-known skin care product in many over-the-counter face creams, lotions, and anti-aging products. 

Retinol comes from the chemical family retinoids and is derived from Vitamin A. Retinol goes deep into your skin to boost collagen and elastin production. As a result, it produces a plumping effect that decreases fine lines, wrinkles, and enlarged poor and can help reduce scarring caused by severe acne. 

Doctors know that retinoids taken orally can cause birth defects. So these products, even topically, are discouraged during pregnancy. Other vitamin A derivatives similar to retinol to avoid include: Retin-A and Retinyl Palmitate

Pregnant woman applying moisturizer in the morning

Salicylic acid

Salicylic acid is a common ingredient found in many skincare products for treating acne such as toners and chemical exfoliants. Salicylic acid works by helping your skin shed dead skin cells and reducing swelling.

However, researchers have found that pregnant women using salicylic acid in high doses ​, such as in perscription-strength acne treatments, are at risk of their fetus developing a condition called salicylism

Salicylism is caused by a toxic overdoes of salicylic acid that may potentially be absorbed by the placenta. Symptoms of salicylism include things like ringing ears, naseu and vommiting. While, small doses of salicylic acid may be safe during pregnancy, it is extremely important to consult with your doctor before using these. 

Parabens and Phthalates

Parabens and Phtalates are two kinds of endocrine disruptors found in many cosmetic and beauty products that can interfere with a person’s hormone production. 

A study by Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health (CCCEH) found that children whose mothers were exposed to phthalates during pregnancy were more likely to have problems with motor skills and language development later in life. If you are pregnant look for skincare products that say paraben-free and phthalate-free on the label.

The Best Safe Skin Care to Use During Pregnancy 

Despite that, there are some products you should avoid during pregnancy; many treatments available at the drugstore or from a prescription are considered safe.

Acne usually comes with other skin care issues like itchy or dry skin, sensitive skin, or dark spots. The following sections list some of the best safe skin care products targeted for various problem areas. 

Best products to treat pregnancy acne

  1. Tata Harper Clarifying Cleanser

Price: $46.00 for 1.75 ounces or $88.00 for 4.1 ounces

The Tata Harper line is an excellent choice during pregnancy because it is gentle and 100% natural. It is ideal for oily or blemish-prone skin and gentle enough for sensitive skin. 

  1. Caudalie Instant Detox Face Mask

Price: $42.00 for 2.5 ounces

Keeping your pores clean and clear can help prevent some breakouts. Caudalie’s detox mask is one of the best pregnancy products because it is 99% natural and affordable, and cleanses away excess sebum, one of the leading causes of acne. Additionally, the Caudalie face bask brightens skin and refines pores. 

  1. REN Clean Skincare Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic

 Price: $39.00 for 8.5 ounces

Yes, this product has a long name, but it is an excellent exfoliant to treat acne during pregnancy. Exfoliation is an essential skin care step because it removes dead skin cells that can clog pores and cause acne to flare. 

It contains lactic acid, a gentle alpha hydroxy-acid made from fermented sugar and azelaic acid that prevents dark spots from forming by subduing melatonin production. 

  1. Burt’s Bees Herbal Complexion Stick

Price: $7.84 for .26 ounces

This is a product on the list I can personally vouch for as I have used it in the past. Its active ingredient is tea tree oil, a known natural ingredient to fight acne. 

In addition, it is less harsh on the skin than chemical spot treatment products like salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide. The product is used in conjunction with your face wash and moisturizing routine and is an excellent spot treatment. 

  1. Paula’s Choice Clear Regular Strength Daily Skin Clearing Treatment 

Price: $19.00

There is debate over whether benzoyl peroxide, a popular acne-fighting medication, is safe during pregnancy. It has an FDA Category C rating, meaning there have been no adequate or well-defined studies on the effects of this medication during pregnancy.

Before using benzoyl peroxide products, we recommend you speak with your doctor. Some OBGYNs and dermatologists advise it is safe for use as a spot treatment. 

To learn more or to purchase, visit Paula’s Choice.

  1. Belli Beauty Acne Control Spot Treatment

Price: $16.89 for .5 pounces

Belli Beauty’s acne spot treatment is OBGYN and board-certified dermatologist recommended for pregnant and breastfeeding mothers. In addition, the company’s screening process eliminates all ingredients with known links to congenital disabilities, miscarriages, and harmful effects while breastfeeding. 

This pregnancy-safe product contains soothing ingredients like chamomile and cucumber. In addition to acne products, Belli Beauty makes stretch mark cream, eye-brightening cream, and belly oil. 

  1. Hero Cosmetics Mighty Patch

Price: $11.69 for 36 patches

Mighty Patches are a simple yet effective spot treatment to deal with acne. I use these patches when my acne flares up, usually pre-cycle, and they are amazing!

These little spot patches contain hydrocolloids and draw pus and water out of the skin, reducing inflammation overnight. 

  1. The Ordinary Azelaic Acid Suspension 10%

Price: $11.10 for 1 ounce

The word acid scares some people, but some acids are natural and good for our skin! Azelaic acid comes from wheat sugars, so don’t use it if you have celiac disease. Otherwise, it is perfectly safe during pregnancy. 

Azelaic acid is one of dermatology’s lesser-known secrets but is popping up more and more in facial products. 

Best products to treat rosacea during pregnancy

Rosacea is a related skin condition that causes red, itchy patches of skin on the face. It is also common in women ages 35-50 approaching peri-menopause. Rosacea occurs mainly on the cheeks, nose, and forehead and is caused by blood vessel flaring. Because clogged oil ducts do not cause it, it requires different treatments than acne. 

  1. Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser

Price: $8.99 for 8 ounces

Sometimes simple is best when treating skin conditions. For example, Cetaphil Daily Facial Cleanser is gentle and won’t dry out your skin. It is the #1 recommended brand by dermatologists for sensitive skin, but it is safe for all skin types. In addition, this face wash contains glycerin and Vitamins B5 & B3 to keep your skin clean and soft. 

  1. Aveeno Protect & Hydrate Sunscreen, SPF 30

Price: $8.99 for 3 ounces

Protecting your skin with sunscreen is essential when battling a condition like rosacea. Aveeno products are another line of skin care products I can personally vouch for and use on my sensitive skin. 

This gentle, light sunscreen has natural skin care ingredients like prebiotic oat and does not contain oxybenzone.

  1. Elemis Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash

Price: $12.99 for 30 ml

The Dynamic Resurfacing Facial Wash by Elemis is technically an anti-aging face wash. Still, its exfoliating and cleansing ingredients can help prevent and treat flare-ups from rosacea, leaving your complexion smooth and bright.

  1. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Cleaning Water & Waterproof Makeup Remover

Price: $13.49 for 23.7 ounces

Micellar cleaning water is another beauty product I keep on my shelf and use regularly. I don’t wear makeup daily, but when I do, I use this with a microfiber washcloth to gently remove makeup before washing. 

Removing makeup nightly before bed allows your skin to breathe and cleanses your pores and is an essential step when dealing with acne or rosacea.

  1. Kate Somerville Gentle Daily Wash

Price: $44.00 for 4 ounces

When battling rosacea or acne, it is critical to use gentle, non-harsh cleansers. Harsh chemicals or ingredients can further irritate your skin leading to more frequent breakouts.

This gentle face wash removes impurities and is sulfate-free, so it won’t dry or irritate the skin and leaves natural oils in place. 

Best products to treat hyperpigmentation and dark spots during pregnancy

  1. Juice Beauty Green Apple Pregnancy Peel Exfoliating Mask

Price: $45.00 for 2 ounces

This natural, pregnancy-specific face peel contains no topical retinoids and is a safe alternative to treat spots for pregnant and breastfeeding women. 

Ingredients include malic acid to exfoliate, Vitamin C to brighten and even skin tone and texture, and glycolic acid to minimize the appearance of large pores. 

  1. Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum

Price: $28.50 for 10 ml

LiftActiv Vitamin C Serum is a safe way to deal with melasma and hyperpigmentation during pregnancy. This simple treatment is an easy and affordable way to keep your skin looking fresh and bright.

Vitamin C combined with hyaluronic acid minimizes lines and brightens skin. All you need is a few drops a day, morning and night. 

  1. SkinMedica Lytera 2.0 Pigment Correcting Serum

Price: $160 for 2 ounces 

SkinMedica’s pigment-correcting serum is among the best for treating hyperpigmentation during pregnancy, but it comes with a high price tag. 

This product contains niacinamide and tetrapeptide-30 that even out your skin, balance melanin production, and prevent new spots from forming. In addition, it is pregnancy safe because it does not contain hydroquinone or Retin-A.

Best products for dry and itchy skin during pregnancy 

  1. The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Aragan Oil

Price: $7.50 for 1 ounce 

Dry skin is uncomfortable and irksome, especially if you are pregnant during the winter months. Using natural oils is an excellent way to hydrate and soothe your skin. However, people worry that putting oil on their skin will exacerbate their acne or rosacea. 

But dry skin actually leads to acne because the skin overproduces oil to stay moisturized. Using a natural oil – like this Moroccan Aragan oil from affordable skincare brand The Ordinary – can help maintain your skin’s natural moisture.

  1. KORA Noni Glow Face Oil

Price: $72.00 for 1 ounce 

KORA’s Noni Glow Face Oil has a high sticker price, but women swear by this moisturizing product. This face oil contains antioxidants and essential fatty acids to keep your skin plump and glowing. For four years straight ( 2018 to 2021) Noni Glow Face Oil won beauty awards for best face oil.

  1. Briogeo Scalp Revival Soothing Solutions Set for Oily, Itchy, & Dry Scalp

Price: $76.00 for the 5-piece-set

Dry, itchy skin isn’t limited to your face or body; it can happen to your scalp too. You may even notice acne flare-ups around your hairline. If you’re suffering from an itchy, dry scalp, the Briogeo scalp reviving set is a pregnancy-safe way to treat your head and scalp.

The set is safe for all hair types and textures and is soothing and hydrating with vegan-safe ingredients. 

  1. Cortizone 10

Price: $7.59 for 2 ounces

Not all products on this list are fancy skincare items. For example, good old-fashioned Cortizone 10 is an excellent treatment option if you're dealing with itchy rashes or eczema. The cream contains aloe, Vitamin E, and the active ant-itch ingredient hydrocortisone. 

Dealing with acne or other irritable skin conditions while pregnant is not pleasant, but plenty of safe and natural options are available to treat flare-ups and pimples. It is always best to visit a dermatologist first so they can determine the exact condition affecting your skin and, as an added safety measure, discuss any potential treatments with your OBGYN before starting. 

Create a daily skincare routine using a gentle cleanser, natural oils, and sunscreen, and you’re on your way to having healthy, glowing pregnancy skin. 

Sources +

Ansorge, R. (n.d.). Acne During Pregnancy: Causes, Home Remedies, and Treatments. WebMD. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from

Balalian, A. (2019, February 19). Prenatal exposure to phthalates linked to motor skill deficiencies at age 11. ScienceDaily; Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health.

Sharma, S. S. (2011). Endocrine disruptors environmental oxygen epigenetics and pregnancy. Frontiers in Bioscience, E3(2), 690–700.

Trivedi, M. (2017, May). Prenatal exposure to phthalates linked to motor skill deficiencies at age 11. ScienceDaily; Obstetrics & Gynecology.

L. Elizabeth Forry

About L. Elizabeth Forry

L. Elizabeth Forry is an Early Childhood Educator with 15 years of classroom… Read more

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