Preparing to welcome a little one into your life can be an amazing experience, physically and emotionally. Some changes are welcome (hello, gorgeous curves!) and others not so much (crying at insurance commercials). And then there’s your skin.

Some women enjoy more radiant skin than ever while they’re expecting, but for many others, that “pregnancy glow” just never happens. Thanks to hormones in overdrive, acne, melasma, and other skin problems often flare up—even for women who’ve never had a blemish before in their entire lives.

The problem is that many go-to solutions, such as laser resurfacing and topical acne treatments, are not recommended during pregnancy, either because they break the skin (increasing infection risk), heat tissues to high levels, or involve medications that have not been proven 100% safe for pregnant women or fetuses. Obviously, your baby’s health and your own come first, and most reputable providers will not perform a cosmetic treatment that hasn’t explicitly been shown to be safe for pregnant women out of an abundance of caution.


Yes, there are safe skincare treatments for pregnant women

The good news is that pregnancy-related skin conditions typically resolve within a few months after giving birth. The even better news is that there are safe treatments to help keep blemishes under control, balance your complexion, and amp up your glow during pregnancy. Here are a few of our favorites at the Parker Center New Jersey MediSpa:

Rezenerate® Nanotechnology Facial

One of our newest skincare treatments at the Parker Center is also one of our favorites for moms-to-be: Rezenerate Nanotechnology Facial.

Many skincare treatments promote collagen production and skin cell renewal by creating a slight injury to the skin—very effective, and perfectly safe for most patients. However, this injury process could pose a slight risk that we feel is best to avoid during pregnancy, just to be extra safe. Rezenerate delivers nanoscopic (100s of times smaller than microscopic) channels of serum through the skin’s surface, effectively helping skin heal and regenerate while bypassing this injury process.

The moisturizing and antioxidant serum blend in Rezenerate includes only the safest ingredients (no salicylic acid), and Rezenerate can be a great option to calm pregnancy-induced acne outbreaks, reduce discoloration, and improve skin texture. Patients enjoy a gentle tingling sensation during treatment, and Rezenerate immediately leaves skin feeling softer, smooth, and glowing. You can also safely repeat treatment every 2 to 3 weeks for maximum results.


This classic exfoliation treatment is fantastic for all skin types—and because it does not involve any chemicals or intense heat, it’s safe during pregnancy in most cases. During this treatment, a very fine tip or blast of crystals is applied to slough away dull, dead skin cells and increase collagen production, helping skin become smoother and firmer. Microdermabrasion can also lessen dark spots or pigmentation problems that appear during pregnancy.

While microdermabrasion in the hands of an experienced provider is already one of the safest skin resurfacing options, some systems are gentler than others. The Parisian Peel microdermabrasion system we use at the Parker Center comfortably delivers a controlled cycle of ultra fine crystal particles, which are blown onto the skin and quickly vacuumed up, along with dead cells and debris.

SPF, Moisturizers & More: Opt for Physician-Only Skincare

Daily skincare can go a long way to keep brown spots and hyperpigmentation to a minimum, prevent sun damage, and help your skin feel great when more aggressive treatments are off-limits. In fact, omitting sunscreen from your routine could do more harm than good, as skin is more sensitive to sun during pregnancy.

However, many skincare products, especially those intended to treat acne, melasma, or other skin conditions, contain ingredients you should avoid while pregnant, such as Retinoids (Retin-A, Accutane, tretinoin, etc.), Beta Hydroxy Acids, Hydroquinone, Benzoyl Peroxide, and oxybenzone (which is also found in chemical sunscreens).

To find safe skin care, work with a board certified plastic surgeon, dermatologist, or licensed aesthetician working under physician supervision, who is experienced in skin care for pregnant patients and knows what products and ingredients are safe to use while pregnant. An expert skincare professional can even turn you toward products you never knew were safe during pregnancy, such as SkinCeuticals Phyto-Corrective Gel, which calms inflammation and redness, or ZO Skin Health Calming Toner (BalaTone), which moisturizes, soothes and reduces visible pore size.

Another reason to a doctor’s office for skincare: the cosmetics industry is largely unregulated, and many OTC and online-order products have no third party testing their safety. In contrast, physician-only products contain clinically proven safe ingredients and are rigorously tested to make sure each item contains what is listed on the label in consistent amounts—an absolute must when your baby’s health is at stake.

Pre-Natal Massage Therapy

Okay, this isn’t technically a skincare treatment, but pre-natal massage with an experienced, licensed massage therapist can be a great way to boost your mood and appearance when you can’t get your regular BOTOX fix! Recommended after the first trimester, this gentle technique can relieve back pain and sciatica, as well as help reduce visible puffiness in the face and ankles.

Baby on the way? We’ll help you get glowing safely

For guidance you can trust while you’re expecting, come see our experienced skincare team at the Parker Center. Many of us are moms ourselves, and understand how frustrating it can be to deal with breakouts, irritation, or a patchy complexion on top of the other changes you are experiencing. During a and skin analysis, we will help you find the right treatments to safely improve your skin during your pregnancy. If you like, we’ll even help you design a long-term plan to achieve your skincare goals while juggling the role of being a new mom. Contact us today to get started!

Dermabrasion and Microdermabrasion During Pregnancy

Pregnancy hormones effect nearly every part of the body, especially the skin. Increased sensitivity and fluid retention are two of the more common complaints women have during pregnancy. Melasma, or red, splotchy skin, is often referred to as cloasma, or the pregnancy mask. While some women suffer from very few melasma changes, others see drastic changes as the pregnancy progresses. While dermabrasion and microdermabrasion are effective treatments of melasma, they are not considered safe to use during pregnancy. The increased sensitivity of the skin alone during pregnancy can lead to irritation, breakouts and uneven results. As well, with the body paying full attention to the growing fetus, recovery time could also be far longer for pregnant women.
Melasma, associated with pregnancy hormones, may continue until hormones return to a more normal level which, unfortunately, does not happen until months after giving birth. If dermabrasion or microdermabrasion are performed while hormone levels are high, the effect will be minimal or last only a short while; pregnancy related melasma will return. Further, dermabrasion and microdermabrasion require the use of before and after skin products which may not be suitable for women with increased skin sensitivity.

Dermabrasion and microdermabrasion involve scraping the uppermost layers of the skin by using a brush that is made of wire. Due to the increased sensitivity and immune response while pregnant, women who are expecting may be at increased risk for skin infections. Reducing the risk of infection of any kind during pregnancy is important to the health of both mom and her baby.
Home dermabrasion and microdermabrasion kits are created for use by women who are not pregnant. While the home kit will not affect the skin as much as office based treatments, there still remains the chance of breakouts and irritation. And, depending on the ingredients used in the home dermabrasion and microdermabrasion kit, some chemicals may be considered unsafe for use by pregnant women.

Pregnancy skin health you need to know


Throughout my pregnancy I experienced aches and pains, mainly lower back, leg pain and sciatic pain. I discovered massage really helped me to assist and manage muscular pain as well as taking time out for rest and relaxation. I personally believe it’s important and beneficial to take time out if you can, to nurture you and your baby during this special time. According to Aimee Raupp, a women’s health and fertility expert; when pregnant, positive emotions such as courage and joy and negative emotions like fear and anxiety not only affect our health and wellness, they affect the health and wellness of the baby growing inside our belly’

My massage therapist Chontelle Stevens, director of introduces massage into pregnancy at any time, providing the client has their doctor’s approval for the first trimester or during any pregnancy concerns such as high blood pressure.

• Check that your practitioner is qualified and experienced in performing pregnancy massage.
• Avoid massaging the belly completely. I do work on the hips and pelvis but leave the baby belly alone.
• There are some potential trigger points in the hands and feet and below the collarbone that need to be worked through gently – no downward pressure on these points until mum and bub are ready to meet!

The skin is consistently changing throughout pregnancy. Follow a simple yet effective skin health regime to gently cleanse and nourish your skin.

Treatments and ingredients that I would personally avoid during this special time are: –


Whilst pregnant I advise to stay away from the use of electrical modalities such as High frequency, and Galvanic current (Iontophoresis) a machine that is used usually to infuse and push serums deeper into the skin.

I’m often asked to treat pregnancy acne and pigmentation. Personally I don’t perform professional high percentage chemical peels on my clients whilst pregnant.

Skin can be extra sensitive during pregnancy due to factors such as your hormones and your overall immune system is down and working overtime for you and your bub. Lumps and bumps and skin discolouration may appear whilst pregnant and as soon as you’ve had your baby may instantly disappear. A common example of this is the butterfly mask of pregnancy. I’d also steer clear of any abrasive facial treatments that involve harsh scrubs and microdermabrasion.

Melasma presents itself usually like the shape of a butterfly on the face- this discolouration and darkening of the skin can be found usually on the chin, upper lip, cheeks and forehead. It is characterized by irregularly shaped light or dark brown patches of hyperpigmentation.

Hormones go into overdrive during pregnancy and this may explain hormonal breakouts and therefore over stimulation of the sebaceous glands and sweat glands. Acne may appear on the face (chin) chest and back.

Brightening and antioxidant serums to target pigmentation some are considered safe during pregnancy; I personally use ingredients such as Vitamin B (Niacinamide) also great to treat acne and skin congestion, Vitamin C a fantastic antioxidant and Rosehip facial oil, nourishing and also great for cell renewal.

I absolutely love the cosmetic ingredient Zinc oxide; fantastic to treat pigmentation and acne. This amazing ingredient when applied to the skin is anti-inflammatory, calms redness and when used in zinc-based lotion, hydrates the skin without clogging pores. As a sunscreen zinc reflects heat away from the skin- limiting exposure to ultraviolet light. Always wear a hat whilst outdoors and regularly apply your sunscreen.

Rashes, itchy and sensitive skin, are also heightened during pregnancy, not to mention your sense of smell! Steer clear of products containing artificial fragrances when pregnant, which may irritate skin and the strong aroma could possibly make you feel nauseous, and may contain chemicals such as parabens, and phthalates. Remember your skin is the largest organ and anything you apply to your skin may potentially not only affect you, possibly your little one too.

Look for organic and natural products by a reputable company, I always try to support Australian and local brands when possible.


Avoid leave on salicylic acid products, although there are some recent studies that when used as a spot treatment and low percentage is considered safe there is still not enough evidence to support this case.

RETINOIDS Including Topical And Oral Application
Vitamin A is a wonderful ingredient to turn back the clock, unfortunately this ingredient is contra indicated during pregnancy. Studies have shown high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy and breast-feeding can be harmful to an unborn child and may even cause birth defects.

or safe exfoliation opt for a low percentage lactic acid exfoliant to resurface and brighten the skin. Make sure you feel comfortable whilst experiencing a treatment. For example ask your therapist to slightly elevate the bed head and lye on your side with pillows supporting you under your belly. If unsure about a treatment firstly check with your doctor and never rush into anything, research is key.

© Amy Erbacher Copyright 2016

This information is provided for educational purposes only and is not intended to treat, diagnose or prevent any disease. The information is not intended to replace a one-on-one relationship with a qualified health care professional, doctor and is not intended as medical advice.

Are you pregnant and finding you’ve started struggling with breakouts?

While some women get that gorgeous pregnancy glow, you’ve ended up with annoying pregnancy acne.

It’s a common affliction, but that doesn’t mean there aren’t things you can do to prevent and treat breakouts. Read on for everything you need to know about battling those blemishes while pregnant best acne products to help.

We ♥ honesty! Mom Loves Best earns a commission through the following hand-picked links at no extra cost to you.

Quick Comparison

Our Top Pregnancy Acne Product Picks of 2020 Read Full Reviews

What Causes Acne During Pregnancy?

Hormones play a huge role in causing acne, and when you’re pregnant, you’ve got plenty of hormones coursing through your body.

Certain hormones can cause you to increase sebum, or oil, production, which can lead to breakouts (1). But it’s not the oil that causes you to break out — it’s the bacteria that naturally live on your skin.

This bacteria feeds on the excess oil and emits a substance that mixes with the oil and dead skin cells to inflame the skin and clog pores, resulting in breakouts.

Pregnancy hormones don’t cause acne in every woman, however. And even in the same woman, their response to hormonal fluctuations can vary between pregnancies. With my first pregnancy, I had horrible cystic acne throughout and immediately postpartum, while with my second, my skin was clearer than it had ever been.

If you’re one of the women who find yourself struggling with terrible skin when you’re pregnant, you’re probably wondering what you can do about it.

Acne Medication While Pregnant

There are generally four types of prescriptions physicians can choose from when treating a patient with acne.

  • Birth Control Pills: Birth control pills battle hormonal acne by helping to regulate your hormones. However, they are not appropriate during pregnancy as hormones are instrumental in helping your baby develop, and nothing should be done to interfere with them while you are pregnant.
  • Oral Antibiotics: Oral antibiotics target the bacteria on your skin that can cause acne. Some types of antibiotics are believed to be safe for pregnant women, while others are not (2).
  • Topical Retinoids: These are products you apply directly to your skin. They are derived from Vitamin A, and large amounts of Vitamin A can cause potential birth defects. Because anything you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream, these products should be avoided while pregnant (3).
  • Oral Retinoids: Containing the active ingredient isotretinoin, these oral pills are widely known to cause severe birth defects at any point in pregnancy. They should never be used during pregnancy and, if you are taking them and subsequently discover you’re pregnant, stop immediately and speak with your doctor. As you can see, no prescription acne product seems to be 100 percent safe while pregnant. Talk to your doctor if you experience severe acne, but it may be best to try to battle it with lifestyle modifications and over-the-counter products.

Acne Products While Pregnant

When treating acne with over-the-counter medications, be on the lookout for the following ingredients:

  • Benzoyl peroxide: This is one of the most common ingredients in over-the-counter topical acne products. It is believed to be safe for use while pregnant, but because it has not been tested on pregnant women, it’s not advised for regular, long-term use. Because it has a bleaching agent, it can also stain your clothes or linens. While it should be fine for occasional use to treat active breakouts, avoid it in your daily beauty routine.
  • Salicylic acid: Salicylic acid is another of the more common ingredients in over-the-counter acne products. While it is thought to be safe during pregnancy, it has not been proven completely safe and should be avoided for long-term use. It should be okay as a product to treat existing breakouts here and there, but not for daily use.
  • Topical retinoid: While many topical retinoids are prescription strength, there are over-the-counter versions. These are marketed as retinoids for acne or retinol, used in wrinkle repair products. These should be completely avoided during pregnancy as they contain high levels of Vitamin A, which has been associated with birth defects.
  • Glycolic acid: Glycolic acid helps remove excess oil and exfoliates your skin, and is considered safe for use during pregnancy. It is not as common as some of the other ingredients marketed for acne treatment, but may be present in some skincare products.

Always tell your doctor what over the counter products you are using to combat your acne to ensure that it is completely safe for your baby.

Editor’s Note:

Jennifer Schlette, MSN, RN

Managing Acne Breakouts While Pregnant

Because the active ingredients in almost all acne prescriptions and over-the-counter acne skin care products are not recommended for use during pregnancy, it’s best to opt for gentle, regular beauty products and battle your acne through your skin care routine, hygiene practices, and lifestyle modifications.

Here are some things you can try.

  • Wash your face, but not too frequently: Wash your face in the morning and at night to remove the oil, bacteria, makeup, and environmental pollutants. However, if you wash more frequently than that your skin will ramp up oil production to replenish the moisture removed during washing, and it can cause more problems than it solves.
  • Exfoliate: Exfoliate gently to remove excess skin cells that can clog your pores. Using an exfoliating product 2 to 3 times per week is enough — any more frequently than that can irritate your skin. The same is true if you suffer from acne on your back or body. Using an exfoliating loofah can do wonders for your body acne.
  • Moisturize: It’s tempting to skip the moisturizer when you feel like your skin is oily or greasy, but if you skip it, your skin will overcompensate with oil production because it will feel too dry.
  • Choose non-comedogenic makeup: If you’re struggling with breakouts, make sure that all moisturizers, serums, and makeup products are labeled as non-comedogenic — meaning it will not clog your pores.
  • Wash your pillowcase: Your face spends a whole lot of hours rubbing against your pillowcase, and dirt, oil, and bacteria build up quickly. Wash your pillowcase regularly — or even cover it with a clean towel each night — to keep the gunk from clogging your pores while you sleep.
  • Wear your hair up: Your hair carries oils, so keep it away from your face, especially when sleeping to keep it from transferring the oil to your face.
  • Don’t touch your face: Avoid touching your fingers to your face as it can transfer dirt, bacteria, and oils to your face.
  • Eat clean: When you eat high-glycemic foods, it causes your blood sugar to rise, your insulin to spike, and your hormone levels to adjust, potentially causing acne. Avoiding sugar and high glycemic foods can help tame your breakouts, and eating clean in general can reduce inflammation which contributes to acne.
  • Use a light-based product: There are many light masks or light pens designed to treat acne by killing the bacteria on your face. These do not introduce a substance that is absorbed into your skin and are considered safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Ditch dairy: Just about everything about dairy is bad for your skin if you are prone to acne. It contains a large amount of IGF-1 and endogenous hormones, but also causes your skin to produce excess sebum which leads to clogged pores.

The Best Pregnancy Acne Products of 2020

Now that you have a good idea of what to look for, here are our top picks to help you battle your pregnancy acne.

1. Aleavia Purifying Organic Facial Cleanser

Best Face Wash for Pregnancy Acne

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Though it’s tempting to choose a face wash designed for acne to help with your breakouts, most of them contain ingredients like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid that are not considered safe for use during pregnancy. Instead, opt for a gentle cleanser that will clean your skin but not irritate it.

This plant-based cleanser is everything your skin is craving with none of the harmful additives. It uses natural prebiotics to help restore balance and heal acne rather than using harsh chemicals. It also contains oils to help keep your skin moisturized so it won’t become overly dry.

Not only does this product help to clear your acne, but it also can help combat the dark skin patches that can occur during pregnancy.

This cleanser is made from organic and natural ingredients and is paraben-free, which is helpful because parabens can mimic estrogen in the body. It also has no fragrances or dyes, which can irritate your skin — especially if it’s more sensitive during pregnancy.

2. Orange Blossom Water Face Toner

Best Toner to Try

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A toner is a great part of your skin care regimen because it helps to restore the pH balance on your face, and also remove all traces of makeup and other debris that can clog pores and cause breakouts.

Many contain alcohol to work as an astringent, but that can tend to dry your face out. This particular toner uses orange blossom to both cleanse the skin and restore the natural acidity that is removed after cleansing.

The orange blossom in this toner also has antimicrobial properties, which further helps to fight acne-causing bacteria on your skin.

It is cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, so it will work with almost any woman’s lifestyle.

3. Neutrogena Hydro Boost

Best Facial Moisturizer for Pregnancy Acne

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Choose a non-comedogenic moisturizer that does not contain retinoids or retinol. Opt for one that is effective to thoroughly hydrate your skin — often acne occurs because the skin is too dry and your body overcompensates for it with excessive oil production.

This particular moisturizer keeps your skin hydrated with hyaluronic acid. Its gel-like consistency allows it to go on smooth and easily and be worn under makeup while still helping to hydrate your skin all day.

Hyaluronic acid occurs naturally in your body, and is safe to use on your skin during pregnancy.

It is fragrance-free, dye-free, and oil-free so it is suitable for people with sensitive skin. It is also non- comedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores and cause further breakouts.

If you’d like, you can also purchase companion products in the Hydro Boost line to make a whole skin care routine with one line of products that are designed to work together.

4. Belli Anti-Blemish Facial Wash

Best Dual Purpose Cleanser

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Rich in lactic acid and other natural ingredients, this face wash targets hormonal acne in a gentle, refreshing way. Not only is it free of dangerous chemicals, but also common acne-fighting ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. These are known for causing excessive dryness and irritation, which only leads to more breakouts.

Instead, the soothing formula is rich in antioxidants good for you skin. It’s even gone through a special screening process to ensure it doesn’t contain any ingredients known to cause defects or harm to your baby.

More than anything else, we love that moms can use this as a facial wash or a mask. You get two for the price of one with double the benefits.

To use as a daily cleanser, simply wet the skin and massage it in for sixty seconds before rinsing. To use as a mask, apply as normal but leave it on the face for up to five minutes.

5. Freeman Facial Manuka Clay Mask

Best Face Mask for Acne

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Choose a face mask that will pull dirt, grime, and sebum from deep within your pores without being overly drying. And make sure to follow it up immediately with a moisturizer to replenish the moisture you lost while using your mask.

This dual mask and cleanser uses honey and tea tree oil to battle acne. Both are all-natural antibacterial agents that can help kill the acne-causing bacteria on your skin without harsh chemicals. It also helps to remove oil without over-drying.

Even better, it’s one of the most affordable products available.

It can be used as a mask for deep cleaning, or used as a cleanser if you’re in a hurry. However, we recommend only using as a mask occasionally as opposed to a daily cleanser due to the tea tree oil.

Though it’s an all-natural ingredient, tea tree oil can be dangerous during pregnancy if used too frequently or improperly. As long as you don’t ingest it or use it directly on your skin in an undiluted form, it should be safe to use. To be safe, you should wait to use products with tea tree oil until after the first trimester.

6. Swisspers Exfoliating Cotton Rounds

Best Exfoliating Cotton Rounds

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When using your toner, give it some extra help by using exfoliating cotton rounds to apply it rather than the regular variety.

These rounds have one side that are rougher than the other, allowing them to gently scrub your skin to remove excess makeup, debris, and skin cells so it doesn’t clog your pores. This is particularly helpful for breakouts on your forehead or along your hairline.

These versatile rounds can also be used for makeup application or other beauty uses.

As a person who has waged a personal acne battle for over 20 years, I have recently discovered these exfoliating rounds and they have had the biggest impact on my breakouts over anything I’ve ever tried — including medicated products.

7. Clean & Clear Persa-Gel Spot Treatment

Best Acne Treatment Cream

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While you should avoid medicated products on a daily basis, occasional use of salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide products are widely considered safe for spot treatments. As long as you’re not trying to treat frequent breakouts, feel free to use acne products on an as-needed basis.

This 10 percent benzoyl peroxide product is designed to attack breakouts with a prescription-strength concentration. While you shouldn’t use this product every day of your pregnancy, it should be safe to use on occasion to battle embarrassing breakouts so they heal faster.

It helps tackle blemishes deep in the pores, at their source. It helps to dry out your pimples so they heal faster.

Because of this, it may dry out your skin. But if you’re not over-using it, this likely won’t be an issue.

8. Maybelline Dream Liquid Mousse Airbrush Foundation

Best Foundation for Pregnancy Acne

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Choose a light foundation that is labeled as non-comedogenic, which means it won’t clog your pores. It needs to provide enough coverage to mask your existing breakout, but light enough that it won’t cause additional skin problems.

All the foundations marketed for acne-prone skin contain ingredients that are not recommended for daily use during pregnancy. This foundation is non-comedogenic, but will still offer you a full-coverage, smooth-looking finish to help create the illusion of flawless skin.

It can be worn for up to 16 hours, and is suitable for use on sensitive skin. It comes in several different colors to match your perfect shade and is lightweight despite its full coverage.

It also helps to moisturize your skin to keep it healthy and prevent it from drying out.

9. Almay Clear Complexion Concealer

Best Concealer for Pregnancy Acne

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If you have the occasional blemish you want to cover and treat, it’s okay to choose one with benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. As long as these aren’t products you’re using every day, they shouldn’t affect your baby — and they’ll help you get rid of your breakout faster.

This concealer comes in three different shades to help you choose the one that best matches your complexion. It is formulated with salicylic acid to help clear your breakouts, which is okay for occasional use but should not be used daily.

It has a mineral complex to absorb oil throughout the day and keep your face from appearing too shiny. It is hypoallergenic so it’s not likely to irritate your skin, and contains both aloe and chamomile to help reduce inflammation and reduce redness.

It is a full coverage concealer, meaning it is thick enough to cover your blemishes well. There are also additional products in the line if you’d like to purchase a full product line to help cover and heal your skin during breakouts.

The Bottom Line

My top product to help you battle pregnancy-related acne is Aleavia Purifying Organic Facial Cleanser. It contains natural and organic ingredients that will help to gently cleanse your skin without irritating it.

Because it doesn’t contain any ingredients that could be potentially harmful while pregnant, it’s safe to use every day. It also doesn’t have any irritants and can even help combat other skin conditions that are common during pregnancy, like skin darkening.

Pregnancy acne can be stubborn and frustrating, but with the right products, you can turn those constant breakouts into a true pregnancy glow.

Do you have any problems with acne during your pregnancy? How are you fighting it? What products are working the best for you? Let us know down in the comments below.

Pregnancy & Skin-Care: Which Products Are Safe?

Pregnancy is an exciting time for women, but it comes with many health-related challenges for both the baby and mum-to-be. Concerns include everything from what to eat and what not to eat, what medicine you can take or not, and what to do or not do about the many changes your body is going through. Pregnant women also wonder about which skincare products are OK to use and which ones are not — that’s where we can help!

Because some ingredients — both from prescription drugs and some skincare products — are absorbed into the body when applied to skin, it’s important to know what’s safe for use during pregnancy and what to avoid.

Although it’s always important for you to check with your GP, as a general rule, most skincare products are fine to use throughout your pregnancy. However, prescription and over-the-counter skincare ingredients are a different issue. Below we explain what you need to know to make an informed decision.

What to use and what not to use

We’re often asked about whether products containing benzoyl peroxide, skin brightening ingredients, sunscreen actives or salicylic acid are safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. Unfortunately, many doctors don’t have an answer at the ready, leaving mums-to-be frustrated and confused. We consulted the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists regarding the products of which we are asked about most. Here is what they had to say:

  • Retinol. While pregnant or nursing it’s best to avoid retinol (vitamin A), prescribed forms of retinol or retinol derivates (retinyl retinoate, retinaldehyde or hydroxypinacolone retinoate).
  • Skin brighteners (that contain hydroquinone). It is best to avoid using them during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Paula’s Choice would also not recommend using products that contain arbutin due to its correlation with hydroquinone.
  • Benzoyl peroxide is an excellent ingredient to combat blemishes and is considered safe in low concentrations (5% or less) when you are pregnant.
  • Prescription topical antibiotics are considered safe for use during pregnancy.
  • Salicylic acid (BHA) is a superior exfoliant for skin but when used in high concentrations for professional peels, it is considered a risk when you are pregnant. However, the small percentages used in skincare (2% or lower) are considered safe. You can also consider using glycolic acid or lactic acid (AHA) exfoliants as an alternative as these are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy.
  • Sunscreen actives, as demonstrated in several studies, are not known to be a risk during pregnancy. Despite fears incorrectly promoted in the media by a few fringe groups, the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has not found any of the alleged fears about sunscreen ingredients substantiated by medical research. As a result, daily sunscreen use is strongly recommend by dermatologists. If you find your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, consider using sunscreens with gentle mineral actives containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide.

Adressing skin concerns during pregnancy

How can you address your skin concerns in a safe manner during your pregnancy? Don’t worry! There are ways you can take great care of your skin while having peace of mind that your baby is safe. Depending on your skin concern, here’s what you can do (of course, be sure to discuss these recommendations with your GP):

Skin discolourations (hyperpigmentation) during pregnancy):

  • When used on a regular basis, exfoliation can help to fade discolourations. While mild scrubs are an option, they are not as effective as a chemical exfoliant, i.e. AHA or BHA. Paula’s Choice offers several different exfoliants for the face comprised of low concentrations of AHA or BHA. There’s one for each skin type and concern. Want to address skin discolourations on the body? Consider an AHA body lotion, like Paula’s Choice Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA.
  • Always apply a sunscreen rated at least SPF 30 every day, all year round, without exception! Due to its immediate protection upon application, a mineral sunscreen is excellent for preventing and minimising pigmentation Because many foundations and pressed powders contain mineral sunscreen ingredients, you can add sunscreen to your skincare routine when applying your makeup. Keep in mind you must apply sunscreen daily, rain or shine, and apply it liberally!
  • Ask your GP about using azelaic acid. It is a topical medication considered safe for use during pregnancy and has good research showing it can improve brown skin discolourations. Or try our 10% Azelaic Acid Booster that helps to fade brown spots.

Stretch Marks:

Stretch marks that occur during or after pregnancy are caused by the skin becoming stretched and expanded for a period of time. The abnormal stretching causes a breakdown or rupture in the skin’s support structure of collagen and elastin (particularly elastin, which gives skin its bounce-back quality).

  • Stretch marks seem to be genetically related as some women get them and others don’t, yet no one is sure why.
  • Stretch marks are one of the toughest skincare concerns to treat because there are no cosmetic ingredients or products that can really improve them.
  • Massaging your skin with a serum or non-fragrant plant oil during pregnancy can help it become more pliable and reduce the risk of stretch marks.
  • After delivery and past the breastfeeding stage, certain prescription retinoids can improve stretch marks slightly.
  • Other medical cosmetic corrective treatments to consider (again, after the delivery and breastfeeding stage) include: Intense Pulsed Light (IPL) or Pulsed Dye Laser (PDL) treatments, alpha hydroxy acid or beta hydroxy acid peels.

Rosacea During Pregnancy:

  • Topical nitroimidazole antibiotic medications are considered safe for use during pregnancy.
  • Azelaic acid can help with acne and discolouration, but some find it effective for controlling symptoms of rosacea, too. It is safe for use during pregnancy. Our Azelaic Acid Booster works to reduce breakouts and diminish red marks from past blemishes.
  • A gentle mineral sunscreen with titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide is advised for those with rosacea, whether they’re pregnant or not. For extra protection, use a foundation or tinted moisturiser with a mineral-based sunscreen.

Anti-Ageing/Wrinkles During Pregnancy.

  • Avoid prescription retinoids and over-the-counter products with retinol (due to its relation to prescription retinoids). If you normally use this type of product, consider switching to an anti-ageing serum that does not contain retinol, like Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum.
  • There isn’t any documented concern about common “cosmeceutical” ingredients such as vitamin C, niacinamide, peptides or other types of antioxidants and cell-communicating ingredients when used during pregnancy.
  • Ongoing use of skincare products loaded with antioxidants and skin-repairing ingredients is highly recommended, but again, be sure to check with your physician and follow his or her advice.

Although the information above isn’t meant to be exhaustive, it should give you a clear idea of what’s OK to use during pregnancy and what should be avoided. The most important takeaway is you can achieve your skincare goals during pregnancy, and that’s sure to put your mind at ease! As a reminder, it is always a good idea to consult your physician about the use of any over-the-counter or prescription drugs you’re considering while pregnant or breastfeeding.

When you’re pregnant, everything revolves around the life growing inside you. There are so many ways that your lifestyle changes, from the clothes you wear to the food you eat. Some expecting mothers also change their beauty routines in order to avoid certain ingredients. It’s typical to wonder how the shampoo, body wash, moisturizer, or face serum you use every day might affect your growing baby.

Fortunately, the majority of over-the-counter products are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy, Sherry Ross, M.D., an ob/gyn and women’s health expert at Providence Saint John’s Health Center, tells SELF. But there are a handful of ingredients doctors generally tell their pregnant patients to avoid. In most cases, the science isn’t crystal-clear on whether or how dangerous they might be for a developing baby, but since it’s pretty easy to take particular products out of your skin-care and beauty regimens, the guidance is to play it safe. (Some are definite no-gos—read on.)

Annoyingly, several ingredients that make the do-not-use-for-40-weeks list are great for treating the exact skin issues that crop up during pregnancy as a result of your hormones going bonkers. Moms-to-be battling breakouts—a common side effect of pregnancy—should stay away from the oral prescription treatments Accutane and spironolactone, which are known to cause birth defects. There are alternatives—including the antibiotics erythromycin and clindamycin—which can be safely used during pregnancy, according to Dr. Ross. When it comes to over-the-counter acne treatments, benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid are generally considered to be fine when applied topically, but there’s little research and no set safety limit, so check with your doctor before using them.

We regret to report that retinol users will want to keep their skin-smoothing serums on the shelf. Anna Guanche, M.D., a dermatologist at Bella Skin Institute, warns that pregnant women should avoid anything with Retin A (tretinoin), retinol, retinoic acid, or any other vitamin A derivative, because they may be associated with birth defects. Not much is absorbed into the body, and the link is still controversial, but doctors recommend nixing retinoids to be safe, especially during the first trimester.

If you happen to experience hyperpigmentation or melasma, which are both common during pregnancy, you can use a skin-brightening treatment as long as it doesn’t contain hydroquinone. There’s only limited evidence that it could cause pregnancy complications, but because it’s known to absorb well into the body, pregnant women are advised not to use it, warns Kameelah Phillips, M.D., an ob/gyn.

Some pregnant women choose to avoid nail polish containing formaldehyde, though that might be more of a concern for whoever is doing your nails. The chemical—which is often used as a preservative and can be found in countless places—is a known carcinogen that can cause developmental defects and negative pregnancy outcomes when inhaled in large amounts or for long periods of time. The Centers for Disease Control warns women who work in health-care settings, funeral homes, and, yes, salons to be wary of exposure during pregnancy. If it makes you feel better, you can switch to “3-free” polishes from brands such as Essie and OPI (or Sundays, which calls their polishes 10-free) that exclude formaldehyde, along with dibutyl phthalate (part of a group of chemicals, some of which are known carcinogens) and toluene (which can cause birth defects if inhaled at very high levels).

While all of this might sound scary and intimidating, the truth is that most of what you pick up at the store is perfectly safe to use while you’re pregnant. And it’s your choice to cut out ingredients that make you uneasy—your peace of mind during pregnancy is important, too! If you have any questions about the products you use, go over your skin-care and beauty regimen with your doctor. That’s what she’s there for.

It’s a lot, we know. So we asked moms who’ve already gone through it to share the beauty products they loved most while they were expecting. Not only did they feel confident using them, but they stand by the results.

Baby On Board? These Are The Skin Care Lines Doctors Recommend For Pregnant Women

Now that you’re pregnant, you’re probably reading up on just about everything you can get your hands on to learn what to do (and what not to do) to have the healthiest pregnancy and baby possible. Of course, this starts with eliminating booze (goodbye beloved glass of red wine), parting ways with some of your favorite foods (ahem, sushi and soft cheeses), and cutting back on coffee, but it also means changing up your skin care routine to make sure all your products are pregnancy-approved.

What exactly does that mean? “Generally, when ingredients are not to be used in pregnancy, it is because they are either known to cause harm to the fetus or the effects in humans are unknown, but evidence — usually in animal studies — suggests that they could potentially be harmful to the fetus and risk cannot be fully ruled out,” says Sejal Shah, MD, NYC Dermatologist and RealSelf contributor.

But, chances are, you won’t have to switch up your everyday grooming routine all that much. Using a mild cleanser with warm water, nutrient-packed moisturizer, and mineral sunscreen is encouraged. The tricky part has to do with treating acne, which can worsen during pregnancy thanks to the surge of hormones your body is creating to house your developing baby, as well as signs of aging. Steer clear of things like chemical sunscreens, exfoliating beta hydroxy acids such as salicylic acid, skin-lightening hydroquinone, and retinol or other vitamin A derivatives.

While you could spend hours in Sephora reading ingredient labels, it’s way easier to ask the docs. Here are the skin care lines they recommend to their expecting patients, plus what you need to know about prescription skin care.

8 Anti-Aging Products You Should Avoid During Pregnancy (and 5 That Are Safe to Use)

All sorts of routines shift during pregnancy, from what you eat to what you wear. This is true for your skincare regimen, too, particularly if it involves anti-aging products.

“Skincare in pregnancy can be tricky,” says Deanne Robinson, MD, a dermatologist and the president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology of Connecticut.

Tricky, but not impossible! Rest assured: There’s no need to abandon your anti-aging efforts entirely. While some of your go-to, miracle-working products (ahem, retinols) are problematic during pregnancy, there are many safe and effective alternatives. To keep yourself and baby free from harm, read through the ingredient list on all products carefully.

Skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

Topping the list of ingredients to avoid when you’re expecting: retinol, retin-A, retinoic acid, and tazaratene. All are derived from vitamin A, and while the vitamin work can wonders on your skin, excessive amounts can interfere with fetal development and lead to birth defects, says Dr. Robinson.

She also advises against using anti-aging products that contain the chemical bleaching agent hydroquinone, since animal studies have raised concerns over its carcinogenicity, as well as benzoyl peroxide.

Also on the “stay away” list: salicylic acid and willow bark. “These are related to aspirin, which studies show is contraindicated in pregnancy,” says Anna Guanche, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California. (A counterpoint: “We use low-dose aspirin in certain high risk patients and the amount in a skin cream is very low. I feel comfortable having most of my patients use daily,” says John Thoppil, MD, an Austin, Texas-based ob-gyn.)

Overwhelmed? Your best option is always to check with your dermatologist or ob-gyn to see if an ingredient is safe or a no-go.

Pregnancy-safe anti-aging skincare ingredients

Don’t despair if the ingredients listed above form the backbone of your anti-aging regimen. There are lots of alternative ingredients to try out—and they’re highly effective as well.

“During my four pregnancies, I relied on topical antioxidants in the morning,” Dr. Robinson says. “They help protect against UV rays, free radicals, and environmental toxin damages.” Antioxidents and acids (such as lactic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and azelaic acid) are a great option for pregnant women, she says. Apply vitamin C, for instance, to repair environmental damage and increase collagen synthesis, says Dr. Robinson. (Here, some of our all-time favorite vitamin C serums.) Or try azelaic acid to “help battle acne and hyperpigmentation, both of which are issues in pregnancy,” she adds.

Below, a few anti-aging products dermatologists recommend for use while you’re expecting—or anytime at all.

Many pregnant women wonder if they can have microdermabrasion during pregnancy. Microdermabrasion in Houston is basically a process of mechanically removing the outer layer of dead or damaged skin from the face to treat blemished, wrinkled, aged and rough skin.

This 45 minute procedure removes the topmost layer of skin by gently exfoliating it with natural diamond chips, while at the same time vacuuming the dead skin cells away in a sterile and controlled manner. As the epidermis has no blood vessels, there usually isn’t any bleeding during microdermabrasion. Removing this outer layer of dead skin cells leaves a smoother texture and promotes the growth of healthy new skin cells. This is not a one-time treatment; with no down time, this procedure can be repeated every 4-8 weeks to maintain healthy, rejuvenated skin.

The hormonal changes in a woman during pregnancy can cause several skin problems to emerge: Excess hormones and lack of adequate hydration can make the skin look really dull. A pregnant woman can also suffer from a skin disorder called melasma, where she develops hormonally- charged brown spots on the cheeks, forehead and around the mouth and eyes. Increased oil production can lead to excessive breakouts in some pregnant woman, as well.

Microdermabrasion with a current, medical-grade machine like Bella Rosa Houston medical spa DiamondTome can buff and polish the skin to minimize some of these unwanted pregnancy-related skin changes. Microdermabrasion is safe to have during pregnancy, as long as a few key changes are made to the process. When the skin is being cleansed prior to the procedure, it is important that the provider choose a non alpha or beta hydroxy acid cleanser to prep your skin since these commonly used acids are contraindicated during pregnancy.

The skin can still be steamed and extractions can be performed, although the mom-to-be will have to communicate with the provider if the steam seems too hot or the extractions too painful. A gentle, sensitive, or medium handpiece may be used for the actual procedure, depending on the skin type of the patient, and passes may be reduced depending on the reaction of the skin during the procedure. Any Houston chemical peels added at the end of microdermabrasion procedures should be avoided, as they are contraindicated in pregnancy. As with any procedure performed on expecting mothers, it is best to obtain clearance from the obstetrician prior to having this procedure performed.

Like many medical-grade procedures, there can be some adverse reactions with microdermabrasion, specifically in pregnancy. Some of the hormonal changes make a pregnant woman’s skin very sensitive, so choosing the right procedure with skilled providers and great equipment is be key to safe and effective results. Microdermabrasion can cause adverse skin reactions like blemishes, itchiness, irritation, breakouts and dryness on this sensitive skin. The hormonal changes in a pregnant woman also slow down the skin’s recovery process wherein skin cells take longer time to form and reach the skin surface. This gives way to scars and hypo pigmentation spots on the treated skin if overly aggressive or inappropriate procedures are performed.

So for all these reasons, its better to see an experienced and reputable skincare expert prior to undergoing a medical-grade microdermabrasion. Our team at Bella Rosa Rejuvenation Clinic remains committed to ensuring the safe delivery of an effective procedure during one of the most important times in a woman’s life.

Microdermabrasion is arguably one of the most popular, time-proven methods of consistent skin care that dramatically improve skin tone and texture call Bella Rosa today at 713-383-ROSA (7672) or email us via our contact page.

Microdermabrasion when Pregnant


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Is microdermabrasion safe during pregnancy?

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