Safe for Pregnancy Skin Care Products: 2022 Buyer’s Guide

A couple of years ago, our founder Christine found out she was pregnant for the first time. While she was obviously excited about her little one on the way, she also was faced with a ton of stress and anxiety keeping her, and the little one, safe, and that included switching up everything she was putting on her skin.  

A lot of thoughts rush through your head when you first get pregnant, but the concerns around skincare were some that stood out to Christine, since what you put onto your skin is absorbed into your body and really can impact a developing baby.  

After countless hours of reading and researching safe skin care products, filtering through conflicting opinions, and still feeling uncertain in everything she was buying, she knew there had to be a better way to help new mamas find safe products, so eventually she decided to just create her own line of pregnancy-safe soaps, face masks, foot soaks, lotions, bath bombs, and more.

Seriously, the idea for our Glow Organics brand came after a frustrating trip down the aisles of Target for baby-safe body wash; after reading a handful of confusing ingredients listed without any luck, Christine was finally over it. With Glow Organics, mom can easily find an array of products to pamper herself during pregnancy, and best of all, she’ll actually understand what she’s reading when she scans over the ingredients list.

This guide is another way we want to help moms find and understand pregnancy-safe skincare. It has everything we’ve learned over the years — in both our pregnancies and with talking to other moms facing the same challenges — so you can find everything you need to know about safely shopping for pregnancy skincare in one place.

In this guide, you’ll find:

Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy

Most of these ingredients are unsafe for everybody, but they’re especially dangerous for healthy fetal development because babies in the womb are more susceptible to the harms these chemicals pose.  

  • Aluminum Chloride – Deodorant: The aluminum in deodorant is what stops you from sweating, it does this by essentially clogging your pores and preventing any sweat from escaping. Not only is this unhealthy for your underarms, but aluminum chloride has also been linked to the development of breast cancer cells.  
  • Benzoyl Peroxide – Acne products: The safety of benzoyl peroxide during pregnancy is up in the air; some say it’s fine to use in small doses while others advise against it entirely. To play it safe, we recommend avoiding this ingredient unless your doctor suggests otherwise.
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) – Self-tanners & spray tans: DHAs aren’t necessarily unsafe, but their effects on a developing fetus are unknown, so many doctors advise staying away from the ingredient for at least the first trimester of pregnancy. Fortunately, many brands have started to sell self-tanners without this chemical so pregnant women can feel better about what they’re using.  
  • Formaldehyde – Nail polish:  Probably a pretty self-explanatory one — formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and long-term exposure to this toxic chemical can cause death.  
  • Hydroquinone – Skin-brightening cream: Like formaldehyde, hydroquinone has been linked to many cancers, and despite being available in the U.S., is banned in many other countries. We suggest all people avoid these chemicals, whether you’re pregnant or not.
  • Oxybenzone – Chemical sunscreen: Oxybenzone is used as a chemical filter in sunscreens and is currently being researched by the FDA as a possible carcinogen and endocrine disruptor. It’s also been linked to Hirschsprung’s Disease, a rare birth defect that can be life-threatening.  
  • Parabens and Phthalates – Shampoo and hair care: Parabens (specifically methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben, and ethylparaben) and phthalates can hamper hormone function, and birth defects can happen when reproductive hormone production is thrown out of whack.
  • Retinoids – Anti-aging and acne treatments: Retinoids, and other vitamin A derivatives such as Tretinoin, Retin-A and Differin, are known to cause severe birth defects.  

While you should completely avoid the ingredients mentioned above, it’s also a good idea to limit your exposure to the chemicals listed below, as they can be considered unsafe in larger doses:

  • Hydroxy acids, including Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), Beta-hydroxy acids (BHA), and Poly-hydroxy acids (PHA); otherwise known as:
    • Betaine salicylate
    • Citric acid
    • Lactic acid
    • Salicylic acid
    • Trethocanic acid
    • Tropic acid
  • Azelaic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Glycolic acid, otherwise known as:
    • Dicarbonous acid
    • 2-hydroxyethanoic acid
    • Hydroacetic acid
    • Hydroxyacetic acid
  • Hydroxycaproic acid

Our Recommended Safe for Pregnancy Skincare Products

Since starting our Glow Organics brand, we’ve had the chance to connect with some other pretty awesome pregnancy-safe skincare brands, and we feature their products on our website and in our Bump Boxes to introduce moms to a variety of options.

Some of those brands include Promise, Earth Mama, Mambino Organics, Previse, Humble, Bella B, and Timeless Beauty Bar.

Of course, we’ve thoroughly vetted every product on our site and all of the ingredients in them so we can be certain what we’re offering to our mamas is 100 percent safe for her and baby.

Let’s dive into our list of go-to products from these brands as well as our Glow Organics line.

Facial Cleansers & Body Wash

Hydrating Facial Cleanser by Promise & Radiant Glow Hydrating Face Cream by Promise

One reason we love promise’s acne-fighting facial cleanser is that it also doubles as a gentle makeup remover. And best of all, it contains a blend of natural ingredients to improve your skin’s overall health — antioxidants in green tea shield your skin from pollutants and UV rays, probiotics clear blemishes, and vitamin C reverses sunspots and stimulates collagen production. And that’s not even the full list of skin-enhancing ingredients in Promise’s top-rated cleanser.

Mariah, our Social Media Marketing Coordinator, swears by Promise’s facial cleanser and moisturizer, as it helped clear and soothe her problem spots after switching from Proactiv.

Promise’s Hydrating Face Cream contains vitamin C, shea butter, jojoba oil, hyaluronic acid, and a mix of other hydrating ingredients to give the skin a real glow. And it contains lavender and bergamot oil to give the lotion a mildly sweet scent.

We recommend Promise’s Hydrating Face Cream not only because we’ve tried and loved it, but also because it’s made with ingredients to fill in lines and smooth skin’s texture, meaning it may help prevent wrinkles, fine lines, and other signs of aging.

Foaming Face Wash by Bella B

Bella B’s Foaming Face Wash is another great product to treat hormonal acne and postpartum skin troubles without the use of salicylic acid and other unsafe chemicals, making it the perfect option for moms with sensitive skin.

Made with a combination of all-natural ingredients, including organic green tea, aloe vera, acai, and shea butter, Bella B’s facial cleanser evens skin tone, removes dirt and bacteria from within the pores, and acts as a toner to refresh your skin without stripping away its natural oils. Plus, mom’s love that Bella B’s Foaming Face Wash smells amazing.    

Face Masks & Under-Eye Patches

Charcoal Face and Body Mask by Glow Organics

Glow Charcoal Mask

If you’ve seen success using charcoal-based skincare in the past, or you’re a fan of our charcoal face and body wash, you may want to supplement your normal day-to-day routine with our organic, deep cleansing face and body charcoal mask.

Remember, activated charcoal in skincare acts like a magnet for dirt and other build-up beneath the skin. When using charcoal masks in addition to your normal cleanser, they completely unclog pores by drawing out the remaining impurities your normal facial cleanser can’t. Moms can use this mask once a week, or every other day, to help her skin feel ultra-clean and glowy.

Note: we suggest keeping an eye on how your skin responds to the charcoal mask to determine how often you can or should be using it, as those with more sensitive skin will only want to do face masks weekly or biweekly.  

Face the Day Sheet Mask by Timeless Beauty Bar

We sell two Timeless Beauty Bar face masks on our website — Face the Day and Glam and Glow — to help mom feel pampered with minimal effort. These sheet masks are loaded with healthy ingredients to bring mom’s skin back to life, and they’re super simple to use, so mom can do a mask while completing other chores (and not have to worry about smearing product anywhere or staining clothing). Timeless Beauty Bar’s Face the Day mask is our go to for dry skin and tired eyes, and is great to use when your skin is just feeling bleh.

On the other hand, we prefer the Glam and Glow mask when acne or discoloration appears and your skin needs a quick boost of hydration. Timeless Beauty Bar’s sheet masks receive glowing reviews on our site, and both masks are non-irritating enough to use on sensitive skin.

Coconut Eyes by ToGoSpa

Puffy eyes and pregnancy go hand-in-hand for many moms, and this is even more so true for mamas who struggle with pregnancy insomnia. ToGoSpa’s coconut and vitamin D eye patches contain safe ingredients, including collagen, hyaluronic acid, and amino acids, to refresh tired eyes and reverse under-eye bags.

Mamas also love these eye patches because they contain lavender oil, amongst other calming ingredients, to help moms relax and destress before the day. Many reviews of ToGoSpa’s Coconut Eyes say they’re the perfect product for when you need to feel better after a night of poor sleep.    


Energize+Natural Body Lotion by Glow Organics

Give your body and mind a boost in the mornings with our energizing body lotion, made with all-natural, hydrating ingredients to keep your skin radiant and soft. A blend of nourishing oils deeply quenches dry skin to prevent itching and burning, while orange, grapefruit, and lemon essential oils stimulates the mind to wake you up and help you feel ready for the day. And although our lotion can’t completely prevent stretch marks from forming, it can combat these lines by moisturizing your skin.  

Belly Butters, Oils, & Serums

Pure+Organic Body Butter by Glow Organics

Our Pure Belly Butter is developed with the safest, most effective blend of butters and oils for reversing stretch marks: organic shea and cocoa butters, organic grapeseed and sweet almond oils, and macadamia nut.

These simple, natural ingredients moisturize the growing baby bump to eliminate itch, enhance elasticity, and fill in lines to leave the skin feeling soft and smooth. Plus, many moms love that our belly butter is unscented and non-greasy, making it ideal for moms who are sensitive to scents or struggling with morning sickness.    

Belly Oil by Kanu Mother & Glow Organics

Boost skin elasticity ands fight stretch marks with ultra-hydrating belly oil.

Enriched with ingredients including avocado oil, MCT oil, and shea butter, these belly oils have been specially formulated to soothe itch and nourish stretching skin.

Love Lines Stretch Mark & Scar Balm 

Previse’s MommyBalm Stretch Mark Cream is considered one of the best, and it’s available on our website for less than half of what Previse charges for this 2 oz. tube on their website.

We feature and recommend this product to our customers because it’s made entirely of plant-based, clinically-tested ingredients, safe for all skin types, effective at relieving the burn associated with a growing belly, and with consistent use, MommyBalm actually smoothes out stretch marks.

Moms can feel confident about Previse’s stretch mark solution since it’s naturally free of parabens and phthalates, dyes, fragrances, petroleum, mineral oil, PEGs (polyglycols), and xenoestrogens.

Common Questions about Pregnancy-Safe Skincare

Below, we discuss what we’ve learned from experience, along with some of the most common questions we hear about safe skincare for pregnancy.  

When do you need to switch out your skincare?

You should stop using any skincare with potentially-harmful chemicals as soon as you find out you’re pregnant. This is because your baby grows quite a bit during the first trimester, and many of these ingredients pose risks to healthy fetal development.

Although there are a lot of things to do once you realize you’re pregnant, and buying new skincare may not seem like it belongs at the top of your to-do list, you should try to eliminate your baby’s exposure to unsafe chemicals as soon as you possibly can.

Are anti-aging products OK to use during pregnancy?

Many anti-aging products rely on ingredients like retinol, hydroxy acids, and citric acid to fill out wrinkles and smooth skin, and all of these ingredients are on our list of chemicals to avoid. Unless you can find products made entirely of safe ingredients, we suggest hitting pause on your anti-aging regimen until you’re no longer pregnant or breastfeeding.    

Can I tan during pregnancy? Is it OK to use self-tanners during pregnancy?

Pregnant mamas should avoid hot temperatures, as elevating the core body temperature above 102 degrees Fahrenheit can cause birth defects; so that means tanning beds, hot tubs, and even hot baths are off-limits. Tanning beds are also a bad idea during pregnancy because women are more prone to sunburn and sun spots when pregnant.

While spray tans may not cause women to overheat, they’re still risky because they expose moms too many questionable chemicals. Self-tanners are hit or miss during pregnancy — expectant mamas should avoid self-tanners with DHAs and look for safer options.  

Is all safe for pregnancy skincare supposed to be organic, vegan, or all-natural? Do I need to switch to organic skincare?

No, products are considered “pregnancy-safe” if they’re 100 percent free of chemicals that pose health risks to mom or baby. Sure, there are plenty of organic, vegan, and all-natural skincare brands out there who sell safe for pregnancy skincare; but there are also organic brands that use chemicals moms should avoid.

It’s more important to find safe and effective skincare products rather than limiting yourself to organic options.

How can I expect my skin to change during pregnancy?

Hormones fluctuate drastically during pregnancy, so it’s no surprise many moms break out in pimples — especially during the first trimester when your body is adapting to these hormonal up-and-downs.

Apart from acne, many women notice dark spots as pigmentation changes during pregnancy, and of course, stretch marks naturally develop as the belly grows.  

Many moms blame pimples or unwanted skin changes on the transition to pregnancy-safe skincare; however, nine times out of ten, it’s not the product causing mom’s skin problems, but rather the changes inside mom’s body.

You can use acne products with small amounts of salicylic acid to get rid of blemishes, but your dermatologist may also prescribe something different to clear your skin since hormonal acne, in general, is tough to clear. If you’re struggling with acne during pregnancy, just know these changes in your skin are totally normal, and it’s entirely common to experience hormonal acne your entire pregnancy (or at least until your hormones get back on track).

That said, everybody’s skin is different, and some moms actually enjoy clearer skin during their pregnancy. For example, our Social Media Marketing Coordinator, Mariah, struggled with acne her entire pregnancy, but her close friend had clearer and more glowing skin after becoming pregnant.

Why do I break out from natural deodorant?

It’s actually completely normal to break out after making the switch from aluminum deodorants to more natural, safer options. And it’s not the deodorant that’s making you break out.

So why does natural deodorant cause acne? Earlier, we mentioned aluminum clogging your pores to block sweat. Well, not only does it block sweat, but it also traps all the dirt and toxins that would escape with the sweat underneath your skin. Once you remove the antiperspirant from the equation, your pores are free to breathe again.

However, now that your pores can breathe again, pimples have the chance to form as your body pushes built-up toxins to the surface of your skin. Once your armpits have finished detoxing, so to speak, acne should subside.

Skip the Research: Get New, Pregnancy-Safe Products (Including Skincare) Every Month from Us

Shopping safe skincare is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to prepping for pregnancy; pregnant mamas face new challenges trimester-to-trimester, and they need helpful (and safe) products to tackle the different obstacles they’ll face along the way. With that, it’s safe to say expectant moms spend a lot of time researching new products to try.

That’s exactly why we offer subscription-based Bump Boxes for moms.

Our monthly Bump Boxes are personalized for every mama and tailored to where she is in her pregnancy. We hand-select the items in each box so we know we’re sending mom the best products for what she’s currently experiencing.

Not only do these boxes contain different skincare products for pregnancy, but they also feature products to ease pain and discomfort, like anti-nausea bands and wooden massagers, in addition to feel-good, spa gifts, body scrubbers and jade rollers.  

When you rely on us to send you the best products for pregnancy each month, you can save time researching, and you never have to second-guess the safety of what we send. Of course, you can always shop our products a la carte without a subscription; but most moms quickly find they prefer the convenience of the monthly box.