The 11 Best Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products Dermatologists Love

Bio-Oil helps nourish that precious belly, without harmful ingredients.

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Has your skin changed since you’ve become pregnant? Perhaps your once dry skin has turned perpetually oily, or your skin has become so sensitive that only the mildest cleansers will suffice. Trust us—you’re not alone! Which is why we think it should be quite a relief to have a list of the best pregnancy-safe skincare products on hand, to tackle whatever new challenges you and your skin face during this time.

Reviewed & Approved

If stretch marks are your biggest concern, everyone from dermatologists to your BFFs will recommend rubbing potential problem spots with Bio-Oil Skincare Oil, and EltaMD UV Clear SPF 46 Face Sunscreen is our pick to keep your skin safe, and your developing baby healthy.

Hormones fluctuate significantly during pregnancy, which can cause many changes in the skin. Some concerns include hyperpigmentation (including melasma), acne, dry skin, and stretch marks,” explains Geeta Yadav, MD, a board-certified dermatologist.

You don’t have to toss out your entire arsenal of products when you’re pregnant, but there are definitely ingredients you want to avoid, says Dr. Yadav. The top two are retinol, either over-the-counter or prescription, and salicylic acid. Both are harmful during pregnancy and while breastfeeding, she tells us. Pregnant people often prefer to stay away from products with fragrance, because the smell can exacerbate morning sickness and/or because it can be an allergen. As for parabens, while the FDA still states that there is no conclusive evidence that these preservatives are harmful to humans, some choose to avoid this category of ingredients because of studies showing their possible estrogenic effects.

Read on for the best products for your skin while pregnant, chosen with the expertise of a panel of board-certified dermatologists from around the country.

Best Overall: Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil

4.8
Bio-Oil Multiuse Skincare Oil

Ulta

Pros
  • Formulated with lots of vitamins

  • Well-priced

Cons
  • Can feel greasy if you’re not used to oils

Lesser-known fact: “Whether or not you develop stretch marks is largely due to heredity; if members of your family developed stretch marks during pregnancy, you might too,” says Dr. Yadav. While there’s no proven product to fight stretch marks, this is the product both dermatologists and your buddy on social media will recommend to help minimize their appearance and just keep your skin feeling smooth as you admire its changing shape. Almost every pregnant person we know swears by this simple South African oil; it also can reduce the appearance of other scars and marks on skin. 

Rub the oil on your stomach and breasts during late pregnancy and postpartum if you have concerns about stretch marks. This affordable oil has a gentle fragrance.

Price at time of publication: $13

Fragrance: Yes | Paraben-free: No (but there is a an option without)

What Our Experts Say

“Bio-Oil is a great option if you prefer an oil as compared to a cream or lotion. Through a blend of oils, vitamin A and vitamin C, it continues to help nourish and moisturize the skin to minimize the appearance of stretch marks and has also been used for scars as it can improve the overall texture of the skin.” — Dr. Garshick

Best Cleanser: La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser

4.8
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser
Pros
  • Gentle formula

  • Removes makeup

Cons
  • Thick texture

We love this cleanser because it’s available in two formulations, both of which work wonderfully to cleanse the skin and remove oils without drying it out. Whether you’re pregnant, breastfeeding, or just looking for a gentle cleanser, this daily wash gently removes face and eye makeup, dirt, and impurities, while maintaining your skin's natural protective barrier. 

The texture is thick and creamy, which might or might not be to your taste. Just mix a bit with warm water and rub over your face, you’ll find that this cleanser will leave your pores feeling clean and clear. It’s formulated with Ceramide-3, an essential ceramide naturally found in skin; glycerin, a moisturizing agent that naturally attracts water to skin; and niacinamide, a form of vitamin B3 with soothing properties. Together, they help make this an easy-to-love cleanser that will help your skin survive pregnancy hormones.

Price at time of publication: $15

Fragrance: None | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“The perfect cleanser should be one that is effective at removing oils from the skin without further contributing to the drying effect of many topical acne therapies. Two of my favorite cleansers are La Roche Posay Toleriane cleansers. It comes in a gentle formulation as well as a foaming formulation.” — Dylan B. Alston, DO, Board-Certified Dermatologist for Intermountain Healthcare

Best Budget Cleanser: Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lightweight Hydrating Facial Cleansing Gel

Neutrogena Hydro Boost Lightweight Hydrating Facial Cleansing Gel

Courtesy of Amazon

Pros
  • Well priced

  • Dermatologist recommended

Cons
  • Some complain of smell

Gentle, doctor-recommended and well-priced—there’s a lot to like about this cleansing gel from drugstore brand Neutrogena. 

As our expert dermatologist notes, this cleanser is “gentle and effective” with a hydrating gel formula containing hyaluronic acid. This ingredient is safe and proven to increase skin's hydration, leaving skin feeling refreshingly clean and supple, every time you cleanse.

If you’re suffering from dry skin due to hormonal changes, or seeing redness, this moisture bomb of a cleanser boosts hydration while cleaning your skin and removing makeup. 

Price at time of publication: $9

Fragrance: None | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“My other favorite cleanser is from Neutrogena. It's their new Hydroboost Cleansing Gel. It is gentle and effective.” — Dr. Alston

Best Sensitive Skin Cleanser: Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Pros
  • Affordable

  • Gentle on the skin

  • Can be used multiple ways

Cons
  • Can feel waxy

The key word here is gentle. This cleanser, which many dermatologists (including those we spoke to for this piece) recommend to their patients, is perfect for pregnant people looking for a gentle option for washing their face and removing makeup. 

Cetaphil’s entire line is gentle and well-priced, and the pH balanced, fragrance-free formula is hypoallergenic, so it won’t irritate even the most sensitive skin. You can use this product like a cold cream, applying it to remove makeup and then wiping the product off with a cloth, or lather up like a traditional facial wash. Both methods are effective; it comes down to personal preference.

Price at time of publication: Starting at $12

Fragrance: None | Paraben-free: No

What Our Experts Say

“I recommend Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser to most of my patients, whether they're pregnant or not, because it's very gentle and soothing on skin as well as effective.” — Dr. Yadav

Best Bar Cleanser: Dove Beauty Bar

Dove Beauty Bar Gentle Skin Cleanser

Walmart

Pros
  • Most moisturizing than other bars

  • Simple to use

Cons
  • Not everyone likes bar soap

  • You may need a makeup remover

If you love the simplicity of a bar, the classic Dove Beauty Bar is the option our experts recommend. You’ve probably heard in the ads your whole life, but it really is true: The Dove Beauty Bar isn’t drying like other soaps. Made with moisturizing cream, it’s a classic for a reason.

If animal testing is a concern, the beauty bar is certified cruelty free and has the cleansing efficacy and care you need. The beauty bar hydrates very well, but you may need to cleanse twice or pair it with a makeup remover, depending on how much long-lasting makeup you’re wearing.

Price at time of publication: Starting at $2

Fragrance: None | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“​​For those who prefer a bar, I recommend [Dove], as it effectively cleanses and washes away dirt, without drying out the skin as it helps to replenish moisture lost, unlike ordinary soaps which can strip the skin of its natural oils. It is formulated with 1/4 moisturizing cream which helps to leave the skin feeling soft and nourished.” — Dr. Garshick

Best Sunscreen: EltaMD UV Daily Face Sunscreen SPF 46

EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen

Courtesy of Walmart 

Pros
  • Blends in smoothly

  • Mineral-based

  • Good for all skin types

Cons
  • Pricey

This sunscreen is beloved by beauty editors and dermatologists alike, as it’s good for just about everyone. This sheer, lightweight, oil-free sunscreen is paraben- and fragrance-free, so it won’t irritate sensitive skin. Zinc oxide is often thick and chalky, but this version is transparent and easy to spread. 

This sunscreen is particularly great for pregnant people because the oil-free formulation calms acne-prone skin. If you’re struggling with breakouts, this sunscreen won’t make it worse, and it’s also free of any ingredients that might harm your baby.

Price at time of publication: $37

Fragrance: Yes | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

 “The ingredient most preferred by U.S. dermatologists for sun protection is zinc. Zinc is a large molecule and the sunscreen manufacturers have found a way to ‘micronize’ the zinc molecule. Essentially, they shrunk the zinc molecule to make it more aesthetically pleasing. Gone are the days of the white strip of zinc oxide on your nose. Elta MD is my preferred brand of sunscreen.” — Dr. Alston

Best Serum: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

4
Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Niacinamide Dew Drops

Glow Recipe

Pros
  • Get that pregnancy glow from a bottle

  • Paraben-free

Cons
  • Watermelon fragrance may be off putting for morning sickness

This brightening serum from popular brand Glow Recipe will give you major pregnancy glow if that’s not something that’s coming naturally to you (true for a lot of us!) without any ingredients that will harm your baby’s development. The “clean” beauty brand is free of mercury, parabens, formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing agents, triclosan, and triclocarban—also, no synthetic dyes or colorants. If all of this is Greek to you, just know that these ingredients are good to skip. 

This product fights dullness and dryness with moisturizing hyaluronic acid and niacinamide (a form of vitamin B3), and it feels absolutely luxurious to apply. 

Price at time of publication: $34

Fragrance: Watermelon | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“This fun product makes skin look instantly radiant, like a highlighter, but also helps improve skin's glow over time with brightening niacinamide and hydrating hyaluronic acid. It also smells like watermelon!” — Dr. Yadav

Best for Stretch Marks (Budget): Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Original Solid Jar

 Palmer's Cocoa Butter Formula Daily Skin Therapy Solid Lotion

Amazon

Pros
  • Luxurious and creamy

  • Inexpensive

Cons
  • Thick formulation, not lightweight feeling

This thick, indulgent moisturizer works for 48 hours. The brand touts its abilities to smooth marks and tone skin, and our dermatologists agree. This classic stretch mark minimizer is packed with cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E and other luxurious-feeling ingredients that help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and improve your skin’s elasticity. 

If you’ve been prone to stretch marks in the past, or they run in your family, this well-priced body butter should help improve their appearance. Start using the product early in your pregnancy, and turn it into a relaxing ritual to bond with your developing baby.

Price at time of publication: Starting at $9

Fragrance: Yes | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“A tried and true classic for stretch marks, this is formulated with cocoa butter, shea butter, vitamin E and bio-c-elaste, which combines collagen, elastin and centella asiatica to help reduce the appearance of stretch marks and improve skin elasticity. It is free of mineral oil, parabens, phthalates, fragrance allergens and dyes, which makes it a great option for those with sensitive skin. It can be used in any area prone to stretch marks, including the stomach, hips, thighs or chest area.” — Dr. Garshick

Best Splurge Moisturizer: Glytone Enhance Brightening

Glytone enhance brightening complex

Amazon

Pros
  • Gentle formulation, paraben-free

  • Great for sensitive skin

Cons
  • Pricey

For pregnant people dealing with spots or melasma, you can brighten your skin tone and generally pick up a little glow with this multitasking cream. It exfoliates, helps fight breakouts, and generally improves skin texture.

This dermatologist-recommended moisturizer utilizes a combination of organic acids to visibly improve the appearance of unwanted dark spots for a more even, radiant skin tone, leaving skin soft and hydrated. Gentle enough for everyday use, it’s a balm for sensitive pregnancy skin without any of the ingredients you don’t want. 

Price at time of publication: $70

Fragrance: Yes | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“This brightening cream incorporates glycolic acid, a alpha hydroxy acid, to help exfoliate dead skin cells, as well as azelaic acid, which together help to address breakouts and improve skin tone and texture. This gentle lightweight cream is fragrance-free and paraben-free, and the combination of these ingredients make it a great option for those with sensitive skin.” — Dr. Garshick

Best for Acne: The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension Brightening Cream

The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension Brightening Cream

Sephora

Pros
  • Ultra hydrating

  • Well priced

Cons
  • Small bottle runs out quickly

If acne is a concern, this brightening formula from well-priced skincare MVP The Ordinary is worth trying. It’s effective and free of harsh ingredients. 

Not only can the lightweight cream suspension help with acne, it’s perfect for those looking for solutions for dullness, uneven tone and textural irregularities—all of which can plague people during different stages of pregnancy.

This cream is cruelty-, fragrance-, and paraben-free, as well as vegan. Apply it in the morning before putting on sunscreen, or at night, before moisturizer. 

Price at time of publication: $25

Fragrance: None | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“This formula from The Ordinary helps hydrate skin while balancing it, leaving skin clearer and brighter with less noticeable discoloration.” — Dr. Yadav

Best Sheet Mask: BioRepublic Extra Exfoliation Organic Facial Sheet Mask

BioRepublic Extra Exfoliation Organic Facial Sheet Mask

Amazon

Pros
  • Relaxing to use

  • Hydrating

Cons
  • Lemon scent might trigger morning sickness

If you love relaxing with a sheet mask, but aren’t sure which ones are safe for your baby’s development (or while you’re breastfeeding), try this hydrating and brightening mask. 

Dermatologist-tested and held to high safety standards, these sheet masks from BioRepublic are infused with fruit extracts, lactic acid, and vitamin C to help reduce breakouts and keep your skin hydrated and clear.

With a mild lemon scent, these masks are cruelty-free and made without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. Plus, they’re made of biodegradable vegetable fiber, which is better for the planet—which means a better future for your baby.

Price at time of publication: $24

Fragrance: Lemon | Paraben-free: Yes

What Our Experts Say

“[Helping to] eliminate dead skin cells and unclog the pores, this sheet mask is also rich in antioxidants such as vitamin C, so it not only helps to reduce breakouts, but can also help with blemishes.” — Dr. Garshick

How We Selected the Best Skincare Products for Pregnancy

We researched all of the relevant skincare products available through major retailers, looking at ingredients, skin care efficacy and above all, safety. Our panel of experts included Marisa Garshick, MD, a leading board-certified dermatologist at Manhattan Dermatology and Cosmetic Surgery and advisor of BioRepublic; Dylan B. Alston, DO, a board-certified dermatologist for Intermountain Healthcare; and Geeta Yadav, MD, a board-certified dermatologist. They weighed in on what to look for, and offered options for the best, safest products for every skin concern.

What to Look for in Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Products

Ingredients

For pregnancy-friendly products, the crucial thing is to avoid a few specific ingredients. “The number one skincare ingredient to avoid is retinol, either in its over-the-counter form or in a prescription-strength retinoid product, such as Retin-A,” says Dr. Yadav. “This vitamin A derivative should not be used during pregnancy or breastfeeding as it can be harmful to the baby. Others that should be avoided include salicylic acid, a common ingredient in acne treatments.”

Science-Backed Claims

Look for ingredients that deliver on science-based claims, that your dermatologist or our experts recommend, such as vitamin C, hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, and cocoa and shea butter. Always check with your doctor if you’re trying something with an unfamiliar ingredients.

Fragrance

When you are pregnant, your sense of smell can be heightened. This can mean that smells that you never noticed before are right in your face and overwhelming, and it’s important to consider that when shopping for new products. Most of the time you might think it’s no big deal, but many pregnant people report gagging or becoming ill over a smell in the area, so you may want to stick with unscented products.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • What skincare ingredients should I avoid during pregnancy?

    You should always check with your doctor, but the big red flag during pregnancy is retinoids, according to our medical experts. 

    “The most important ingredient to avoid in skin care while pregnant are retinoids. This family of medications, often seen in anti-aging creams or serums are considered Category X,” says Dr. Alston.“This means they are well known to cause birth defects. There are many OTC retinoids available and even these should be avoided during pregnancy.”

    While it’s important to be mindful, you don’t have to quit your skincare routine just because you’re pregnant. 

    “It is still OK to maintain a general skincare routine and continue with regular use of gentle cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreen, though some prefer to opt for mineral sunscreens which are physical blockers containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. In general, [with] any product you are using, you should double-check with your obstetrician to make sure it’s considered safe in pregnancy,” Dr. Garshick says. There are also some pregnancy-safe options for breakouts and blemishes, so it is best to speak with a board-certified dermatologist to determine what would be best for you.

  • Is vitamin C serum safe during pregnancy?

    All of our experts recommended products with vitamin C. It’s an effective ingredient that can also take the place of retinoids when it comes to treating dark spots and general skin-tone issues. It’s basically a safe swap for retinols and retinoids while pregnant or breastfeeding.

  • What skincare products do I need in pregnancy?

    The short answer to this question, according to our experts: whatever products that work for you and are safe for the baby. But of course, always check with your doctor if you have concerns.

Why Trust Verywell Family

Tanya Edwards is an experienced parents, food, beauty, and health journalist who has been writing and editing parenting and beauty stories for over a decade. She’s obsessed with ingredient lists and skincare that actually does what it promises, and loves to talk to experts about what products are best for every person’s body.

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  1. Food and Drug Administration. Parabens in Cosmetics.