Can I Use Hyaluronic Acid While Pregnant?

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Scroll through many beauty influencers' feeds or stroll down the skincare aisle of your local drugstore, and you’re bound to be inundated with a ton of hype about a trendy ingredient called hyaluronic acid—and it’s earned its lauded reputation for good reason. Yet, if you’re pregnant or thinking about getting pregnant, the rules suddenly change on what you can and can’t use. The list of pregnancy no-nos stretches far and wide, and touches on a whole slew of things from foods and activities to skincare ingredients and more. It’s only natural to start questioning everything.

To set the record straight about this skin-loving ingredient, we tapped two board-certified dermatologists to get their expertise on using hyaluronic acid while pregnant. Keep reading to learn all about what hyaluronic acid is, whether it’s pregnancy-safe, and what its key benefits are. If you’re not already a fan, you may become one.

What Is Hyaluronic Acid?

Hyaluronic acid (HA) is a water-loving molecule found naturally in our bodies. It has a unique ability to attract and retain 1,000 times its weight in water. In fact, hyaluronic acid is the key component in our bodies when it comes to maintaining moisture due to its water-retaining prowess. The hyaluronic acid in your skin accounts for a whopping 50% of hydration. Because it’s such a powerful hydrator, HA has become an omnipresent ingredient in many skincare products from moisturizers and serums to night creams, sheet masks, and even lip balms. 

“Hyaluronic acid [HA] is a substance found naturally in our tissue, and its job is to keep our skin well-moisturized and hydrated from the inside,” explains Rachel Nazarian, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Schweiger Dermatology Group in NYC. 

As you age, your natural production of hyaluronic acid slows down, causing your skin to become drier and more lax. Using products with hyaluronic acid in them can help replenish your skin’s moisture levels.

“Think of hyaluronic acid like a sponge that grabs onto water and pulls it to the outer skin layer to hydrate and plump,” says Joshua Zeichner, MD, Associate Professor of Dermatology and Director of Cosmetic & Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai in NYC. By moisturizing and plumping your skin, it can help make your skin look younger, fresher, and dewier, while softening it too.  

Is It Safe to Use Hyaluronic Acid During Pregnancy?

We get it: When you’re pregnant, everything is suspect—including whether or not you can use skincare with HA while pregnant. Dr. Nazarian offers some reassurance saying that it’s an excellent skincare ingredient for pregnant women and people in general. “It is a completely safe and natural substance,” she adds. “[It] can be used topically to temporarily improve moisture in the skin—without any concern of fetal harm, or even overdose. It’s safe in high quantities!” Not only is there no risk of harm to your baby, it’s got significant skincare benefits. So, go ahead and slather yourself HA-infused skincare.

Dr. Zeichner agrees: “HA is generally considered to be safe and can be used during pregnancy.” In addition to being a pregnancy- and breastfeeding-safe powerhouse hydrator, hyaluronic acid also has some other perks. It’s generally well-tolerated, so it’s safe to use on all skin types, even sensitive skin, and it’s typically hypoallergenic.

Fun fact: The level of natural hyaluronic acid in your body actually increases as you progress through your pregnancy. And there’s even some evidence that it may play a role in “ripening” your cervix for childbirth. That’s one helpful molecule!

Every pregnancy is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about using [product/ingredient/treatment] while pregnant.

Benefits of Hyaluronic Acid During Pregnancy 

Now that we have confirmation that it’s safe to use hyaluronic acid while pregnant, let’s get down to the good stuff—its skincare benefits.

“[Hyaluronic acid is] very calming to skin. Skin can dry, and become itchy and inflamed during pregnancy,” says Dr. Nazarian. “This super safe ingredient is a good option to temporarily improve the hydration barrier, calm skin, and even minimize fine lines and wrinkles on the face.”

We’d be remiss not to mention how to find the best hyaluronic acid product for your skin. To ensure your skin is reaping all the benefits it has to offer, be sure that you look for a product that has varying sizes of HA. This is because larger molecules can’t penetrate your skin—though they do a great job of sealing moisture in. On the other hand, smaller molecules are able to penetrate your skin. Finding a product that has this one-two punch of hyaluronic acid molecules is ideal.

“I recommend applying hyaluronic acid to damp skin or with damp fingertips to give it the water it needs to hydrate the skin,” advises Dr. Zeichner. This helps activate it, like wetting a sponge. Also, when applied to damp skin under your moisturizer, it helps lock in more moisture than either of them otherwise would.

“I typically recommend layering a hydraulic acid serum underneath a traditional moisturizer,” says Dr. Zeichner. He explains that it’s important to apply an emollient or occlusive ingredient on top of the hyaluronic acid to help prevent it from evaporating.   

Hydration

Like we’ve been discussing, the primary function of hyaluronic acid is to provide and retain moisture. Since it’s a humectant, it draws water to your skin. This can help support your skin’s natural moisture barrier, which, when compromised, can leave your skin vulnerable to environmental aggressors, as well as result in moisture loss and certain skin conditions. Keeping your skin moisturized is vital to ensuring it’s healthy and strong.

Plus, there’s a good chance that your unique skin will bask in the added moisture, since it’s generally safe for all skin types and won’t irritate even sensitive skin.

Anti-Aging

As you age, your natural production of hyaluronic acid slows down, leaving you more susceptible to dryness, volume loss, and sagging skin. Topical hyaluronic acid can help combat these signs of aging by infusing your skin with the moisture it craves.

Aside from the natural aging process, photodamage is also to blame for premature skin-aging. An average of 80% of aging is caused by exposure to UV radiation, in fact. So be sure you’re using SPF every day, all year round—even when it’s cloudy. Part of the reason this happens is because UV rays diminish the hyaluronic acid in your skin. Supplementing it with an HA-packed skincare ingredient can help stop the damage from progressing—or, at the very least, help slow it down—and help protect your skin.

Wound Healing

Along the same lines of hyaluronic acid helping to guard your skin from sun damage, another benefit is that HA plays a role in wound healing. It does this by helping to control inflammation, clean wounds, and promote the growth of new skin cells. This is again where varying sizes of hyaluronic molecules come in, as different molecular weights specialize in different aspects of healing.

One similar aspect of hyaluronic acid is that research has shown that it’s also quite effective at improving the appearance of stretch marks. As our growing baby bumps show us, we may want a little help in the arena, too.

Safety Precautions 

You may still be wondering if there are any precautions you should take when using hyaluronic acid while pregnant. Well, we’re happy to report that there aren’t. Aside from general hand-washing before you apply your products to a clean face, and tossing any old or expired products, you should be good to go.

A Word From Verywell

It should be perfectly safe to use hyaluronic acid while pregnant. And with all its hydrating, anti-aging, and healing properties, there’s a good reason why you should. However, whenever you’re using an ingredient, you should always run it by your healthcare provider first to be sure they’re on board.

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