Skin-Care Tips

‘I’m a Dermatologist and Mom, and These Are the Best Pregnancy-Safe Face Washes’

Jenny Altman

Photo: Getty Images/ Makidotvn
The best pregnancy-safe facial washes are gentle enough for Mom to use during pregnancy and through their 4th trimester (otherwise known as postpartum). While you might not think that face washes and other skin-care products can affect a baby, they actually may. And you, Mama, need to be using the best products for you both not only during your pregnancy, but also through the months when you’re breastfeeding.

Lactation consultant, Jadah Parks Chatterjee, tells us that, “What you eat, drink and apply to your skin can become a part of your bloodstream and your milk. When possible, choose products that are made with ingredients that are least harmful for you.” Ask your dermatologist if the products you are using, topical or not, are safe for pregnancy, since many things affect you differently during this time. Just a simple switch to unscented or barely scented products can make a big difference with all of your hormones influx.

Pregnancy does a lot to our skin. Moms are suddenly dealing with melasma, stretch marks, dry skin and the dreaded hormonal acne. We spoke with mom and celebrity dermatologist, Dr. Whitney Bowe, who is an expert in all things pregnancy skin related. As mom to a ‘miracle baby’ she realizes that we all start to re-examine the products we use during this critical time.

Dr. Bowe took the time to explain how important it is for us to pass along good skin health to our newborns. “A diverse skin microbiome is associated with skin health. Skin to skin contact with your newborn is critical not only for bonding, but that it also can influence your baby's microbiome. If you're using biome-friendly ingredients in your skin care (things like prebiotics, jojoba oil, and squalane) then you are likely transferring some of your healthy, diverse microflora to your little one."

She adds, "If you’re disrupting the delicate balance by using harsh cleansers with high concentrations of SLS, drying alcohols such as denatured alcohol, or topical antimicrobials like benzoyl peroxide, you might be negatively impacting both your microbiome and your baby's microbiome. Alkaline, or basic soaps or cleansers can also kill off many of your healthy bacterial strains on your skin, which might impact your baby's biome as well.” So, keep scrolling for the best, and safest face wash for you during (and after) pregnancy. And keep reading for what to do if you're dealing with acne (because it happens, and it's completely normal).

Best pregnancy-safe facial washes

Youth to the People
Youth to the People Kale and Green Tea Spinach Vitamins Superfood Cleanser — $36.00

The directions include “lather and massage to activate the cold-pressed ingredients.” Packed with antioxidants, the kale, green tea and spinach blend has a healthful, lightweight scent. Seal it in with the kale and spinach Superfood Moisture Cream. Both are vegan and made without phthalates, parabens and sulfates.

bioeffect
BIOEFFECT Micellular Cleansing Water — $70.00

This fragrance-free, barely-there face wash is actually lava filtered water from Iceland. Icelandic water is known for its therapeutic properties which pull in healthy skin minerals and skin-replenishing elements. With the perfect level of calcium and magnesium, this naturally soft water keeps skin from drying out when you need to retain moisture the most.

Ren
REN Evercalm Gentle Cleansing Milk — $34.00

This creamy, emulsion cleanser helps to calm redness, itchiness, dryness, and irritation, leaving sensitive and stressed skin feeling clean and comfortable. Blackcurrant seed oil, rich in moisturizing Omega 3, 6 and vitamin E, helps nourish skin and defend it from the constant dehydration we get during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

beautycounter
Beautycounter Counterstart Cococream Cleanser — $20.00

This light, creamy face wash nourishes and soothes our sensitive skin during pregnancy. Ingredients include coconut oil, aloe vera and Vitamin E (an antioxidant). Plus—it’s certified vegan and cruelty-free and is an EWG Verified skin care product.

jane iredale
Jane Iredale BeautyPrep Face Cleanser — $28.00

BeautyPrep is a micellar cleansing water that is both a makeup remover and a moisturizing face wash in one. Cucumber seed extract and cucumber fruit extract hydrate, soothes and protects while algae extract soothes, nourishes and hydrates the skin.

knours
Knours. Your Only Facial Cleanser — $28.00

This oil-to-foam cleanser starts off as an oil to dissolve dirt & make-up, then transforms into a foam cleanser with water for a non-stripping, easy double cleanse. Key ingredients include jojoba oil, chamomile and olive oil for the ultimate in soothing and moisture.

ethique
Ethique Solid Cleanse Bars — $13.00

It’s been a while since using bar soap to wash your face, right? This face cleansing bar is vegan, plant-based and comes in three formulations depending on your state of oily vs. dry skin during pregnancy. The Deep Green is made with French clay, sea salt, and castor and sweet orange oils giving your skin that fresh-out-of-the-ocean feeling.

ahava
Ahava Mineral Radiance Cleansing Gel — $26.00

This clear, lightweight, vegan gel cleanser is full of signature ingredients sourced from the what is thought to be nourishing Dead Sea. Short on ingredients you want to avoid while pregnant (parabens, alcohol, GMO and SLS/SLES) they’ve added in aloe vera (moisturizer and anti-inflammatory) as well as Allantoin as an anti-irritant for sudden blemishes.

murad
Murad Essential-C Cleanser — $40.00

Vitamins A, C and E. Yes, yes and yes! Dr. Murad knows that during pregnancy (and all times) we love an energizing, brightening cleanser that doesn’t dry out our fragile, hormonal skin.

yina
Yina Bioadaptive Cleanser — $68.00

Allow a few minutes to massage this cream cleanser into your skin so that the Pearl and Poria powder can gently exfoliate and cleanse. Active and purifying Chinese Medicinal plant extracts dissolve daily impurities, residual makeup and pollutants.

malaya
Malaya Organics Cleansing Oil — $48.00

Pink Moon’s Malaya oil is a makeup remover and cleansing oil combined. Organic apricot kernel, sweet almond, safflower, jojoba and olive oils leave skin feeling hydrated, glowing and balanced. Vegan-, cruelty- and gluten-free, this product is handcrafted in small batches.

january labs
January Labs Pure & Gentle Cleansing Gel — $32.00

As if this were created just for pregnant women and their ever-changing skin needs, this product’s soothing botanicals work to restore and nourish all skin types. White Willow Bark, a naturally occurring form of salicylic acid, soothes skin and helps prevent pore congestion, while vitamin C helps reduce inflammation and provide antioxidant protection. Licorice Root Extract works with vitamin C to improve skin tone and hyperpigmentation—something expectant moms learn all too much about!

plenaire
Plenaire Rose Jelly Gentle Makeup Remover & Hydrating Cleanser — $22.00

The jelly-like texture of this cleanser rapidly dissolves makeup while soothing and cooling the skin. Formulated with mild, sugar-based actives and pure distilled rosewater, this gentle jelly cleanser even dissolves stubborn eye makeup without any harsh scrubbing.

tata harper
Tata Harper SUPERKIND Softening Cleanser — $86.00

Created for sensitive skin, this gentle face wash is hypoallergenic, totally fragrance-free and dermatologist tested. Gluten- and alcohol-free, soy-free and vegan, you can trust in Tata’s products to be luxurious, nourishing and rich in all-natural ingredients.

reflekt
Reflekt 1 Daily Exfoliating Face Wash — $48.00

This gentle, exfoliating face wash contains hyaluronic acid, vegetable collagen, vitamin B5, and jojoba esters which cleanse, exfoliate and hydrate the skin. Biodegradable beads crafted from jojoba esters gently exfoliate, then melt, infusing skin with a refreshing burst of much needed hydration.

trilogy
Trilogy Very Gentle Cleansing Cream — $40.00

Trilogy’s fragrance-free cream cleanser refreshes skin with essential fatty acid rich camelia, nourishing antioxidant maqui berry and soothing breakthrough botanical complex Syricalm. Made in New Zealand, Trilogy’s products are Natrue Certified- Cruelty free and made without toxins, parabens and GMO ingredients.

Pregnancy-safe facial wash for acne

Bowe has a serious list of Dos and Don'ts when it comes to ingredients that are safe to use during pregnancy. “Acne can either get better or it can get a lot worse during pregnancy, it’s hard to predict,” says Bowe. “I’ve seen patients whose acne is really great during their first pregnancy and then flairs up like crazy during their second pregnancy.” Here are some general "rules" to follow.

Don’t use retinoids (This includes prescription strength retinoids or over the counter retinoids/retinol.)
Don’t use growth factors
Don't use salicylic acid
Don’t use benzoyl peroxide
Do use alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), such as glycolic acid and lactic acid. These are really positive for acne prone skin during pregnancy.
Do use azelaic acid (prescription or over the counter)
Do use antioxidants like Vitamin C
Do use peptides

Bowe reminds us to avoid questionable products during pregnancy, stating that it’s better to be safe than sorry. “A good rule of thumb is that anything you are avoiding during pregnancy should also be avoided until you are done nursing.”

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