Disclaimer: The information on this page is not a substitute for professional medical care. If you are pregnant or breastfeeding, please consult your doctor about your skincare routine and before starting the use of a new skincare product.
Pregnancy is an exciting time, but it often raises many questions about skincare. Although many vegan skincare products are clean, some vegan ingredients are not safe for pregnancy. But why? Let’s find out the answers.
Skincare And Pregnancy
Pregnancy is usually associated with great joy, but at the same time, there are a number of changes to pay attention to. The most drastic adjustments are taking place in nutrition. However, pregnant women do not only have to pay attention to what they eat but also to what they put on their bodies.
The skin is our largest organ and just as the skin absorbs everything we apply to it, it finds its way to the fetus and the baby. While the ‘pregnancy glow’ is sometimes real for some women, it might be different for others. During pregnancy, the metabolism runs at full speed and produces more male sex hormones. These hormones, known as androgens, stimulate the activity of the glands, including the sebaceous glands.
To a certain extent, sebum keeps the skin supple and soft, resulting in a radiant complexion. However, if the body produces too much sebum, pores become clogged and the skin impure. This in turn leads to inflammation in the form of pimples and is called hormonal or pregnancy acne. 1
You cannot really do anything about the production of androgens and the increased production of sebum. Still, pregnancy acne can definitely be alleviated with the right skincare ingredients. But only after consulting the doctor first.
So, most people continue with their regular skincare routine. However, it is important to read through all of the ingredients. That is because some very common skincare ingredients are not safe to use during pregnancy.
Is Vegan Skincare Safe For Pregnancy?
High-quality vegan skincare is often clean and naturally sourced. However, it still sometimes contains plant-based ingredients that doctors do not recommend using during pregnancy.
By definition, vegan skincare can contain anything but animal-based components. Meaning, it could include chemical ingredients that are avoided during pregnancy. Obviously, as the skin absorbs it all, it is very important to use clean and chemical-free products. Especially during pregnancy.
Although conscious vegan brands avoid harmful compounds, some typically-not-harmful active ingredients become harmful when pregnant. We have made a list of the most common vegan ingredients to avoid during pregnancy.
- Salicylic acid. High doses of salicylic acid should be avoided during pregnancy as they could be harmful to the baby.2
- Vitamin A or its derivatives (retinol, tretinoin, Retin-A). Vitamin A can cause developmental problems in the fetus.3
- Phthalates. These refer to endocrine-disrupting chemicals4.
- Parabens. Parabens are hormonally active preservatives. They are very similar in structure to estrogen and can therefore become active in the body.5
- Chemical sunscreens. Oxybenzone is the most used UV filter in chemical sunscreens.6 But, it is an endocrine-disrupting chemical. Opt for a mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.
- Arbutin. The chemical and its derivates are broken down into hydroquinone which absorbs really into the skin.9
Safe vegan skincare ingredients include glycolic acid, for example.9 Instead of using products that contain retinoids to fight acne and pimples, glycolic acid is a great alternative. Glycolic acid is also effective in treating wrinkles and improving skin pigmentation.
Also, vitamins C7, E, plant-derived ferulic acid9 are safe and good for anti-aging skincare routines. They are all excellent for boosting the immune system, fighting free radicals, and reducing wrinkles and fine lines. Many women also suffer from dry skin during pregnancy. Safe choices for hydration, for example, are coconut oil, cocoa butter, and hyaluronic acid.8
FAQ About Pregnancy And Vegan Skincare
Vegan skincare is safe for pregnancy only if the products do not contain ingredients harmful to pregnancy. These include, for example, salicylic acid, vitamin A, parabens, arbutin, chemical sunscreens, and phthalates.
Although most vegan skincare is generally safe during pregnancy, there are some ingredients that women should be careful with or even avoid.
So, yes, vegan skincare is safe for pregnancy but only if the products do not contain ingredients harmful to pregnancy. These include salicylic acid, vitamin A, parabens, arbutin, chemical sunscreens, and phthalates.
If skin problems appear during pregnancy, you should immediately consult a doctor. At the beginning of pregnancy, it is also important to discuss your skincare routine with a professional.
See also: Vegan Skincare For Acne-Prone Skin
1 Kutlu Ö, Karadağ AS, Ünal E, Kelekçi KH. Acne in pregnancy: A prospective multicenter, cross-sectional study of 295 patients in Turkey. Int J Dermatol. 2020
2 Trivedi M, Inouye T, Murase J. Safety of Cosmetic Procedures During Pregnancy and Lactation: A Review. Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2017
3 Bozzo P, Chua-Gocheco A, Einarson A. Safety of skin care products during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2011
4 Welch BM, Keil AP, Buckley JP. Associations Between Prenatal Urinary Biomarkers of Phthalate Exposure and Preterm Birth: A Pooled Study of 16 US Cohorts. JAMA Pediatr. 2022
5 Shin B, Kwon JA, Park EK. Prenatal Exposure to Parabens Affects Birth Outcomes through Maternal Glutathione S-Transferase (GST) Polymorphisms: From the Mothers and Kids Environmental Health (MAKE) Study. Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2021
6 DiNardo J, Downs C. Can oxybenzone cause Hirschsprung’s disease? Reproductive Toxicology, Volume 86. 2019
7 Matta C. Can I Use Vitamin C in Skincare While Pregnant? Very Well Family. 2021
8 Your Guide to a Pregnancy-Safe Skin Care Routine. Healthline. 2020
9 Putra IB, Jusuf NK, Dewi NK. Skin Changes and Safety Profile of Topical Products During Pregnancy. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2022 Feb;15(2):49-57.
Update on February 19 (2023): Added more references