These Are The Safest (And Most Effective) Face Washes During Your Pregnancy

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by Jenny Altman
Best pregnancy-safe face washes
Getty Images / PeopleImages

The best pregnancy-safe face wash is likely not the one you’re using right now. Even if you’re a conscious beauty user and you’ve nixed the most offensive, toxic ingredients, strange things are happening to your skin now that you’re pregnant (same with your hair, your vision — you get it). Since you first took that positive pregnancy test and estimated Baby’s arrival on the due date calculator, you’ve probably been in new mama preparedness mode and begun nesting, planning your baby shower registry (and outfit), shopping for maternity dresses, and thinking about baby names 24/7. But taking a closer look (and possibly overhauling) the skincare and beauty products you use every day is one of the first items you should check off your to-do list.

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But first, let’s talk face wash. During pregnancy, everything changes. E-V-E-R-Y-T-H-I-N-G. Your skin is bouncing back and forth between dry, super dry, oily, super oily, and some insane combo that can not be controlled. And all of the products you have been relying on for years may not be safe for baby or for you, Mama. Suddenly smells are offensive, essential oils are not safe, and anything with retinol is on the no-no list. It’s not just the basics like phthalates and parabens that need to go, but so many of those ingredients that you can’t pronounce affect not only your hormones but risks getting passed along to the baby.

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Can you use acne face wash while pregnant?

Skincare expert Rosalia Fiske (Licensed Esthetician) shares, “Ingredients that pregnant women should be concerned with are acne-focused skincare, such as retinol, certain essential oils, and hydroquinone. That being said there are clean cleansers with the right essential oils that will do no harm to mother and baby. Those essential oils are considered hydro essential oils. Hydroessentials, which are water-soluble fractions of the essential oil, are safe as they do not penetrate the bloodstream.”

Kay Cola, CEO and founder of TheOrganiBrands — which features organic, all-natural hair and body care lines — adds a few other ingredients to watch out for. “Added fragrances: While this may not seem like that big of a deal since it is commonly found in many beauty products, artificially added fragrances do not have to be broken down on the label, meaning that you don’t know what chemicals are potentially included in the formulation,” she explains. “They are actually the biggest endocrine disrupters and are called phthalates, but you will never see them listed on the packaging, just ‘fragrance.’ In addition, avoid parabens. Parabens are commonly found in beauty products to help extend their shelf life, but they have been linked to causing cancer, which is why putting them on a vulnerable area like your face is a no-go.”

Can I wash my face with salicylic acid while pregnant?

Fiske surprisingly points out that salicylic acid in a cleanser is actually okay for use. “This Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA) is an excellent exfoliant and can be used to treat acne-prone symptomatic pregnant women. In high concentrations, it is considered a risk during pregnancy and should be avoided, especially in professional resurfacing situations. Small percentages used in cleansers like 2% are considered safe (always read your labels and check with your doctors). Hydration is the bottom line best goal before, during, and after pregnancy but of course with safe ingredients.”

Pregnancy-safe skincare brands

The good news is that brands and retailers are also demanding pregnancy-safe skincare. Beautycounter, a leader in the clean beauty movement, was a founding member of the EWG Verified program which launched in 2015. This third-party certification provides a stamp of safety from ecotoxicity and/or contamination concerns and demands full product transparency. EWG’s “unacceptable” ingredient list is long, and they require that all ingredients are shared with consumers. If you haven’t tried their Healthy Living App yet, you scan your product and find out what is good (or not so good) about it. They make it so easy (and a little addictive) to know if your products are safe.

Lindsay Dahl, SVP of social mission at Beautycounter reminds us that, “Face washes can contain a variety of unregulated and sometimes harmful chemicals, such as phthalates (known to disrupt the hormone system and used in fragrances), questionable preservatives like parabens and harsh surfactants.” The good news? “Many safer ingredients exist that can be used for vulnerable times (like pregnancy). Consumers should look for the EWG VERIFIED logo, which indicates that the company has fully vetted ingredients for safety.”

Ahead are our picks for the best pregnancy-safe face wash. And if they’re safe enough for pregnancy, they’re safe enough for you to keep using long after bb is born!

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