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8 Anti-Aging Products You Should Avoid During Pregnancy (and 5 That Are Safe to Use)
This article originally appeared on Health.com
Many common skincare ingredients, including retinol and salicylic acid, aren't safe for use during pregnancy. Here, dermatologists weigh in on which products to avoid, plus safer anti-aging alternatives.
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All sorts of routines shift during pregnancy, from what you eat to what you wear. This is true for your skincare regimen, too, particularly if it involves anti-aging products.
"Skincare in pregnancy can be tricky," says Deanne Robinson, MD, a dermatologist and the president and co-founder of Modern Dermatology of Connecticut.
Tricky, but not impossible! Rest assured: There's no need to abandon your anti-aging efforts entirely. While some of your go-to, miracle-working products (ahem, retinols) are problematic during pregnancy, there are many safe and effective alternatives. To keep yourself and baby free from harm, read through the ingredient list on all products carefully.
Skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy
Topping the list of ingredients to avoid when you're expecting: retinol, retin-A, retinoic acid, and tazaratene. All are derived from vitamin A, and while the vitamin work can wonders on your skin, excessive amounts can interfere with fetal development and lead to birth defects, says Dr. Robinson.
She also advises against using anti-aging products that contain the chemical bleaching agent hydroquinone, since animal studies have raised concerns over its carcinogenicity, as well as benzoyl peroxide.
Also on the "stay away" list: salicylic acid and willow bark. "These are related to aspirin, which studies show is contraindicated in pregnancy,” says Anna Guanche, MD, a board-certified dermatologist at the Bella Skin Institute in Calabasas, California. (A counterpoint: “We use low-dose aspirin in certain high risk patients and the amount in a skin cream is very low. I feel comfortable having most of my patients use daily,” says John Thoppil, MD, an Austin, Texas-based ob-gyn.)
Overwhelmed? Your best option is always to check with your dermatologist or ob-gyn to see if an ingredient is safe or a no-go.
Pregnancy-safe anti-aging skincare ingredients
Don't despair if the ingredients listed above form the backbone of your anti-aging regimen. There are lots of alternative ingredients to try out—and they're highly effective as well.
"During my four pregnancies, I relied on topical antioxidants in the morning," Dr. Robinson says. "They help protect against UV rays, free radicals, and environmental toxin damages." Antioxidents and acids (such as lactic acid, glycolic acid, vitamin C, and azelaic acid) are a great option for pregnant women, she says. Apply vitamin C, for instance, to repair environmental damage and increase collagen synthesis, says Dr. Robinson. (Here, some of our all-time favorite vitamin C serums.) Or try azelaic acid to “help battle acne and hyperpigmentation, both of which are issues in pregnancy,” she adds.
Keep reading for a few anti-aging products dermatologists recommend for use while you're expecting—or anytime at all.
Skinfix Calm & Repair Sleeping Mask
For pregnant women, Kavita Mariwalla, MD recommends the Calm & Repair Mask from Skinfix. “It’s formulated with two natural actives at their most active levels to decrease redness and increase skin’s hydration.” From that same line, Dr. Mariwalla also recommends the Calm & Rejuvenate Eye Cream ($50; qvc.com), which she says uses alfalfa seed and mini algae to depuff and brighten tired eyes and ward off crow’s feet. "Both products feature natural actives including green tea and manuka honey at their most active levels to combat chronic redness and ensure healthy skin that looks good at any age," she tells us. ($50; qvc.com)
Alastin Restorative Complex
Topical peptides mimic the results of retinoids—rebuilding collagen and elasticity of your skin—without adverse effect on your baby. “Peptides are proteins that the skin needs for optimal growth and are safe during pregnancy,” says Dr. Robinson. To get these benefits, she recommends Alastin Restorative Complex, a moisturizing product for the face and neck. “[It’s] also paraben and fragrance free, which is optimal for pregnancy,” she says. ($195; amazon.com)
Glytone Brightening Complex
Try this product for twofold results, says Dr. Guanche. Glytone Brightening Complex is made with azelaic and glycolic acids to help brighten and lighten brown spots, she says, and it can also help treat pregnancy-related acne. ($74; amazon.com)
Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel
During pregnancy, Dr. Robinson recommends topical antioxidants—with one exception. “I usually avoid antioxidants high in vitamin E as it is acnegenic and breakouts are more likely in pregnancy,” she says. For a pregnancy-friendly anti-aging topical antioxidant, apply Skinceuticals Phloretin CF Gel, which will “help protect and repair the skin,” says Dr. Robinson. ($166; dermstore.com)
ISDINCEUTICS Flavo-C Ultraglican Ampoules
Moisturize while reducing wrinkles with ISDINCEUTICS Flavo-C Ultraglican Ampoules. “It contains potent vitamin C in a hyaluronic base resulting in a powerful skin protector and repairer in a moisturizing base,” says Dr. Robinson. ($100; amazon.com)