Top skin-care ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

Before we go into our list, it’s important to remember that there’s a lack of evidence-based data on the safety of specific products during pregnancy. Clinical trials on pregnant women that could even hint to the dangers of certain substances are almost always unethical.

However, animal studies, anecdotal evidence, and case studies have shown that a few common skin-care compounds have major foetal implications. This is the foundation of our proposals.

Cosmetics are required to be “safe” based on their intended uses and labelling by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), but they do not require FDA approval to be sold.

All of this begs the question of which cosmetics are truly safe to use while pregnant.

Salicylic acid in high doses

Salicylic acid, which has anti-inflammatory characteristics similar to aspirin, is a common acne treatment ingredient. High-dose salicylic acid products, such as peels and oral medications, should be avoided during pregnancy, according to a 2013 study.

Lower-dose topical OTC salicylic acid therapies, on the other hand, have been pronounced safe by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG).


Hydroquinone is a prescription medicine used to lighten or lessen skin pigmentation caused by melasma and chloasma, which can also be made worse by pregnancy.

Hydroquinone hasn’t been linked to any serious congenital defects or side effects. However, because hydroquinone absorbs a lot of water (25 to 35 percent, according to this study), it’s best to avoid it (if at all) during pregnancy.

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Phthalates are hormone disrupting chemicals present in a wide range of cosmetics and personal care products. Animals exposed to phthalates have had serious reproductive and hormone problems. The FDA and professional medical organisations such as the American Academy of Paediatrics are increasingly looking into endocrine disruptors for their potential to affect congenital reproductive health, despite the fact that there are few human studies to back this up.

The most common source of phthalate exposure is cosmetics, with diethyl phthalate (DEP) being the most common phthalate detected in cosmetics.


Vitamin A is necessary for excellent skin, immune, reproductive, and eye health. When you ingest it or absorb it through your skin, your body converts it to retinol.

Retinoids, a type of retinol that has become a holy grail due to its ability to reverse acne and reduce small wrinkles, are found in some anti-aging skincare products. Retinoids help skin renew itself by enabling skin cells on the surface to exfoliate more quickly and increase collagen production.

Prescription medications like Retin-A (tretinoin) and Accutane (isotretinoin) have much higher retinoid doses than over-the-counter alternatives. Although the amount of retinoids absorbed by topical therapy is probably negligible, higher doses have been linked to birth defects. As a result, all retinoids are harmful to a pregnant woman.

Prescription retinoids like Accutane have been associated to a 20 to 35 percent greater risk of significant congenital defects, with up to 60% of newborns showing neurocognitive impairments after being exposed in utero.

As a result, women of reproductive age who are taking Accutane are recommended to: 

-Use two different forms of contraception.

-have their doctor check for pregnancy and compliance on a frequent basis -1–2 months before trying to conceive, stop taking the medication

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