Acids 101

The Pregnancy Safe Guide to Active Acids

Pregnancy brings about many life changes - and questions. The surge in hormones can lead to skin changes, such as hormonal acne, hyperpigmentation, spider and varicose veins, and stretch marks. Aside from sleepless nights and new daily routines, extra consideration should go into the skin and body products used. Many skin care ingredients are safe and harmless, but there are a few that have potential risks and should be avoided.

To protect the baby, it's important to select pregnancy-safe skin care ingredients and products. We spoke to board-certified dermatologist Dr. Jennifer Trent, MD, FAAD about the ingredients expecting (or nursing) moms should avoid and what to use instead.


What To Use Or Skip


  • Azelaic Acid
  • Vitamin C
  • Glycolic Acid, if less than 10%
  • Physical sunscreens with Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide
  • Bakuchiol
  • Lactic Acid
  • Mandelic Acid


  • Retinoids (As an alternate, replace with Bakuchiol)
  • Hydroquinone(Use Vitamin C or Niacinamide to lighten dark spots)
  • Chemical sunscreens, with Oxybenzone(Use physical blocking sunscreen ingredients like Titanium Dioxide and Zinc Oxide)

Ask your doctor

  • Salicylic Acid
  • Benzoyl Peroxide

*These ingredients are controversial to use during pregnancy. There are limited studies on the effects of pregnancy. We recommend trying Lactic or Mandelic Acids for exfoliation or Azelaic Acid for acne treatment as pregnancy-safe alternatives.

How To Use Glycolic Acid When Pregnant Or Nursing?

Two types of sunscreens provide UV protection: chemical and mineral. Both protect the skin from UV radiation emitted by the sun, but they do it differently based on their ingredients.

Glycolic Acid is an alpha-hydroxy acid that helps exfoliate dead skin cells that cause the skin to appear dull and dry while giving it a smoother, more glowing complexion. It increases collagen production to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and corrects dark spots on the skin, which can worsen during pregnancy. Any skincare product with a concentration of Glycolic Acid safe for pregnancy (> 10%) can be used daily if the skin tolerates it.

Because it doesn't penetrate as deeply, Lactic Acid is less irritating than Glycolic Acid. It helps exfoliate and minimize the appearance of dark spots. Lactic Acid Superficial Retexturizing Serum is safe for daily use by all skin types. It exfoliates dead skin cells that make the skin appear dark, rough, and dull. It also contains Hyaluronic Acid to hydrate the skin and Rosemary and Tea Tree Oil to soothe skin.


When To Talk To Your Dermatologist

  • If your condition worsens.
  • If you experience side effects from skincare products.
  • If you are unsure of what products to use and want guidance.
  • Always consult with your doctor before starting any new products during pregnancy or lactation.