Pregnancy skincare: how to evaluate ingredient lists and what’s safe

Hi Dr. Irwin! I really loved your recent post on skincare during pregnancy ( I noticed your product recommendation for Eminence Apricot Body Oil contains salicylic acid in the ingredient list. I thought the general recommendation was to avoid that ingredient during pregnancy. Can you clarify? Thanks so much.

Really glad you brought this up (here’s the link to the article she mentions). Evaluating skincare products is always tough, and in pregnancy even harder, because we want to be super safe! They are making these lists SO small on packaging, you may need a magnifying lense. Only partially joking.

A couple of things to remember about pregnancy skincare:

  • The ingredients are listed in order of the amount in decending order. The top ingredient is the highest concentration and the bottom ingredient the lowest.
  • So for example, in the organic Eminence product listed above, in a longer list of ingredients, the salicylic acid is second to the last which means there’s very, very little in that product. Still, it’s always best to do what makes YOU and your doctor comfortable. Please ask your ObGyn!!
  • Companies are not required to tell you the exact percentages (this bothers me …but is considered part of their proprietary formula).
  • Some companies (love them!!) list exact concentrations of key ingredients on their labels.  Like Skinceuticals telling you that their Phloretin CF antioxidant serum (excellent btw) has 10% L-ascorbic acid, 2% phloretin and 0.5% ferrulic in it.   Phloretin and ferrulic are plant based antioxidants.  Those concentrations are excellent for a triple product.  That’s why it’s so effective.
  • In pregnancy, organic products are really quite wonderful. But….they tend to be expensive, so drugstore products can be just fine too!!
  • Also, look for products where the list of ingredients is short and not too chemically.   If you can’t understand most of it, maybe think twice.

Hope this helps,  Dr. I

Dr. Brandith Irwin, MD

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Hi, I’m Dr. Irwin. I believe that consumers deserve a medically trained and unbiased skin care advocate.

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