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).
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 retinols are on the no-no list. It’s not just the basics like phthlates and parabens that need to go, but so many of those ingredients that you can’t pronounce affects not only your hormones, but risks getting passed along to baby.
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 blood stream.”
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.”
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 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!
This organic, hydrating cream cleanser features rose, camellia, castor, almond and more of the best hydro essential oils that cater to dry skin woes (hello pregnancy!). Fiske loves this one because it doesn’t strip dry skin that lacks oil and it’s soothing to dehydrated skin that lacks water. It’s strong enough to remove eye makeup, yet maintains the skin’s moisture barrier leaving it balanced and calm. It comes with a two- sided cloth (muslin/flannel) to be used with just a pump of cleanser.
This foaming face wash is chock full of naturally-derived ingredients such as soothing aloe, brightening sugarcane, moisturizing rice seed and cleansing coconut-derived surfactants. It has none of the bad stuff (including synthetic fragrance or color) but does have a natural, woodsy scent with notes of cedar, spearmint, lime, lemon, rosemary, black spruce, owyhee, vetiver and lavender. That’s plant-powered skincare (as they call it) at its best.
Sea Kelp and French Green Clay are the ingredients behind this softening, detoxifying cleanser. It’s paraben free, sulfate free, mineral oil free, petrolatum free, formaldehyde free and cruelty free— but full of plant extracts and antioxidants. With more than 10,000 reviews on Amazon, Eileen raves, “I have been using the ACURE Brilliantly Brightening Facial Scrub for over 3 years. It is fantastically luxurious at a very affordable price.” Use the scrub 2-3x per week to keep skin-tones even (pregnant and new mamas, you know what we mean!).
Of course the company that started with baby products can make skincare safe for pregnant mamas! This hypoallergenic, gentle gel cleanser contains a botanical blend of chamomile & calendula to help calm & soothe. It’s made without parabens, phthalates, SLS, dyes, SLES, PEGs, and synthetic fragrances. Since the Sweet Orange + Vanilla Body Wash is already a baby staple, we trust Jessica Alba with our own skin.
This hydrating foaming cleanser removes makeup and impurities without disrupting the skin’s moisture barrier. That means that it will seriously absorb your skincare product, so follow with serum and cream. EWG Verified— it includes unique ingredients like plum oil, squalane (derived from olives), and coconut acid without anything from the no-no list. Safe to use morning and night, work the cleanser into a velvety foam and then massage onto damp skin. Users attest to softer, more radiant and hydrated skin after just one use.
Tula’s Cult Classic Facial Cleanser is loved. Seriously. Created by an MD using probiotics (she’s a gastroenterologist, after all), this cleanser is gentle and effective— never overdrying— but tough enough to remove your makeup including eye makeup. The probiotics calm and soothe, on the inside and out. The smell is light and clean and the gel formula turns into a light foam when you use it. With none of the bad ingredients, it’s now a star in the Conscious Beauty division at Ulta Beauty.
You had us at “Burt’s Bees.” This gentle foaming cleanser has cucumber and mint to nourish and hydrate, plus vitamins A, B2 and E. It’s allergy and dermatologist tested, hypoallergenic and formulated without parabens, phthalates, petrolatum and SLS. Male and female customers love this product (and full product line) as it can be used on the reg, day and night.
Perfect for sensitized skin (hello pregnancy), this formula is 100% naturally derived, right down to the surfactants that turn the product from a rich oil into a rinse-clean milk. It not only thoroughly cleanses your skin of makeup, but also of SPF and pollution. Pro-tip: leave it on for 10 minutes without water, and it doubles as a nourishing mask. REN has been a leader in clean skincare (all the way down to its packaging, which is fully recyclable where facilities exist) and has been a staple in our beauty regimen since before clean became cool.
We were once told to exfoliate only 1-2 times per week, and that’s because exfoliants can be harsh. But not this one. Countercontrol is meant for daily use thanks to the jojoba beads that slough away dead skin combined with soothing aloe vera and light oils from orange, grapefruit and eucalyptus. Taylor C loves it for her combo skin, “The Countercontrol Cleanser has the perfect blend of exfoliating and cleansing properties for my combination skin. It brings balance to my face, ridding the makeup/impurities, and I love the fresh but subtle and clean scent!”
Before you think this price is just too much, know the reviews are glowing. Jessica says, “This is the best exfoliating face wash I have ever found!! Don’t question yourself, just buy it!” Well then, enough said. Also, Fiske loves it for oily/combo skin mamas (all of us during pregnancy) noting the willow bark extract can penetrate deep into the pores, cleansing the skin from deep inside as salicylic acid normally would. Harper’s ingredients read like a list of mother nature’s best (olives, sunflower, apricot, pomegranate) and her products are made fresh in Vermont on her own farm.
Meet your new basic (in a good way) face wash— the one you will use every morning and every night (kind of like that Cetaphil you used growing up). Credo, who only does clean beauty, created this Peet Rivko Gentle Cleanser to make it simple for all of us. It’s great for all skin types, especially sensitive, and features ingredients like aloe vera, comfrey and green tea. This non-foaming cream cleanser is free of fragrance, essential oils and floral extracts. If you are ultra-sensitive to smells and everything else during pregnancy, heavy scents like lavender or rose will do you in.
Now that you’ve got your best face wash for pregnancy, check out our other mom approved beauty must-haves.
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