Which Skin Care Ingredients Should You Avoid if You’re Pregnant?

a pregnant woman laying in bed

Updated 06/06/23. Pregnancy means constantly fluctuating hormones, which can, unfortunately, mean frustrating flare-ups of hormonal acne for some women. But because pregnancy is a unique and delicate state, some of the ingredients typically used to fight acne are off-limits, which is even more frustrating. Needless to say, navigating acne during pregnancy can be confusing. To make things easier for you, here are the skincare ingredients most doctors suggest avoiding during pregnancy as well as safe, alternative options for treating blemishes. Of course, if you’re ever unsure, it’s always best to consult with your doctor.

Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy

Retinol and prescription retinoids

Examples of brand names include Renova (tretinoin), Retin-A, Differin (adapalene), and Tazorac (Tazarotene). While there are no confirmed studies showing birth abnormalities, doctors are being cautious when suggesting to avoid topical use of prescription retinoids.  However, oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin (found in the prescription formally known as Accutane, an acne treatment), are known to cause birth defects, so they must be avoided.

As for over-the-counter retinol, a derivative of the vitamin A molecule found in products like Advanced Resurfacing Serum, it is a much weaker form of vitamin A. There is no data showing that this ingredient leads to any systemic absorption, so if you’ve been using a topical skin cream that contains a vitamin A derivative and find out that you are pregnant, there’s no need to panic! That said, doctors are understandably extra-cautious about pregnancy and recommend discontinuing any vitamin A product, even over-the-counter, while pregnant and/or trying to get pregnant. If unsure about anything, we always recommend checking with your doctor.

Retinol and prescription retinoids should also be avoided while breastfeeding.

Salicylic acid

A beta-hydroxy acid, salicylic acid is commonly found in products formulated for acne and clogged pores. Most doctors recommend steering clear of this ingredient during pregnancy. In low concentrations, salicylic acid is usually considered safe to use while breastfeeding, but always be sure to check with your doctor first.

Renée Rouleau Products to Avoid During Pregnancy

Here is a list of Renée Rouleau products with ingredients your doctor might suggest avoiding during pregnancy, as well as alternative products that ARE safe for treating acne during pregnancy.

Other than these products, all of the Renée Rouleau products can be used safely while pregnant. And remember, when in doubt, consult your doctor!

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Disclaimer: Content found on www.ReneeRouleau.com and Blog.ReneeRouleau.com, including text, images, audio, or other formats were created for informational purposes only. The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or another qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard professional medical advice or delay in seeking it because of something you have read on this website or blog.


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  1. Can you use that detox masque and the empty bump solution while using Retin-A micro?

    Posted By: Chris  | 

    • Yes, both are gentle enough to be used with a prescription retinoid

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  2. Hi Renee,
    I currently use the AHA/BHA face wash and it has worked wonders on my skin (in combination with all your other products) and was wondering when trying to get pregnant what cleanser you would recommend switching that would be benifital for skin prone to hormonal and cystic breakouts.

    Posted By: Zoe  | 

    • Hi Zoe, You’ll want to confirm with your doctor but in my experience, doctors aren’t recommending to not use salicylic acid when trying to conceive. But to answer your question, the Luxe Mint Cleanser would be great!

      Posted By: Renée Rouleau  | 

  3. Is it safe to use the Anti-Cyst Treatment while breastfeeding?

    Posted By: Laura  | 


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