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The best skincare for pregnancy: discover which products are pregnancy-safe

Even the biggest of skincare nerds can struggle to define the best skincare for pregnancy. Read on for our expert-approved guide to the best moisturiser, anti-ageing skincare and acne-busters to use in pregnancy.

By Melanie Macleod | Last updated May 24, 2023

Choosing the right skincare is hard at the best of times. Throw pregnancy into the mix and you’re in a beauty minefield.

Some people are blessed with that ‘pregnancy glow’ when they’re expecting, while others find they’re plagued with pregnancy acne and/or patches of dry or oily skin seemingly out of the blue, no matter how religiously they take their prenatal vitamins. You might also find you age quicker during pregnancy (as if it weren't hard enough to grow a human!). This is because your body is working hard to nourish your baby, and your own skin is last on the list to receive the nourishment it needs, resulting in accelerated ageing. 

In normal situations, many of us would head for the beauty department in Boots and stock up on miracle creams promising to soothe skin and combat acne, or plump and anti-age, but during pregnancy, there are a few ingredients that should be avoided as they can be harmful to your baby (retinols, salicylic acid, BHAs and AHAs, to name four). Annoyingly, those ingredients are often the hardest workers for anti-ageing and soothing acne.

Luckily there is a plethora of products out there which are safe (and lovely) to use and these have made our shortlist for the best skincare for pregnancy options. To help make up this list, we've taken a look at what beauty experts recommend for pregnancy and have cross-referenced with the opinions of Mumsnet users. As home to the largest online network of UK parents, the Mumsnet forums are a wealth of information for all things pregnancy and parenting related, from the best pregnancy books to read during those nine long months, to the top-ranking TENS machine to see you through labour and the most useful parenting books to guide you through the years to come.

No matter what your beauty bugbear is, here is the best skincare for pregnancy 2023.

The best skincare for pregnancy: at a glance

1. Best skincare for pregnancy acne: The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate (also called Edelweiss Daily Serum)

Price on writing: From £15 (for 30ml) | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type of skincare: Serum drops | Size: 30ml 

What we love

  • Only a few drops needed as part of skincare routine
  • Natural ingredients

What to know

What Mumsnet users say

“There is something in it which helps skin renewal so helps with any healing it needs to do.” (Tried and tested by Waitingforbabypage)

Our verdict

Rating: 5/5

The popular Drops of Youth Serum by The Body Shop has undergone a recent rebranding - it is now known as Edelweiss Daily Serum Concentrate, but as both forms are still widely available, we've included both names.

This juicy serum gives a youthful bounce to the skin, flooding it with hydration and making it appear healthy and fresh. It’s lightweight and just one pipette is enough to keep your skin feeling refreshed all day long. Combine with the best stretch mark cream as part of your nightly (or daily) pregnancy skincare routine.

If hormonal imbalances are resulting in pregnancy acne, this is a helpful product to add to your skincare routine. It’s 99% organic, with moringa seed oil working to protect the skin, while edelweiss (yes, like they sing about in The Sound Of Music) is a powerhouse when it comes to protecting the skin too, helping it to care for itself from the inside out.

This can be used morning and night for a dose of TLC for pregnancy ravaged skin. Follow with moisturiser to lock in hydration, relax back into your best pregnancy pillow, and watch your skin get its glow back.

2. Best moisturiser for pregnancy: e.l.f. SuperHydrate With Squalane

ELF facial moisturiser

Price on writing: £12 | Buy now from Boots

Key specs

Type of skincare: Moisturiser | Size: 48g

What we love

  • Balances moisture in skin using plant-derived squalane
  • Only a small 'dime-sized' amount needed so lasts a good while

What to know

  • Some didn't like the jelly texture

What Mumsnet users say

“e.l.f. SuperHydrate is really nice, it sinks in quick and feels refreshing.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user Fispi)

Our verdict

Rating: 5/5

e.l.f. is known for creating impressive skincare on a budget, and this skin-quenching gel moisturiser is no exception. It sinks in like a dream, for dewy, plump skin that feels comfortable.

It’s a gel moisturiser, which is ideal if you’re suffering with pregnancy acne as it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin, yet still packs a punch when it comes to hydration. If you've found yourself battling dry skin from day one after getting a positive pregnancy test before you've even had a chance to grow into your maternity clothes, this is one for you.

The hydrating ingredient in this pot is squalane, a plant-derived ingredient that calms inflammation (a main cause of acne), quenching even the driest of skin and supporting the skin barrier for stronger, more resilient skin. 

Squalane is the ingredient you’ll find in all of Reese Witherspoon’s favourite skincare from the high-end brand Biossance, but this budget moisturiser comes in at a fraction of the price, yet still delivers the hydration you might be lacking during pregnancy.

3. Best sensitive skin cleanser for pregnancy: Kate Somerville Goat Milk Moisturising Cleanser

Kate Somerville Goat Milk

Price on writing: £38 | Buy now from Look Fantastic

Key specs

Type of skincare: Cleanser | Size: 120 ml

What we love

  • Refreshes and cleanses skin without stripping natural moisture
  • Excellent for sensitive skin

What to know

  • Pricey

What Mumsnet users say

“It’s beautiful. Cleans well but is really gentle and smells lovely.” (Tried and tested by OlivesTree)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

First things first, there’s no denying this is at the pricier end of the spectrum, and it might seem pointless to spend a high amount on something you wash off almost immediately, but if you’re suffering with dry, irritated skin during pregnancy, this gentle, soothing cleanser is just what you need to nurse damaged skin back to health. 

It’s a rich cream cleanser that feels ultra-soft on the skin, with a comforting scent that will make you feel cocooned and safe - very subtly honey-scented. It softens the skin and soothes redness, with zero tightness or dryness. 

If you use this once a day, it should last around eight weeks, which is hopefully long enough to soothe your irritated skin. It gently removes makeup and impurities with no eye-stinging, while moisturising jojoba and avocado oil soften the skin, making it among the gentlest cleansers out there and one of the best skincare for pregnancy items.

Related: Speaking of the bodily issues pregnancy may throw at you, don't miss our guides to the best haemorrhoid cream and top-ranking pregnancy support belt for a relaxing, pain-free pregnancy.

4. Best cleanser for pregnancy: CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser

Price on writing: £8 | Buy now from Superdrug

Key specs

Type of skincare: Cleanser | Size: 236 ml

What we love

  • Inexpensive
  • Removes dirt, oil and make-up without leaving skin feeling tight or dry

What to know

  • Doesn't suit all skin

What Mumsnet users say

“Love the hydrating version. Only cleanser I will use now.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user applepineapple)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

If you’re looking for a more budget-friendly cleanser to use during pregnancy, this could be the answer. 

It's raved about by beauty editors, proving that less pricey products are every bit as good as their expensive counterparts. This gentle face wash for pregnancy uses ceramides to rebuild the skin barrier and hyaluronic acid to attract moisture to the surface, for a hydrated, clean complexion. 

It's a creamy no-fuss, fragrance free cleanser for dry skin and the no-frills packaging means it’s easy to use in the shower. Plus it lasts for ages. Excellent news if you'd rather splash the cash on extra maternity bras or new maternity jeans.

5. Best anti-aging skincare during pregnancy: Herbivore Bakuchiol Serum

Price on writing: £54 | Buy now from Niche Beauty

Key specs

Type of skincare: Serum | Size: 30 ml

What we love

  • Comparable to retinol
  • Minimises fine lines and reduces acne snarring

What to know

  • Can take up to three months to see results
  • Can feel a bit sticky

What Mumsnet users say

“I like the Herbivore bakuchiol.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user MoBear)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

Anti-ageing skincare is one of the trickiest things to get right in pregnancy, as the usual anti-ageing ingredients aren’t advised in pregnancy (ie. retinol). Luckily, there’s an emerging crop of pregnancy safe alternatives, with bakuchiol leading the way. 

In studies, bakuchiol has been proven to be safe in pregnancy, with comparable results to retinol. This gel serum bakuchiol promises to brighten the skin, smooth skin texture and reduce fine lines, while hydrating too. It's a little on the pricey side, but could make for one of the best gifts for new mums.

It feels ever so slightly sticky on application, so we’d recommend using this at night as part of your bedtime routine just before you put on your favourite maternity pyjamas.

Fans praise this not only for lessening the appearance of fine lines, but also for minimising acne-scarring. It takes about three months of use to see results, but they’re well worth the wait. 

6. Best Korean skincare in pregnancy: Dr. Jart Cicapair Tiger Grass Color Correcting Treatment

Price on writing: From £16.50 | Buy now from Boots

Key specs

Type of skincare: Face cream | Size: 15 ml, 50 ml

What we love

  • Reduces redness and sensitivity in one application
  • Great if you want to go make-up free

What to know

  • Some reviewers reported it doesn't work under make-up

What Mumsnet users say

“Dr Jart is an all round fantastic brand.” (Tried and tested by KittyWindbag)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

Korean skincare blends innovative technology with ancient traditions, resulting in high-performing products that have the whole world falling over itself to try them. Dr. Jart is one of the brands at the forefront of the K beauty revolution, and this pot of green paste is the brand’s best-loved buy.

It’s designed to cover redness whilst protecting and strengthening your skin, so if you’re experiencing enhanced redness during pregnancy, this should be on your shopping list to take the flushed look down a notch. You can scarcely feel it on your skin, but it makes the world of difference to the tone of your skin if you want to go makeup free. Some fans even say it looks like you’re wearing an ultra-sheer foundation, such are its powers.

If this has you hooked on Korean skincare, another hit from the brand to try is the Dr. Jart Cryo Rubber Mask, £10. It’s ultra-cooling, for refreshed, zingy skin - perfect if you find yourself hot and bothered during pregnancy. 

Read next: New baby in your life? Discover the best baby gifts according to the mums who've received them all.

7. Best pregnancy safe toner: Pixi Glow Tonic

Price: £12 | Buy now from Boots

Key specs

Type of skincare: Glycolic acid toner | Size: 250 ml

What we love

  • Visible results within days of first use
  • Good for treating acne

What to know

  • Not the best for sensitive skin

What Mumsnet users say

“Pixi glow tonic is great. It's not too strong to use on a daily basis,” (Tried and tested by FlyingByTheSeatOf)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

There’s some confusion about whether acids are safe to use in pregnancy, but skincare guru Paula Begoun, of much-loved skincare brand Paula’s Choice, assures that glycolic acid is safe to use, writing on her oracle website: “Glycolic acid is an AHA that is considered safe to use in pregnancy.”

The most famous glycolic acid toner out there is Pixi Glow Tonic; it’s a cult exfoliating product that’s a staple in many beauty routines. It’s gentle enough to use every day and you really see the difference in the brightness and clarity of your skin when you’re using this. 

Many brightening toners include salicylic acid, and this should be avoided in pregnancy, so take care to check the ingredients list for this when buying your pregnancy toner.

Related: Trying for a baby and want to know more about your cycle? Discover the Mumsnet-approved best ovulation test right here.

8. Best cooling face mist for pregnancy: Avene Thermal Spring Water Spray

Price on writing: £8 | Buy now from Superdrug

Key specs

Type of skincare: Face mist | Size: 300 ml

What we love

  • Refreshing for tired, hot pregnancy skin (particularly good for summer due dates!)
  • Can use as a cooling spray during labour

What to know

  • Some sensitive skin can have reaction

What Mumsnet users say

“Feels lovely and cooling and skin looks better since I started using it.” (Recommended by Mumsnet user Lottapianos)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

If you find yourself feeling flushed and hot during pregnancy, a cooling face mist will be a godsend. It not only refreshes the skin, but can amp up hydration too if your complexion has been dryer during pregnancy.

This cult buy includes spring water for an ultra-refreshing, fine mist that will make you feel wide awake and look dewy, with toned down redness. 

A face mist of course isn’t a necessity in your pregnancy skincare routine, but in summer pregnancies particularly, it is a nice treat. 

Related: Expecting more than one bundle of joy? Find out what to buy for twins according to Mumsnetters.

9. Best body lotion during pregnancy: Neal’s Yard Bee Lovely Lotion

Price on writing: £19.57 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type of skincare: Body lotion | Size: 295 ml

What we love

  • Smells amazing
  • Softens skin beautifully

What to know

  • Pricey

What Mumsnet users say

“I treated myself to a bottle of Neal's Yard Bee Lovely Lotion. It’s wonderful. It has honey and orange essential oil in it, smells delightful and not heavy.” (Tried and tested by Mumsnet user jubbablub)

Our verdict

Rating: 3/5

Applying a body lotion is a lovely self-care step to help you reconnect with your changing body during pregnancy, taking a moment to look after yourself. 

This easily absorbed lotion is gentle enough for the whole family (if you want to share it, that is!), with a comforting, warming scent that makes it a joy to apply. It sinks in quickly so shouldn't get all over your favourite maternity underwear, yet the hydration lasts long after you get dressed.

It softens the skin for silky soft limbs and a little bit goes a long way. It is fairly pricey for something you’ll want to use every day, so for a more budget-friendly buy, try the iconic Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Lotion, £6, for an equally nourishing, lovely-scented buy. It sinks in easier than the brand’s traditional cocoa butter, but is just as skin-softening. 

If you’re struggling with itchy skin in pregnancy, switch to something fragrance-free for your body lotion, such as Avene Xera Calm, £18 - it comes with respected dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting’s seal of approval.

10. Best skincare for pregnancy stretch marks: Mama Mio Tummy Rub Oil

Price on writing: £10.80 | Buy now from Amazon

Key specs

Type of skincare: Oil | Size: 120 ml

What we love

  • Silky smooth feeling oil
  • Soothes itchy skin
  • A little goes a long way

What to know

  • Doesn't actually prevent stretch marks but can ease symptoms

What Mumsnet users say

“I’m currently using the Mama Mio oil and it’s just amazing and definitely worth the money.” (Tried and tested by Purpleisthecolour)

Our verdict

Rating: 4/5

Up to 90% of people experience stretch marks in pregnancy, and while there’s nothing you can do to prevent them or get rid of them once they’ve occurred, keeping the skin supple can help with the appearance of stretch marks. 

This comforting, silky oil soothes the itchiness that often comes with a burgeoning bump and has a gorgeous uplifting citrus scent. A little goes a long way, with one pump enough to spread over your whole bump. Massaging this in will help you feel connected with your bump too, for some pre-baby self care.

The impressive ingredients list boasts oils including coconut, sweet almond, avocado, rosehip and olive oil for a cocktail of nourishing heroes to leave you feeling elastic and supple, plus itch-free, for your whole pregnancy.

Can you use skincare while pregnant?

Absolutely. In fact, you might feel more inclined to stick to a skincare routine when you’re pregnant as your skin goes through a lot when you’re expecting a baby.

People who have always had clear skin can find themselves struggling with pregnancy acne, and you might also notice yourself ageing faster. Your body is working hard to nourish your baby, leaving your skin lacking in the nutrients it needs, so it’s nice to give it a helping hand. 

As for the pregnancy acne? Pregnancy causes a hormonal shift that can kickstart breakouts. Use gentle, skin clearing products to rid the skin of oiliness - Avene and La Roche Posay offer a bounty of budget-friendly skincare buys that are safe to use in pregnancy and should help with baby-borne breakouts. 

What skincare should I use during pregnancy?

All of the products in our edit are perfect for using in pregnancy, but if you’re seeing more sensitivity in your skin and want to par back your skin routine, simply use a caring cleanser, a softening moisturiser and an SPF (always!) and you should be good to go. 

Among our top picks for these items are CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser, (Kate Somerville if your skin is sensitive) and e.l.f. superHydrate

Which skincare brands are pregnancy-friendly?

Most skincare brands will offer products that are pregnancy-friendly, as well as lines that include ingredients that should be avoided when you’re expecting. With this in mind, products should be reviewed on a case by case basis, rather than relying on a whole brand to be pregnancy-friendly.

Some brands that have gentle, nourishing skincare (which is often what you want in pregnancy). Seek out their products for reliable, pregnancy-friendly skincare that makes a noticeable difference to the condition of your skin. 

What face wash is safe for pregnancy? 

Face washes are among the least problematic skincare buys in pregnancy, because they are applied and washed off immediately and rarely include problematic ingredients that should be avoided.

What skincare to avoid when pregnant?

When you’re expecting a baby, skincare that you’ve been using for years can suddenly cause you to react. This is due to increased hormones that result in more skin sensitivity than usual. 

While these products are unlikely to be harmful, for your comfort it’s best to swap out anything irritating for the time being.

That said, ingredients to avoid in pregnancy include AHAs and BHAs (because of the increased sensitivity) and retinol and salicylic acid. Read on to find out why...

Can I use retinol while pregnant?

This is one ingredient that all the skincare experts agree should not be used in pregnancy. Retinol is a form of vitamin A and even applied to the skin, it can enter the bloodstream and have a toxic effect on the baby. 

While shop bought retinol is unlikely to affect babies (it’s prescription that’s an issue) as a precaution, the skincare industry recommends avoiding retinol during pregnancy.

Bakuchiol is a good retinol alternative in pregnancy, with studies showing it’s completely safe in pregnancy and can be as effective as retinol. 

Can I use salicylic acid while pregnant?

Salicylic acid is advised against in pregnancy. This is because it is not recommended to be taken orally during pregnancy (taking oral salicylic acid during late pregnancy can increase the risk for intracranial bleeding,) so to be cautious, professionals say it’s best to avoid it topically too. 

Dermatologist Dr. Sam Bunting points out that salicylic acid applied topically is unlikely to be unsafe in pregnancy, but she advises against it all the same, to err on the side of caution.

Is vitamin C serum safe for pregnancy?

Many skincare lovers rely on vitamin C to take down pigmentation and give a gorgeous glow to the skin, and you’ll be happy to learn it’s absolutely fine to leave the powerhouse ingredient in your skincare routine while pregnant.

That’s right - vitamin C is safe to use in pregnancy. 

Is hyaluronic acid safe in pregnancy?

Hydrating hero hyaluronic acid is a staple in skincare routines and we’re happy to report it’s safe to use in pregnancy. It draws moisture into the skin and locks it there, so it’s a good ingredient to add in if you’re experiencing dry skin during pregnancy.

We recommend using CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser for a simple, pregnancy-friendly cleanser contain moisture-locking hyaluronic acid. Best of all, it's under £10!

Best skincare routine for pregnancy stretch marks

Up to 90% of people experience stretch marks in pregnancy, and while there’s nothing you can do to prevent them or get rid of them once they’ve occurred, keeping the skin supple can help with the appearance of stretch marks. 

Many brands, including Mama Mio, offer oils and butters enriched with oils designed specifically to keep skin supple and comfortable during pregnancy, which in turn eases the itch of rapidly stretching skin. Apply these daily to maintain soft skin. 

Read our guide to the best stretch mark cream according to Mumsnetters for more ideas on which oils, rubs, butters and creams our forum users swear by to reduce or prevent stretch marks.

Best skincare routine for dry skin during pregnancy

Fluctuating hormones can result in skin becoming extra dry during pregnancy. Any moisturiser that includes hyaluronic acid will help draw moisture to the skin, hydrating even the most parched of complexions. 

To really amp up the moisture hit, add in a barrier-supporting serum too. Think of your skin barrier as a shield that protects the skin from external irritants - if it’s compromised, skin can become dry or irritated.  

The Body Shop Drops of Youth Concentrate is a good option to support your skin barrier. 

The ingredient niacinamide (safe in pregnancy) is also particularly good for supporting your skin barrier (as well as busting blemishes and taking down inflammation). 

How we chose our recommendations 

In the quest to find the best skincare to use during pregnancy, we scoured the Mumsnet forums for tried and tested skincare hits that deliver impressive results, are easy to use and are suitable for pregnant skin.

We also kept a close eye on Amazon reviews, to make sure the ones our Mumsnetters recommended were also big hits on consumer sites. Plus, with a beauty editor in our midst, who knows a thing or two about the best beauty buys, you can rest assured these skincare heroes are every bit as high-performing as they claim to be. 

Our edit of the best pregnancy skincare takes into consideration if they’re suitable for pregnant skin, if they deliver on their promises and if they’re good value - because we all know there’s plenty to buy when you’re expecting a new addition to the family!

Our Swears By edits are compiled by journalists with expertise in the areas they’re writing about. To help ensure we give the best, most accurate and trustworthy recommendations, they follow several steps when choosing products.

Recommendations from real parents

Before we recommend new products, we always ask our trusted Mumsnet users, of which there are more than 7 million each month. That’s a lot of honest, impartial advice. 

Expert guidance

Our team always ensures our information represents the latest recommendations from experts that you can rely on. They use a variety of sources to compile considered product selections, which includes independent consumer reviews from reputable sources and retailers such as Boots, Lookfantastic and Amazon, as well as including products they’ve tried and tested themselves, resulting in a trustworthy, in-depth and honest set of product reviews. 

Celebrated best products

Finally, we cross-referenced all of the above information to find the best skincare for pregnancy that had won the most accolades and recommendations across the board to bring you a selection of the best ones at various price points. We think there’s something here for everyone.

Why you should trust us

We work hard to provide unbiased, independent advice you can trust. We do sometimes earn revenue through affiliate (click-to-buy) links in our articles. This helps us fund more helpful articles like this one.