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February 05, 2021 Charlotte Cho


I’m not a mom, but as an outsider looking in, the mommy world is fascinating. Recently I was served an ad for nipple balms after searching for a baby shower gift, and I’ve become familiar with lingo such as “pump and dump” and “push gifts” as my own friends start to have their own.

While I can’t wait to have my own kids one day, I’m not looking forward to excess androgens running through my body that may produce a fresh crop of stretch marks, acne and pigmentation. Small price to pay for the gift of life, but hey, doesn't mean I have to be excited about it.

With all these changes happening to your skin during and after pregnancy, it really isn’t a surprise that many mommies reach out to us to ask what ingredients they should avoid when they look for their next beauty product.

The frustrating part about this is that there isn’t a comprehensive list that clearly defines what ingredients to avoid. It's the safest to always, always consult with your doctor for the final say because they really do know you best!

Amid from all the controversies and mixed messages out there, I did my own deep-diving into studies, frank discussions with other estheticians and dermatologists to learn more about this topic.

The consensus is this: Skin care products that are not prescribed by a doctor are generally safe to use during pregnancy or when nursing. 


What are some ingredients that I should avoid?

Hydroquinone (a bleaching agent) and retinoids are two ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. There aren't any conclusive studies that show it harms the fetus, but it's safer to avoid because they are ingredients that absorb quickly and easily into the bloodstream.

What ingredients have a bad rap but are actually OK to use?

There have been multiple studies done on salicylic acid, glycolic acid, zinc oxide, titanium dioxide (commonly found in sun screens), and self-tanners and there aren't any that conclude that topical use of these ingredients result in harmful effects to a fetus or baby. In fact, only a minimal amount of these ingredients are able to be absorbed by skin— most of it is metabolized within the skin and excreted through urine. 

That being, nothing is more precious than your little mini-me growing inside of your belly, so take the precautions you see fit throughout your pregnancy and while nursing. 

I hope this article has added to your knowledge base as a super mom!

—Charlotte Cho

Stay Tuned for Our Mommy Series Next Week:
Stretch Marks—Can you prevent it?
Pregnancy Mask—Pigmentation during pregnancy and how to prevent and treat it

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About Charlotte

Soko Glam co-founder and chief curator. Licensed esthetician sharing the love of all things K-beauty.

About Sokoglam

Bringing the best in Korean skin care, beauty, and culture Stateside since 2012. Discover, shop, and learn with us.