3 Skincare Ingredients Pregnant and Breastfeeding Mums Should Avoid

Category: Mums Corner

When it comes to makeup and skin care, what you slather on matters as well. Here are some ingredients to avoid.



Motherhood speaks to Dr Mark Koh, head and consultant, Dermatology Service, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital; Dr Nisha Suyien Chandran, consultant, Division of Dermatology, National University Hospital; and Dr Tan Hiok Hee, dermatologist, Thomson Specialist Skin Centre, to find out more on safe skin care for pregnant and breastfeeding moms.


What’s Safe for Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Dr Koh, Dr Chandran and Dr Tan concur that pregnant and breastfeeding mums can continue with the status quo when it comes to their makeup and skin care regime.

According to Dr Chandran, “In general, a pregnant woman can stick to her usual make-up products. There is no good evidence that certain cosmetics are harmful to the developing baby. If they are not suitable, they should be labelled as such.”

“When it comes to skincare products during pregnancy and breastfeeding, the rule of thumb is always to check with your doctor if you are not sure if a certain item is safe to use. Generally, skin care products such as cleansers, moisturisers, and lip balms are safe to use throughout pregnancy and when breastfeeding, but one should exercise more caution when it comes to prescription items,” adds Dr Tan.


Ingredients to Avoid

Three types of ingredients in makeup and skin care should be avoided during pregnancy and lactation:



Retinoids are compounds of vitamin A. All systemic forms of retinoids can cause malformations in the developing foetus. “They are to be strictly avoided in an expectant mother,” cautions Dr Chandran. Topical forms of retinoids are common ingredients in anti-aging products. Although there is no strong evidence that these topical retinoids directly cause foetal malformations, it is nevertheless prudent to avoid them during pregnancy or breastfeeding. Listed names of topical retinoids include differin, retinyl, retinol and Retin-A.


Salicylic acid and glycolic acid

These are common agents in anti-acne formulations and exfoliating products. “Adverse pregnancy outcomes have been observed when these were taken in the oral form. Thus again, application of the topical form is to be avoided,” advises Dr Chandran.



Hydroquinone is a skin-lightening agent. It may be used in creams for melasma (patches of darkened skin, usually on the face). Dr Chandran warns that topical application leads to high absorption into the body, and thus should be avoided in pregnancy or lactation.


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