Your SAFE Pregnancy Skincare Routine + Acne Hacks | The Budget Dermatologist
– I made a complete skincare routine for pregnancy. It’s a glow up routine and I have a few added options in there if you also have acne. This routine is safe for pregnant women and it’s dermatologist approved by me.
I’m Dr. Maren Locke. I’m a board-certified dermatologist known here as the budget dermatologist where I help you get premium skin without the price tag. Feel free to subscribe (bell rings) and share this video with a pregnant mama.
This is a routine that I used during my pregnancy journey, and it’s made up of tried and true budget-friendly products. Many of my patients in my own private practice dermatology clinic have also used this routine with great success.
Now, everything I tell you about today will be linked below. And of course this video is not sponsored or influenced by any brand. Everything I’m recommending and showing you in this video I bought myself.
I am simply sharing with you the things that I recommend to my own patients and have in my own skincare stockpile. I consider every product in this video to be safe during pregnancy. But my big disclaimer on this video is that I’m not your doctor.
Every pregnant patient should get clearance from their own OB doctor or healthcare provider for anything that they use topically on their skin or take by mouth. So if you are interested in these products, take a list to your doctor and make sure they are okay for you personally.
So yay, you are pregnant, but oh my goodness, your skin is freaking out! I hear this all the time as a dermatologist. Or maybe your skin is just fine but you want a safe routine to start or to transition to during your pregnancy.
I have worked very closely in the past with my OB colleagues to take care of the skin conditions of pregnant women. It can be a trying nine months for sure. We are limited with the products that we can use topically and orally for certain skin conditions, but don’t fret.
You can still have healthy skin if you use the right products for your skin and are patient and consistent. So this is my philosophy on skincare routines during pregnancy. It’s built around the top five things that you need to know before building your own routine.
I think every video I’ve posted so far includes a list of some sort. I hope you guys find these helpful. So this is my philosophy of skincare in pregnancy list. Number one, your primary goal is to maintain skin barrier health.
This is now your top priority. It’s not anti-aging. It’s not fighting acne or hyperpigmentation. It is skin barrier. Your secondary goal can be targeted treatment of those issues, and I will show you exactly how to do that.
Number two, accept that this is a short, short, very short period of your life. Even though some pregnancies can feel like an eternity, it’s likely not going to be your skin’s best time. And that is okay.
Show yourself some grace. Your body is literally growing a human life, which is so amazing. So let’s cut the skin some slack during this time. By focusing on maintaining a very healthy skin barrier, you will be in top shape to transition to a more treatment-oriented skincare routine postpartum so that you will really hit the ground running to get your skin back up to speed.
Number three, don’t worry about your wrinkles. We are not focused on anti-aging during pregnancy. Don’t be sad to give up your retinol and your Botox. Get that out of your mind now. Beyond a sunscreen, simply focus on optimizing your diet, your sleep, exercise, stress management, hydration.
All of that will probably do more anti-aging wonders for your skin than any topical cream or supplement can. I say still have lots of ways for you to address fine lines during pregnancy, but really don’t sweat this too much.
Number four, if you have acne, ask your OB if you should see a dermatologist. There is so much confusion around acne treatments in pregnancy. Even mild to moderate acne, if it bothers you enough, check in with a dermatologist to talk about your options.
Number five, don’t sweat the dark spots. The mask of pregnancy or melasma or hormonal hyperpigmentation can be so distressing and make you feel like you need a ton of topicals on the skin to try to fade these spots immediately.
But let me tell you, there is good news about this. Most people’s skin will clear this hyperpigmentation on its own once your hormones stabilize after pregnancy. So you won’t have to do anything at all.
It just goes away. Some people have a bit more of a stubborn course and can use more targeted products or prescriptions if needed once they are done with pregnancy and breastfeeding. My best advice is to not go overboard, to push the envelope with potentially dangerous or unstudied ingredients trying to lighten the skin during pregnancy.
It is not worth it for such a fleeting course. Instead, invest in a good mineral sunscreen, a great foundation for coverup if you feel self conscious, and be patient, give it time, it will get better.
Now let’s build your routine. Here’s the list of products that I recommend during pregnancy, and I will show you how to organize these products into a step by step routine for morning and nighttime. You will need a gentle cleanser, glycolic acid cleanser for a healthy glow to help improve skin texture, reduce hyperpigmentation.
You’ll need a moisturizer with niacinamide in it. This is crucial for your skin barrier in my routine. A mineral sunscreen, either tinted or non-tinted, your choice. Three treatment products: vitamin C for skin brightening and an antioxidant, and also to support new collagen formation in a safe way; niacinamide serum for skin barrier health and anti-acne and soothing of the skin; and azelaic acid for brightening, for acne treatment and prevention, gentle exfoliation, and can help dark spots.
So all of those will be your basic foundation that you can build upon with these additional products. Add-ons. Vichy Mineral 89. For super dry skin, it goes under you moisturizer or can be worn alone if you have oily skin.
Also can strengthen the skin barrier if you are feeling red, irritated, or acne prone. This is an absolute staple to have on your shelf to work in and out of your routine all year long. Okay, another fun add-on is an acne spot treatment product like a hydrocolloid patch.
Skip the ones that have benzyl peroxide or salicylic acid to spot treat. You want to use one without chemicals. I love to recommend an oil-based cleanser if you wear a lot of makeup or heavy sunscreen.
This will help most effectively cleanse the skin instead of using a harsh washcloth or makeup wipe for removal. A pregnancy-safe sheet mask for extra hydration or self-care. I added this in because a lot of people love sheet masks.
And I will show you which are safe during pregnancy. A sulfur mask for weekly use for acne, rosacea, dermatitis. Just other rashes that sulfur can help with. Silicone eye patches, a nice way to rejuvenate skin, fight signs of aging in a safe way.
It’s fun self care, use these before your maternity shoot or baby shower. It’s really great to have on hand. Okay, here’s how you will organize these products into a complete routine. Starting with your morning skincare routine, step one, use your glycolic acid exfoliating cleanser or a similar exfoliating cleanser with AHAs only.
You want to choose one without salicylic acid. So check the full ingredients label. My favorite glycolic acid cleanser for pregnancy is by Glytone. It’s their Mild Gel Cleanser. Glytone is a great brand with many of their products focused around glycolic acid as their featured ingredient.
I like this one because it has just AHAs, no salicylic acid or other hidden ingredients that are not recommended for pregnancy. It is gentle yet very effective. Now some people do consider low percentages of salicylic acid over a small surface area of the body, especially in wash off form, to be okay during pregnancy.
But you will need to ask your own doctor about that. My other two favorite glycolic cleansers do contain salicylic acid in the ingredients label. I suspect it is a low percentage of salicylic acid, but the actual percent is not listed on label.
These cleansers are the L’Oreal 3.5% Glycolic Cleanser, which is your most budget-friendly option. It is gentle enough to really use it every day for most skin types. And really all skin types can use this, probably even sensitive skin types.
My other favorite is by SkinCeuticals, which has 8% glycolic acid in it, and the highest percent of these three. It also has phytic acid in it and salicylic acid in it. It’s a bit higher priced, but if you are looking for something stronger, I do like this one and I find it to be quite effective.
So this first step is important because this will help your skin barrier, help your skin cell turnover and renewal and help just prevent or even treat, to some extent, the dark spots that can happen in pregnancy.
You can use this up to daily or even just once or twice a week. Totally depends on your skin type and condition. If you want to take a day off, you will use your gentle cleanser here instead, but this is a crucial product to have on your shelf and rotate into your cleansing routine regularly.
Step two, apply your treatment product. You have three to choose from that I mentioned. Vitamin C, niacinamide serum, and azelaic acid. I like to use the vitamin C in the morning following the exposure cleanser because it helps it penetrate the skin better.
Again, check the entire ingredients label of your vitamin C product to make sure there aren’t any other non-safe pregnancy ingredients in them. For example, I really like the La Roche-Posay vitamin C, but this one also has salicylic acid in it.
So that’s really not my first choice for pregnancy. Instead, I am recommending my current favorite, and what I am using on my skin right now. And that’s these Neutrogena vitamin C capsules. So these are single dose, packaged individually.
The packaging is what really sells me on this product because vitamin C is such an unstable ingredient that you really have to be careful about exposing it to air and light as that can oxidize it and make it useless.
But this type of packaging really prevents that. I find that it holds its effect on the skin much longer and has a longer shelf life. And this is 20% vitamin C, which is a whopping concentration that you will not find in many products in this price range.
So I love this product. Now, if you prefer a dropper bottle format to your vitamin C serum, this is Vichy Liftactiv Vitamin C Serum. This is 15% pure vitamin C with only 11 ingredients total. I love a minimalistic product, especially for a vitamin C serum.
Now vitamin C being so unstable, it doesn’t play well with a ton of other ingredients. So this formula is fabulous at protecting that vitamin C ingredient and delivering it to your skin. It has hyaluronic acid in it also, so you know you are getting good penetration into the skin with this product because that is what hyaluronic acid does.
It pulls water in and helps products penetrate deeper into the dermis or the deeper layers of the skin. So this treatment step with vitamin C is giving you an antioxidant on your skin. It is lightening pigmentation and supporting your collagen for a more youthful look.
Boom. Okay step three, apply a moisturizer with niacinamide in it, again, to further strengthen the skin barrier. Incorporating niacinamide in the moisturizer is a good way to get this into your routine without having to add in another separate product.
Just a little hack to simplify your routine. So my absolute top favorite niacinamide moisturizer ever is the La Roche-Posay Double Repair Moisturizer. This is also well-loved by my patients. Not only does it have niacinamide, but it also has ceramides in there.
So this is an incredibly well-rounded product to have in your routine. It’s gentle, it’s fragrance free, and it is tolerated by the whole range of skin types. But another option is this Holy Hydration Face Cream.
This is fragrance-free, it is super affordable. I just discovered this one more recently and I am intrigued so far. So this is another one with niacinamide I recommend, check this one out. Now, this is where you have your first add-on option from the list I mentioned, and it’s this Vichy Mineral 89 hyaluronic acid moisturizer serum hybrid product.
If you have extra dry skin, you will apply this under your moisturizer. If you have more oily skin, you can use this alone and it will still give you great hydration and also a nice healthy glow to the skin and create just a very soft feel.
So this product really pairs beautifully in skincare routines. I am loving this on my own skin lately. It’s a good one to have on hand and can be used year round. Step four, super important, apply your mineral sunscreen.
Right from the start of pregnancy, before you start getting the mask of pregnancy, this will really slow down that progression and even prevent it from becoming too noticeable in some cases. You want to choose a 100% mineral without any chemical UV filters in it.
This is my preference in pregnancy. There are so many amazing mineral sunscreens these days. So just ditch the chemical ones for now. You can get either a tinted or a non-tinted one, depending on your preference.
So here are my favorites. The best budget buy is by Australian Gold. This is tinted, it’s super affordable. I wear this almost every day. The best budget non-tinted is by Neutrogena. It does have a slight white cast in my opinion, but if you want to spend just a little more money, you can get this luxury non-tinted by Biossance.
It has no white cast. It’s their Zinc Squalane Mineral Sunscreen. It is worth the extra money to me. And another luxury sunscreen option in the tinted category is by Supergoop, their Zinc Screen which has a little bit more of a pink hue to the tint.
So it does match a wider variety of skin tones. Okay, so you used your exfoliating cleanser, your vitamin C, a moisturizer, and a sunscreen. We have accomplished brightening, anti-aging, and skin barrier strengthening so far.
Now for your nighttime skincare routine. Step one, cleanse the skin. Another add-on option here. If you wore makeup or heavy sunscreen application during the day, I always recommend a double cleanse first with an oil-based cleansing balm instead of a makeup wipe or face scrub or rough abrasive washcloth because those can be damaging to the skin barrier and can cause acne flares and other rashes on the face.
So I am using the Versed Day Dissolve cleansing balm right now. It is very soothing and effective. There are many great options out there though. This one, I feel like really lasts a long time and it’s a great price point.
But I also love this brand because it’s clean, cruelty free, and has a simple list of ingredients. Then you will follow this with a gentle water-based cleanser. I’m recommending Vanicream facial cleanser.
This is my top pick for the most gentle yet still effective cleanser of all the cleansers I have ever tried. Knock on wood, I have yet to have a patient say this irritated their skin or caused a breakout.
This is also my top go-to brand for skincare products for your baby and your kids’ skin. I plan to do a whole video on baby safe skincare products soon. So you will hear me talk again about this brand.
Step two, treatment product. We used the vitamin C in the morning. So tonight we will use either the azelaic acid or the niacinamide serum. Basically these are both two important ingredients. I do not think that you need to layer these each and every night, although you can, but instead I recommend using these on alternating nights so that you are getting the benefit of both without trying to do too much for your skin all at once.
For the azelaic acid, I am recommending the 10% by The Ordinary. It’s affordable, it’s effective, it is well liked by many people. You can read great things about it online, people’s experience with it and my own patients’ as well.
So I actually like to recommend this one over a similar product by Paula’s Choice, which is also a 10% azelaic in it, but that one contains salicylic acid, which is a controversial ingredient in pregnancy.
So grab The Ordinary one instead and you’ll also be saving yourself some money. So I’m recommending azelaic acid in your routine for two main reasons. Azelaic acid is the first go-to treatment for acne in pregnancy because it is one of the few acne fighting ingredients that is actually safe in pregnancy.
And even better, it also brightens the skin, fights dark spots, so this is an ideal product to have in your pregnancy skincare routine. So for the niacinamide serum I am using again The Ordinary. This is a very affordable product that I like, but the feel of this on my skin ends up being a little bit of that tacky or sticky sensation, but not everybody has that complaint.
You may or may not agree, but it doesn’t bother me that much, especially for the price point. But if you’ve tried this and you don’t particularly love this product, I recommend the Niacinamide Booster by Paula’s Choice.
It’s just more expensive, okay? That’s really the difference here, but it has a much more elegant feel on the skin. I just love Paula’s Choice brand so much and find such success with many of their products.
So niacinamide is crucial, crucial in your skincare routine because it is your top product for skin barrier strengthening, but also at the same time has many other benefits including treating acne, minimizing pores, brightening the skin, and it pairs seamlessly with other skincare ingredients.
Every skin type can use it, from rosacea to sensitive skin, normal, oily, or dry skin. It’s very soothing and it’s really not known to be an irritating ingredient. Step three, moisturize. You can use the same moisturizer as you used in the morning, whatever works well for your skin.
Easy routine: cleanser, treatment, moisturize. With this night routine, we have accomplished acne fighting, skin barrier strengthening, and brightening of the skin. That was your complete skincare routine morning to night.
Now, if acne is your main concern during pregnancy, here are a few tweaks that you can do to this routine to tailor it more towards acne. Azelaic acid will be your first go-to ingredient to try to control your acne before you move on to some of the other potential products.
It is an acne fighting ingredient, it is safe in pregnancy. So bump up the use of azelaic acid to once a day, even up to twice daily. So your routine will look like this: Forget the vitamin C in the morning, you don’t have time for that right now.
You need to improve your acne. So swap that out for the azelaic acid. Then at night, you can still rotate every other night your azelaic acid and the niacinamide serum because niacinamide is actually good for fighting acne as well.
So every other night you will be getting azelaic acid on your face two times. Start here. So then you are also going to use a sulfur product a couple times a week, and this is really your secret weapon, I say, because less people really know about sulfur as a treatment for acne, and it is totally safe in pregnancy and can really help clear you up enough that you might be able to totally avoid prescriptions or other questionable ingredients.
I’m recommending the Sulfur Mask by Sunday Riley. Use this as a spot treatment or a mask. Do this at night a couple of times a week. Remove all your makeup, cleanse the skin, apply this mask as directed on the package instructions, rinse it off, then complete the rest of your skincare routine.
And another great add-on for acne are pimple patches. So even if you don’t have acne now, likely you will get some type of acne at some point during your pregnancy. So these are great to have on hand either way.
I’ve noticed lately that pimple patches are actually becoming increasingly popular because they really work for those singular inflamed and bothersome pimples. Now there are several different types of pimple patches to choose from, but there is only one type that is the safest option in pregnancy, and that’s a hydrocolloid patch without added medication in it.
So no salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide or anything else, just the plain hydrocolloid patch. You will spot treat, essentially just put it on the pimple, sleep with it on, remove it in the morning to a hopefully resolved or at least improved less red and inflamed pimple.
This one is called the Mighty Patch. It’s by the brand Hero. It is hydrocolloid, which is a medical grade wound dressing that works to absorb oil and pus and other skin debris from your pimple. So it shrinks it down.
We use this type of dressing in dermatology a lot actually for its wound healing properties. So I have a lot of experience with this and that is why I am recommending it. So now let’s talk about some other fun add-ons to your skincare routine to really step your game up in the self care department all while being safe during pregnancy.
Sheet mask, such a fun and relaxing thing to do for your skin mainly to improve hydration. However, these sheet masks can be infused with lots of different ingredients, some of which are not safe. I like to minimize fragrance in products during pregnancy, and it’s actually kind of hard to find a sheet mask without added fragrance.
But here are the ones that I like that you can use during pregnancy. Avene Antioxidant Sheet Mask, this is my top pick because its focus is strengthening the skin barrier and providing a dose of antioxidants all while keeping out other ingredients that we do not want on our skin during pregnancy.
And Hada Labo brand makes another safe sheet mask that is 100% cotton with safe ingredients to rehydrate your face. And a wash off mask option, I mentioned the sulfur mask for acne, but this one is good for general exfoliation, brightening the complexion, and more aimed at pigmentation.
This one is the Biossance Glycolic Renewal Mask. It is made only with AHAs, so it is safe in pregnancy. It is at a higher price point, but obviously will last longer than a single use sheet mask. So this is also something that’s just nice and relaxing that you can do for your skin weekly.
And lastly, another popular anti-aging and rejuvenating thing that you can do for your skin is use silicone patches. I like these particular patches. They are 100% medical grade silicone. You can apply them around the eyes, really around the forehead, smile lines, neck, chest, even the tops of the hands.
But for pregnancy, when we can’t use things like retinol, this is a quick fix to help plump the skin back up and really lessen the appearance of fine lines, helps decrease puffiness around the eyes as well.
They are reusable. You can wear them for a few hours or even overnight if you wish. And it’s just a great pick-me-up so that you can feel better about your appearance if you need that confidence boost.
But what about the skin on the rest of your body? And do any of these creams really work for stretch marks? Here’s your quick hit list. Stretch marks are mostly genetic no matter what you use on your belly, but it is reasonable that you can lessen their severity with consistent moisturizing of the belly area.
My recommended product is the Coconut Melt by Kopari. I am recommending it because I’m obsessed with it. It has so many uses, which makes it truly a great budget buy. Trust me, this will not be sitting on your shelf for a whole year.
You will use this thing up. So this stuff is 100% organic coconut oil. Nothing else is in it, and it’s truly a jack of all trades skincare product. You can rub this into your belly daily to reduce stretch marks and soothe the skin, but why stop there? You can apply this to damp skin when you get out of the shower for really great all over body moisturizing.
Use it as a hair mask, a makeup remover, use it to shave your legs. You can even put a scoop in your bath. Now, if you need a moisturizer for dry, rough skin on your body, or even dry, cracked heels, I recommend AmLactin, which has AHAs to help gently exfoliate the skin.
Avoid body lotions with salicylic acid and retinol. So if you have any moisturizers on hand that say rough and bumpy skin, check the ingredients label and ditch them if they have salicylic acid. And last, I prefer using a safe aluminum-free deodorant in pregnancy.
My favorite is also by Kopari. It comes in many scents, and my favorite scent is their fragrance-free option. Whatever products you ultimately decide to use on your skin, again, I recommend getting approval from your doctor before starting.
I always tell pregnant women to avoid certain topical skincare ingredients, including all forms of retinoids from over-the-counter retinol and pro-retinol to prescription products. Avoid hydroquinone, the bleaching agent.
Avoid minoxidil or Rogaine in hair products. Now some acne treatments like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide are little more controversial. So I will defer to your own doctor about recommending those.
But generally, in lower percentages on small areas of the body in wash off forms seem to be acceptable, but check with your doctor. And I will go ahead and address this because I know you guys are gonna ask me in the comments about bakuchiol.
I’m not convinced this does wonders without retinol added to it, first of all, and I don’t know that there has been sufficient studies on this in pregnant women. So I’m really not too excited about using it.
I’m gonna leave that one up to you and your doctor. Now, this is just a short, limited list. There are many other things that you should not use in pregnancy. So consult your doctor. How many times can I say that? Anyways, I am so excited for you on your pregnancy journey.
Keep your skincare fun during this time. Pamper yourself and remember that your best skin days are ahead of you. Subscribe to my channel for more upcoming videos (bell rings) where I simplify the entire skincare process for you step by step, no guessing, no overspending, just approachable routines with affordable products that work.
See you all soon. (cheerful music)