Last Updated on December 30, 2020
Are you looking for a list of safe face washes to use during pregnancy?
Pimples tend to be a problem during the first trimester.
That’s why we researched safe products for you to use while pregnant.
Today we’ll review the best face washes for pregnancy acne.
The higher levels of hormones coursing through your body during the first three months cause your skin to be oilier and sensitive during pregnancy.
If you have an acne history, you’ll be prone to breakouts during the first part of your pregnancy (1).
We consulted the information provided by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
They say that over-the-counter topical treatments with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and benzoyl peroxide are safe for treating acne on skin during pregnancy (2).
Very little of the acne-fighting ingredients are absorbed by the skin.
Moreover, active ingredients like a salicylic acid wash away when you rinse off the face wash.
But it’s best to avoid oral acne medications like retinoids and antibiotics. Consult with your doctor to make the best choice for your needs.
Even if you decide against using a face wash with beta hydroxy or alpha hydroxy acid or benzoyl peroxide, you still have options.
For one, wash your face twice a day with a mild face wash.
Too much washing, or harsh soaps, can irritate the oil glands into producing extra sebum that will clog your pores.
Next, change your washcloth every day and your pillowcase more than once a week.
Try not to touch your face.
Also, seek out moisturizers and sunscreens that are labeled as non-comedogenic and non-acnegenic.
If you don’t have time to read the complete article, here are our top picks.
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An article published in the Canadian Family Physician magazine in June 2011 explores the safety of skin care products during pregnancy (3).
For example, they tested benzoyl peroxide. It’s found in well-known face washes made by Clean & Clear and Proactiv.
Happily, only 5% of benzoyl peroxide absorbs through the skin. It’s quickly metabolized and leaves the body in the urine.
Next, if you apply salicylic acid to the skin, only a small portion is absorbed. When taken by mouth (as acetylsalicylic acid or aspirin), low doses did not affect the baby or mother.
Also, up to 27% of glycolic acid absorbs into the skin depending on its concentration and how long it’s left on the surface. But again, the experts say that a minimal amount in a face wash should not be cause for worry.
Finally, lactic acid is quite gentle—more so than salicylic acid (4).
Now, let’s discover safe face washes for pregnancy acne.
This pregnancy safe face wash from Belli is our top recommendation. It’s made especially for pregnant women but works well for teens and adults with sensitive skin.
The main ingredients are lactic acid, green tea, cucumber extract, and lemon peel oil. Together, they exfoliate to cleanse pores and reduce oiliness. It is safe to use it twice a day to clear up pregnancy acne breakouts.
It’s also important to note that the formula is paraben free and without dyes, and artificial fragrances. It’s cruelty-free and tested against common allergens.
For more effective exfoliation to clear up blackheads and to get rid of pimples, use this scrub. It has a mild peppermint scent to ease nausea and refresh your skin.
This powerful blend of peppermint oil, green tea, and ginseng only needs to be used up to three times a week.
Again, it’s free of parabens, phthalates (plasticizers), and artificial dyes and fragrances. Belli specializes in skin care products for pregnant women and new mothers.
As you can tell by the packaging, this skin care product is similar to the Belli face wash above. It contains green tea and lactic acid but no parabens, artificial dyes or fragrances, or phthalates.
A closer look at the label shows that it has no sulfates either.
Enjoy it throughout your pregnancy and while you’re nursing to keep your skin clear.
CeraVe developed this facial cleanser for normal, oily, sensitive to dry skin. It’s non-comedogenic and won’t dry out your face.
Two of the critical ingredients are ceramides and hyaluronic acid. The latter increases the skin’s natural moisture while the former strengthens its natural barrier.
It also has niacinamide, which calms irritation.
Although it doesn’t specifically target acne, it lathers away excess oil and dirt.
Era Organics developed this face wash for all skin types. It’s especially kind to sensitive skin as it has a 5.5 pH.
What does that number mean? It’s about as acidic as your skin should generally be to stay healthy. Therefore, it won’t cause dryness or irritation. (Compare that to regular bar soap, which has a pH of 9 or 10 and strips away oil and moisture.)
Next, the formula features aloe with Vitamins A, B, C, D, and E. Together with Manuka honey and Cehami extract, these ingredients promote healing and reduce inflammation.
Of course, this is paraben-free and doesn’t contain sulfates, artificial fragrances, or dyes.
InstaNatural’s gentle cleanser is rich in antioxidants that prevent premature aging. It has Vitamin C, which reduces discoloration like acne scars and sun damage.
The label also lists green tea, chamomile, coconut water, and sugarcane.
There are no parabens or harsh chemicals.
This face wash is also free of sulfates, toxic preservatives, propylene glycol, parabens, synthetic dyes, harsh chemicals and artificial fragrances. It’s based on certified organic and natural ingredients like coconut oil aloe, olive fruit oil, and rosemary.
Rosemary is naturally antiseptic to clear up pimples. It also defends skin cells against UV radiation and environmental pollution.
If you’re dealing with morning sickness, this unscented face wash may be a blessing.
It’s pH-balanced and calming to the skin. After you use it, your face should feel clean and relaxed, not tight.
It contains soothing soapberry, coconut cleansers, aloe, chamomile, açai, and shea butter. The hypoallergenic formula is free of sulfates, parabens, gluten, and artificial fragrances.
Cetaphil’s face cleanser has been clinically tested to remove oil and dirt. It’s often recommended by dermatologists to patients with sensitive skin.
On the downside, it uses sodium lauryl sulfate to cleanse away oil and has parabens as preservatives.
If you need a scrub to get rid of blackheads, this one from Cetaphil may be helpful. It’s mild enough for daily use and non-comedogenic.
It removes dead skin with micro-capsules and conditions your face with glycerin, Vitamin E, and panthenol.
While it has a fragrance, it’s the last ingredient on the list. Plus, there are no sulfates.
Paula Begoun started Paula’s Choice because she couldn’t find skin care products that were suited to her skin’s needs. Now she offers an extensive lineup to meet various requirements, from acne-prone skin to eczema and anti-aging.
The CALM Redness Relief Cleanser is ideal for sensitive skin. It removes makeup and impurities as well as excess oil without causing irritation.
Furthermore, it’s fragrance-free. The role of every single ingredient is explained on the label.
The EARTH SOURCED cleanser foams away oil and dirt to leave your face smooth and refreshed. It has no animal-derived ingredients and no artificial fragrance. Plus, the package is 100% recyclable.
Vanicream leaves out more ingredients than they put in their facial cleanser. It’s free of everything from artificial dyes and fragrances to formaldehyde releasers and parabens. There are no sulfates, no gluten, and no irritants.
So, what does it use to cleanse the skin?
It contains purified water, glycerin, and coconut-based surfactants that rinse away makeup, oil, and dirt.
La Roche-Posay is a French brand sold in European pharmacies. It’s a company that’s been in business for over 100 years.
Their Effaclar gel wash is perfect for acne-prone skin. It’s fortified with a purifying ingredient called zinc pidolate. As a result, it reduces shine and cleanses right down to the pores.
Although it contains sodium laureth sulfate and a fragrance, it’s been tested by dermatologists for sensitive skin.
Garnier’s sulfate-free face wash is packed with glycerin to moisturize the skin. It lathers away impurities without the need for alcohol, parabens, soap, or oils. It doesn’t have parabens, either.
One of the mildest face washes on the market is this gel cleanser from Garnier. It’s based on micellar water that clears away oil and dirt without stripping moisture.
There are no oils, alcohol, parabens, sulfates, artificial fragrances in the bottle.
Neutrogena specializes in skin care products for sensitive and acne-prone skin. Their Daily Facial Cleanser avoids irritants like sulfates and perfumes.
Instead, the very gentle formula moisturizes and won’t clog your pores.
EltaMD created their Foaming Facial Cleanser with Protease enzymes that reduce inflammation. It’s free of oils and parabens but does have a mild fragrance.
It says cleansing oil, but it rinses cleanly. It removes makeup easily and reduces shine.
This face wash is based on olive oil and rosemary, which is packed with nutrients for the skin.
You may have heard that rosemary isn’t safe for use on skin during pregnancy, and it’s not if you take high doses of it by mouth (5). It’s also possibly a problem if you’re allergic to aspirin.
The DETOX cleanser has activated charcoal, a triple tea tree extract, and vitamins. It draws out impurities from your pores to leave your face soft and supple.
Next, it uses Vitamins B5 and C to reduce inflammation and rebuild healthy skin.
The green, white, and Rooibos tea extracts are full of antioxidants that defend your face against premature aging.
At the beginning of the article, we explained that face washes with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, lactic acid, or benzoyl peroxide are generally safe for pregnant women to treat acne.
Discuss these options with your doctor or dermatologist for use during your first trimester.
The CLEAR Cleanser has a mild formula. It contains just 0.5% salicylic acid, which is only one-quarter of what most other salicylic acid washes have.
Why is salicylic acid effective at acne treatment? It exfoliates dead skin to keep pores clear. This has the additional effect of making the skin look younger and fresher (6).
At high concentrations, it can dry out the skin. And if you stop using it, blackheads and whiteheads will likely reappear.
That’s why we recommend this mild cleanser for daily use. Happily, it’s also capable of removing makeup and a good choice for all skin types.
Burt’s Bees’ scrub includes 1% salicylic acid derived from natural willow bark. It also has jojoba beads to improve exfoliation without harming the environment or your skin.
As a result of using this scrub each day, you should experience fewer breakouts and blackheads.
Vichy is another European brand sold in pharmacies. Their gel cleanser was tested on women over four weeks. Ninety percent of them said that their skin looked visibly healthier.
The face wash has 0.5% salicylic acid, and it’s free of parabens, soaps, and alcohols. It does have artificial dyes and a fragrance, though.
The AcneFree cleanser uses benzoyl peroxide at a low concentration of just 2.5%.
The advantage of benzoyl peroxide versus salicylic acid is that the former kills acne-causing bacteria.
If you’re struggling with cystic or inflammatory acne, benzoyl peroxide is beneficial for clearing up your skin (7).
You may find that you need both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid to remove all pimples, blackheads, and whiteheads.
That’s why the formula also has glycolic acid for exfoliation.
AcneFree recommends using the cleanser for at least five minutes each time you wash to ensure it has time to penetrate and do its job.
Glytone offers this gentle gel cleanser with glycolic acid. It’s buffered to an acid value of 4.7. That makes it powerful enough to serve as an anti-aging face wash. It also clears up millia, those white bumps that aren’t acne.
Glycolic acid is a chemical exfoliant that dissolves the bonds between skin cells. Like salicylic acid, it helps keep pores clear, so they don’t clog and form pimples (8).
We hope we helped make your shopping easier today.
As you can see, there are many recommended face washes for pregnancy acne.
If you found a new favorite face cleanser today, let us know how it works for you in the comments below.
1. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/acne-during-pregnancy-treatments-causes#1 published January 14, 2018, accessed August 19, 2019
2. https://mothertobaby.org/fact-sheets/topical-acne-treatments-pregnancy/ published January 1, 2018, accessed August 19, 2019
3. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3114665/ by Pina Bozzo, et al., published June 2011, accessed August 19, 2019
4. https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322291.php by Amanda Barrell, published June 28, 2018, accessed August 19, 2019
5. https://www.webmd.com/vitamins/ai/ingredientmono-154/rosemary accessed August 19, 2019
6. https://www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/acne/understanding-acne-treatment#1 published November 2, 2018, accessed August 19, 2019
7. https://www.healthline.com/health/benzoyl-peroxide-for-acne#types-of-products by Kristeen Cherney, published July 12, 2019, accessed August 19, 2019
8. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glycolic_acid accessed August 19, 2019
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