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22 Best Pregnancy-Safe Acne Treatments: Reviews & Buying Guide

by  Katie -  Last updated on December 16, 2020
Best Pregnancy-Safe Acne Treatments

Last Updated on December 16, 2020

How can you get rid of acne during pregnancy?

I’m happy you’re asking, but it’s something you should talk over with your doctor.

If you’ve been taking acne medication, you’ve realized you have to put that on hold for now.

On the other hand, other solutions can help.

The best pregnancy-safe acne treatments can prevent and clear up breakouts.

Maintaining a skincare routine with the right face wash, moisturizer, and spot treatment will keep your skin healthy.

Let’s look at the options below.


The anti-acne ingredients that are best to avoid during pregnancy

The American Academy of Dermatology published a list of unsafe acne treatments during pregnancy (1).

They include:

  • Retinol, isotretinoin, Retin-A, and other retinoids
  • Differin gel with adapalene
  • Topical antibiotics

The list goes on to include other prescription medications. I’m sure that a pharmacist or your OB/GYN can help you sort through it.

In the meantime, that’s only a small portion of the acne treatments available.

You have many other effective acne products to try.

Safe acne treatments during pregnancy

As long as you don’t overdo it, you can use salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, and azelaic acid to treat pimples while you’re pregnant.

Since your skin may be more sensitive than usual, it’s best to go with a mild concentration.

Again, consult with your doctor to be sure.

If you find that your skin can’t tolerate these products, make sure that you’ve chosen ones that are free of artificial fragrances and other irritants. It might not be the active ingredient, but rather something else in the formula causing problems (2).

At a minimum, keep your skin clean with gentle cleansers, and rinse thoroughly.

Apply moisturizer even if you have oily skin. Skin that’s too dry may overreact and produce excess oil. Fortunately, there are many lightweight, non-comedogenic lotions available.

Now, let’s look at over-the-counter acne treatments that you can use while expecting.

22 Top Pregnancy-Safe Acne Treatments (2021 Update)

1. Belli Acne Control Spot Treatment

Belli makes one of the safest acne treatments for pregnant women.

It’s part of their anti-acne lineup that includes face wash, scrub, moisturizer, and sunscreen.

They test each product for common allergens. Plus, they avoid using parabens, gluten, artificial fragrances and dyes, and phthalates.

This spot treatment features tea tree oil and colloidal sulfur to kill pimples, causing bacterias. It dries them up naturally. But the addition of chamomile soothes the skin.

You can apply it up to three times per day if needed. It’s made use of during pregnancy and while you’re nursing.

2. BELLA B Foaming Face Wash

BELLA B also makes pregnancy-safe skincare products.

This foaming cleanser does not contain alpha hydroxy or salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide, or parabens.

Instead, it uses pharmaceutical-grade tea tree oil, organic pomegranate, açai, and green tea to deep-clean pores.

It’s mild enough to use twice a day.

3. Body Boost Clarifying Daily Face Wash

Here’s a face wash that’s cruelty-free and vegan. It’s free of common allergens and doesn’t contain sulfates, perfumes, dyes, caffeine, mineral oil, xenoestrogens, rosemary, or clary sage.

Use it on your face, chest, and back – anywhere you have hormonal acne.

It’s made in the USA from natural ingredients like green tea and cucumber, lemon, orange, lavender, and lactic acid. The latter is a mild plant-based exfoliator that balances combination skin.

The formula is packed with antioxidants to promote healing and reduce inflammation.

At the same time, botanical astringents tighten pores.

4. Avarelle Acne-Absorbing Cover Patch

How about a tiny Band-Aid for your pimple? It’s transparent for all skin types.

These small round patches are hydrocolloid dressings with tea tree oil, calendula, and cica.

While they camouflage your zit, they help your skin heal faster.

5. Clean & Clear Advantage Acne Spot Treatment

Pretty much everyone with acne knows about Clean & Clear. Their acne spot treatment is highly recommended by users all over the world.

It literally shrinks pimples in four hours.

The magic ingredients are witch hazel and salicylic acid. Together, they dissolve oil to unclog the inflamed pore. They reduce redness and inflammation.

Clinical tests showed astonishing results. One hundred percent of the people who tried it had clearer skin in 24 hours.

6. Mario Badescu Drying Lotion

Would you like to try a treatment that the stars swear by?

Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion is a blend of sulfur, salicylic acid, and zinc oxide. It looks like calamine lotion.

At night, put a little on a swab and dab it on your pimples. By morning, when you rinse it off, your skin will be in better shape.

7. Paula’s Choice BOOST 10% Azelaic Acid Booster Gel

Part of the problem with acne treatments during pregnancy is that there are no human trials. We only find out what’s problematic after the fact.

Conversely, tests done on pregnant animals are sadly quite common. Experiments show that topical azelaic acid doesn’t seem to have adverse effects on pregnancy.

Azelaic acid not only diminishes blemishes but also fades acne scars and hyperpigmentation. It’s all-around useful if you’re acne-prone.

This gel combines azelaic acid with salicylic acid plus licorice root. It not only clears up breakouts but also improves the skin’s overall appearance.

It comes from a manufacturer that avoids harsh ingredients like parabens and artificial fragrances, too.

8. Paula’s Choice CLEAR Regular Strength Acne Kit

Paula’s Choice Acne Kit was tested in an independent clinical trial. Eighty-eight percent of the users said they had less severe acne while using it.

The products include a CLEAR cleanser, exfoliating solution, and skin-clearing treatment. It’s suitable for dry, normal, combination, and oily skin. It also works on cystic acne.

The active ingredients are salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide. But happily, both are in low concentrations for sensitive skin.

The cleanser has only 0.5% salicylic acid, while the skin-clearing treatment has just 2.5% benzoyl peroxide.

All three products are free of artificial fragrances and parabens. If you check the label, you’ll find that each component is explained in plain language.

9. Acne.org Treatment (2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide)

This is an acne treatment that’s part of the Acne.org regimen. I’m pointing out since it has only 2.5% benzoyl peroxide.

It’s a low concentration, but it’s proven to work just as well as more concentrated solutions. It’s less drying and less risky during pregnancy, too.

One bottle of the gel lasts up to two months if you’re following their program.

The solution is pH-balanced and free of artificial fragrances and dyes.

10. Neutrogena Naturals Purifying Daily Facial Cleanser

Neutrogena is another reputable brand when it comes to acne treatments.

I preferred their Naturals cleanser since it’s free of parabens, phthalates, sulfates, dyes, and petrolatum. In fact, the formula is 90% natural – hence the name.

It features natural salicylic acid derived from willow bark. Salicylic acid dissolves oil and diminishes inflammation, which works wonders on pimples.

11. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Daily Facial Cleanser for Sensitive Skin

If you’d prefer to stay away from salicylic acid, you’re not alone. Many people with dry skin or sensitive complexions do better with plain old mild cleansers.

Try this one if you have rosacea or eczema.

Neutrogena’s gentle face wash moisturizes while it cleans. It has a creamy texture that removes impurities and makeup without drying out your face.

It doesn’t have sulfates, artificial fragrances, or parabens in it.

12. First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser

As soon as this cleanser meets water, it turns into a luxurious creamy lather.

It’s one of the most pleasant face washes that people with sensitive skin can use.

Moreover, it’s pH-balanced to protect your skin from irritation and dryness. After you wash with it, your face should never feel tight.

It doesn’t contain artificial fragrances, alcohol, dyes, parabens, phthalates, propylene glycol, sulfates, or formaldehyde. Also, it’s free of nuts, gluten, oil, and soy.

13. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Face Wash

One of the best products for oily skin during pregnancy is the Toleriane foaming cleanser. It’s ideal for acne-prone complexions.

It’s based on prebiotic thermal water, which is rich in minerals to promote a healthy skin tone.

Other ingredients include glycerin, niacinamide, and ceramides. These attract moisture without clogging pores and soothe reddened, irritated skin.

The formula comes from a company that furnishes products to European pharmacies. They are pricey but effective.

Furthermore, this face wash is free of soap, sulfates, parabens, oil, and artificial fragrances. It’s been tested by dermatologists on sensitive skin.

14. Free & Clear Liquid Cleanser

When you look at the list of ingredients on the bottle and compare it to the list of components they leave out; you’ll understand why they call it Free & Clear.

It’s formulated as a safe, non-toxic cleanser for your whole body, including your face. Use it to reduce body acne, not facial blemishes.

Everyone in the family can use it, including the kids.

15. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser

CeraVe’s face wash is designed to cleanse and moisturize sensitive skin. It won’t clog pores, but it’s powerful enough to remove makeup.

It’s also good for oily skin.

Like other products from the same company, it contains three essential ceramides. These fortify the skin’s natural barrier against infection and moisture loss.

One thing I found disappointing is that the formula has parabens as preservatives.

16. CeraVe Body Wash with Salicylic Acid

CeraVe’s body wash treats body acne as well as keratosis pilaris. (That’s when you have “chicken skin” bumps on the back of your arms or other parts of your body.)

To that end, it contains salicylic acid, a chemical exfoliant that unclogs pores and removes dead skin.

On the downside, the label doesn’t say what the concentration is. But since FDA regulations prevent anything over 2% in over-the-counter products, it can’t be more than that.

If you’ve had prior experience with salicylic acid when it dehydrated your skin, you might have a better time with this product.

It moisturizes with hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and ceramides. The hydration lasts for up to 24 hours after you wash with it.

17. Belli Pure and Pampered Body Wash

If you would like a body wash that’s approved for pregnancy, try this one from Belli. It’s mild enough for a daily bath and enriched with skin-soothing botanicals.

Although it’s not specifically an anti-acne soap, it won’t cause pimples, either.

It has cucumber and green tea, plus lavender essential oil. These give it a delicious natural fragrance.

18. Renpure Plant-Based Beauty Detoxifying Charcoal Body Wash

Renpure’s charcoal body wash smells like an enchanting walk through the garden. The fragrance of fern, violet, and mint is enchanting.

While bamboo-derived charcoal draws out impurities, lemon sage and Manuka honey detoxify the skin.

When you bathe with this plant-based formula, you won’t have to worry about sulfates, gluten, phthalates, parabens, dyes, or propylene glycol.

19. Humane Oil-Free Daily Lightweight Face Moisturizer

Once you’ve washed away the excess oil and dirt, you need to moisturize to keep your skin happy.

Humane’s non-comedogenic moisturizer is perfect for acne-prone skin.

It doesn’t have harsh ingredients like parabens or an artificial fragrance.

Instead, it calms stress skin with aloe and hydrates with hyaluronic acid. Cucumber extract reduces oil production and inflammation, while grapeseed prevents premature aging.

Fortunately, the non-greasy lotion sinks in fast and wears well underneath makeup.

20. Simple Water Boost Hydrating Gel

For an even lighter moisturizer, try Simple’s gel-cream. It feels refreshing and never leaves a sticky residue.

It’s formulated with plant extracts and minerals to make your face dewy fresh.

Plus, it’s free of perfumes and dyes and kind to sensitive skin.

21. Belli Women’s Healthy Glow Facial Hydrator Facial Moisturizer

But the best face moisturizer for pregnancy is right here.

It’s safe while you’re expecting and after you give birth, even if you’re nursing.

The lightweight texture absorbs quickly and doesn’t make your skin feel greasy or sticky.

It helps heal blemishes and repair sun-damaged tissue with Vitamin C, grape seed, and chamomile.

What’s more, it doesn’t have artificial fragrances, dyes, phthalates, or parabens. Potentially harmful ingredients have been screened out.

22. Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Face Daily Sunscreen SPF 50

Did you know that sun exposure can trigger acne?

Now that you’ve done all this work to keep a clear complexion, remember to apply mineral sunscreen as well.

This one from Aveeno has a high amount of protection from zinc oxide.

It’s also water-resistant for up to 80 minutes so that you can wear it swimming.

Also Read: Best Compression Socks for Pregnancy


Protect yourself and your baby during pregnancy with safe and effective acne treatments.

With a little time and effort, you’ll enjoy a clearer complexion and healthier skin.

If you found a product today that’s making your life easier, please come back and tell us about it in the comments below.


1. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/pregnancy accessed April 24, 2020

2. https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/expert-answers/pregnancy-acne/faq-20058045 by Lawrence E. Gibson, M.D., accessed April 24, 2020

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