Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. This means that at no cost to you, we may earn a small commission for qualifying purchases.
How can you exfoliate your face during pregnancy?
Fortunately, there are many top pregnancy-safe face exfoliators.
The biggest challenge is finding what works best for your pregnancy skincare routine.
Today, we’ll review the various ways you can improve your complexion with safe skincare products.
Let’s begin with a little background information about face care while you’re expecting.
You probably already know to avoid retinoids. These Vitamin A derivatives pose a risk to your developing child and may even cause birth defects.
Instead, over-the-counter skin care products with mild concentrations of salicylic, glycolic, and azelaic acid offer similar results (1).
They clear up and prevent acne while removing dead skin and smoothing fine lines. They diminish blackheads and fade discoloration like melasma.
That’s everything you want in a pregnancy-safe exfoliant.
To ensure that you have the best skin care during pregnancy, talk over options with your dermatologist and OB/GYN.
If you don’t have time to read the complete article, here are our top picks.
Besides retinoids, it’s smart to avoid high concentrations of certain chemicals, because our skin becomes more sensitive during pregnancy.
For example, salicylic acid is a potent anti-acne medication. At 2% concentration or less, it shouldn’t pose a risk, especially after the first trimester.
But stay away from high concentrations of salicylic acid, benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid in peels and oral medication.
Next, parabens and phthalates are endocrine disruptors. They mess with hormones, which you don’t need when your hormones are already surging (2).
Parabens are preservatives, and phthalates appear in artificial fragrances. You don’t need either one to get adequate performance from a face exfoliator.
After that, it’s wise to steer clear of formaldehyde-releasing chemicals. They are carcinogenic.
Common formaldehyde-releasers include DMDM hydantoin, diazolidinyl urea, and quaternium-15.
For more advice on what’s safe to use during pregnancy, you can turn to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. They recommend healthy choices like vitamins E and B3 and green tea in topical treatments.
Now, let’s begin with exfoliators that are safe to use for pregnant women.
Belli’s scrub isn’t just for expectant mothers. It’s also one of the best skin care products for breastfeeding moms because it’s non-toxic for adults and infants.
As a rule, this manufacturer screens out harmful ingredients like artificial fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and gluten.
Everything is designed to give you peace of mind and clear skin.
The stimulating scrub is based on green tea, ginseng, and peppermint. Apply it to damp skin with circular motions, then rinse thoroughly.
It renews the complexion by removing dead skin, impurities, and excess oil. Plus, it’s gentle enough to use up to three times per week.
Who said you need a scrub, gel cream, or serum to exfoliate? Take a pass on all the chemicals and go completely natural instead.
This exfoliating sponge is made from the Konjac potato grown in Asia. It’s impregnated with activated charcoal to draw out toxins and sebum from the pores. It also scrubs away dead skin without irritating the surface.
If you haven’t tried a Konjac sponge yet, now’s the time.
When you open the package, you might be shocked at how hard it feels. But soak it for a minute in lukewarm water, and it becomes very soft and pliable.
Use it with water alone or combine it with your favorite face wash.
Then rinse it, squeeze out the excess water, and hang it up to dry. One sponge will last for at least a couple of months, even if you use it every day.
Try a silicone face brush. It’s the ultimate long-lasting exfoliating tool.
This one is made of food-grade silicone. It rinses clean to avoid retaining a residue, and it doesn’t become deformed.
The soft scrubber has a finger handle to keep it from slipping while you massage the skin.
Use it with your favorite face wash to enhance the cleansing effect.
What’s all the fuss about the Clarisonic? This cleansing brush is extremely popular. It’s also won several awards from beauty experts.
The best selling point is that it does not spin. That’s right; it vibrates ultrasonically to avoid tearing the skin.
The gentle motion vacuums up makeup, dirt, and oil from the pores without damaging anything. This is true even if you have delicate skin.
Moreover, Mia Smart has two sensitive skin modes. And you can choose from a variety of different brush heads to meet specific needs.
Regular use of the Clarisonic brush provides many benefits. These include reduced puffiness around the eyes, fewer noticeable lines, and tighter pores.
It runs up to a hundred minutes per charge.
Olay’s Regenerist cleansing brush is typically a lot less expensive than the Clarisonic Mia Smart. It comes with two brush heads right in the box.
It runs on AA batteries so that you never have to wait for a recharge.
But its options are limited. There are two speeds – low or high power. The former is for gentle exfoliation, and the latter is for deep cleansing.
Let’s move on from mechanical exfoliators to scrubs.
Cetaphil’s product is ideal for sensitive and oily skin. It contains micro-fine granules to polish away dull skin and blackheads.
Then, vitamins and skin conditioners leave the skin soft, not dry or irritated.
Furthermore, it’s mild enough to use every day and great for dry skin as well.
Go natural with Acure’s selection of facial scrubs. These include Brightening, Resurfacing, Incredibly Clear for acne-prone skin, and Ultra-Hydrating.
Each one is vegan and free of parabens, mineral oil, formaldehyde, and petrolatum.
They are gentle enough to use up to 3 times per week.
The brightening scrub, for example, fades hyperpigmentation like melasma or acne scars.
It leaves the complexion radiant by evening out skin tone and smoothing the surface.
French green clay and sea kelp detoxify the skin while Madonna lily improves its appearance.
If you’d like the benefits of an acid peel without worrying about the consequences to your baby’s health, try it.
Juice Beauty uses Vitamin C and alpha-hydroxy acids derived from green apple peel. It also has organic lemon and aloe.
The mask doesn’t have a high concentration of vitamin A that could harm a developing baby.
It’s also kind to rosacea-prone skin.
This product is 99% natural and clinically tested. It’s surprisingly moisturizing for an exfoliator, perhaps because it has glycerin, shea butter, and coconut oil.
It also contains something called jojoba beads. What are they?
Jojoba (pronounced “hohoba”) is a biodegradable plant wax. It’s similar to sebum, and that makes it non-irritating to sensitive skin.
The jojoba beads add gentle texture to enhance the exfoliation done by natural acids in the scrub.
The fruit extracts and salicylic acid from willow bark clear up breakouts by removing dead skin and unclogging pores.
Have you ever tried a homemade sugar scrub?
Then, take advantage of this balanced and effective exfoliator. It uses natural coconut sugar to buff the skin gently.
Not only will it leave the complexion radiant, but it also helps diminish blackheads and discoloration.
Fortunately, this brand supports sustainably-produced ingredients like coconut oil, cocoa butter, and shea butter. They don’t include parabens, phthalates, gluten, artificial colors, or mineral oil in their facial products.
Pregnant women with combination skin hesitate when purchasing a face scrub. Should they get one that mattifies the complexion? Or should they get something moisturizing for the dry patches?
Settle the question by going with Simple’s gentle exfoliator. It won’t aggravate oil production in the T-zone, nor will it dehydrate the cheeks.
Instead, it’s proven to increase moisture levels by 90%. At the same time, it opens up pores to remove impurities and makeup.
Those with sensitive skin can benefit from ingredients like vitamin C and B3 that promote healing.
Expectant mothers want to know if glycolic acid is safe to use during pregnancy. Thankfully, it is, in low concentrations, applied topically.
Unlike salicylic acid, it moisturizes the skin. It also stimulates cellular turnover to erase acne scars and clear up blackheads.
Moreover, glycolic acid often derives from natural ingredients like sugar cane. That’s the case with this facial scrub.
It also has very tiny pumice granules, plus green tea, apple, and lemon extracts. It works hard to renew your complexion, but it’s mild enough to use it three times per week.
What’s more, it’s free of parabens and harsh chemicals. Try it, and take advantage of the 60-day money-back guarantee if you’re not satisfied.
St. Ives makes various face scrubs, including this one with green tea and 1% salicylic acid. It’s just enough acne medication to lessen redness and inflammation. It also gets rid of blackheads.
The oil-free formula uses tiny particles of walnut shells with apricot fruit extract to exfoliate the skin.
It smells good enough to eat.
This American-made facial scrub blends natural and organic ingredients like blueberries, herbs, and aloe. It’s designed to tackle acne, blackheads, and wrinkles.
With jojoba beads for texture, it polishes the complexion to leave it smoother and brighter. Meanwhile, the antioxidant-rich blend nourishes the skin.
Here’s a natural face scrub with Manuka honey. It comes from New Zealand, but it’s used worldwide to improve the skin’s health.
This single ingredient moisturizes, boosts collagen production, and clears up inflammation.
But the scrub also has walnut shell powder, a natural exfoliant that won’t harm the environment.
Then, there’s canola oil that’s rich in omega-3 fatty acid. You wouldn’t want to use it on oily skin, but it’s an excellent conditioner for normal to dry skin. It is safe to use during pregnancy as well.
Don’t you think that rose quartz is an unusual ingredient for a facial scrub? I’ve not seen it in any other similar product. They call it the “love crystal.”
Alongside it is natural charcoal that detoxifies the pores. You’ll feel like it’s working because of the cooling sensation from menthol.
From what users say, this exfoliator works well enough. Plus, it’s paraben-free.
But I think the effusive description is a little deceptive. The ingredients reveal sodium laureth sulfate, a fragrance, artificial color, and salicylic acid. Also, charcoal and quartz are far down the list of ingredients.
When it comes to battling blemishes, you can’t go wrong with Neutrogena. They specialize in products for sensitive, acne-prone skin.
They developed this scrub to be used every day to clear up and prevent breakouts.
It has 2% salicylic acid to keep the pores clear.
Instead of scrubbing and abrading your skin, use a chemical exfoliator.
A product like this toner with glycolic acid removes dead cells. It clarifies the complexion without the need for harsh treatment.
Your pores will look smaller, and your face will feel softer and more hydrated.
Furthermore, the 7% concentration is ideal for delicate skin as long as it’s not injured. If you put this on a blemish, for example, it’s going to sting.
For best results, apply it at night before bed. That’s because glycolic acid can make your skin more sensitive to sunburn.
An even milder solution is to use lactic acid to exfoliate the skin. At only 5% concentration, this is a very gentle serum indeed.
What’s more, it has hyaluronic acid to rehydrate dry skin. And there’s Tasmanian pepperberry to prevent irritation caused by exfoliation.
Again, don’t use exfoliators on broken skin. Be sure to wear sunscreen to make your skin prone to sunburn and premature aging if you don’t.
If you’ve never used a chemical exfoliator before, you can start slow and still get benefits.
For example, add a drop of this to your moisturizer and apply it only once a day until your skin adjusts.
Also Read: Best Shoes for Pregnancy: Review & Guide
Although you may have to put some of your regular skin care routines on hold while you’re pregnant, you still have options.
There are many pregnancy-safe exfoliators for the face. They are gentle enough to care for sensitive skin, and they won’t expose your baby to harm.
If the reviews above helped you find your new favorite exfoliator, please come back and tell us about it.
1. https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/pregnancy accessed July 15, 2020
2. https://www.healthline.com/health/pregnancy/pregnancy-safe-skin-care#skin-changes by Nicole Jablonski, published June 30, 2020, accessed July 15, 2020
Join our newsletter for the latest updates!