If you’re pregnant, you may have noticed a couple of things about your skin. First, you’re more prone to acne breakouts. And second, you’re more sensitive than you were before. At any rate, it’s important to protect your unborn child by using safe products. This means taking the time to read the label and ask questions about the ingredients.
To streamline your shopping, we researched the best face washes and cleansers for pregnancy. It’s still wise to speak to your doctor as we can’t give you medical advice. In the meantime, we hope our selections help you find a match for your needs.
Before we jump to the reviews, let’s look at some of the no-nos to avoid. For example, it’s essential to avoid skin care products with retinoids because retinol can cause birth defects. On the label, you’ll see ingredients like Retin-A, retinoic acid, tretinoin, Retinyl palmitate, and Retinyl linoleate.
Next, another common component in face washes is salicylic acid. That’s a beta hydroxy acid that exfoliates dead skin and dissolves oil to cleanse pores. Studies show that small amounts applied topically probably aren’t a risk, but if you can avoid using facial washes with salicylic acid for a few months it’s probably best to do so.
Instead, look for cleansers with alpha hydroxy acids like glycolic or lactic acids. They do the same job with less risk because they aren’t absorbed well by the skin. In any case, be sure to apply sunscreen because the acids can make your skin more sensitive to sunlight.
Speaking of sunlight, pregnant women sometimes deal with melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation. Soy products could increase your chance of developing melasma. Again, wear sunscreen to prevent problems.
Also, skip the benzoyl peroxide and hydroquinone (a skin lightener). It may be hard to let these go for a few months, but they haven’t been proven to be safe for use during pregnancy. In place of benzoyl peroxide to kill acne, try sulfur-based products.
Best Face Washes for Pregnancy in 2023 (Safest Product List)
1. Vanicream Gentle Facial Cleanser
Vanicream takes purity a step further with their extra gentle facial cleanser. Dermatologists recommend it to patients with very sensitive skin. Although it lathers up well, it doesn’t have soap in it so it doesn’t cause dryness. It also doesn’t have sulfates, betaine, gluten, fragrances or masking fragrances, parabens, formaldehyde, formaldehyde releasers, amines, or amides.
2. Garnier SkinActive Micellar Foaming Face Wash
Garnier’s Micellar Foaming Wash is a transparent gel that lightly lathers away makeup and excess oil. It’s gentle for sensitive skin and isn’t overly drying. Moreover, it has no artificial fragrances, dyes, or parabens.
3. Paula’s Choice CLEAR Pore Normalizing Cleanser
We just mentioned that salicylic acid may not be the best choice when you’re pregnant. We’re still including the Paula’s Choice Clear cleanser because it has a low 0.5% concentration. It’s one of the mildest formulas on the market. Plus, the gel lathers nicely and doesn’t contain artificial fragrances or parabens.
4. Eau Thermale Avène Oil-Free Gel Cleanser
Avène’s gel cleanser is gentle enough to use morning and night. It’s able to dissolve long-wear makeup but it has the same pH as healthy skin. It removes excess oil without causing dryness. And it’s based on thermal spring water and doesn’t have parabens, soap, or perfumes.
5. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser
Cetaphil’s Gentle Skin Cleanser is probably one of the most popular choices for pregnant women. It’s also excellent if you have eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea. It’s safe for the whole family to use and has no artificial fragrance.
6. CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
CeraVe’s face cleanser is another top pick. It moisturizes as it cleans with hyaluronic acid and ceramides, keeping your skin healthy and moisturized. Also important, it doesn’t clog pores and it doesn’t have a fragrance.
7. EltaMD SKINCARE Foaming Facial Cleanser
EltaMD’s SKINCARE Foaming Facial Cleanser is recommended on beauty sites because it’s gentle yet manages to remove makeup. The pH-balanced formula purifies your skin with apple amino acids and bromelain. Use it twice a day for best results.
8. La Roche-PosayEffaclar Purifying Foaming Gel Cleanser
Yes, the La Roche-Posay Effaclar cleanser has a fragrance. It’s not a very strong one. On the bright side, it’s free of soap and parabens and has a healthy pH balance. The inclusion of zinc gets rid of impurities and reduces oiliness.
9. La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Face Wash
The Toleriane cleanser uses thermal spring water as its base and it doesn’t upset the pH of your skin. It actually moisturizes and reduces redness each time you wash your face. This sensitive face wash is also free of parabens, sulfates, and even artificial fragrances unlike Effaclar made by the same company.
10. Christina Moss Naturals Organic Facial Wash
If you prefer organic products, try the Christina Moss Naturals face wash. It’s safe to use with a Clarisonic brush for deep cleaning and it’s backed by a 100% satisfaction guarantee. Not only does it not contain parabens, dyes, fragrances, or sulfates, but it also lacks anesthetizing agents. Instead, you’ll be cleansing your skin with aloe, rosemary, and coconut.
11. AHAVA Dead Sea Purifying Mud Soap
Have you ever washed your face with Dead Sea mud? Try the AHAVA soap to draw out impurities and soften your skin. It might be just what you need to clear up your acne.
12. Era Organics Natural Face Wash
Era Organics Natural Face Wash protects the pH balance of your skin to keep it healthy. The formula contains nourishing ingredients like honey, aloe, and vitamins to revitalize your complexion. It comes with a 60-day money-back guarantee and a promise that there are no sulfates, parabens, or artificial fragrances in the bottle.
13. Simple Kind to Skin Facial Wash, Moisturizing
Simple’s Kind to Skin Moisturizing Facial Wash comes from the United Kingdom where it’s quite popular. The base is triple purified water with humectants, so it protects your skin from dryness while you wash away impurities. Furthermore, it has vitamins E and B5 to strengthen the skin’s natural barrier, plus chamomile to soothe it. Finally, there are no sulfates, synthetic fragrances, or parabens.
14. Vichy Pureté Thermale Fresh Cleansing Gel Cleanser Face Wash
Vichy’s gel cleanser removes makeup while it moisturizes the skin and repairs it with Vitamin B5. There are no parabens in the formula. Moreover, this face wash actually counteracts the drying effects of hard water.
15. Dove DermaSeries Fragrance-Free Face Wash for Dry Skin
Dove’s fragrance-free face wash is pleasant if you have especially dry skin. Interestingly, it contains both petrolatum and mineral oil but lacks a fragrance. Dove says that after only four washes with it you should notice softer, more hydrated skin.
16. Eau Thermale Avène Extremely Gentle Cleanser Lotion
Avène’s Extremely Gentle Cleanser can be used with or without water. You can use it to remove makeup by putting it on a cotton pad. Or you can wash your face with it in the shower. Either way, it protects your face against dryness and breakouts. It also reduces inflammation.
17. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser for Sensitive Skin
Neutrogena’s Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser is gentle enough for users with rosacea and eczema. It doesn’t have artificial dyes or fragrances, parabens, soap, or sulfates. In fact, the ingredients list is surprisingly short for this award-winning product.
18. LATHER Ultra Mild Face Wash
If you prefer natural scents, try the Lather face wash. It’s based on the cleansing power of natural extracts like rosemary, lavender, and chamomile. Not only is it cruelty-free, but it also lacks parabens and sulfates.
19. Sebamed Liquid Face and Body Wash, for Sensitive Skin
Sebamed simplifies your shopping with their all-purpose face and body wash. Use it on any part of your body because it’s hypoallergenic and has the same pH as healthy skin. There are no soaps or alkali ingredients, either.
20. DHC Mild Soap
If you like bar soap instead of a liquid cleanser, try this one from DHC. It’s fragrance-free and doesn’t have parabens either. Instead, it’s filled with honey and olive oil to condition your skin.
21. Eucerin Dermatoclean Cleansing Milk
Eucerin’s Dermatoclean Cleansing Milk feels like a lightweight lotion. Wet your hands, then massage a small amount into your skin. Rinse with lukewarm water. Once you pat dry, you should notice that your face feels clean and soft.
22. Weleda Sensitive Care Cleansing Lotion
The German-made Weleda cleansing lotion has simple, natural ingredients that remove impurities and leave the skin moisturized and healthy. If you look at the label, you’ll see that it contains sweet almond oil, plum seed oil, and lactic acid.
How to care for your skin when you’re pregnant
We understand that it’s not just that your skin is more sensitive or prone to acne, it’s also that strong smells may be upsetting. If you find that you just can’t endure your regular face wash, switch to something milder. We’ve listed several options above that are fragrance-free and very mild.
For extra exfoliating power, use a washcloth to help you massage away impurities and dead skin. In fact, you may find that a cloth soaked in warm water without any cleanser at all works in a pinch. Just be sure to change washcloths each day to avoid problems with bacteria.
Finally, it’s extra important to moisturize. If you keep your skin hydrated, it stays healthy. Well-moisturized skin is less likely to end up with stretch marks.
We hope our reviews of the best face washes and cleansers for pregnancy helped you find what you need today. When in doubt, check with your doctor for recommendations. And if you’ve discovered something that works great, let us know in the comments. In the meantime, we wish you good health and all the best in the future.
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