Pregnancy is one of the most beautiful experiences the human body can undertake, so naturally, you’re going to want to feel as beautiful as possible while you undergo it. But between questionable ingredients and hormone-induced skin changes, finding the right pregnancy-safe makeup can pose a serious challenge for the expecting set. Thankfully, selecting the perfect products for the duration of those crucial nine months is far simpler than one might expect.
What happens to your skin during pregnancy
“During pregnancy, it’s essential to be cautious about the ingredients in the products used to ensure the safety of both the mother and the developing baby,” says Dr. Tina Alster, a board-certified dermatologist and founder of The A Method. One major reason to keep an eye out? Pregnancy hormones can impact everyone’s skin differently, so your current makeup roster might not suit your current needs. “Skin behavior during pregnancy can be unpredictable and change with each trimester,” says Dr. Ava Shamban, a celebrity board-certified dermatologist in Beverly Hills and founder of Ava MD Dermatology and Skin Five Medical Spas. “Some women experience acne during the first trimester, which resolves into the proverbial glow of pregnancy by the second trimester [while] other women may develop scaly skin and some may experience either exacerbation of underlying skin conditions or resolution of those conditions such as eczema or psoriasis.”
What to avoid in makeup while pregnant
While all FDA-approved makeup is generally considered safe in pregnancy, according to Dr. Sam Ellis, a board-certified medical and cosmetic dermatologist and founder of Prequel, the skin can change during this time and become more reactive to certain ingredients. “Things like alcohol and fragrance may not be tolerated as well, and heavier foundation and powders may exacerbate breakouts,” she says. Alster also recommends steering clear of phthalates, which are chemicals often used as plasticizers in certain cosmetics, as well as formaldehyde, which can be used as a preservative in cheaper products. Shamban recommends keeping away from retinol or vitamin A, parabens, aluminum, talc and dibutyl phthalate for their potential to disrupt the endocrine or hormonal system.
Your sense of smell tends to be heightened during pregnancy, which may be a good thing: it’ll naturally keep you away from strongly scented cosmetics. “The other big no-no is concentrated essential oils, some of which can lead to premature contractions,” saysDr. Vanita Rattan, skin doctor and cosmetic formulator at Skincare by Dr. V. “Also, three to four percent of the population get contact dermatitis from fragrance, especially for skin of color.” She explains that contact dermatitis doesn’t just include redness or itchiness, but hyperpigmentation that can last for years. Therefore, she says it’s best to forego all forms of fragrance in your makeup during pregnancy.
What to look for in pregnancy-safe makeup
Now that we know what to be wary of, here’s where to focus your attention when choosing the right pregnancy-safe makeup. “Look for makeup labeled non-comedogenic, meaning it won’t clog the pores during pregnancy when hormonal changes might lead to increased skin oiliness and acne,” says Rattan. Another powerhouse ingredient to look for in pregnancy is niacinamide in concealers and foundations, according to Rattan, since “it has anti-inflammatory properties, can help even out the skin tone and reduce the appearance of dark spots.” It also works to enhance the skin’s natural barrier function, promote better moisture retention and prevent water loss, she says. This means that in foundations and concealers, niacinamide can help hydrate the skin and improve its overall texture. Shamban also recommends looking for products with natural botanical ingredients like squalene, vitamin E, hyaluronic acid, vitamin C and beeswax.
Because hypoallergenic products are formulated to minimize the risk of allergic reactions and skin sensitivities, Rattan considers them a wise choice during pregnancy when the skin may be more sensitive than usual. “Just be aware that not all hypoallergenic products are fragrance-free and may contain irritating scents,” says Rattan. “Ensure your makeup is ‘NAFE safe’, therefore containing no denatured alcohol, fragrance or essential oils.”
While sun protection is crucial at any stage of life, that rings especially true during pregnancy. “Always opt for physical sunscreens that reflect ultraviolet light over chemical options that tend to absorb into skin,” says Alster.
If this is all sounding a little daunting, remember that “it’s incredibly normal to second guess everything that goes on your skin or into your body during pregnancy,” according to Ellis, but the great news is that she considers “all makeup pregnancy-safe […] There is no evidence that modern makeup ingredients are absorbed systemically and consequently harm a developing fetus.” That said, if you do have any specific questions about a product or ingredient, Ellis says “the best people to consult are the healthcare professionals involved with [your] direct care. Picking makeup that really meets your skin’s needs and the changes it might be going through during pregnancy is what it’s all about.”
Now for the fun part: loading up your cart with expert-approved makeup that’ll keep you and your little one safe and feeling your best throughout the duration of your pregnancy.
Pregnancy-safe face makeup
While Shamban says there are several brands that have made a substantial effort to provide “clean” products that are safe for use during pregnancy, she calls out Ilia in particular. The brand’s popular True Skin foundation provides the benefits of skincare with the addition of brightening niacinamide, soothing allantoin and hydrating aloe. Bonus: it’s suitable for all skin types and comes in 30 shades.
Shamban is also a big fan of Beautycounter for its fragrance-free formulas and use of preservatives “that are in the safe category.” While you’ll surely be rocking that natural pregnancy glow, take it a step further with this sustainable and buildable blush made with moisturizing vegan squalane and softening jojoba.
“During my pregnancy my skin was dry and more sensitive, and I really leaned toward creamy, lightweight and fragrance-free complexion products like the Laura Mercier Tinted Moisturizer,” says Ellis. This fan-favorite product also contains the benefit of sun protection for a safe year-round glow.
During her pregnancy, Ellis also relied on this cult classic Nars concealer to disguise any blemishes or dark circles. Made with active botanicals like magnolia bark, grape seed and Vitamin E, it at once firms, hydrates and strengthens the skin’s barrier during this sensitive time.
For a lit-from-within-glow that looks like you spent a week on the beach without all the sun damage, opt for Ellis’ favorite cream bronzer free of phthalates, parabens and fragrances. It delivers a matte finish to perfectly offset any oil production and grips onto skin for all-day wear.
The best parts about Ellis’ go-to cream blush? It works double duty as a lip tint and features clean and plant-based ingredients like calming green tea, moisturizing castor oil and soothing aloe.
During pregnancy, Alster recommends switching to a mineral powder foundation or sunscreen that contains zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. “Most mineral-based brands are organic, naturally reflective sunscreens that can do double-duty as lightweight foundations,” says Alster. “This is helpful in reducing clogged pores that could complicate skin conditions due to hormonal fluxes experienced during pregnancy.” Take her self-dispensing water-resistant mineral powder with SPF 50, for example, which accommodates a range of skin tones without clogging pores.
Rattan recommends Lady Gaga’s fragrance-free foundation with irritation-reducing fermented arnica, “which improves the skin barrier and is non-comedogenic. Also, it has a fantastic shade range.”
For a pregnancy-safe coverage, look to Makeup By Mario’s liquid foundation for a flawless finish. “It’s non-comedogenic, fragrance-free, doesn’t have any irritants, plus it contains glycerin and vegan squalene,” says Rattan.
For a full pregnancy-safe and clean beauty routine, grab this comprehensive set complete with Make’s cruelty-free and vegan dewy gel cheek tint, sculpting clear brow gel and volumizing mascara, plus Kopari’s delectable sun protective pearlescent face and body glow free of parabens and phthalates.
Pregnancy-safe lip products
“For a simple staple lip balm, you can’t go wrong with two ingredients of petroleum jelly and aloe to soothe chapped lips,” says Rattan. “It has no irritating fragrances and no essential oils.” Plus, it looks great worn alone or layered over an opaque lipstick for a pregnancy-safe gloss.
Olive oil, berry fruit wax and hyaluronic acid make this matte lipstick from clean beauty brand Saie the perfect finishing touch to your makeup routine. It comes in six versatile hues that each provide an effortless blurred look.
Create the appearance of full and plump lips with this high-shine pigmented lip gloss made of a blend of plant-based waxes like organic carnauba and beeswax. The scent of responsibly sourced vanilla adds another sensory experience without the irritation commonly associated with synthetic fragrances.
Lip pencils are an ideal cheat code for creating the look of a pillowy pout — sans injections. Grab this lip pencil from organic brand RMS Beauty that includes its own sharpener and brush for precise application.
For a satin-y lipstick with the lightweight feel of a balm, opt for Merit’s clean and cruelty-free formula rich with moisturizing squalene, sunflower seed oil and papaya. It comes in eight neutral and buildable shades for everyday wear.
Pregnancy-safe eye makeup
This viral mascara earned its stripes for its ability to extend lashes to new heights. It’s made of nourishing beeswax and conditioning shea butter for soft and lustrous lashes that provide a doe-eyed look.
Create that fresh-off-the-runway bold eyebrow look with this retractable angled-tip pencil that comes with its own detachable shaping spoolie for perfectly defined arches. Made with naturally derived pigments, it’ll shape your entire face without the harsh chemicals.
With its curved brush for easy shaping and clean ingredients ideal for the most sensitive of eyes, this volumizing mascara with nourishing castor oil and vitamin B5 provide your lashes with the TLC of a hair care serum.
Our eyelids are often overlooked when we apply sunscreen. Luckily, this shimmery talc-free cream shadow in four universally flattering shades provides the added benefit of SPF through pregnancy-safe zinc oxide.
For smudge-proof smoldering eyes, look to this long-lasting waterproof eyeliner that gets its smooth tug-free formula from avocado oil and ceramides and its soothing properties from aloe vera. The retractable design features a built-in sharpener and soft blender tip for a customizable look.