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Actifs cosmétiques déconseillés aux femmes enceintes et allaitantes.

Skincare Ingredients To Avoid During Pregnancy.

Pregnancy is a risky period for the mother, as well as for the fetus. It is necessary to have a healthy lifestyle and to be very vigilant about our eating habits, but also our cosmetic habits. Discover in this article, what products to avoid during pregnancy and even during breastfeeding.

Published May 17, 2024, by Sandrine, Scientific Editor — 6 min read

Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding in Skincare.

  • Retinoids:

    Retinoids are a large family of molecules related to vitamin A. They are widely used in cosmetics because of their triple effectiveness on signs of aging, dark spots and acne, but unfortunately fall under the skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy. In cosmetics, retinol ester, retinol and retinaldehyde are found in formulations, especially retinol creams. There are also retinoids that are only available by prescription, such as adapalene, tretinoin and tazarotene. However, these are teratogenic, meaning that they increase the risk of malformations in the embryo and therefore are non-pregnancy safe beauty products. 

Thus, oral and topical retinoids 

(used in cosmetics AND prescribed by prescription)

are contraindicated in pregnant women,

but also in nursing mothers.

  • Essential oils:

    An essential oil (EO) is a liquid and aromatic extract generally obtained by steam distillation from a plant and which concentrates its active ingredients. Due to their ketone function, some essential oils are said to be neurotoxic and also a skincare ingredient to be avoided during pregnancy.  They can cause convulsions, spasms, and nausea. Moreover, some EO would have mutagenic and teratogenic properties, i.e., they are likely to cause mutations in the DNA. However, the studies on this subject are not enough.

Thus, some products based on essential oils 

may be contraindicated in pregnant women,

depending on the concentration of EO in the products 

and the nature of the products (rinsable or not).

For example, if the product does not contain a significant concentration of EO, and it is rinsable, it will not necessarily be contraindicated.

Thus, the use of EO is not harmless (neurotoxic, mutagenic effects, etc.). That is why there are precautions to respect in order to secure their use. For pregnant and breast-feeding women, some EO-based products should be banned in order to avoid risks.

Note: The active ingredients contraindicated during pregnancy 

are also contraindicated during breastfeeding as a precautionary principle.

Typology Products to Avoid During Pregnancy.

Here are the Typology products to avoid during pregnancy.

Types of productsProducts
Moisturizing body creamsFirming body cream
Moisturizing face creamsExfoliating night cream; Purifying face cream; Firming face cream
DeodorantsNatural deodorant bergamot and green mandarin; Natural deodorant rose and vanilla
Face & body scrubsRadiance face scrub; Clarifying Face Scrub; Nourishing body scrub; Toning body scrub
Face masksResurfacing mask
Solid soapsMoisturizing cleansing care; Rebalancing cleansing care
Body serumsFirming body serum
Face serumsAntioxidant serum; Fine lines & wrinkles serum; Wrinkles & blemishes serum
Night SerumsRadiance night serum; Hydrating night serum; Purifying night serum; Firming night serum; Tan-complexion serum
TonersFirming Toner


  • MAO G. E. & al. Teratology of retinoids. Annual Review of Pharmacology and Toxicology (1999).

  • EINARSON A. & al. Safety of skin care products during pregnancy. Canadian Family Physician (2011).

  • DESESSO J. M. & al. Teratogen update : topical use dans third-generation retinoids. Birth Defects Research (2020).

  • SETZER W. N. & al. Maternal reproductive toxicity of some essential oils and their constituents. International Journal of Molecular Sciences (2021).


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