Skincare Products to Ditch If You’re Pregnant or Trying

When you’re trying to conceive or are pregnant, there are lots of changes to make to your life either a while ago or recently. You’re double checking what you’re eating, making changes to your alcohol and caffeine intake, reviewing supplements, and evaluating your exercise habits and stress levels.

One more task to add to this list is to audit your skincare to ensure it’s fertility friendly. I know, it’s one more action item but this one can be a simple switch and hopefully it won’t break the bank.

Why to ditch some skincare ingredients

The reason to make these switches is because either research shows it may be harmful1 such as suggested growth issues in your little bean that you’re growing or are hoping to grow, or there isn’t enough evidence and it’s not worth the risk. Another reason is that the product could disrupt your hormones which could affect your ability to get or stay pregnant. One example is phthalates which can be in way more than skincare. 

There can be other reasons to ditch a certain ingredient like a medication that you’re on that makes a certain ingredient less compatible or even dangerous for you.

The last thing I want to do is sound fear-mongering because there’s enough of that out there during this time in your life. But it’s better to be informed and make decisions with advice from your doctor for your specific needs.

What to do

First review your current products that you use. Check each ingredient and see if any below are on the list. Talk to your doctor if you’re unsure. If your product doesn’t list the ingredient it might be a good idea to put it way back in the depths of your cupboard or medicine cabinet and bring it back out once your fertility journey is over.

If you need to make replacements or you’re just thinking of getting a new type of product, check the specific ingredients list of the new product. Product ingredients change over time and the same brand and product can have different ingredients depending on where in the world you live, too.

As someone with PCOS who has had to deal with on and off acne since puberty, even as I’m in my 40s, I understand the woes of finding the right skincare products. Plus, ingredients are changing all the time and new product lines are available that are more effective and appealing, but they aren’t necessarily fertility-friendly. Crumbs.

Skin changes you might encounter on your fertility journey

What also can come up is that changes in your skin because of fertility treatment like medication for IVF or pregnancy. Even if you’ve had flawless skin or had more of a simple soap and water and sunscreen routine for skin, you might not always because of what can happen on your fertility journey. In these scenarios you’re likely on a search for new skincare to meet these new needs. Starting new products is also a time to review to ensure you’re making the best decision.

Ingredients to avoid in your skincare products

This is what you’re here for. This is a list of ingredients 2,3,4 to avoid putting on your skin while on your fertility journey unless you’ve consulted your healthcare provider:

  • Toluene
  • Retinoids such as tretinoin, retinol, retinal, and retinyl
  • Hydroxy Acids
  • Hemp/CBD
  • Formaldehyde
  • Accutane
  • Phthalates
  • Lactic acid 
  • Sunless tanners and skin whitners
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Salicylates
  • Aluminium chloride
  • Tetracyclines
  • Parabens
  • Chemical sunscreens

A wonderful place to look as a reference or ideas about products that are more likely to be fertility-friendly is 15 Minute Beauty Counter, a website developed by a physician directed at anyone on their fertility journey or beyond. This is also a great article in New York Magazine.

Do you have a fertility-friendly product that you love? Share in the comments.

Photo by Kampus Production


  1. Herdt-Losavio, M. L. et al. The risk of having a low birth weight or preterm infant among cosmetologists in New York State. Matern Child Health J 13, 90–97,
  2. Wang, H. et al. Maternal serum cadmium level during pregnancy and its association with small for gestational age infants: a population-based birth cohort study. Sci Rep 6, 22631, (2016).
  3. Bozzo P, Chua-Gocheco A, Einarson A. Safety of skin care products during pregnancy. Can Fam Physician. 2011 Jun;57(6):665-7. PMID: 21673209; PMCID: PMC3114665.
  4. Putra IB, Jusuf NK, Dewi NK. Skin Changes and Safety Profile of Topical Products During Pregnancy. J Clin Aesthet Dermatol. 2022 Feb;15(2):49-57. PMID: 35309882; PMCID: PMC8884185.
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