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What products and treatments are safe for my clients while pregnant? This is a very common question and the answer is very complicated with a lot of gray area. In a world where there are many opinions about what is and isn’t healthy in general, people get even more opinionated when talking about pregnancy.

The beliefs are all across the board ranging from those that won’t wash with anything but water, eat anything questionable and stick strictly to the rule book to those that think very little of the rules, even stretching them safely to the limit. Both lifestyles are acceptable as long as the mother-to-be is safe and comfortable with it. The question is, what is okay as the skin care professional to recommend to your pregnant client and stay within the boundaries?

Thankfully I have had the pleasure of working in not only a pregnancy wellness medi spa, but in one that specializes in high risk pregnancies. We see the most difficult cases and are used to treating the most difficult skin concerns safely. Now, depending on where you are, where you go, and what part of the country you are in, you will get differing responses from Docs concerning what products they believe are pregnancy safe. There are however a few that are unsafe across the board.


  • Retinols (all forms)

  • BPO (Benzoyl Peroxide)

  • Hydroquinone

  • Acids in high percentages

In our facility there are many approved products that society generally looks down upon. A lot of pregnant clients have undergone hormone therapy to get pregnant and if they haven’t they still have more estrogen, testosterone and progesterone running through their body than normal. They generally experience more acne and melasma issues. If the client is comfortable with it and their doc has approved it, I will use a low percentage Salicylic and Glycolic. Lactic acid however, is one of the safest ingredients during pregnancy because it is found naturally within your body and passes teratology screening cleanly. So if you are uncomfortable with Sal and or Gly, lactic is a great alternative and will treat acne and melasma. Vitamin C is also a great serum to have a melasma prone client on.

Paraben is also an ingredient that is very controversial. Parabens have been used as preservatives since the early 1920s and are utilized in preventing the growth of bacteria. They are a preservative found in products that help lengthen the life span of the product. As with most things it had been found in a very few cases that too much of a good thing can be hazardous! Some studies show that parabens may mimic the effects of estrogen in the body, but the studies are few and far between and findings in most cases are inconclusive. In the end if your client is against them being in her product then respect her wishes. Prevention can’t hurt! If a client were to ask my opinion I would tell her that I do not personally believe there are near enough studies to support a case for cutting out parabens, but it is a personal choice she must make on her own.

Pregnancy safe treatments:

  • Dermaplane (if appropriate for skin)

  • Microdermabrasion (if appropriate for skin)

  • Low percentage chemical peels (if approved by their doc)

  • All Waxing ( your client may have a Brazilian up to the day she delivers if you are educated in the positions safe for her to be in, and they are aware it will be more sensitive. Always ask if the client is experiencing hemorrhoids as this can be an issue with pregnancy and cannot be waxed)


  • Laser (Only because you are treating conditions that are worsened by pregnancy)

  • High percentage Chemical peels

  • Aromatherapy treatments (the aroma can send them into contractions if they are too relaxed)

  • Be careful when massaging the feet and Traps as deep pressure in these areas can also cause contractions

As far as treatments go, when a client is 5 months along or more always make sure to have them propped up at least 45 degrease and have a pillow under their knees as well as a pillow or rolled towel under their right hip to shift the weight off of their spine. When a pregnant woman lays flat on her back it can cut off the circulation to her heart and her baby and she can lose consciousness.

Treating pregnant clients is very rewarding whether your client is experiencing a beautiful glow or she is fighting severe acne  or melasma! Always make sure to stay true to her requests and her doctor’s orders no matter if you believe something is okay for her or not. Educate yourself on all of the pregnancy safe skincare lines and treatments and know how to educate you clients on their choice.

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