Retinoids and Pregnancy: A Guide to Safer Skincare Alternatives

Retinoids and Pregnancy: A Guide to Safer Skincare Alternatives

Retinoids and Retinol: The Basics

Retinoids are a group of compounds derived from vitamin A and are highly regarded in the world of skincare for their remarkable benefits on the skin. They come in various forms, such as over-the-counter retinol, retinoic acid, and retinyl palmitate, among others.  Dermatologists praise retinoids for their ability to address various skin concerns and deliver noticeable results.  

One of the primary advantages of retinoids is their capacity to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. By stimulating collagen and elastin production, they can improve the skin's elasticity and firmness, resulting in a more youthful complexion. Additionally, retinoids promote cell turnover, encouraging the shedding of dead skin cells and revealing a brighter and more even skin tone. They also possess the ability to suppress the production of melanin, the pigment responsible for excess pigmentation, such as dark spots and hyperpigmentation.

Unfortunately despite the numerous benefits they offer, they are not suitable for everyone, especially those of us who are pregnant or trying to conceive. In fact, retinoids, including retinol, have been associated with potential risks during pregnancy, which is why it is generally recommended to avoid them and seek safer alternatives.


Why Retinoids are Not Recommended During Pregnancy

Retinoids, when taken orally, have been linked to birth defects. This is the case for prescription medications like isotretinoin (known by the brand name Accutane), used for severe acne. While the risk associated with topical retinoids (like retinol creams) is less clear, most health professionals and skincare experts recommend avoiding them during pregnancy as a precautionary measure.

Safe Alternatives to Retinoids

Navigating the world of skincare during pregnancy or while trying to conceive can be a challenge as you want to maintain a skincare regimen while ensuring the utmost safety for your growing baby. At this time, it's important to opt for products with safe ingredients which can be effective alternatives to retinoids. Here are some:


Often referred to as the 'natural alternative to retinol,' Bakuchiol is a plant extract that offers similar benefits to retinol without the associated risks. It can stimulate collagen production, reduce signs of aging, and improve skin tone and texture.

Carrot Seed Oil

Derived from the seeds of wild carrots, carrot seed oil is rich in beta-carotene, a that research shows can help with cellular regeneration. Additionally, it's also rich in antioxidants (vitamins C and E, as well as vitamin A, which can be converted into retinol in the skin). 


Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide can minimize enlarged pores, tighten lax pores, improve uneven skin tone, soften fine lines and wrinkles, and strengthen the skin surface.

Sea Buckthorn Oil

Sea buckthorn oil is often used in skincare, for its high concentration of antioxidants, including carotenes, vitamins E and C, and flavonoids. It's also rich in essential fatty acids, making it an exceptionally nourishing ingredient. There have also been a few studies showing that sea buckthorn oil promotes collagen production and is helpful in wound healing.

Hyaluronic Acid

This substance naturally occurs in our bodies and is fantastic for hydrating the skin. It can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, helping to plump the skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles.

Vitamin C

This powerful antioxidant is renowned for its ability to brighten the skin, reduce hyperpigmentation, and stimulate collagen production. It's a safe and effective ingredient for pregnant women looking to maintain glowing skin.



Pregnancy is a time of joy and expectation, but it can also bring concerns about the safety of certain skincare ingredients. By understanding more about retinoids and their safer alternatives, you can now make informed decisions about your skincare routine during this special time.