Can You Use Retinol During Pregnancy?

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By Dr. Marisa Garshick | Updated on Dec 8, 2023
Image for article Can You Use Retinol During Pregnancy?

Retinol use isn’t recommended during pregnancy.

There are no specific studies that look at the use of topical retinol in pregnancy, but it’s known that oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin 1 (Accutane), are teratogenic and can lead to fetal defects. Since there aren’t enough studies and evidence investigating the use of topical retinoids on your skin in pregnancy, it’s best to avoid the use of all topical or oral retinoids and retinol during this time.

As an alternative, some ingredients that may be safe for use while pregnant include azelaic acid or low concentrations of AHAs like glycolic acid. While some consider bakuchiol, a plant-based retinol alternative, to be safe, there are no studies looking at its use in pregnancy, so it should be avoided.

Pregnant woman holding her stomach on a bed with a plant in the background

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  1. Ingeborg M Zomerdijk, Rikje Ruiter, Leanne M A Houweling, Ron M C Herings, Miriam C J M Sturkenboom, Sabine M J M Straus, and Bruno H Stricker"Isotretinoin exposure during pregnancy: a population-based study in The Netherlands"BMJ Open, vol. 4, no. 11Nov 12, 2014https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4244495.


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Updated on Dec 8, 2023

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Can You Use Retinol During Pregnancy?

 Marisa Garshick Profile Photo
By Dr. Marisa Garshick | Updated on Dec 8, 2023
Image for article Can You Use Retinol During Pregnancy?

Retinol use isn’t recommended during pregnancy.

There are no specific studies that look at the use of topical retinol in pregnancy, but it’s known that oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin 1 (Accutane), are teratogenic and can lead to fetal defects. Since there aren’t enough studies and evidence investigating the use of topical retinoids on your skin in pregnancy, it’s best to avoid the use of all topical or oral retinoids and retinol during this time.

As an alternative, some ingredients that may be safe for use while pregnant include azelaic acid or low concentrations of AHAs like glycolic acid. While some consider bakuchiol, a plant-based retinol alternative, to be safe, there are no studies looking at its use in pregnancy, so it should be avoided.

Pregnant woman holding her stomach on a bed with a plant in the background

Want evidence-based health & wellness advice for fertility, pregnancy, and postpartum delivered to your inbox?

Your privacy is important to us. By subscribing you agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms & Conditions.

Expectful uses only high-quality sources, including academic research institutions, medical associations, and subject matter experts.

  1. Ingeborg M Zomerdijk, Rikje Ruiter, Leanne M A Houweling, Ron M C Herings, Miriam C J M Sturkenboom, Sabine M J M Straus, and Bruno H Stricker"Isotretinoin exposure during pregnancy: a population-based study in The Netherlands"BMJ Open, vol. 4, no. 11Nov 12, 2014https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4244495.


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