There are many ingredients not recommended during pregnancy and this is often purely cautious approach since testing on the skin of pregnant woman is not ethically permitted. Animal testing is now also banned in many countries.

Many of these recommendations are based on anecdotal evidence, assumptions and animal studies. It's always smart to be extra cautious during pregnancy.

Retinoids (Vitamin A) is one of the most popular active ingredients and is known for improving cell renewal, and reducing wrinkles and sun damage. Studies showed that high doses of oral vitamin A (isotretinoin for acne treatment) can cause baby born with birth defects. Even though there is no data stating that topical vitamin A is harmful when used during pregnancy, it is believed that caution is the best approach.

Commonly used topical vitamin A ingredients:

Prescription retinoids:
- Adapalene (Differin)

- Tretinoin and retinoic acid (Avita, Retin-A, Renova, Refissa, Stieva-A, Tretin X)

- Tazarotene (Tazorac)

Non-prescription retinoids
- Retinol

- Retinyl palmitate

- Retinaldehyde (or retinal, vitamin A aldehyde)

Beta hydroxy acid (BHA) is a form of salicylic acid that can penetrate deep into pores and clean out dead skin cells. BHA is a good exfoliator to unblock pores of acne skin. High dose of salicylic acid (ASA, Aspirin) taken orally has been shown to cause birth defects and other pregnancy complications. Since BHA is a form of salicylic acid, it should be avoided during pregnancy.

Alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) such as lactic acid, malic acid, and mandelic acid are safe during pregnancy.

Soy has estrogenic effects, which can make those facial dark patches (melasma or chloasma) worse during pregnancy. Avoid soy containing skincare especially if you have dark skin or melasma.

Soy containing skin products:
- Soy based

- Lecithin

- Phosphatidylcholine

- Textured vegetable protein (TVP)

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