8 best pregnancy skincare heroes
Finding beauty saviours that are not only safe to use during pregnancy – but are also highly effective – is a tough gig. We've done the hard work for you with these skincare favourites for mothers-to-be
Glowing, gorgeous skin calls for extra care, especially when you’re pregnant. The myth of "the pregnancy glow", supposedly caused by an influx of feel-good hormones combined with that infamous rise in body temperature, is just that: a myth for many of us.
Instead, you may be experiencing extra-sensitive skin that flares up at the slightest provocation, breakouts, a change in texture (some mums-to-be find their skin is super oily during pregnancy, while others have problems with dryness and flakiness), increased redness and even noticeable broken veins or dark circles under the eyes. Again, blame your hormones.
Whether you’re rocking perfect pregnancy skin – or you need a little extra help, look for gentle, hardworking skincare that will soothe, nourish and protect.
“During pregnancy your skin is commonly more sensitive,” agrees Eilidh Smith, founder of SKINWORK. “When it comes to skincare, we recommend using less active ingredients. A simple cleansing milk used with a flannel is perfect. This will cleanse deeply yet gently and exfoliates too thanks to the flannel or washcloth,” says Eilidh. “Then add a hyaluronic serum, which will hydrate and calm – plus an uncomplicated moisturiser to hydrate and protect.”
A daily SPF is key too – even in the winter, as pregnancy hormones can trigger pigmentation, as well as making your skin more sensitive to the sun than it is usually. So be vigilant about this, even if you don’t normally wear any. With all due respect to Jane Austen, it really is a truth universally acknowledged in the beauty industry that wearing a high factor, broad spectrum SPF daily, all year round, is the most important step in your skincare routine.
Here’s our round up of the best hero skincare for pregnancy – and postpartum – skin.
You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.
La Roche-Posay toleriane sensitive: £16, La Roche-Posay
French pharmacy brands have revolutionised the British beauty world and La Roche-Posay is hands down one of the best. The quality of the products rivals that of much higher priced, fancier brands – we reckon there isn’t a beauty editor in the world that wouldn’t count La Roche Posay as a favourite, alongside the more luxe La Mer, La Prairie and Sisley.
Toleriane sensitive is a creamy, nourishing daily moisturiser that always leaves my sensitive skin looking fresh, even and soothed - no matter how irritated my complexion is. It’s extremely comforting, dermatologist-recommended and anti-inflammatory – and is great for dry or oily skin as it rebalances and hydrates, without leaving a greasy residue. La Roche-Posay claim it’s so safe that you can use it on babies, so if you fancy sharing your skincare in nine months or so – this is the one for you.
Kiehl’s ultra facial cream SPF 30: £24.50, Kiehl's
This cream really is one of the best. Giving you healthier looking skin since 1851, this cult US brand was our tester's go-to when she suffered a series of unexpected break outs of adult acne a decade ago. It’s now a staple in her bathroom. The ultra facial cream has a light texture that’s still nourishing for dry skin, but would be equally suitable for oilier skin types. It keeps your complexion hydrated throughout the day and is ideal under makeup as it absorbs very quickly.
Bonus points for the scent. So fresh and clean-smelling – just what you need if you’re in the throes of morning sickness. It’s perfect for harsh weather conditions too, so just the ticket for the British winter.
001 Skincare London active marine concentrate: £75, Wolf & Badger
This extremely concentrated serum is omega-rich and contains multi algae actives to plump up your skin. We've tried a lot of serums in our time and this is absolutely our favourite. The anti-oxidant complex assists in repairing environmental damage, while at the same time brightening your skin. Expect a renewed, glowy and visibly brighter complexion within a couple of weeks of use.
Founder Ada Ooi is an internationally renowned facialist (book in with her if you can – this would also be a wonderful postpartum treat to look forward to), who incorporates Asian and Western techniques to boost skin health.
Apply the concentrate after cleansing (and toning) and before any moisturisers or oils to reduce dullness and even out your skin tone.
PCA skin hydrator plus broad spectrum SPF 30: £30.78, Amazon
A professional range used within some of the world’s award-winning spas and salons, PCA Skin is targeted to treat skin concerns and has a surprisingly reasonable price point considering their high quality ingredients and actives. The skin hydrator is nourishing with a light texture that’s easily absorbed. It doesn’t feel sticky or heavy and contains shea butter, sweet almond extracts and olive fruit oil to combat dehydration.
Free of synthetic dyes and fragrances, it’s ideal for sensitive pregnancy complexions. Plus the SPF30 means you won’t need a separate sunscreen and unlike some moisturisers with SPF, it’s easy to layer under makeup with no flakiness or white streaks.
Africology absolute rose serum: £43, Africology
Founded by aromatherapist, Reiki Master, holistic healer and mother of four, Renchia Droganis, Africology has just launched in the UK with a store in London’s Covent Garden. It combines South African and African ingredients such as rooibos, aloe forex, African potato and natural sources of AHAs found in African cane sugar. Definitely one to watch.
In the meantime, stock up on Africology absolute rose serum. Tailor-made for hormonal skin, it’s extra soothing and also good for menopausal issues. Rose is renowned for its ancient anti-ageing properties and the scent re-balances the emotions. Perfect when you find yourself weeping at yet another building society advert.
Apply at night underneath your moisturiser to the face, neck and décolletage. A few drops can also be added to your night cream if your skin is particularly dry.
Weleda skin food: £12.50, Holland & Barrett
Don’t be fooled by the low price point. Weleda started in 1921 as a pharmaceutical laboratory, with its own plant garden. It’s now sold in over 50 countries on all five continents. Fairtrade, biodynamic cultivation, the supportive development of their employees and a genuine respect for nature are all at the heart of the brand.
Weleda skin food is ideal if you’re experiencing severe dryness or dehydration during your pregnancy. You can also apply it to areas of dry or cracked skin on your body – a common occurrence when pregnancy is combined with a harsh winter. The texture can be a little heavy if you’re used to lighter or more sophisticated creams, but it’s packed with plant extracts and essential oils for an intense dose of moisture. It’s best used at night or as a mask when you have time to allow it to soak into your complexion and do its magic.
Avène extremely gentle cleanser lotion: £10.50, Escentual
Another beauty industry favourite, Avène is renowned for its soothing, calming formulas and no-fuss approach to results-orientated skincare. Their moisturisers deserve a special mention (try Avene hydrance rich hydrating cream to nourish sensitive skin) for their expert abilities in the art of soothing and hydrating even the most irritated or sensitive of complexions. The real hero though is their extremely gentle cleanser lotion, which contains the brand’s iconic Avène thermal spring water to calm and hydrate.
This creamy cleanser goes on like a dream and also contains parcerine, a new active that reduces skin reactivity. It doesn’t dry out the skin like many cleansers, yet is still great on oilier skin types. Apply morning and night with a cotton pad, or better still using the tips of your fingers, in light massaging circular motions that will boost the flow of blood to your skin. Then spray a light mist of their thermal spring water (a great tool to have on hand during birth too).
The Organic Pharmacy purifying seaweed clay mask: £37.95, The Organic Pharmacy
Founded by powerhouse and skincare guru Margo Marrone after she was horrified at the amount of toxins in conventional beauty products, The Organic Pharmacy is a now-iconic and much loved British brand. It combines organic ingredients and medicinal herbs with a homeopathic approach to skincare and wellness. Many of the ingredients are extremely potent, which means during pregnancy you should be careful about which products you’re choosing, but their purifying seaweed clay mask (and of course, their amazing mother-to-be collection, which features the best stretch mark oils and nipple cream) is not only safe but also highly effective.
Ideal for all skin types, it’s especially good for those pregnancy breakouts and congested skin. Containing lavender, spirulina, clay, pine bark extracts and papaya, it draws out impurities and re-balances your skin. The seaweed calms any redness, while the pine bark boosts your glow. Expect your skin to look fresh, clean and bright. Basically, the holy grail of skincare goals.
The verdict: Pregnancy skincare heroes
La Roche-Posay toleraine sensitive is our fave when it comes to choosing a soothing, nourishing and affordable moisturiser for pregnant complexions. But be sure to add an SPF for day wear. Kiehl’s ultra face cream is the best of the non-greasy, SPF day creams. For a treatment that will give you a glow, long past your pregnancy, 001 Skincare London's active marine concentrate repairs damage and renews the skin.
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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