Your Cart is Empty

  • Add description, images, menus and links to your mega menu

  • A column with no settings can be used as a spacer

  • Link to your collections, sales and even external links

  • Add up to five columns

  • August 29, 2022 5 min read

    How to Safely Exfoliate Your Skin While Pregnant

    What are exfoliants for the skin? Which exfoliants are best for use during pregnancy? Herwin is about how to safely exfoliate the skin when pregnant, including; types of exfoliants, exfoliants to avoid, and physical exfoliation.

    Many aspects of the body change during pregnancy. The skin becomes sensitive to topical products, the most prominent one. However, exfoliation can come in handy as a preventative measure. Removing dead skin cells on the surface can work magic on your complexion and keep your skin smooth, clearer, and youthful.

    During pregnancy, your body's largest organ rejuvenates itself more robustly than before. That creates a way for a faster epidermal turnover that leads to more deposition of large amounts of dead skin cells. This can lead to acne breakouts, increased skin sensitivity to topical products, and the formation of whiteheads and blackheads. Exfoliation can remove dead skin cells and dislodge pore congestion for smoother, refreshed-looking skin. Epidermal turnover may be an involuntary process but may need to be helped along as you age. That's why interventions such as exfoliation come in handy. Particularly during pregnancy, certain pregnancy-safe acids, chemical exfoliants, and enzymes can boost your skin's glow and radiance. This article explores how to exfoliate your skin while pregnant safely. Read on to find out more.

    Types of Exfoliation Mechanisms

    A person can use two mechanisms to exfoliate and smooth the skin, namely:

    Physical Exfoliation

    A person can use a tool, say, a washcloth or dry bristle bru, to remove dead skin. A person could utilize natural exfoliating products that can scrub away flaking cells.

    Chemical Exfoliation

    Chemical exfoliation relies on topical products made from chemicals that can dissolve dead skin cells.

    Physical Vs. Chemical Exfoliation: Which Way Should You Go While Pregnant?

    Physical exfoliation is considered the safest way to remove dead skin cells when pregnant. That is because the process offers more options in this condition. Usually, it involves using a tool or something mechanical to remove the outermost dead skin layer.

    However, this process is chemical-heavy and relies more on substances that dissolve skin cells for easy release. The most commonly used acid in chemical exfoliation is alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA), such as lactic and glycolic acids. These chemicals, especially in high concentration, can be retrogressive on a pregnant belly.

    Dermatologists suggest that a person check out the most suitable ingredients in a chemical peeling reagent that are harmless to your face and body. Speaking with a specialist on proper skin smoothing techniques for your skin type could do the trick.

    Pregnancy And Exfoliation: What to Know

    Pregnancy can interfere with normal exfoliation; hence, a person should evaluate exfoliants and vet what is safe for their condition. That is because most over-the-counter topical products contain ingredients that could potentially pose a danger to the unborn child. Many exfoliation methods are safe for expectant mothers.

    According to Adamski (2021), Heavy exfoliation is not recommended during pregnancy because the skin undergoes robust changes, and exfoliation can lead to more sensitized skin, redness, or dryness. A pregnant woman should also exfoliate once in two weeks and do it gently without using more abrasive granulated products. A pregnant woman should consult a doctor before resorting to any exfoliation technique.

    Exfoliants to Avoid While Pregnant

    There are specific types of exfoliants pregnant mothers should avoid. Numerous tools and products containing natural ingredients are generally considered safe for use. However, dermatologists recommend skipping certain ingredients. opinions do vary; hence, be flexible and talk to a practitioner.


    Szymański et al.(2020) stated that retinol, one of the varieties of vitamin A retinoids, is a popular exfoliant because it can increase skin cell turnover rates. It is an ingredient often found in exfoliating products for both the face and body. Its effects are associated with a smoother-looking skin surface. However, it is not typically recommended for expectant mothers since it can help with the growth of the fetus.

    Salicylic Acid

    Eby & Gazella (2008) stated that licylic acid is used to exfoliate and clear acne-ridden skin. Salicylic acid is a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) known to clear skin pores of congestion. The study above also stated that salicylic acid helps remove debris and dirt, leaving behind smooth and easy-to-moisturize skin. According to Pugashetti & Shinkai (2013), despite all its useful exfoliating properties, salicylic acid, like retinol, is not recommended for pregnant women because dermatologists believe they can both be easily absorbed into the bloodstream and potentially cause congenital disabilities.

    How To Physically Exfoliate Your Skin While Pregnant

    Facial Exfoliation

    Dry brushing isn't recommended for facial exfoliation. Instead, a pregnant woman should consider using a gentle washcloth or ant physical tool with smoothing capabilities. A pregnant woman can massage the facial skin in a gentle circular motion. Also, consider shopping for facial scrubs that contain all-natural granulated ingredients or powders if gentle scrubbing isn't your thing.

    Body Exfoliation

    Use a body brushing tool or a scrub to loosen and remove dry, dead skin cells physically. The handiest tools for body exfoliation include brushes, loofahs, or anything with a textured surface that can remove dead skin cells. Also, the key is to remove impurities, whether that is oats, sugar, ground coffee, or microbeads.

    While pregnant, it is recommended to use a mechanical tool that is textured yet gentle, like, say, a brush or sponge. A pregnant mother should turn a brush gently and softly by stroking it over the belly and limbs while exfoliating. Dermatologists caution that a pregnant mother should go easy on the stomach area and suggest exfoliating as infrequently as possible.

    The Bottom Line

    The benefits of skin exfoliation are well documented. People exfoliate for different reasons. However, during pregnancy, the skin could become drier and may require exfoliation. There are different ways to go about it, but not every pregnant woman will respond similarly. Therefore, it is important to customize the exfoliant to the skin type and condition. Dermatologists and healthcare providers generally recommend physical exfoliation techniques because they offer numerous mechanisms and natural ingredients. Chemical exfoliants can still do the job, but the risk of chemicals being absorbed into the bloodstream is higher and can cause congenital disabilities. Pregnant mothers should avoid using retinol and salicylic acid when exfoliating the skin because they can cause congenital effects.Pregnant women should ensure their safety and the babies by selecting the recommended exfoliants.


    Adamski, Z., Gornowicz-Porowska, J., Sobkowska, D., Kaszuba, K., & Czajkowski, R. (2021). Acne–Therapeutic Challenges To The Cooperation Between A Dermatologist And A Cosmetologist. Advances In Dermatology And Allergology/Postępy Dermatologii I Alergologii, 38(1), 21-31.

    Eby, M. M., & Gazella, K. A. (2008). Return To Beautiful Skin: Your Guide To Truly Effective, Nontoxic Skin Care. Basic Health Publications, Inc.

    Pugashetti, R., & Shinkai, K. (2013). Treatment Of Acne Vulgaris In Pregnant Patients. Dermatologic Therapy, 26(4), 302-311.

    Szymański, Ł., Skopek, R., Palusińska, M., Schenk, T., Stengel, S., Lewicki, S., ... & Zelent, A. (2020). Retinoic Acid And Its Derivatives In Skin. Cells, 9(12), 2660.