Breastfeeding Skincare: Do’s and Don’ts (2023)

No one ever talks about the perils of breastfeeding...until you're in the thick of it. Suddenly, all of your friends are sharing articles about cracked nipples and engorgement. And then there's the skincare issue.

While you're busy trying to figure out how to survive on two hours of sleep, your skin is going through some changes too. Hormones are running wild and they're making your skin along for the ride. Dryness, breakouts, and sensitivity are all common skin concerns while pregnant and breastfeeding.

We know your search engine searches look something like this: “Is vitamin C serum breastfeeding safe?”, “Can I use hyaluronic acid while breastfeeding?”, “What skin care ingredients are breastfeeding safe?”

So what's an exhausted mama to do? First, don't panic. Second, take a deep breath and consult our top do's and don'ts for breastfeeding skincare.

Read on, Mama!

Why you should change your skincare while breastfeeding?

When it comes to skincare, expecting mothers are bombarded with a never-ending list of things they should and shouldn’t use.

However, once the baby is finally here, many moms are so exhausted that they just grab whatever product is within their arm’s reach and hope for the best. But did you know that what you put on your skin can actually be absorbed into your bloodstream and passed on to your baby?

Yes, certain chemicals can enter the bloodstream and go directly into your breast milk. That’s why it's important to be choosy about the skincare products you use!

Skincare ingredients to avoid while breastfeeding

As a breastfeeding mother, you are probably very concerned about what you put into your body. You want to make sure that everything you ingest is safe for your baby.

The same goes for the products you use on your skin. Many skin care products contain ingredients that can be harmful to your baby if they are absorbed through your skin. Here is a list of ingredients to avoid while breastfeeding:

1. Retinol ingredients

Retinol, the descendant of vitamin A, is all the rage these days. You can find it in everything from face cream to shampoo, and plenty of people swear by its beauty benefits. But what exactly is retinol, and why is it so buzzworthy?

For starters, retinol is an antioxidant, which means it helps to protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals. It also stimulates collagen, resulting in firmer, plumper skin. And last but not least, retinol can help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and even out skin tone. No wonder everyone's so obsessed!

Breastfeeding mamas may turn to retinol to get rid of those dark spots and rejuvenate tired skin, however, this buzz-worthy ingredient is a big no-no.

But why? After all, retinol is a vitamin, and vitamins are good for you, right? Well, when used as a topical vitamin, retinol can’t be absorbed by the bloodstream, but the skin-to-skin contact of the ingredient with your baby can cause a lot of irritation, redness, dryness, and itchiness.

That’s why it is better to avoid using retinol on your face and neck while breastfeeding.

2. Oxybenzone

Oxybenzone is a chemical that is used in sunscreens to absorb ultraviolet light. You can find it in many chemical sunscreens and other skincare products.

Even though there are not enough studies about this ingredient, most of them suggest that it can actually be harmful to your baby if you are breastfeeding. Oxybenzone can enter your breast milk and can cause irritation, rashes, and even hives in your baby.

However, the jury is still out on whether or not it poses a risk to breastfed babies, but they believe it can penetrate the bloodstream.

So, if you're looking for a definitive answer, you might have to wait a little longer. In the meantime, you can always try using a mineral sunscreen instead of one that contains oxybenzone.

3. Hydroquinone

Hydroquinone has been called the " Fountain of Youth" because it can have such dramatic effects on the skin. It is a substance that inhibits the production of melanin, which is what gives skin its color.

Hydroquinone is most commonly used as a bleaching agent to lighten dark spots on the skin, but it can also be used to treat other conditions such as vitiligo and melasma.

But hydroquinone's fame doesn't come without controversy for pregnant and breastfeeding mamas! In this sense, many mothers worry about the dangers of using chemicals while breastfeeding, and hydroquinone is no exception.

The reason for this is that hydroquinone can be absorbed into the bloodstream and passed into breastmilk, where it can potentially affect the baby.

In addition, hydroquinone can also increase the risk of sun sensitivity, which can be dangerous for a kiddo who is not used to exposure to sunlight. For these reasons, hydroquinone is another no-no in breastfeeding women.

9 Skin care ingredients to go for while breastfeeding

Now that we covered all the don’ts, it is time to skip to the good part and talk about all the goodies you can use to treat your skin concerns.

From acne-prone skin and irritated skin to dark patches, we have an ideal ingredient for all the skin issues you may be experiencing!

1. Niacinamide while pregnant and breastfeeding

If you've been keeping up with the latest skincare trends, you've probably heard of niacinamide. Also known as vitamin B3, niacinamide is a water-soluble vitamin that offers a variety of benefits to the skin.

For starters, niacinamide helps to reduce inflammation and redness, making it an ideal ingredient for those with sensitive skin. Additionally, niacinamide can help to brighten the skin and even out the complexion. And because it's packed with antioxidants, niacinamide also helps to protect the skin from free radical damage.

(Video) Skin care while nursing| Dr Dray 👶

Niacinamide is a very safe and effective ingredient that can be used by people of all ages, including pregnant and breastfeeding women. In fact, niacinamide is often recommended by any board-certified dermatologist as a gentle and effective way to improve the appearance of the skin.

So if you're looking for a safe and effective way to improve your skin's appearance, niacinamide is a great option!

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2. Lactic acid while breastfeeding

Ah, lactic acid. The stuff that makes your muscles sore after a good workout. But what exactly is it, and why is it so good for your skin? Let's start with the basics: it is a type of alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that's derived from milk. And like all alpha-hydroxy acids, it works by exfoliating the top layer of skin cells and promotes cell turnover.

This might not sound particularly appealing, but the benefits are definitely worth it. A gentle exfoliation helps to unclog pores, remove dead skin cells, and even out your skin tone. In other words, it's pretty much the key to perfect skin.

There's no need to worry about lactic acid for pregnant and nursing women. Lactic acid is a naturally occurring substance, so it's unlikely to cause any harm to your baby. In fact, this ingredient is actually beneficial for you since it will give you softer, smoother, and more radiant skin. And who doesn't want that?

3. Salicylic acid and breastfeeding

Oh, salicylic acids. They’re just so good at everything, aren't they? Clearing up acne? Check. Reducing the appearance of wrinkles? You betcha. Helping to fade dark spots? Of course! It's no wonder that this powerhouse ingredient is a mainstay in so many skincare products.

But what exactly is it that makes salicylic acid so darn effective? Well, it's a beta-hydroxy acid (BHA), which means that it's able to penetrate deep into the skin to unclog pores and remove dead cells. Plus, it has anti-inflammatory properties, which make it ideal for treating hormonal acne.

If you're a nursing mom, you might be wondering if it's safe to use salicylic acid. After all, you want to make sure that you're doing everything you can to protect your baby. Luckily, there's no need to worry.

This is a safe acne treatment while breastfeeding when used topically. In fact, it may even help to clear up some of those pesky postpartum hormonal breakouts.


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4. Glycolic acid

This is an alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) that is derived from sugar cane. It is the smallest molecule in the AHA family, which includes other popular acids such as lactic acid and citric acid.

This AHA is often hailed as a "miracle" ingredient because it can provide a number of benefits when used in topical skin care. For example, it can help to reduce the appearance of wrinkles, age spots, and acne scars.

Glycolic acid also helps to promote collagen production and improve skin moisturization. In addition, glycolic acid is one of the most effective ingredients for treating blackheads and whiteheads.

The ingredient is generally considered safe for breastfeeding mothers. However, as with anything, there are a few things to keep in mind. First of all, it's important to only use products that contain low concentrations of glycolic acid (around 5% or less).

Finally, be sure to wash the area thoroughly after application and avoid using it on cracked or broken skin.

5. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is often touted as a godsend nutrient, and for good reason. And it's true, this powerful nutrient can do wonders for your complexion.

Vitamin C helps to brighten the skin, boost collagen, and protect against damage from free radicals. In other words, it's the perfect antidote to dull, dry, and aging skin.

And why is vitamin C so good for the skin, you may ask. Well, here's the science behind this super ingredient. As an antioxidant, vitamin C helps to neutralize free radicals, which are particles that can damage cells and lead to premature aging. Vitamin C also stimulates collagen production, which helps to keep the skin looking firm and youthful.

But is it safe for pregnant women and nursing mamas? The answer is a big, fat YES! Vitamin C is an essential nutrient for the skin, and it plays a vital role in immunity, tissue repair, and wound healing thanks to its ability to repair the skin barrier.

So don’t wait and take that vitamin C serum off the shelf and into your skincare regimen!

6. Hyaluronic acid

You might be familiar with hyaluronic acid as something found in injectable fillers used by celebrities to achieve a youthful appearance. And while it's true that this is one of the most popular uses for hyaluronic acid, it's far from the only one.

Here's a quick science lesson: our bodies produce hyaluronic acid naturally, but production decreases as we age. This decrease is one of the main reasons why our skin starts to lose its elasticity and become more prone to wrinkles.

Hyaluronic acid can hold up to 1,000 times its weight in water, so it's an incredibly effective moisture-binding ingredient for dry skin. When applied topically, it helps to keep skin hydrated and looking plump and youthful.

Plus, it can help you get rid of postpartum stretch marks! You can find it in serums and body lotions. Just apply the product to your stretch marks and let the magic happen!


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7. Titanium dioxide and zinc oxide

They are two things that most people have never heard of. But if you've ever used sunscreen, they're probably in it. Both are white powders used to reflect light and provide protection against sun damage.

Titanium dioxide is the more common of the two, and it's often used in food colorings and cosmetics as well as sunscreen. Zinc oxide is less commonly used, but it provides better protection against UV rays.

Neither of these ingredients is absorbed into the bloodstream, so there's no risk of them being transferred to your baby through breast milk. In fact, these ingredients are so safe that they're often used in food and over-the-counter products for a baby’s skin.

So, if you are going out or staying in, remember to apply titanium dioxide and zinc oxide sunscreen or tinted moisturizer with sun protection!

8. Vitamin e

This is a powerful antioxidant that can help to protect your skin from damage caused by free radicals. In addition, it keeps dry skin hydrated and can even help to reduce the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and other signs of problematic skin like blemishes and spots.

Related article: Vitamin E For Skin: Your Next Skincare Superhero

This skin care ingredient is both pregnant and breastfeeding safe and you can find it alone or with other vitamins. One popular mix is vitamin E and vitamin C serum.

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9. Azelaic acid

There's no doubt that azelaic acid is having a moment. This powerful ingredient is popping up in all sorts of skin care products, from serums to moisturizers.

It's an excellent choice for people with sensitive skin. It's also gentle enough to be used on breakout-prone skin, and it can help to reduce the appearance of blemishes.

But that's not all! Azelaic acid also has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties, which means it can help to protect your skin from environmental damage. Plus, it can even out your skin tone and give you a radiant complexion.

The good news for breastfeeding and pregnant women is that azelaic acid is completely safe!

Extra recommendations for four skincare routine

Before you get ready to pamper your skin with these amazing skin care ingredients, let us give you some extra recommendations so you can get the best out of your new routine!

1. Don’t overdo it

Yes, all of those ingredients are safe for you and your little bum but don’t apply them excessively! Only apply a small amount to your skin once or twice a day.

2. Avoid contact with your baby’s skin

Don’t apply these ingredients in places that can come in contact with your baby’s skin. Example: nipples and neck. The ingredients can cause them irritation since they are not formulated to be used in babies.

3. Use them topically

These actives are safe as long as you use them topically in skin care products. For example, salicylic acid is safe in small amounts when applied topically, but it can be harmful when consumed orally.

4. Always talk with a doctor first

Even though the ingredients won’t enter your bloodstream, it is always better to talk with your doctor before including any of them in your routine.

Skin care ingredients we have little information about

There are skin care ingredients that still need to be tested before determining if they are safe for pregnant women and nursing mothers when used topically, so it is better to avoid them until further studies are developed. These include:

1. Sunflower oil

Unlike some other oils, sunflower oil is non-comedogenic, meaning it won't clog your pores. It's also packed with vitamins and antioxidants that can help to protect your skin from damage.

In addition, it is relatively lightweight and easy to absorb, making it ideal for use in skincare products.

2. Benzoyl peroxide

If you ask anyone who's dealing with acne, they'll tell you that benzoyl peroxide is a miracle worker. But why is that? Why is benzoyl peroxide so good for skin? Let's take a closer look:

Benzoyl peroxide is an antibacterial agent, which means it helps to kill the bacteria that cause acne. It's also a mild exfoliant, which helps to clean clog pores and prevent new breakouts.

And last but not least, it's an anti-inflammatory, which means it can help to reduce the redness and swelling associated with acne.

3. Licorice root

Licorice rootunique plant contains a compound called glabridin, which has shown to be effective in treating a variety of skin conditions, including acne, eczema, and psoriasis.

In addition, licorice root is a natural anti-inflammatory, so it can help to reduce redness and swelling. And if that wasn't enough, this little root is also a potent antioxidant, which means it can help to protect the skin from damage caused by free radicals.

When consumed in oral medications, the root extract is not considered to be safe for breastfeeding and pregnant women since it can cause birth defects by crossing the placenta and accumulating in the fetus. This can lead to a condition called fetal hypoglycemia, which can cause serious health problems for the baby.

However, there is not enough information about its topical risks, so there is not a definitive answer about it yet!

Pregnancy and breastfeeding products: Where to find them

Now you know everything about pregnancy and breastfeeding skincare actives do’s and don’ts, and are definitely ready to do some shopping!

We have created a collection full of goodies for all skin types that will make you get that beautiful glow back while enjoying a magical time with your little bum.

Shop your Asian beauty products here!

Related articles:
Top 8 Skincare Ingredients To Avoid While Pregnant
Skin Care For Moms: Our 8 Life-Saving TipsIs Niacinamide Safe During Pregnancy? The Final Answer!


Does skincare get into breastmilk? ›

Skin care while pregnant and breastfeeding

In fact, many lotions and cosmetics are engineered to work their way through layers of skin. Some could eventually get into the bloodstream and from there, reach the developing fetus or breast milk.

What face ingredients to avoid while breastfeeding? ›

Here is a list of ingredients to avoid while breastfeeding:
  • Retinol ingredients. Retinol, the descendant of vitamin A, is all the rage these days. ...
  • Oxybenzone. ...
  • Hydroquinone. ...
  • Niacinamide while pregnant and breastfeeding. ...
  • Salicylic acid and breastfeeding. ...
  • Glycolic acid. ...
  • Vitamin C. ...
  • Hyaluronic acid.
26 Apr 2022

Can I use Vitamin C serum while breastfeeding? ›

Can you use a Vitamin C serum while breastfeeding? You sure can! Incorporate some Vitamin C into your skincare regime, such as Aspect Dr Active C serum. Vitamin C is an antioxidant that stabilises free-radicals (unstable molecules that inflame the skin), improving dryness, collagen damage, fine lines and wrinkles.

Can I use hyaluronic acid while breastfeeding? ›

Hyaluronic Acid

When it comes to skin plumping and hydrating, this natural substance should be a go-to ingredient, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It works well and poses no threat to mom or baby.

What happens if you use retinol while breastfeeding? ›

Risks of Using Retinol While Breastfeeding

When applied topically, it's unknown how much retinol is passed to your child through your milk. Because retinol has been shown to cause birth defects in children when used during pregnancy, it's best to avoid it to prevent any risk of passing it to your baby.

Should I pump after skin-to-skin? ›

If your baby is able to be held skin-to-skin, but not yet ready to begin oral feedings, you may be asked to pump before beginning SSC. Remember that the breast always is making milk and baby may still enjoy a “reward” with the practice.

What is the best skin care for breastfeeding mom? ›

Skincare While Breastfeeding: What's Safe And What To Steer Clear...
  • Swap Retinol, Retinoids, and Vitamin A for Peptides.
  • Swap Salicylic Acid for Lactic Acid.
  • Swap Hydroquinone for Zinc and Alpha Arbutin.
  • Swap Clindamycin for Vitamin C.
  • Ditch Formaldehyde For Good.
29 Jun 2022

Can creams affect breast milk? ›

Breastfeeding mothers may need to apply a variety of cream and ointments to their skin whilst they are breastfeeding. There is very little absorption of these products into breastmilk and most products can be applied without interruption of breastfeeding.

Is salicylic acid OK when breastfeeding? ›

Drug Levels and Effects

No information is available on the clinical use of salicylic acid on the skin during breastfeeding. Because it is unlikely to be appreciably absorbed or appear in breastmilk, it is considered safe to use during breastfeeding.

Can I use niacinamide while breastfeeding? ›

Niacinamide Breastfeeding Warnings

Use is considered acceptable.

Can I use AHA and BHA while breastfeeding? ›

Is AHA and BHA safe for breastfeeding? Yes, you will find that almost all of the AHAs formulated into skincare products are safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Can breastfeeding moms take hyaluronic acid? ›

Hyaluronic Acid

When it comes to skin plumping and hydrating, this natural substance should be a go-to ingredient, especially during pregnancy and breastfeeding. It works well and poses no threat to mom or baby.

Can breastfeeding moms use retinol? ›

Overall, retinol is a potent anti-ageing treatment that also happens to be a no-no during pregnancy and breastfeeding to protect your baby. Fortunately, there are plenty of effective alternatives, including vitamin C and vitamin E treatments, that new mums can use throughout the breastfeeding journey.

Why can't breastfeeding moms use retinol? ›

Risks of Using Retinol While Breastfeeding

When applied topically, it's unknown how much retinol is passed to your child through your milk. Because retinol has been shown to cause birth defects in children when used during pregnancy, it's best to avoid it to prevent any risk of passing it to your baby.

Is it OK to use salicylic acid while breastfeeding? ›

Summary of Use during Lactation

Because it is unlikely to be appreciably absorbed or appear in breastmilk, it is considered safe to use during breastfeeding. [1] Avoid application to areas of the body that might come in direct contact with the infant's skin or where the drug might be ingested by the infant via licking.


1. The Dos and Don'ts of Medical Grade Skincare While Pregnant & Breastfeeding | The Vanity Lab
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2. Pregnancy Skincare: Dos and Don'ts | Dr. Shereene Idriss
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3. Your SAFE Pregnancy Skincare Routine + Acne Hacks | The Budget Dermatologist
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4. Pregnancy & Breastfeeding Safe Skincare
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5. Pregnancy 🤰 Skincare | DO’s and DONT’s
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6. Dermatologist Shares Skincare Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy & Ones to Try! | Dr. Sam Ellis
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