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The Best Pregnancy Acne Treatment Plan for Healthy Mom and Baby

If you have pregnancy acne, you’re in good company: over 90% of expecting mothers experience significant changes to the look and feel of their skin at some point during pregnancy, and more than half of pregnant women will experience acne.

Due to an increase in progesterone, typically during your first and second trimester, the glands on your face may begin to produce more oil which can lead to acne. However, many common medical treatments for acne can cause birth defects, so it is imperative that your acne treatments while pregnant are healthy and entirely safe for your baby.

It's more likely that a pregnant woman will experience acne than not, so every expecting mother should know about medically reviewed acne plans that can treat your acne without risking the health of the child or the mother.

What Causes Pregnancy Acne?

The cause of acne vulgaris in pregnancy is the same as teenage acne—hormonal changes in the body.

In your first trimester of pregnancy, your body increases its production of progesterone to prepare your uterus to be a comfortable home for the fetus. This change in hormone levels also activates your oil glands, leading to an excess of oil on your face.

The acne-causing bacteria, P. Acnes, feeds on the oil on your face. So when this bacteria, excess oil, and dead skin cells get trapped in your pores, your body sends an inflammation response, and acne forms.

None of these factors alone- the presence of P. Acnes bacteria, a change in hormones, etc.- are harmful. In fact, the hormonal changes especially are a sign that your body is making the necessary shifts to ensure the healthy growth of your baby.

But the combination of these causes of acne can cause breakouts. These breakouts are especially common at the beginning of your pregnancy and they tend to diminish as your pregnancy progresses, typically disappearing once your baby has been born and your hormones return to normal levels.

A pregnant woman's belly.
Hormone changes typically lead to oily skin and more breakouts.

How Do You Treat Pregnancy Acne?

Manage Your Acne Habits

The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends the following steps to treat pregnancy acne safely:

  • Cleanse your face twice daily with a gentle, mild cleanser and lukewarm water.

  • Shampoo your hair daily if it tends to be oily, and be sure to keep it out of your face.

  • Stray away from picking at acne or other skin problems as they emerge.

  • Use oil-free cosmetics and skincare products to avoid clogging your pores.

Use Topical Benzoyl Peroxide

Benzoyl peroxide (specifically topical benzoyl peroxide, including creams, serums, facial washes, etc.) can help treat acne during pregnancy because it effectively reduces P. acnes bacteria.

The benzoyl peroxide compound carries oxygen below the surface of the skin so it can come into contact with the bacteria. This works because P. acnes are anaerobic, meaning they can’t survive long in the presence of oxygen. But because Benzoyl Peroxide works only by introducing oxygen into your pores, it doesn't affect your gut health or contribute to antibiotic resistance like other, more powerful antibiotic compounds.

Our products contain lower concentrations of benzoyl peroxide that aren't harsh on the skin. The Exposed Acne Treatment Serum combines benzoyl peroxide with the healing power of green tea extract and tree tea oil to fight acne, lower inflammation, and help your skin rejuvenate.

All of our products are completely safe to use while pregnant.

The Exposed Acne Treatment Serum.
Take advantage of the best of what nature and science have to offer with our Acne Treatment Serum.

Use Topical Salicylic Acid

Salicylic acid is a great tool because it deeply cleanses your skin's pores to rid them of any excess bacteria or dead skin cells that may cause acne.

Topical products with low doses of salicylic acid may be useful for treating acne during pregnancy, especially if you tend to deal with oily, sweaty, or otherwise dirty skin throughout the day.

The Exposed Facial Cleanser uses salicylic acid to maximize its efficiency, as does the Exposed Clear Pore Serum, which also utilizes green tea and licorice root extract to soothe the skin.

Maintain a Skincare Routine

It's worth noting that no single product will get rid of your pregnancy acne alone. This is because, as we mentioned before, acne has various causes, and you won't get rid of your acne unless you treat all those causes together.

For example, if one product treats excess bacteria, but also causes inflammation, then it could potentially make your acne worse. That's why our skincare kits include various products that many women have used while pregnant to treat their acne holistically with a complete skin care routine.

Exposed Ultimate kit.
The Exposed Skincare Ultimate Kit

The Exposed Skincare Ultimate kit arrives at your door each month, meaning that you can simply rest and focus on staying healthy throughout your pregnancy without needing to assemble a full pregnancy acne treatment plan on your own.

Our kit comes with morning and evening instructions for use, that explain which products to use, when to use them, and why.

And if your acne hasn't diminished after a month, you can return your kit for a full refund within up to one year of purchase.

What Products Are Unsafe for Pregnancy Acne?

Do not use the following products during pregnancy as they can lead to lasting side effects such as birth defects.


Some research demonstrates that retinoids (which are a vitamin A derivative) and products that contain them can be problematic for the health and safety of a baby. Several reported cases of birth defects following the use of retinoids (tretinoin in particular) have emerged over the years.

Although the research is not conclusive, due to the possibility that retinoids can contribute to birth defects or other problems, it's best to stay far away from them during pregnancy.

When we say that pregnant or breastfeeding women shouldn't use retinoids, we don't just mean oral medication; avoid topical retinoids as well.

Oral Medications

We typically do not recommend oral medications for acne in any circumstances, but that is especially true during pregnancy.

In general, we disagree with oral medication for acne is because typically oral treatments come with many side effects, they are expensive, and they are often unnecessary.

For example, we assert that changing hormone levels are natural and healthy, and if they ultimately lead to excess oil and acne, then it's better to treat the excess oil than to try to edit your hormone levels unnaturally with acne medication.

When it comes to treating pregnancy acne, it becomes all the more essential that women with acne ditch the pills and stick to healthy, natural topical treatments like those we offer here at Exposed.

This is in large part because there is a lack of medically reviewed studies about acne medications that are safe for pregnant women. This lack of information and data can be attributed to the fact that there's simply no way to clinically test which medications are risky to consume. Doing so would require exposing pregnant test subjects to a variety of medications and chemicals typically used to treat acne, which can not be done in an ethical or truly safe manner.

Some common acne medications that must be avoided during pregnancy include:

Pregnancy Acne: Conclusion

This is an incredibly exciting time for you and everyone who loves you. Pregnancy is thrilling, scary, remarkable, and, yes, sometimes it causes pimples.

But if you know which products to avoid and which products to use, then you can treat your pregnancy acne to a point where your skin is clear and it has that "pregnancy glow" that everyone raves about.

From us all of us here at Exposed, we'd like to genuinely wish you health, joy, and crystal clear skin, throughout your pregnancy and beyond.