[UPDATED MAY 9 2024] Your Ultimate Guide for Pregnancy Skincare Routine

Joy Kang, co-founder of Eunogo shares her pregnancy skincare routine.

When I found out that I'm pregnant, one of the few first things that came to my mind was building a new skincare routine that is pregnancy-safe yet effective to maintain the glow. I began my research by reading both Korean and English articles, speaking with a few dermatologists in Korea that Team Eunogo works with, Korean cosmetics CEOs, and also my female colleagues and friends in the beauty industry who have been through pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

Now I gave birth to our baby boy about 4 months ago, I am happy to share my guide for pregnancy skincare routine. This guide is based on my own experience going through pregnancy and breastfeeding as well as all my research and tips given by industry experts in Korea.  

Pregnancy-Related Skin Issues

What are the most common skin issues during pregnancy? Every pregnancy is different and while some women experience pregnancy glow and glowy, rosy cheeks, many of us experience hyperpigmentation, dark spots and hormonal acne. For me, I had an increase in pigmentation (like dark spots getting darker) and overall dull and rough skin. 

Ingredients to Avoid in Pregnancy Skincare & Alternatives 

There are competing scientific studies showing that certain skincare ingredients which are safe in general, are completely unsafe for pregnancy. However, since there are also many excellent skincare ingredients that are known to be safe during pregnancy, I personally avoided all ingredients that have not been proven to be pregnancy-safe. 

This list includes: 

Retinol (Vitamin A) 

While retinol is not typically used in K-Beauty products, I understand that it is one of the most popular anti-aging agents in other countries like USA. What are the alternatives for anti-aging that are also effective yet safe during pregnancy and breastfeeding? I used Peptides, Ceramides, Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid.  

Chemical Sunscreen (Oxybenzone, Avobenzone) 

Most sunscreens on the market are a mix of chemical and mineral (physical) ingredients. During pregnancy, it's safer to stick to 100% mineral sunscreen ingredients including zinc oxide and titanium dioxide. 

BHA (Salicylic Acid)

AHA, BHA and PHA are three most commonly used ingredients for chemical exfoliators. PHA is known to be the most gentle and least likely to cause skin irritations among the three. I have very sensitive skin so I was already sticking to PHA for exfoliation and kept using PHA during pregnancy and breastfeeding.

Related: Your Guide to Chemical Exfoliation, AHAs, BHAs, PHAs  

Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Routine & Ingredients for Each Skin Issue 


The main cause of acne when you are pregnant is the increased hormone levels in the first trimester. The higher level boosts your skin's production of natural oils. When you have excessive oil, pores are more likely to get clogged and acne-causing bacteria grows which leads to breakouts. While we cannot control the hormone level and increase production of sebum, we can control our skincare routine to prevent clogged pores. 
Here are a few simple steps how to do that:
#1 Cleansing - make sure you choose the right cleanser for your skin.
Personally, I use iLomys Renew-Derm Foam Cleanser which contains Lauric Acid that controls acne-causing bacteria. It's also very foamy and deep cleanses my skin while Beta-Glucan, a mild moisturizing agent strengthens skin barrier and immunity.
#2 Exfoliation (1-2 times a week) - as stated before, I avoided using AHA and BHA during pregnancy and stuck to a PHA based exfoliator. I felt like during pregnancy my skin got dull and rough more often that when I was not, and I exfoliated my skin with Ceramine Botanical PHA Peeling Gel whenever I had rough skin. This process helped me smooth out my skin texture and prepare it to absorb good ingredients from toner, masks and cream. This is also essential for preventing pores from getting clogged

#3 Toner For toner, avoid any that contain alcohol. I would recommend Ceramine Dual-Balance Solution Toner (vegan) that is formulated with all mild and safe ingredients such as Blue Agave to moisturize and keep the skin barrier healthy, as well as Centella Asiatica, a botanical skin healing agent with anti-inflammatory properties.  

#4 Cream - After toner, layer with Ceramine Time Solution Cream (vegan) which is a gentle, non-greasy and anti-aging cream formulated with concentrated patented ingredients that promote collagen formation & fibroblast growth at the same time, reduce fine lines and wrinkles. This cream also helps to soothe and strengthen the skin barrier.


    Skin Darkening, Hyperpigmentation

    Skin darkening is very common in pregnancy and is often called as "the mask of pregnancy." Sadly there is no way to completely prevent it but we can always minimize the risks by curating the right routine and using the right products. And good news is they will eventually go away after giving birth.

    Here's a few tips to manage the skin darkening and hyperpigmentation during pregnancy

    #1 Wear 100% Mineral Sunscreen (Yes, even indoors!) 

    UV rays makes the skin darkening and pigmentation worse. I used Ceramine UV Protector Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ which is a 100% mineral sunscreen. Manufactured with all safe ingredients and moisturizing for the skin with one of the key ingredients - Ceramide.  

    #2 Use pregnancy safe skin brightening ingredients

    You can always incorporate pregnancy-safe brightening ingredients including Niacinamide, Arbutin and Glutatione into your skincare routine. For example, use a brightening serum with Niacinamide after toner followed by Glutathione cream. You can also do a slightly more special skincare routine like once a week like adding a sheet mask for 15 minutes. 

    Oxygenceutical Fermented Fluid is a pregnancy-safe serum that contains both Niacinamide and Arbutin.   

    For a special weekly skincare routine, I used Dr. Jecori Stem Cell Gold Mask which contains many premium skin brightening ingridients like Niacinamide, Pearl Powder and Glutathione.   

        Dull & Tired Skin

        I personally noticed that my skin condition worsened during pregnancy as I observed the signs of dull, tired skin very easily. Especially towards the third trimester, the lack of deep sleep (like I had to go to bathroom every 2-3 hours even during night time and every sleeping position starts to get uncomfortable) also contributed to dull, rough-looking skin.


        To boost skin plumpness and elasticity, I used Dermarssance HighPrime Collagen which is a 99.86% Pure Collagen with 0.16% Hyaluronic Acid. These patches are made with only two ingredients: Marine Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid so they are completely safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding. 

        Last Words

        Pregnancy is beautiful but not an easy journey as we experience new and strange changes in our body and mind. I personally found this Pregnancy Skincare Routine as a new way to embrace the changes that my body faces while trying my best to take care things that I'm in control of. In Korean culture, we have this term called "Taegyo" which refers to a set of practices and beliefs related to prenatal development. Some people listen to peaceful music or read beautiful art books or meditate as part of their "Taegyo" prenatal development. For me, this simple daily skincare routine felt like a pleasurable "Taegyo" moment to exercise self-care. I hope you found this guide useful and wish you a wonderful pregnancy and "Taegyo" journey!   


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