Mother and Baby

The best cleansers to make maintaining a pregnancy skincare routine more bearable

Section: Skin & Hair

As you work your way through the first, second and third trimester, juggling the symptoms of your pregnancy alongside a ten-step skincare routine isn’t always realistic.

Though it’s perfectly safe to keep up your moisturisers and serums in these exciting nine months - and even encouraged! - your morning and evening skincare can be a time consuming routine that doesn’t always align with the natural tiredness of a pregnancy. 

Is skincare during pregnancy safe?

Naturally, as with your raw fish and cheeses, there are a couple skincare ingredients that are generally recognised as best to avoid during pregnancy. While some medical professionals may waive the potential of these ingredients to cause any harm, it’s always best to consult your doctor before making any decisions.

In brief, these are some of the ingredients you might avoid:

  • Retinoids, including retinol and retinoic acid
  • Benzoyl peroxide
  • Essential oils
  • Salicylic acid

Thankfully, with a whole world of pregnancy-safe skincare out there, you shouldn’t be put off maintaining a healthy skin routine while your baby grows, you may just have to drop a few of your pre-pregnancy steps in favour of some well-earned sleep.

We spoke to Senior Aesthetician and mum Fatma Gunduz (of Skin & Sanctuary) to find out where you can spend or save on your maternity skincare.

What products should I include in a pregnancy skincare routine?

“I completely appreciate how precious time is with new mums so the aim is to simplify,” says Fatma, “That doesn’t mean that there should be no routine, your skin is your body’s largest organ (even larger during pregnancy) so you should protect it.”

 “My recommendation is to have a simple morning and night routine. Drop anything but the basics.”

For Fatma, the ‘basics’ include cleansing, applying an antioxidant serum - “to boost collagen and make the most of that pregnancy ‘glow’” - and using a moisturiser with added SPF (and one without at night time).

“If your eyes need some TLC then add an eye cream but, if it can wait, even that minute is precious sleep time.”

Cleansing is the first step in any morning and night skin routine, so here are the best and easiest to use cleansers, with some of Fatma’s favourites thrown in, too, to use during pregnancy and beyond.

The best pregnancy skin cleansers:

Just so you know, while we may receive a commission or other compensation from the links on this page, we never allow this to influence product selections.

With a calming combination of hydrating glycerin and antioxidants (a big tick for maintaining that second trimester ‘glow’), this cleanser from Merumaya will melt away make-up no bother and leave skin feeling fresh but not tight. 

Review: “Really great cleansing balm. It melts into a lovely, non-greasy oil and removes makeup and dirt beautifully. It smells gorgeous but it is quite strongly perfumed so be aware of that if you're sensitive to perfume in skincare. However, I've found it gentle and non-irritating. I massage it in and then buff it off with a hot, damp flannel and it leaves my skin clean, bright and soft. I have oily skin and I find this balances my skin nicely without being too harsh.”


Fatma says, “I have always been a fan of CeraVe cleansers. It’s the brand that I regularly recommend to my clients and not only because it’s so budget friendly. Being packed with ceramides, hyaluronic acid and glycerin the ingredients in CeraVe cleansers respect the skin’s barrier.” The CeraVe hydrating cleanser is a perfect pick for all skin types and will leave the skin feeling hydrated and, for oily types, it won’t leave an excess oily residue. A great all-round pick and one that you can afford to use throughout the whole pregnancy.

Review: “Amazing cleanser, super gentle but really effective. Would highly recommend.”

Fatma says, “Pregnancy skin can also become sensitive to touch or easily irritated.” With The Body Shop’s Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter - which is designed for sensitive skin - any make-up or SPF will be gently removed and your skin will be left calm and ready for your serum and moisturiser. 

Review: “I absolutely love this cleanser, my skin feels so soft and moisturised plus it deals with stubborn eye makeup effortlessly.”

Fatma says, “As the pregnancy develops, changes in hormones - particularly estrogen and progesterone - can influence the skin. This may result in an increase in sebum production which can lead to breakouts.” When skin is acneic or oily, with an excess of sebum, it’s best to avoid adding any more oil to the epidermis (outermost layer of the skin) but still good to add hydration (water, rather than oil). Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost Water Gel is a great product for this sort of concern with hyaluronic acid to attract water to the skin and ‘boost’ hydration, but not oil production.

Review: “I was recommended this cleanser by my dermatologist because of my acne-prone skin. I love it - it makes my skin feel very clean and refreshed after use!”


Clinique’s Take The Day Off balm does exactly what it advertises: it’ll remove any residue from the day behind you, including make-up and SPF, and it’ll do it without even a hint of fragrance (a big tick for sensitive skins). It’s not the cheapest, but if your pregnancy skin is causing chaos, it’s a good staple to have about when those more irritating ingredients just won’t cut it. 

Review: “I’ve been using this product for years and it’s just the best for removing make-up and cleansing. I use it morning and night and couldn’t live without it.  I have spot prone combination skin which is also sensitive but this works great. A little goes a long way so this product last ages too!”

If you love the Liz Earle Hot Cloth Cleanser, but can’t quite justify the £15 purchase, then this is the cleanser for you. It’s creamy, removes make-up and, with added vitamin E to calm, it’s a good pick for sensitive skin types. 

Review: “I can't believe how amazing it is for the price! It cleaned every scrap of my makeup off leaving no trace, and wasn't too drying on my skin, which is dry anyway. It didn't irritate my eyes, either. Definitely going to be a repeat purchase for me.”

Vitamin C works to brighten and replenish and, in this silky cleanser from Una Brennan (a.k.a. Super Facialist), it does exactly that. The oil texture works to break down all the build up from the day and, with added grapeseed oil, it works to help the skin maintain hydration. 

Review: “Love this oil cleanser! Smells amazing, feels amazing and hydrates my skin very well.”

Another one designed for sensitive skin, Ultrabland is your one-stop-shop answer to inflamed and irritated skin. Combining hydrating rose water and glycerin in a cruelty-free formula, this creamy cleanser will leave the skin feeling soft and fresh, and it won’t leave an oily excess, either. 

Review: “I’ve only been using this for about three weeks and it’s already made my skin so much better. I have hardly any spots now - I used to have quite a few - and my skin feels a lot smoother. I have really sensitive skin and this is the only product I have found that doesn’t aggravate it at all. Highly recommend.”


Lucy Smith is an audience developmentment executive at Bauer Media where she works across M&B, heat, Closer Online, Grazia, Empire and Yours in editorial, social and brand growth.

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