As we previously mentioned, there are a few common chemical exfoliants that aren’t pregnancy-safe, including retinoids. Remember: Retinoids are commonly used to treat acne, hyperpigmentation, fine lines, and scarring. Some gentler retinoids are offered OTC (over-the-counter), while others are prescription-only (like generic Retin-A cream tretinoin or brands like Tazorac). These products exfoliate the skin by increasing cell turnover, as do other chemical exfoliants. While the primary concern for pregnancy is ingesting oral retinoids, doctors and derms recommend ceasing topical use as well—as a precaution.
Adel considers azelaic acid an underrated pick, because it can help ease many of the same skin concerns as other chemical exfoliants. Specifically, azelaic acid has the power to treat acne, post-breakout inflammation, and rosacea, and it’s safe to use during pregnancy, according to the American Academy of Dermatology.
Not to mention, studies have shown azelaic acid to be a comparable acne treatment to certain retinoids. In one study of comedonal acne, 20% azelaic acid cream was equally as effective as 0.05% tretinoin cream in reducing the number of comedones and with respect to the overall response. What’s more, azelaic acid cream was better tolerated and caused fewer local side effects (think irritation, dryness, and redness) than the topical retinoid. Clinical studies have shown that azelaic acid is also effective at treating rosacea.
Suffice it to say, we agree that this chemical exfoliant is underrated in the skin care space, especially for those who are pregnant. If you’re looking for an OTC product, we recommend the Naturium Azelaic Acid Emulsion or The Ordinary Azelaic Acid 10% Suspension Cream. If you’re looking to treat acne, you might want to see a dermatologist first, as you may need a prescription-grade product with a higher concentration to see results.