The best pregnancy cleansers for maintaining a good skincare routine

by Rosie Floyd |
Updated on

Are you experiencing flare-ups of acne during pregnancy? Maybe your t-zone has been particularly oily recently? Perhaps you're experiencing dry patches and dark spots on your face? Don't worry, it's perfectly normal to notice changes in your skin during pregnancy as your hormones go wild. You may feel your face is missing that 'pregnancy glow' that everyone mentions when you're expecting, which is why you need to get your hands on one of the best pregnancy cleansers from our list below.

It is perfectly safe to keep up your moisturisers, serums and cleansers in these exciting nine months - and even encouraged! Although, as you work your way through the first, second and third trimesters, we realise juggling the symptoms of your pregnancy alongside a ten-step skincare routine isn’t always realistic. Your morning and evening skincare can be time-consuming, so it might not always align with the natural tiredness you experience during pregnancy. However, it is important to keep up a very basic level of skin care to wash and cleanse your face thoroughly.

Is skincare during pregnancy safe?

Naturally, as with your raw fish and cheeses, there are a couple of 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.

The best pregnancy cleansers 2022:

Cleansing is the first step in any morning and night skin routine, so here are the best and easiest to use cleansers that you can use during pregnancy and beyond.

Best for dry skin
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
Price: $15.99

With a lightweight texture and a formula that hydrates without leaving the skin feeling greasy, this cleanser is a perfect pick for those with dry skin. The MVE Technology and Hyaluronic Acid will help to retain moisture in your skin throughout your pregnancy.

Pros: Adds moisture back to dry skin
Cons: Some customers expected it to foam up like other cleaners do

Review: "I'm in my mid 30s, I have acne scars, rosacea, very sensitive skin, dry but prone to hormone breakouts. So my skin is a total nightmare in short. So far I’m impressed with this cleanser. I use it as my second cleanser after my first cleanse to remove make up. The product stops my skin feeling tight or dry, and so far it has not caused me to breakout like I often find with cleansers that are too oil heavy or too perfumed. Happy, will continue to use. Excellently priced, I’ve spent 3 x the amount in the past on products that haven’t been nearly as good for my skin."

Best for sensitive skin

Melt away the day using The Body Shop's Camomile Sumptuous Cleansing Butter. This purifying cleanser effortlessly removes make-up and SPF, ensuring all traces of impurities are removed to leave your skin feeling refreshed and nourished.

Pros: Helps to stop impurities from clogging up pores, contains calming camomile extract
Cons: Some customers found the tin hard to open

Review: "This is my absolute holy grail, after trying numerous other oils and balms for the first step in my double cleansing, I found that none of them can compare with this. It removes the most resistant waterproof mascara and also any trace of resistant foundation, sunscreen etc. I always buy a few so I'm never without it."

Best hydrating cleanser
Neutrogena Hydro Boost Water Gel Facial Cleanser
Price: $15.99

When skin is prone to breakouts 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 (with 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.

Pros: Lightweight and non-sticky
Cons: Some customers didn't like the texture of this gel cleanser

Review: "I have been using it for 2 weeks and I can tell there is a slight difference to my skin- more radiant and no more oily skin on my nose so that's a great advantage, also I think my face seems softer. It has a pleasant smell, it's not too strong even though I'm pregnant and have a very sensitive sense of smell, does not bother me one bit. It's very light, watery kind of texture, giving nice cool touch to my face which I love. I apply this cream as recommended, after deep cleansing, once in the morning after shower and just before bed time. I can tell already there is no occasional spots popping up since I use this product. I definitely recommend it, if it does its job as it does now will stick to it for a long time."

Best pregnancy cleansing balm
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm
Price: £26.10 (was £29)

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.

Pros: A little goes a long way
Cons: At a higher price point compared to other cleansers

Review: "I use this as part of my daily routine, to remove makeup and oily grime, before I use the Clinique Rinse Off Foaming Cleanser to cleanse impurities and pollution from my skin. This balm instantly turns to oil as you apply it to skin, and to a milky cleanser once you apply water. Once rinsed, there is no residue, and skin feels cleansed and hydrated, without feeling clogged or greasy, despite being oily. My skin is very temperamental, having suffered with moderate acne in the past. I have combination skin, which can get disgustingly oily in the t-zone and incredibly dry on my cheeks, leaving me prone to breakouts and sensitivity, but these cleansers leave my skin feeling wonderfully clean and balanced, without any irritation."

Best cheap cleanser

If you like the sound of Liz Earle Cleanse and Polish, but can't quite justify the price, this Superdrug cleanser is a great alternative. It’s creamy, removes make-up and, with added vitamin E to calm, it’s a good pick for sensitive skin types.

Pros: Suitable for vegetarians and vegans, comes with a reusable muslin cloth
Cons: May sting if it comes into direct contact with your eyes

Review: "I can't believe I didn't know about this! I've tried so many cleansers in the past and some very expensive ones and nothing has left my skin feeling so smooth and clean. I have very sensitive skin and rosasea but this had been perfect for my skin! I would highly recommend."

Best oil cleanser
Super Facialist Vitamin C + Brighten Skin Renew Cleansing Oil
Price: $23.00

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 brightens and renews skin for a healthier, more youthful glow.

Pros: Made with cruelty-free, vegan-friendly ingredients, lovely citrus smell
Cons: Some reviewers wished the consistency with thicker

Review: "It does exactly what it says it's for. After using this then using a second face wash, my skin looked and felt really clean. My pores, which are quite visible normally, certainly looked smaller. This oil would not be good enough to be used alone, to clean your face. It is meant to be used as the first step in a double cleanse routine. My skin did not feel tight at all afterwards. If you have oily skin and suffer with blocked pores or spots, then give this face oil a go. The smell was nice too and you only need a very small amount to cover your face."

Best natural facial cleanser
Burt's Bees Sensitive Facial Cleanser

Rrp: $9.99

Price: $5.00

Infused with a combination of rice extracts and aloe, this natural cleanser will help to calm and soothe hormonal skin without causing redness or irritation. It's hypoallergenic, dermatologist-tested and fragrance-free, so it's ideal for use on sensitive skin while still being tough enough to remove dirt, oil and make-up build-up.

Pros: Uses 98.9 per cent natural ingredients
Cons: Some reviews mention the product being thicker than they expected

Review: "I have struggled with adult acne for years and after I had a baby it got much worse. I tried everything to clear it up. I read about oil cleansing so I thought I would try this because its oil based. It is amazing! It leaves my skin soft and smooth and I rarely ever get a pimple anymore. I use this and then slather a couple drops of argan oil. My skin has never looked better."

Recommended cleanser

This ultra-gentle, fragrance-free cleanser from Green People is kind to very sensitive skin, leaving it beautifully safe and retaining moisture balance. It softens and soothes as you cleanse while making light work of removing make-up, including waterproof mascara, so it's a great two-in-one product. It also has anti-ageing and anti-inflammatory properties.

Pros: Certified organic, Ethyl alcohol and scent-free
Cons: Some customers wished the product was thinner

Review: "I was searching for a cleanser that was kind to and calming for my sensitive skin and rosacea. Since finding this, I'll never look elsewhere! It removes makeup and grime easily, is gentle on eyes and hydrating on skin. Leaves face with a lovely smooth and rejuvenated appearance. Woud highly recommend if you have sensitive skin, eczema or rosacea. Read more about review stating Sensitive skin saviour! Thanks Green People!"

Best jelly cleanser

Clean your skin without drying it out using this three-phase cleaner from Ren. It starts out as a jelly formula that gently turns into an oil as you work it in before emulsifying into a milk to give you a beautifully hydrated finish. It's rich with antioxidant-rich ingredients for long-lasting protection.

Pros: Supports a smoother and plumper complexion, smells great
Cons: Some customers were not keen on the consistency of the product

Review: "I like the thick texture. It glides onto the skin and breaks up makeup and SPF, making it easy to remove. I use this with a face cloth which effectively removes all traces of dirt. I use this as a first cleanse. It leaves the skin feeling clean and ready for a second cleanse. I would definitely repurchase this product."

Best pregnancy cleansers FAQs

What causes changes in your skin during pregnancy?

You can blame those pesky pregnancy hormones for the changes in your skin. Burt's Bees states that it is very common for women to develop acne during pregnancy. "Hormonal changes can cause the sebaceous glands on the skin to grow and in turn produce more sebum, a natural oil that protects our skin and helps it to retain moisture. However, too much sebum can clog pores, leading to acne and breakouts, so it’s very important to wash and cleanse skin thoroughly!"

These hormonal changes also cause your skin to be more sensitive than ever before, so this is why it is recommended to use products with a more gentle formula.

What products should I include in a pregnancy skincare routine?

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.

“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.”

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Mother & Baby is dedicated to ensuring our information is always valuable and trustworthy, which is why we only use reputable resources such as the NHS, reviewed medical papers, or the advice of a credible doctor, GP, midwife, psychotherapist, gynaecologist or other medical professionals. Where possible, our articles are medically reviewed or contain expert advice. Our writers are all kept up to date on the latest safety advice for all the products we recommend and follow strict reporting guidelines to ensure our content comes from credible sources. Remember to always consult a medical professional if you have any worries. Our articles are not intended to replace professional advice from your GP or midwife.