Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid While Nursing

While I’m sure you know by now that you need to change your skin care routine while pregnant, but how does this translate over to breasting feeding? Are there skin care ingredients to avoid while nursing?

Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid While Nursing

Luckily, it turns out that breast feeding is very different than being pregnant. The placenta is basically a big sieve, it filters out a lot of stuff but since it is non-specific it does allow a lot of stuff to cross over. A lot of the ingredients to avoid while pregnant are because of the timing of the exposure, your baby was busy making organs!

When nursing, the body is pretty specific about what goes into breast milk. It isn’t filtering everything into the breast milk, instead things are much more specific. The timing of exposure (and potential side effects) is just very different once the baby is out! Those organs have been made, and the baby is also just a lot bigger. So, the list of skin care ingredients to avoid while nursing is much shorter than the list of ingredients to avoid while pregnant.

Medications and Nursing

One thing you need to be worried about are your medications. Nursing safety is a bit different than pregnancy safety for medications. Everything should be looked up in a lactation safety book (Medications and Mother’s Milk or Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation) and discussed with your physician. L1-L3 are considered safe, L4 and above is not safe.

Skin Care Ingredients to Avoid While Nursing

Retin A/Accutane, Retinoids, Vitamin A: Used topically, Retinoids are a category L3, but orally (as with Accutane) they fall to L4. So, topical is ok, systemic is not. I’d check with your doctor if you’re on anything other than just a basic, over the counter topical retinoid, but those found in skin care products should be fine.

Hydroquinone: While there is no data on Hydroquinone in humans, and no studies have found the levels achieved with topical use, hydroquinone is likely safe to use during nursing. Why? The ingredient is a strong base, which means the drug that actually reaches your bloodstream would be ionized and therefore unavailable to be excreted into breast milk. Which is great, because I have some Melasma to treat!

Pretty much everything else: Safe!

Guide to Skin Care while Pregnant or Nursing

Don’t forget to check out the other articles in my Pregnancy and Nursing Skin Care Guide!

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2 Comments

  1. Lindsey
    January 3, 2018 / 7:21 pm

    Thanks so much for doing these posts! They are SO helpful! I’m wondering if you could offer any advice or a resource on how to read ingredient lists? For example, will glycolic acid always be listed that way? I’m currently using a cetaphil moisturizer and I don’t see anything in the ingredients listed as “glycolic acid” but I do see “butylene glycol” and “caprylyl glycol.” Are those the same as “glycolic acid”?

    • 15mins
      January 6, 2018 / 10:02 am

      There are a couple of ingredients that will be listed different ways, but I”m afraid it would be pretty difficult for me to create a post about that. When in doubt, google is your friend. Glycolic Acid is always listed that way, the “butylene glycol” and “caprylyl glycol” are different and are fine 🙂

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