10 Important Facts About Using Retinol While Breastfeeding

Samantha Tran

Many pregnant and breastfeeding mothers are concerned when it comes to using certain skincare and body care products. To shed light into the topic, we will dive deeper into the diverse types of retinols and how safe it is to apply them while breastfeeding. In addition, we will shed light on the possible adverse effects synthetic retinols have on infants and babies. We will also talk about which ingredients are safe to use with retinol while breastfeeding, and how they combine to work with your skin care routine.

  • What is Retinol?
  • Retinol while breastfeeding – is it safe?
  • Which Retinol is best to choose?
  • What To Look For In Natural Retinol
  • Retinol while breastfeeding – Fetal Retinoid Syndrome
  • Ingredients Safe to Use During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding
  • Are These Ingredients Safe to Use with Retinol?
  • Vitamin C, Retinol, and Breastfeeding
  • Retinol while breastfeeding – Key Takeaways

What is Retinol?

Retinol promotes skin cell turnover, reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Retinols typically contain considerable amounts of proVitamin A. In addition, it helps the skin’s healing process, prevent breakouts, and aids the skin’s immune system to fight off bacteria and other pollutants.

The best form of retinol is in a serum. Serums contain higher concentrations of active ingredients. Therefore, retinol serums penetrate the skin more efficiently than those in creams or in pills.

Additionally, vegan retinol products are the best when it comes to skin and body care. Not only does it support ending unnecessary animal testing, but it is also better for your skin. Unfortunately, synthetic products contain additives and chemicals that make the skin irritated and sensitive. Vegan retinol products are just as effective on the skin (if not more) without the unwanted side effects.

Where can you get retinol serum? Luckily, Plant Mother’s Retinol Serum is the safest and gentlest retinol product for all skin types. Moreover, it is 100% organic and vegan. It contains over 20 natural botanicals like carrot seed oil, bakuchiol, and sea buckthorn seed oil.

Retinol while breastfeeding – is it safe?

Yes and no. It is the type of retinol that you should be cautious of. And there are too many different types of retinol (have you heard of encapsulated retinol?). Any form of retinoids that are taken orally should never be used by pregnant and breastfeeding women. Retinoid pills have been found to cause birth defects. Moreover, if a pregnant and breastfeeding mother were to take retinol pills, it is unknown how much retinol is passed to the baby through breastmilk and during the pregnancy stages. Therefore, it is best to be cautious and avoid any type of oral retinoids altogether.

In addition, synthetic topical retinoids should be avoided as well. Retinoids are the synthetic (man-made) forms of vitamin A. To be on the safe side, it is better to not use synthetic and prescription topical retinoids as well. Similar to oral retinoids, it is unknown exactly how much retinol is transferred to breastmilk and if it is enough to cause harm to the infant.


Which retinol serum is best to choose?

Vegan retinol serums are the best option for pregnant and nursing mothers. Since they do not contain man-made chemicals and synthetic ingredients, it will not harm the infant or cause any birth defects. Of course, always read the labels and consult your provider to make sure that the vegan retinol of your choice is 100% healthy and not harmful in any way. That’s because vegan retinols can have different formulas and some are completely healthy and safe and the others are not.

Unlike synthetic retinoids, vegan retinols should contain 100% natural ingredients. Plant Mother’s Vegan Retinol Serum contains nutritious and carotenoid-rich botanicals. It is made of 100% plant-based, organic, and natural botanicals. Some of them are maracuja oil, rosehip oil, bakuchiol, and goji berries.

In addition, Plant Mother’s retinol serum is waterless, meaning it moisturizes the skin with rich nutrients, without any fillers. Other retinols are typically water-based, having less effect on the skin due to having water as their base.

Amazingly, bakuchiol alone is the best natural alternative to retinol. This powerful botanical reduces wrinkles and creates an even texture on the skin. Also, it is an antioxidant that does not cause irritation and other harmful effects for users. Therefore, the blend of ingredients contained within Plant Mother’s retinol serum creates a powerful serum that is vegan, cruelty free, and safe to use for everyone – including pregnant and breastfeeding mothers!

What to look for in natural retinol?

As stated above, 100% plant based and natural ingredients are the best option when it comes to health and beauty products. Plant derived ingredients and products are safe to use, even for pregnant and nursing mothers.

Of course, it is important to double check the label of your products to know where your ingredients are coming from. Always look for organically produced natural ingredients, made with as little processing as possible.

Retinol while breastfeeding – Fetal Retinoid Syndrome

For soon-to-be mothers, it is paramount to be aware of any dangers or adverse effects that may happen to your child. Many doctors err on the side of caution when it comes to using certain products while you are pregnant or nursing.

The use of retinol while breastfeeding can result in Fetal Retinoid Syndrome. Some birth defects caused by retinol during pregnancy include growth delays, malformations of the skull, and central nervous system abnormalities.

In addition, there are some signs and symptoms of Fetal Retinoid Syndrome. These include cardiovascular abnormalities, craniofacial abnormalities, and CNS abnormalities.

Cardiovascular Abnormalities – include issues with the infant’s heart and blood vessels. A potential abnormality is the underdevelopment of the left heart ventricle or unnatural openings occurring on the hearts valves that pump blood to and from the heart. Therefore, this may lead to cyanosis. The skin becomes discolored due to low levels of oxygen circulating in the blood.

Craniofacial Abnormalities – are deformities that affect an infant’s head and facial bones. Some children may be affected by defects of their skull and facial developments like low-set ears, unnaturally small ear canals, or even missing ears. Extreme cases include paralysis of certain facial nerves.

Central Nervous System (CNS) Abnormalities – include having excessive cerebrospinal fluid in the skull, resulting in increased pressure on the brain. This is also known as hydrocephalus. Excess fluid and pressure on the brain can cause the infant’s head to swell, experiencing learning disabilities or delayed milestone development.

Overall, Fetal Retinol Syndrome is a serious risk that all expecting mothers should be aware of. The use of synthetic and prescription-based retinols while breastfeeding is never recommended by obstetricians. Also, due to the many birth defects it may cause, it is better to be cautious than to risk the child’s well-being.


Ingredients safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding

We spoke a lot about vitamin c while breastfeeding and pregnancy in one of our earlier articles. There are various skincare ingredients that are safe to use while breastfeeding and pregnant.

The first ingredient that is safe to use while breastfeeding is niacinamide. Niacinamide serums are beneficial when battling skin redness, acne, and aging signs. By encouraging hydration and a smoother skin texture, it makes the skin supple and even as well. If you are suffering from dry skin during pregnancy, incorporating niacinamide into your routine will be favorable. Niacinamide and vitamin C combined in one product are best.

The next ingredient that is safe to use when breastfeeding is hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid is one of the gentlest skin care ingredients. The body naturally produces hyaluronic acid, providing hydration throughout the body. Therefore, using hyaluronic acid in your skin care routine will provide extra hydration on the outside of the body as well.

Lastly, salicylic acid has been proven to be gentle and safe for pregnant and nursing mothers. Salicylic acid has many benefits including treating acne. It is important to note that excessive amounts of salicylic acid can be harmful to the infant. With that said, only topical salicylic acid is safe to apply while breastfeeding.

As always, it is important to thoroughly research all products you may incorporate into your daily routine. Vegan and plant-based ingredients are the safest option compared to men-made or synthetic products.

Are these ingredients safe to use with vegan retinol?

Yes! All the ingredients above are safe to use with vegan retinol. 100% natural and organic retinol serums are free of side effects and adverse reactions. Therefore, applying other ingredients like niacinamide, salicylic acid or hyaluronic acid along with vegan retinol will not cause irritation or be harmful to the infant.

Niacinamide and retinol then hyaluronic acid and retinol, and finally salicylic acid and retinol are all fine to use together with a 100% vegan and organic botanical retinol. By mixing retinol with other safe-to-use skin care ingredients, you will create a glowing, well-nourished skin barrier.

Vitamin C, Retinol, and Breastfeeding

A question you may ask is: what about Vitamin C? Of course, Vitamin C is an amazing and beneficial product for your skin. It is an antioxidant that clears clogged pores and improves acne scarring. But, like retinol, plant- based Vitamin C serum is the best option, especially for dry skin during pregnancy.

When applying Vitamin C while breastfeeding, opt for a non-toxic and oil-based one like Plant Mother’s Vitamin C Serum. Furthermore, it contains over 200 vitamins and minerals your skin needs to be fed and nourished while nursing.

Retinol while breastfeeding – Key Takeaways

  • When it comes to finding the right retinol and Vitamin C for you while breastfeeding, it is better to be safe than sorry. We recommend looking for 100% botanical organic products to ensure you are using the best natural products and ingredients. The reason being, not only do you need to take care of your skin, but you also need to take care of your child.
  • Retinol should be incorporated in everyone’s regimen, no matter if your routine is simple or elaborate. Vegan retinol is the safest option for all skin types, especially for sensitive skin and breastfeeding mothers. It targets aging signs as well as promoting collagen production. By turning over skin cell production, it improves skin texture and the appearance of dull skin.
  • 100% organic products are safe to apply while breastfeeding. It is important to research which products are right for your skin and your lifestyle. As we go through stages in life, our bodies and skin changes with it. It is important to take care of the body in order to take care of another human.
  • Other ingredients like salicylic acid, hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, and Vitamin C are safe to use while breastfeeding – to an extent. Be sure to know how much is safe to use for you and your baby. Do your research and consult with your health provider.
  • Botanical and organic skin care should be at the top of your routine. Pregnant and nursing mothers, you would not want to risk your baby’s health and safety – so make sure to incorporate a clean lifestyle in all aspects to ensure a healthy child.

Medical Disclaimer:

This content is for informational and educational purposes only. It is not intended to provide medical advice or to take the place of such advice or treatment from a personal physician. All readers of this content are advised to consult their doctors or qualified health professionals regarding specific health questions. The publisher of this content does not take responsibility for possible health consequences of any person or persons reading or following the information in this educational content. All viewers of this content, especially those taking prescription or over-the-counter medications, should consult their physicians before beginning any nutrition, supplement, skincare product, or lifestyle program.

Samantha Tran
Samantha is an aspiring Public Relations Professional at the California State University Fullerton. Her interests include the beauty, fashion and entertainment industry. Adobe Creative Cloud programs are her specialty and she is always open to learn and refine her skillset in anything she is working on. Samantha’s hobbies are reading, baking and shopping! She enjoys baking for her loved ones, especially snickerdoodle cookies and flan.