Can You Use Retinol While Breastfeeding?

Can You Use Retinol While Breastfeeding?
by Truly Beauty

You probably already know that retinol isn’t safe during pregnancy, but can you use retinol while breastfeeding? Retinol is a powerhouse anti-aging ingredient known for its wide range of benefits such as reducing the appearance of fine lines, combating breakouts, and improving skin texture. However, retinol does have its risks when using it during pregnancy and breastfeeding. Is retinol bad while breastfeeding? 

Here’s everything you need to know about retinol and breastfeeding. From if it's safe to the side effects of retinol while breastfeeding, read on before you reach for your retinol serums.

Is Retinol Safe While Breastfeeding?

Retinol is a potent form of vitamin A, which is why it’s a controversial ingredient to use while breastfeeding. Dermatologists do not recommend using retinol while breastfeeding due to the fact that skincare products can enter the bloodstream and affect your baby’s health. 

It’s not yet known exactly how much retinol is actually absorbed into the bloodstream. However, research has shown that it can have a negative impact on the development of a nursing child. For that reason, health experts advise against using retinol while breastfeeding. 

Systemic retinoids, like isotretinoin, can cause birth defects, and therefore we do not recommend using retinoids of any kind during pregnancy or breastfeeding, despite minimal systemic absorption,” explains Hadley King, M.D., a board-certified dermatologist in New York, NY. 

Can You Use Retinol While Breastfeeding?

Can you use retinol while breastfeeding | model holding nipple balm

It is not recommended to use retinol while breastfeeding. When applied topically, retinol can be passed to your child through your milk which can come with risks to your baby. While research is limited on the effects of retinol while breastfeeding, we do know that it can lead to development issues in children.

Retinol can be harmful in high doses, which may affect the baby's development and health. Excessive vitamin A intake during pregnancy and breastfeeding is associated with an increased risk of birth defects, particularly when taken orally or at high concentrations.

While topical retinol products are typically absorbed in lower amounts compared to oral intake, there is still a possibility of some absorption through the skin. Health experts firmly believe it’s not worth the risk and that it’s best to refrain from using retinol until you stop breastfeeding.

How Does Retinol Affect Baby?

Now you know the answer to can you use retinol while breastfeeding you might be interested in knowing how exactly it affects a baby. The most concerning risk associated with retinol and high-dose vitamin A exposure is the increased likelihood of birth defects. These defects can affect multiple organ systems, such as the heart and central nervous system.

High vitamin A intake can also lead to developmental issues, potentially affecting the baby's organs and limbs. Neurological problems are another concern, which could have long-term consequences for the baby's brain development and functioning. 

It’s not that vitamin A is bad for babies. The vitamin is essential for regulating cellular movements and ensuring the body functions properly. However, excessive amounts of vitamin A can result in congenital anomalies and disorders.

To safeguard the health and development of your baby, healthcare professionals recommend avoiding the use of retinol products while breastfeeding. As limited as research may be, it’s better to stay on the safe side than put your baby at risk. 



When Can You Continue Using Retinol?

can you use retinol while breastfeeding | model applying serum to chest

You can resume using retinol when you stop breastfeeding. This is because there will be zero risk of passing retinol to your child through your milk. In fact, dermatologists actually recommend bringing back retinol into your routine once nursing has ceased. It can help speed cellular turnover and boost collagen production, giving skin a healthy glow while combating hyperpigmentation. However, it’s best to consult with your dermatologist before using this ingredient.

What is a Natural Retinol Alternative While Breastfeeding?

Looking for breastfeeding-safe alternatives to retinol? Just because you can’t use retinol while breastfeeding doesn’t mean you have to forgo clear, gleaming skin. There are plenty of options when it comes to breastfeeding-safe skincare that offer most of the same benefits of retinol without the side effects. Here are the best skincare ingredients to use while breastfeeding.


1. Niacinamide 

Niacinamide is considered safe while breastfeeding. A form of vitamin B3, niacinamide is an anti-inflammatory agent with hydrating properties that helps to soothe red, irritated skin and combat acne. It also increases collagen production to improve skin texture. Can you use retinol while breastfeeding? Nope, but you can try niacinamide which offers many of the same benefits.

You’ll Find Niacinamide in

Truly’s Glass Skin Set

can you use retinol while breastfeeding | Glass skin set


Get glassy, luminous skin in just two steps. What you get: a 2-in-1 cleanser and makeup remover + serum that clarifies blemishes, blurs pores, and leaves skin glistening–with niacinamide, jojoba oil, and probiotics.

2. Vitamin C

Vitamin C is another excellent antioxidant that’s famous for its skin brightening effects as well as its ability to protect skin against free radical damage. It can even improve the appearance of dark spots and discoloration. And the best part? It’s completely safe to use while breastfeeding. So you get to enjoy all of the glow–and none of the risks.

3. Hyaluronic Acid

Can you use retinol while breastfeeding? You can’t, but you can try hyaluronic acid. This potent humectant is perfectly safe to use during pregnancy. Like retinol, it boosts collagen production in the skin, helping to plump out fine lines and wrinkles. And an added bonus: it intensely hydrates the skin for long-lasting smoothness.

You’ll Find Hyaluronic Acid in

Truly’s Glazed Donut Shave Set

can you use retinol while breastfeeding | glazed donut shave set


Experience a supermodel-smooth shave in five steps. You get: a cleanser, whipped shave butter, after shave oil, and moisturizer, plus a razor and gold spoon for silky smooth, ingrown-free results. Enriched with hyaluronic acid, peptides, and niacinamide for an ultra-close shave without irritation.

4. Bakuchiol

Bakuchiol and retinol share many of the same functions. They boost collagen, increase skin elasticity, and ramp up cell turnover. In turn, they help to prevent and treat fine lines, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and acne. Plus, they can both improve skin’s firmness. If you’re looking for the best alternative to retinol while breastfeeding, go with bakuchiol.

5. Glycolic Acid

Can I use retinol products while breastfeeding you ask? The dermatologists advise against it. However, you can give glycolic acid a try. It’s a safe alternative with plenty of its own benefits. This alpha hydroxy acid gently exfoliates the skin, improving skin tone and texture while unclogging pores. It’s a star ingredient for alleviating acne, fine lines, and discoloration while giving skin a natural glow.

You’ll Find Glycolic Acid in

Truly’s Barbie™ Dream Bundle

can you use retinol while breastfeeding | Barbie dream bundle


Shine bright all day and night with this all-pink collection of body care formulas. What’s inside: a scrub, serum, concentrate, and butter designed to banish body acne, clear ingrowns, and plump the skin for unbelievable levels of glow.

Can you use retinol while breastfeeding? The dermatologists don’t recommend using retinol while breastfeeding due to the harmful effects excessive amounts of vitamin A can have on your child. Fortunately, there are plenty of alternatives so you can still maintain glowing skin without putting your baby at risk.


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