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Drugstore Makeup with Salycylic Acid

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  • Drugstore Makeup with Salycylic Acid

    I have used Maybelline Dream BB Pure skin clearing beauty balm now for years. It is a tinted cream so I just use it as my makeup every morning. I used it all through my pregnancy and nursing. I am still nursing my 19 month old daughter. I just now realized the active ingredient is 2% salycylic acid. I have read that ingredient is a no-no while nursing and Im concerned. I called Maybelline and spoke to someone who said it’s a pregnancy and nursing safe product. I would like to get confirmation of that. What are the negative health impacts that could occur from ingestion of the product through my breastmilk? Is it just stomach upset issues or could it cause more serious health problems? My daughter is having no current health issues.

  • #2
    Hi Brechidi,
    Salicylic acid is often used in anti-acne preparations, as well as in many wart and corn removal products. There are a few things working for you here: the product is one of the weaker preparations and the surface you've been using it on is small. However, absorption can be significant with these products and increases over time. The systemic absorption following topical administration has been found to range from 9.3 to 25.1%. I would recommend caution, especially with long term use. There will be transfer into your milk to some degree, but the worst risk for both breastfeeding and pregnancy has already passed. I've heard of plenty of women who realized the same issue after the fact, but if your baby isn't having any problems I don't expect anything to surprise you because of this later.

    For future pregnancies, I would recommend switching to a different face product. In pregnancy, we worry about salicylates causing problems with bleeding and see babies born weighing less than is typical. For breastfeeding, we still worry about the risks of prolonged exposure to salicylates such as bleeding. For acne, the risks almost always outweigh the benefit here.

    I hope this helps with the mental burden. It's not any fun to worry about something that's already happened.
    Kaytlin Krutsch, PharmD


    • #3
      Thank you so much for your response. After I realized this I did a complete clean out of all the products I have been using and realized I have also been using Olay 7 in One anti aging moisturizer. I am so upset about this because in reading the ingredients I see it contains retinyl propionate! I had NO idea this could be harmful for my baby. I feel like such a dummy. I will absolutely stop using this now. However I feel like even the sites I read about that kind of said the salycylic acid wasn’t too big of a deal, still said to avoid retinols during breastfeeding. I know during pregnancy they worry about birth defects with the retinoids, but during infancy what is the possible effect of retinols? Is it liver issues? Should I have my baby checked for anything? I really appreciate your time.


      • #4
        If you haven't observed symptoms in your baby already, it's unlikely that they were exposed to too much. Keep in mind some retanol is natural in breastmilk (Vitamin A is a retanoid)--it is high doses (or more potent similar retanoids) that cause problems.