Team Costhetics recently set out on a quest. Our goal: to find the best things to do for your skin when you’re pregnant.
We understand mums and mums-in-the-making have heaps to think about, so we’ve put together a simple skin care guide to make it easy every step of the way.
With our help, you can keep your skin glowing and protect your baby from ingredients that may be harmful to good health.
Pregnancy Skin Care Fundamentals
Before we begin, here’s something to keep in mind: genetics and environmental factors have a huge impact on your skin’s well being. As a result, not every skin care regimen is right for every mum. For help customising a skin care program to your unique needs, talk things over with your obstetrician and your dermatologist.
Here’s another piece of advice: when pregnancy gives you lemons, make lemonade. In other words, don’t whinge about lemons (skin changes). Instead, think of them as external manifestations (lemonade) of what’s going on inside your body. If you skin is inflamed or dry or breaking out, it’s letting you know you need to make changes to get your body back in balance.
The Magic Number: 180 Days
Your skin is a glutton. It absorbs everything you put on it, including ingredients that may have a negative effect on skin health and baby’s health, too. If you’re even thinking about having a child, you need to clean up your act immediately. Increasingly scientists believe lifestyle changes, including skin care, should start during the preconception period (180 days before egg and sperm get together to do their thing).
Start with your medicine chest and your beauty products. Dispose of any products that are past their expiration date. They’re no longer effective and can actually be dangerous. Then, toss out products that contain these ingredients:
- Salicylic acid
- Tetracycline-based antibiotics
These ingredients don’t simply aggravate skin. Doctors note they can impact your pregnancy and the long-term health of your baby.
Dermatologists and obstetricians also generally concur that mother-minded women should avoid:
- Cosmetic injectables (dermal fillers, muscle relaxers)
- Laser skin treatments
- Chemical peels
This may come as a surprise as all these treatments are considered minimally invasive and safe. The problem is that even these gentle skin care treatments can put undue stress on already challenged skin. Talk things over with your aesthetician before moving forward.
When You Start Trying & Stop Birth Control
A pash rash isn’t the only skin problem you may encounter when you start trying to get pregnant. If you’ve been using birth control pills, patches, or a vaginal ring, your skin is going to react strongly when you stop. Be prepared for an onslaught of breakouts and possibly even acne. It’s the result of the way these methods regulate hormones. If you’re undergoing fertility treatments as part of your journey, you may also experience breakouts. They can increase skin oiliness and lead to acne, too.
If you want to zap your zits, proceed with caution! Many of the ingredients in acne and oily skin treatments have been classified as unsafe for women who are pregnant or trying to become pregnant. In an interview with Parents Magazine, one dermatologist suggests 2.5% benzoyl peroxide in cleanser form. “Cleansers are wash-off products, so there is less long-term contact with the skin and presumably less absorption into the skin,” she says.
Meghan Markle, Duchess of Sussex, looked fabulous throughout her pregnancy. She credits buccal facials, which use a deep massage technique that includes a rub down inside your mouth. WebMD reports the message technique may have a positive effect on the germ-fighting glands in your cheeks and jaw muscles.
Another alternative for safe skin care during pregnancy is niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, which has been shown to reduce acne flare-ups. It has anti-inflammatory properties and has been shown to reduce hyperpigmentation. (More about hyperpigmentation in a moment.)
Now let’s talk about caring for your skin once you’ve gotten the happy news that you’re pregnant.
1st Trimester Tip – Less is More in Pregnancy Skin Care
During the first months of pregnancy, your body is putting a huge demand on all systems related to baby’s well being. Mum’s healthy skin is not one of them. The nutrients normally earmarked for skin health are being re-routed, creating a tremendous imbalance in your skin. Morning sickness also depletes the skin, causing it to become dehydrated and susceptible to breakouts. You’re likely to find that your best-loved skin care products simply aren’t cutting the mustard when you’re pregnant.
The solution: take a break.
In time, your body will begin to find its new normal. Until it does, keep your skin care regimen as clean and simple as possible. Self Magazine has compiled a list of five doctor-approved skin-care products for pregnant women and wannabees.
2nd Trimester Skin Care – Seeing Spots before Your Eyes?
Do you have a history of tanning? If so, you’re at increased risk of developing melasma. It is a hyperpigmentation problem that develops during the second trimester of pregnancy and may continue into the third.
Melasma causes facial spots/patches ranging in hue from brown to grey-brown on
- Bridge of the nose
- Area above upper lip
The location of melasma has led to the condition being referred to as “the mask of pregnancy,” but it can also result in dark patches on the forearms and neck, or any area that is frequently exposed to the sun. Sun exposure isn’t good for anyone’s skin and can significantly increase problems with melasma and moles, too. Keep sunrays off your skin with:
- Stylish hats
- Funny sunnies
- Romantic long-sleeved blouses
- Maxi dresses
- A zinc- and titanium-based sunscreen, labelled safe for use during pregnancy
Melasma will generally clear itself post-pregnancy. If it doesn’t, doctors often recommend a chemical peel to remove all traces.
Melasma isn’t the only problem darkening the door of your 2nd trimester. The shift in your hormones has an impact on moles. If you had moles before you became pregnant, they may increase in size and get darker in colour. If you’ve never had moles before, you may develop them on your
- Vaginal area
Moles need to be watched like a hawk. If a new one appears or you notice a significant change in a mole, book a consultation promptly with a skin professional. Early assessment is essential to prevent more troubling problems…like melanoma.
3rd Trimester Skin Care – Help for Itchy Scratchies
Your ankles are swollen, you’re having trouble sleeping, and the loo is your favourite room in the house. Welcome to the third trimester of pregnancy. Adding to your discomfort may be an unpleasant condition known as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy. PUPPP is a hives-like rash caused by your skin stretching. It’s not dangerous, but it can be bloody uncomfortable!
PUPPP lesions generally make a first appearance near your naval where you may discover red, raised, and itchy bumps. Over time, they may spread and affect your thighs, buttocks, and even breasts. The problem generally disappears after delivery.
If this discomfort is extreme, you can talk to your doctor about
- Topical corticosteroids
- Oral antihistamines
- Oral prednisone
A great natural way to get relief from PUPPP is with an oatmeal or baking soda bath. It’s a wonderful way to pamper yourself during this stressful time, too.
Skin Care for New Mums – Max Out on Moisture
When baby arrives, it’s hard not to be jealous of her soft, firm, supple young skin. You may not be able to achieve baby-like softness for you skin for a while, but initially, dermatologists say restructuring, moisturising products for post-pregnancy needs can help restore a youthful glow. Formulated to tone, firm, and remodel body contours, the ingredients in these mum-centric products are safe for babies, too.
Breastfeeding has many benefits and a major downside: dry nipple skin. Give your in-demand nipples lots of tender loving care with moisturisers specifically designed for soothing them. Use the product after each feeding to help renew them. Surprisingly, breast milk itself can be used to moisturise. Rub a few drops on your nipple skin after baby has finished her meal.
This is also the time to start your new daily beauty routine. Baby demands will be taking a lot of your time, so look for products that multi-task as much as you do. Allure Magazine recently published its top picks for best beauty products for new moms, including an instant spray hair mask and a baby-safe lip balm to make kissing safe.
Of course, after baby is born, many mums begin to think about makeovers, but that’s another topic for another time. Costhetics hopes the information we’ve provided about skin care during pregnancy will help minimise the problems you’ll need to deal with after pregnancy.