No one ever really prepares you for just how much your world changes when you get pregnant — your skin included.
With an entirely new plethora of things to worry about as a soon-to-be mom, your skin care during pregnancy may not necessarily be at the top of your list (if it made it to your list at all). It’s so much fun getting caught up in the magic of watching your baby grow inside you, nesting, and preparing to embark on this miraculous new journey. However, when you remember that your baby is like a little sponge inside your body, absorbing all the same things you take in — it makes sense that your skin care, like your diet, may need some minor adjustments.
With your body changing as much as it is, your skin will also likely see some changes. Even so, navigating your skin care routine during pregnancy shouldn’t be another thing to stress over. To make it easy for you, we’ve compiled a brief guide to help you re-work your skin care regimen to target your body’s changing needs and some of the ingredients you’ll want to avoid until your little bundle of joy has safely arrived.
Your Skin Care During Pregnancy
When you get pregnant, it doesn’t take long to notice how much your body changes. Pregnancy also changes your skin — sometimes for the better, sometimes not so much. While the idea of a “natural pregnancy glow” might be something you looked forward to, the truth is pregnancy-related skin changes are actually super common.
Some mom-to-be blogs and pregnancy books might lay on the pressure to toss your entire arsenal of skin care products in the trash and adopt a more holistic approach altogether, but we beg to differ. Now more than ever, your skin needs all the TLC that it can get. That means your skin care routine doesn’t need to take a backseat during pregnancy. Rather, it just needs to be modified to keep baby safe and help you conquer pregnancy’s most common skin woes.
Here are some common changes you might see in your skin while pregnant and how to safely target those needs:
Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation linked to hormonal changes that causes dark patches across the face or neck. It typically fades on its own postpartum so don’t be tempted to reach for any skin-lightening agents in your skin care routine during pregnancy. You’re better off waiting this one out.
Stretch marks are faint, indented scars that appear along the skin when it is stretched in a short period of time. Luckily, there are tons of pregnancy-safe products to help prevent and minimize their appearance. Other things that can help are soaking up sunshine, staying hydrated, and maintaining a healthy, balanced diet.
Elevated androgen levels and dry skin might cause some hormonal acne and breakouts. Contrary to popular belief, we promise this is completely normal. The good news is there are safe alternatives to retinoid-based products that you can reach for. Enter: glycolic acid.
Glycolic acid can help with fine lines, brightening your complexion, and reducing enhanced skin pigmentation. Studies show that small amounts are safe to incorporate in skin care during pregnancy.
Due to the overexertion of your uterus, greater pressure on your veins may cause varicose veins to appear. They could become itchy or uncomfortable, but are generally harmless. Fortunately, they tend to disappear on their own within a few months after giving birth.
It’s no secret that pregnancy takes a lot out of you. Whenever your baby needs water, he or she pulls it from mom. Combine that with hormonal changes, and you’ve got a recipe for dry, flakey skin. In addition to drinking plenty of water, you’ll want to incorporate a really good moisturizer (with coconut oil or cocoa butter) into your skin care during pregnancy to help your skin stay hydrated.
During pregnancy, elevated hormone levels in your body cause your skin to become more sensitive and burn easier in the sun. Make sure you’re wearing pregnancy-friendly SPF, staying hydrated, and taking frequent breaks in cool, shaded areas to avoid overheating.
Ingredients to Avoid in Your Skin Care Routine During Pregnancy:
While most ingredients in your skin care during pregnancy are probably harmless, there are a few products that you should keep stashed away till baby's arrival. They are:
- Isotretinoin and other retinoids
- Tazorac and accutane
- Benzoyl Peroxide and salicylic acids
- Hydroquinone and skin-lightening products
- Formaldehyde (common in hair products and nail polishes)
- Oxybenzone and chemical sunscreens
- Aluminum chloride (common in deodorants)
- Tetracycline and its derivatives
- Dihydroxyacetone (common in self-tanners)
- Cosmetic injectables (botox, fillers, etc.)
To be on the safe side, you’ll want to hold off on using these ingredients until you’re no longer breastfeeding. Unsure about which ingredients in your current regimen are safe for you and your baby? Err on the side of caution and check with a trusted expert.
If you’re reading this article, it’s likely you’re already putting thought into how to keep your baby safe while practicing your skin care during pregnancy. (Kudos to you, mom). While you may have to find some pregnancy-safe alternatives to a few of your staple products, the good news is the majority of your skin care routine during pregnancy is probably fine, although you should not use retinol while pregnant. When in doubt, always check with your trusted skin care professional for advice.