Happy (almost) spring! I can always tell when spring is in the air, because that's when all my expecting clients seem to all show up at once for facials. Pregnancy can prevent some unique challenges for your skin, but the good news is it's easy to still take care of your face throughout your pregnancy. Although, (full disclosure) I have never been pregnant myself, I have studied skin care specifically for moms-to-be. Today I'll break down everything I know, and feel free to chime in, if you've got a pregnancy beauty secret I didn't cover!
You Can Blame it on Hormones
I probably don't have to tell you that carrying another human life inside of you can cause major fluctuations in your regular body chemistry. Higher levels of estrogen and progesterone can trigger or worsen everything from breakouts, to flushing to pigmentation changes. The good news the majority of this activity tends to happen during your first and second trimester and is likely temporary. And more good news: you still have plenty of options for treating these issues. Most skin care ingredients and treatments are perfectly safe during pregnancy and any that are not have comparable substitutes.
Further, there are some shifts that can work out in your favor. Many women experience that "pregnancy glow" as a result of increased blood circulation and some even report that pregnancy lessens certain skin concerns like acne and rosacea or dermatitis.
What to Avoid While Pregnant (and Breastfeeding)
A small handful of ingredients are not recommended for use during pregnancy, as it is safer to avoid certain chemicals getting absorbed into the bloodstream. The main ones are retinoids - any form of retinol, Retin-A or other derivatives, isotretinoin and hydroquinone. Some skin care professionals advise against salicylic acid, but are okay with using it a cleanser that washes off or as a spot treatments.
Treatments to avoid would be anything involving electricity such as galvanic, high frequency or micro current treatments. Microdermabrasion is considered potentially too stimulating but can be performed on a lower setting as long as your skin is not already flushed or inflamed. Chemical peels are contraindicated during pregnancy as well due to their high concentration of potent chemical exfoliants. Spray tanning is not recommended, due to the possibility of ingesting the fumes.
Most essential oils are not recommended during the first trimester and you will want to continue to avoid potent ones like peppermint, sage, clove and wintergreen throughout. As with anything you would consume during pregnancy, if you aren't sure, I recommend running it by your doctor first.
What's Safe to Use?
Just about everything else! During pregnancy you should continue to use a gentle soap-free cleanser, a gentle exfoliator, moisturizer and apply SPF daily.
To name a few popular (and totally safe) ingredients: we have glycolic acid, lactic acid, benzoyl peroxide, peptides, niacinamide, vitamin C. Sunscreen is especially important during pregnancy because you may be more prone to pigmentation from the sun. Hormonal pigmentation is more difficult to treat after the fact, so prevention is key. You can use physical or chemical sunscreens but physical sunscreens can be especially beneficial as they help keep some of the heat out. Other safe ingredients good for pigmentation are licorice, kojic acid and azelaic acid.
For breakouts and oily skin you can try detoxifying clay masks, spot treat with benzoyl peroxide or even probiotics. Sensitive or rosacea skin types may be more reactive during pregnancy but ingredients such as oats, lavender, ginger, chamomile, and ceramides are great for combatting inflammation and keeping your skin's protective barrier in tact.
What About The Rest of Your Body?
Another common concern among expecting moms is the inevitable stretch of their skin as baby grows and belly grows with. You probably know all about the wonders of cocoa butter for helping prevent stretch marks but some other fabulous options are Vitamin E and hyaluronic acid. You can start using these products as soon as you know you are expecting, because the sooner the better. As skin stretches elastin fibers weaken and collagen production is not as prevalent. Keeping your skin as hydrated as possible with moisturizing products will help as well has drinking lots and lots of water.
Pregnancy and Facials
While you may want to avoid more aggressive treatments as indicated above, getting a facial during your pregnancy can help a lot to get your skin through these hormonal transitions. A good esthetician will know to set you up with some extra cushy pillows (so you aren't flat on your back on the table) and only use gentle products and techniques to treat your skin. Gentle exfoliation from an enzyme product or dermaplaning treatment is a great alternative to chemical exfoliation and can help alleviate hormonal breakouts. Not to mention stress! They can also give you practical suggestions for adjusting your home care.
Still have questions? Feel free to be in touch!