5 Skincare Complaints That Can Occur During Pregnancy And How To Treat Them
I'm Laura Law, I'm a beauty therapist and I also write a blog (www.lauralawbeauty.co.uk). I live and breathe all things beauty and am constantly trying the latest products and treatments and sharing my findings on my blog and Instagram.
My main interest is skincare and so this is the area in which I specialize. I offer a variety of facials and skin treatments and having the ability to help others improve their skin gives me a real sense of job satisfaction.
Whilst pregnant with my son Alfie (now 14 months), my skin went through some interesting changes. Usually oily and acne prone, it went full circle and became dry, tight and sensitive. I embraced the changes and used it as an opportunity to treat myself to some shiny new skincare; switching up my usual water-based lotions and pore purifying clay masks for more hydrating and nourishing formulas.
Once my son was born and my hormone levels had balanced, my skin returned to normal; which thankfully, is generally the case for most women.
Skin changes during pregnancy are common and something that many of us experience. Here are some other conditions that can pop up and how to manage them:
The fluctuation in hormones can cause the skin to produce more sebum. Unfortunately, too much sebum sometimes blocks the pores; resulting in spots. Whilst we are unable to control hormone levels, we can prevent breakouts by keeping the skin as clean as possible. I would recommend using a gentle balancing cleanser and always double cleansing at night. The first cleanse removes make up, dirt and pollution, allowing the second to work deeper into the pores, keeping them clean and preventing acne causing bacteria from setting in.
Blemishes can also arise when pores become blocked by dead cells. A light exfoliation 2-3 times a week, will resurface the skin, keeping it clear and allowing any other products to penetrate and do their job properly.
Increased levels of Estrogen and Progesterone during pregnancy stimulate pigment cells, leaving the skin prone to darker patches on the cheeks and forehead. This is known as Melasma (or Chloasma). In most cases, pregnancy related pigmentation returns to normal after birth, but to prevent Melasma from appearing in the first place, keep your face out of the sun and always wear a broad spectrum sunscreen.
Physical (mineral) sunscreens are best for pregnancy as they protect the skin by reflecting UV light, as opposed to chemical sunscreens which absorb it. My favorites are Soleil Toujours Mineral Sunscreen SPF30 and Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30.
High hormone levels and increased blood flow can cause the skin to become sensitive and products that you've used for years, can all of a sudden start to irritate.
If this happens, keep your routine as simple as possible, avoiding fragrances or actives that could cause irritation.
The skin of the tummy stretching to allow space for the growing baby, can cause itching during pregnancy; this is normal. Slathering the stomach, hips, upper thighs and boobs in a pregnancy-friendly body balm/oil twice daily should soothe this. If the itching persists and transfers to other parts of the body, speak to your midwife or doctor, as this can also be due to a more serious pregnancy-related condition which may require medication.
Most of us will acquire stretch marks either during or after pregnancy. Vertical pink/purple lines can appear on the stomach, boobs and even around the thighs/bottom area. Regularly applying a balm or oil can help to prevent/soften the appearance of stretch marks. Whilst pregnant, I religiously applied Mama Mio’s The Tummy Rub Butter and I have been lucky enough to remain stretch mark free!
Skincare Ingredients to Avoid and Some Safer Alternatives.
Due to increased blood flow during pregnancy, topical ingredients are more likely to enter the blood stream; having the potential to harm the developing fetus. Because of this its best to avoid certain ingredients. Here are the ones to stay away from and some safer alternatives:
Retinol, Retin- A and Retinyl Palmitate are all derivatives of Vitamin A which are thought to lead to dangerous birth defects. Get your retinol fix with Bakuchiol; a gentler, plant based alternative. Just like retinol, it will stimulate collagen, soften the appearance of fine lines and improve elasticity.
Whilst some essential oils provide therapeutic benefits, others have the ability to bring on labor. The key to safe use is to stick to the recommended amounts and always follow the manufacturers guidelines.
Lavender, Mandarin and rose are excellent for aromatherapy and encouraging relaxation. If diluted with a suitable carrier oil, they are also safe for topical use after the first trimester. Tea Tree and rosemary should be avoided. For further information on which oils are safe to use, speak to your healthcare provider.
The best pore purging ingredient in skincare is salicylic acid, which sadly; is unsuitable for use during pregnancy. Substitute it with products that contain glycolic or lactic acid.
The Ordinary's Glycolic 7% Toning Solution is a good option. Its gentle but effective and super affordable at just £6.80 a bottle!
Another ingredient that is often used in the treatment of zit-zapping is Benzoyl Peroxide. However, due to its potential risk to the growing fetus, its best to avoid it during pregnancy. If suffering with a hormonal breakout, treat your skin to a weekly clay mask.
Hydroquinone lightens the skin, and as a result; is often used to treat pigmentation. Unfortunately, its too potent for pregnancy, so I would advise swapping it for skincare that contains Vitamin C; a powerful anti-oxidant that lightens pigment, stimulates collagen production and gives the skin a gorgeous glow.
If you'd like to know more about which products/ingredients you should avoid during pregnancy, speak to your doctor or healthcare provider.
Written by Laura Law in collaboration with MRK