Everyone talks about the pregnancy glow. Less talked about are the nasties: Zits like back when you were in high school. Dry, flaky skin even when you don’t usually have dry, flaky skin. Days out on the beach are days long gone because — is that another dark mark on your face? We ask you to calm down though — these are all perfectly normal pregnancy skincare skintuations that many women like you face… and there are remedies.
PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #1: ACNE
(WHEN I WAS 13, I HAD MY FIRST LOVE ZIT)
Being a teenager was nothing without bouts of breakouts… but when you’re 30 and pregnant? You might almost wish you weren’t having a baby bump. Pregnancy hormones can send your oil glands into overdrive, creating a breeding ground for acne. Worse, androgen (a male sex hormone) increases during pregnancy, further increasing sebum production, clogging, blackheads and finally, pimples.
The cruellest joke ever? The acne products you used to use are unsafe while you’re pregnant because of the chemicals. Minocycline, doxycycline, tetracycline and Accutane, are definitely no-gos as they can cause birth defects. Then, it’s best to stay away from ingredients like benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid too, since these can enter the bloodstream. Most products are not actually pregnancy-tested…
But it’s not all doom and gloom. Your skin will most likely clear up after pregnancy. In the meantime, here are some quick tips.
Skin Hacks: DON’T SQUEEZE. DON’T PICK. DON’T TOUCH. Opt for ingredients like lactic acid, tea tree oil or sulfur. See a doctor if you’re really sick of the acne that seems persistent and widespread. Instead, cleanse face with a mild, hydrating cleanser. If necessary, use steam to clear clogged pores. Look for non-comedogenic / water-based skincare products as these don’t aggravate oily, acneic skin. Also, contrary to popular belief, you CAN go for facials while pregnant — watch out for the next Nanny Princess Pregnancy Diaries post on this!
PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #2: DRY SKIN
Damned hormones. Where you once had smooth, glowing skin, you’re now left with a dryness that doesn’t seem to stop itching.
It’s really many factors that play a part: More moisture is channelled to care for your baby, thus leaving you high and dry. With the little one inside you, your body temperature also tends to rise, thus literally getting you more hot-headed, stressed and itchy, thus triggering dry skin.
And the biggest contender (again): hormones. Oddly, those can’t seem to make up their mind between producing too much or too little sebum. Too little oil? You’re facing dryness and decreased elasticity. Too much? What else to do but to keep washing your face, right? Wrong. Washing your face too frequently can actually dehydrate the skin even more.
Skin Hacks: Water — lots of it. Aim for 12 cups a day. Hydrating lotions for milder cases; prescription treatments for severe ones. Warm (not hot!), comforting showers (and oatmeal baths, we hear) work wonders to calm your spirits and skin but don’t spend too long in there or your natural oils will start depleting. Get a humidifier for the bedroom. And our final, favourite trick: Get a high-grade, ultra-hydrating serum loaded with hyaluronic acid to quench your skin’s thirst.
PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #3: INCREASED SENSITIVITY
(YOUR SKIN IS BEING A BIGGER BABY THAN THE ACTUAL BABY)
As if acne and dry skin weren’t painful enough, your skin might be literally… in pain. The usual facials you go for might verge on painful, your face seems to get red more easily when you’re exfoliating, and your favourite scented lotion is now sitting on its lonesome on your dresser. Your skin is being a total baby.
… You guessed it. Hormones.
Skin Hacks: Gentle is the name of the game. Swap out scrubs (both for the face and body) for a loofah or a soft, textured washcloth. Switching to unscented / natural lotions and body washes could also help. Apply calamine lotion on itchy spots. Shun products that are heavy with additives, dyes, and / or fragrances, all of which can exacerbate the situation. When in doubt, always check in with your dermatologist, pharmacist or doctor.
“You certainly don’t want anything causing micro-tears on your skin… the more cuts and wounds on your skin, the easier it is for chemicals to be absorbed into your bloodstream. Ingredients to stay away from in soaps and body washes include triclosan, parabens and fragrance.”
| Melissa Schweiger, coauthor of Belli Beautiful: The Essential Guide to the Safest Health and Beauty Products for Pregnancy, Mom, and Baby
PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #4: (HYPER)PIGMENTATION
(AKA ITS SUPERHERO ALIAS, THE MASK OF PREGNANCY)
Aside from causing hormones to go a little (a lot?) out of whack, pregnancy also increases melanin production. Melanin is responsible for darkening of the skin, and you might be victim to dark patches.
The sun you used to love? That love might be long gone at this point. But it won’t be for ever… the melasma (another name for this pigmentation conundrum) usually fades after pregnancy.
Skin Hacks: If you weren’t religious about sunscreen before, it’s time to start now. An SPF of at least 25 to 30 would do half the trick; the other half would be for you to stay indoors as much as possible to reduce sun exposure. Physical and mineral sunblocks are your safest bets, as chemical sunscreens can irritate your sensitive skin + have potential risks. In more specific words, opt for protection that comes with titanium dioxide or zinc oxide.
PREGNANCY SKINCARE WOE #5: STRETCH MARKS
(YOU TIGRESS WHO BROUGHT LIFE TO THIS WORLD)
A good 50 – 90% of women get these in pregnancy. It isn’t curious—anytime a body grows at a rate at which the body can’t keep up with, these tiger stripes appear. These tend to come fastest in the final trimester when your baby grows the most.
“For most people, whether or not they get stretch marks has to do with genetic predisposition.”
| Glenn Kolansky, MD, a board-certified dermatologist
While there isn’t much you can do to prevent it, there are ways to reduce the risks of developing them (too much), including controlling your weight. Staying hydrated (at least 12 cups of water a day), and eating a healthy and balanced diet (think antioxidants, vitamins, leafies, fatty acids).
Skin Hacks: Thoroughly moisturize, especially areas which are most prone to these marks. These include your belly, boobs, stomach, hips and thighs.
Till the next Pregnancy Diaries post, stay true,