Pregnancy-safe skincare: What’s safe and what should you avoid?
Pregnancy is a time that’s tricky for many women who are used to taking care of their skin. There’s so much that you’re advised not to do in pregnancy that you may have been doing before. The skin goes through a lot of changes in pregnancy – some women may be lucky enough to parade a fresh, radiant glow during their pregnancy, but for others, the process may not be as kind.
Thanks to a fluctuation in hormones, adult acne, dryness, heightened sensitivity and melasma are just some of the most common realities of pregnancy that our skin may suffer.
To help you navigate the skincare minefield that pregnancy presents us with, here’s an overview of what may happen to your skin while you’re expecting and breastfeeding – and how it’s safe to treat with products and in-clinic treatments.
The problem: Hormonal acne
Fluctuating hormones coupled with an increase in oil production means that many women, even those who have never suffered from acne before, may begin to experience breakouts during pregnancy, especially on the chin, cheeks and jawline.
The solution: While you want to avoid traditional acne remedies such as retinol during pregnancy, you should also avoid products containing salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide as there’s some debate about whether these acne-fighters are safe for use in pregnancy.
Instead, when it comes to treating breakouts, reach for some gentle polyhydroxy acids such as gluconolactone and lactobionic acid. They are chemically and functionally similar to AHAs (such as glycolic acid), but they have fewer sensitising effects.
Or you can use a product containing bakuchiol, a safe and natural alternative to retinol which is safe to use in pregnancy. Bakuchiol can significantly improve the appearance of blemishes and help fade post-acne marks and other discolouration’s to reveal a more even skin tone.
The problem: Melasma
Pigmentation may be an issue that you’ve never experienced before. However, in pregnancy, the body not only becomes more sensitive to sunlight it also produces more melanin. This can contribute to melasma – a form of hyperpigmentation that appears as large patches of discolouration on the forehead, cheeks or above the top lip. It is usually genetic and often fades post-pregnancy, but many pregnancy-related hormones stick around during breastfeeding and can take six to nine months to settle after you stop.
The solution: It’s essential to stay sun-safe during pregnancy and wear sunscreen with broad-spectrum protection. A mineral sunscreen that contains zinc oxide deflects UV light away from the skin like a mirror. Try the SkinCeuticals Sheer Mineral UV defence, a 100% mineral filter that doesn’t leave an oily film or chalky finish.
Melasma triggered by pregnancy can sometimes become a longer-term condition. If the problem persists long after you have finished breastfeeding, you can start thinking about introducing some more potent treatments back into your routine. Chemical peels are an excellent in-clinic option for treating pigmentation problems. The Obagi Nu-Derm Skin Transform kit is a homecare treatment that’s clinically proven to reduce moderate to severe melasma over eight weeks.
The problem: Heightened sensitivity
Hormonal changes during pregnancy can also increase any skin sensitivities. You may not only find yourself more sensitive to the sun, but you may start to react to certain products that you previously loved. Existing skin conditions such as acne, rosacea and eczema may also worsen.
The solution: As well as using your broad-spectrum sunscreen, consider applying a calming mask once or twice a week. The SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque is an intensive mask formulated to replenish skin discomfort and sensitivity. Ensure your cleanser is also gentle and irritant-free, and in general, avoid any products containing fragrance, which can trigger inflammation.
The problem: Redness
During pregnancy, an increase in blood circulation case cause what’s known as ‘hot flushing’ and increased redness in their skin. The heat plus heightened sensitivity can also exasperate rosacea if you’re already a sufferer.
The solution: LED light therapy is an excellent in-clinic treatment option as we’re not putting anything on the skin, but it works to reduce inflammation and calm redness. The SkinCeuticals Redness Neutraliser helps to combat triggers that can lead to the appearance of skin blotchiness, redness and soothe discomfort.
The problem: Ageing
Some women may notice they age more rapidly during pregnancy. This is because when we’re nourishing a baby, our body focuses on feeding it instead of ourselves. When we’re feeding a baby and our own vital organs, our skin and hair fall to the very bottom of the list, so it’s not unusual to notice more accelerated ageing than normal.
The solution: If you’re currently pregnant or trying to fall pregnant, now might be time to put away the Vitamin A. Retinol and retinoids are something to be avoided in pregnancy and breastfeeding. If you still want those rejuvenating, anti-ageing effects, bakuchiol is known as a natural alternative to retinol and is safe to use in pregnancy,
LED treatments are another safe, anti-ageing option as they help to keep our collagen stimulated.
The problem: Dryness
While some women’s skin becomes oilier, for others, dryness may occur for the same reasons as accelerated ageing – all the hydration goes to the baby first, and our skin falls to the bottom of the list.
The solution: Make sure you’re keeping hydrated from the inside by drinking plenty of water and eating water-rich foods. Adding in a hyaluronic acid-based product such as the SkinCeuticals HA Intensifier can help parched skin retain moisture and suppleness. Hyaluronic acid, a powerhouse of an anti-ageing and hydrating skincare ingredient, is entirely safe to use during pregnancy.
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Disclaimer: Please be aware that results and benefits may vary from patient to patient taking into consideration factors such as age, lifestyle and medical history.