Jennifer Rock, The Skin Nerd is sharing her words or wisdom regarding skincare and pregnancy.
It isn't easy to know what to expect when you're expecting, especially with regard to your skin. When you’ve got a mini hooman growing within, you're in the middle of drastic lifestyle changes, rising hormone levels and you're probably feeling a little bit stressed – happy stressed, but cortisol-raising all the same. Everyone tells you that you've got "the glow" but the reality is that you have no idea why your skin is behaving badly. On top of that, you've no idea what is actually okay for you to use. Breathe - I am here to help you out.
The skin concerns you may see during pregnancy
For all that we know about the effects of hormones, we still don't know enough because, during pregnancy, your skin can change dramatically. Here are some of the most common skin concerns you may encounter during pregnancy...
Random skin sensitivities
You may notice that your skin is reacting differently to your usual washing powder, your signature fragrance or your usual skincare routine. During pregnancy, your skin can become very sensitive to things that didn't cause you problems pre-pregnancy. If this is what you're experiencing, you need to be gentle on your skin for a while. Avoid using products that include known possible irritants, like fragrances. Instead, use products that are hydrating, nourishing and free from exfoliating acids and retinol.
A mild cleanser, like the Biofresh Probiotic Ultra Delicate Cleansing Milk (€18), will ensure your skin is cleansed without causing it to freak out.
Maybe you’ve had it in your teen years, your twenties, or maybe you’ve never even had a blackhead. Acne can crop up in your pregnancy due to your heightened hormonal levels, but you have to be careful to only treat acne with products that are proven safe to use during pregnancy.
Salicylic acid is usually a no-go due to it being derivatively related to aspirin, however, in smaller amounts, it is often deemed to be fully safe to use. The best rule is to ask the person recommending the product to you and to ask your GP too if you are worried.
When it comes to exfoliating acids, lactic acid is very pregnancy-friendly as it is gentler than glycolic acid and will assist when it comes to busting that pregnancy congestion. You’ll find it in the Gallinee La Culture Foaming Facial Cleanser (€16.50).
The changes in your body could make your skin feel itchy, dry and tight. Minimise this by drinking plenty of water, investing in a humidifier and making sure to use a gentle moisturiser or hyaluronic acid serum daily, nightly and ever-so-rightly. Up your omega intake to help to keep skin healthy and plump! Of course, always remember Spritz O’Clock. Spritzing refreshes and re-hydrates the skin, so make sure to keep a bottle of a refreshing mist handy, like the Yon-Ka Lotion Yon-Ka (€32).
Melasma is when your pigmentation levels rise due to the influx of hormones, causing brownish spots and patches on your face and body. To combat this, cover up well in the sun and make sure to use SPF but note that this pigmentation should fade after pregnancy. If your melasma marks don't fade away by themselves post-pregnancy, speak to your GP or a medical professional (but don’t stress).
When you think of pregnancy and your skin, you probably think of stretch marks. During the natural enlarging of your bump, the collagen of your skin is stretched past its limit. This causes fissures which appear on the skin as brown, purple or red stretch marks.
Genetics play a role in the likelihood of you getting stretch marks: it's probable that if your mum had stretch marks, and her mum before her, you will have them too. There is no way to truly stop stretch marks, but including vitamin E, vitamin C and zinc in your diet can help to provide your body with what it needs to handle it as best as it can.
Stretch marks will naturally fade to a silvery-white colour with time but treatments using microneedling, radio-frequency and lasers are making ground-breaking changes at the moment. Environ Vitamin A, C and E Face and Body Oil (€50) is great for helping to fade stretch marks post-pregnancy.
Some general dos and don’ts when it comes to skincare during pregnancy:
- DO remember that when it is said that a certain skincare ingredient shouldn’t be used during pregnancy, it is mostly a precautionary measure, so if you find that you have been accidentally using an ingredient that isn't recommended, do not freak out. Discontinue usage and speak to your GP.
- DON'T use too many harsh ingredients. Although glycolic acid is technically safe for use during pregnancy, when your skin is more sensitive, it may have more of an effect and may photo-sensitise the skin which can worsen melasma.
- DO continue to use hyaluronic acid, antioxidants, SPF and vitamin C products. There's no reason not to!
- DON'T use high amounts of vitamin A - a nice nerdie note is that Environ AVST Moisturiser 1 and 2 have been deemed suitable for use during pregnancy.
- DO continue to take your omega supplements, so long as it has been okayed by your GP.
- DON'T continue to take supplements containing high amounts of vitamin A, as these are not recommended for use during pregnancy.
See some of Jennifer's previous posts:
Jennifer Rock is the author of bestselling ‘The Skin Nerd: Your Straight-Talking Guide to Feeding, Protecting & Respecting Your Skin’ and the founder of The Skin Nerd® online skin consultations.