This feels like a strange topic for me considering it was half a decade ago that I was actually pregnant, but inspired by pregnancy awareness week (7th to 14th February) I thought it might be useful to someone out there to do a pregnancy skin care post. The focus this week is on pregnancy education, and I feel quite strongly that understanding the biology behind all aspects of your pregnancy really helps towards not feeling like your body is a weird foreign object which has been taken over by an alien creature. When I was pregnant and afterwards when I had a baby in the house I became much more aware of and committed to using natural or organic products. When you are pregnant you really care a lot more about exactly what you are putting on your skin.
Hormonal fluctuations can either wreak havoc on your skin or in some cases improve it. Here are some common skin issues, and what you can do about them:
1. Stretch marks
This is probably the most common skincare issue and sadly one you don’t have a huge amount of control over. If you do develop stretch marks, or to try and prevent them, then using an oil containing vitamin E twice a day may help in reducing them. Although it is not guaranteed to make a difference to your stretch marks, it is worth doing anyway. And it has the added benefit of soothing a dry, itchy stomach caused by stretching skin.
Tip: Try Bio Oil or Mama Mio Tummy Rub
2. Melasma or pigmentation
Pregnant women are more susceptible to developing pigmentation spots which are unwelcome visitors. Since skin is more sensitive to the sun it is important to wear a high factor facial sunscreen daily in order to minimize your risk of developing pigmentation. This actually applied to everyone, so don’t slack on the SPF. Whether you opt for a ‘natural’ or chemical sunscreen is up to you, but more on this issue in the next point.
Tip: Try Clarins UV Plus HP Day Screen SPF40 or Bioderma Photoderm MAX Ultra-Fluid SPF50
3. Breakouts or oilier skin
Hormones during pregnancy can make your oil glands overactive and leave you with oilier skin than usual. It is best not to use products targeted at breakouts which use medicinal ingredients not recommended for pregnant women. Anything too astringent will just dry out your skin.
Tip: If your skin is oilier than usual you can switch to an oil-free moisturiser and sunscreen, and look for gentle cleansers that won’t strip your skin (making it produce more oil to compensate). Oil cleansers can in fact work well even for oily skins. You can read my cleansing with oil post here.
Exfoliation is important to keep your skin from breaking out, but avoid scrubs which can aggravate your skin and opt for chemical exfoliators. Tip: Using AHA to exfoliate is safe during pregnancy but avoid salicylic acid or BHA.
Tip: If breakouts are a problem, using an organic product like Balm Balm Tea Tree Face Balm at night can really help to clear up your skin while keeping it supple and your skin’s natural oils in balance. I use it myself and can really recommend it.
Tip: If you are suffering from morning sickness (I feel your pain!) then stick to fragrance-free skincare products which won’t aggravate your nausea. Try Balm Balm Fragrance-Free Bath & Body Oil or Clinique Moisture Surge Extended Thirst Relief Gel (fragrance and oil free)