Our skin is ruled by our hormones and during and after pregnancy women’s hormones go crazy. I’ve had a taste of this over the last year and a half doing fertility treatments (including IVF) and it’s not pretty! Luckily at this stage I can still use all my treasured active skincare ingredients – namely salicylic acid – but that’s not the case once you’re pregnant.
“The main ingredients pregnant and breast-feeding women should avoid are benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid (which are in many over the counter acne products), retinoids, formaldehyde (in hair treatments), and chemical sunscreens (sunscreens containing titanium or zinc are recommended),” says dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Mudgil. The issue with all of these ingredients is potential systemic absorption and harm to the fetus.”
So what in the world are you supposed to do to prevent wrinkles and breakouts? “Titanium or Zinc containing sunscreens are key for wrinkle protection. Azeleic acid containing products like Finacea gel (prescription) are safe for acne as are glycolic acid containing products.” Phew! Glycolic acid is one of my favorite chemical exfoliators and one of the ingredients I swear by to help keep my skin clear.
Wrinkles and acne aren’t the only things you need to worry about, however. “Everything grows during pregnancy so it’s not uncommon to notice skin tags and some subtle changes in moles, which should be examined by your board certified dermatologist, should they occur,” says Dr. Mudgi. “Stretch marks of course are the most feared, and truly have a strong genetic component. Exercise, a diet rich in antioxidants (vitamin C, E, etc.), and emollients (like shea butter and coconut butter) help too.” These marks are due to shearing forces that occur under the skin’s surface due to rapid weight gain or even rapid weight loss. “While it’s helpful to keep the area moisturized, a topical is unable to repair these shearing forces in such a way that is preventative,” says cosmetic dermatologist Dr Rita Linkner. “Lasers including new micro-needling devices coupled with radio frequency is the most cutting edge way of targeting new onset stretch marks.”
Pregnancy is clearly a stressful times, especially for first time moms. One of the easiest way to check off worrying about skincare from your list is to opt for trusted brands that are explicitly designed to be pregnancy safe.