Your body goes through major changes when you’re pregnant—that comes as no surprise to anyone who has either had a baby or is carrying one now! While you already know that some of your habits (looking at you, Thursday afternoon happy hour) will need to change now that there’s a baby on board, plan on your skincare routine changing, too. We know—just when you had it down to a science.
The pregnancy glow comes naturally to some, but unfortunately, not all of us are so lucky. Your skin is the largest organ in your body and sometimes, it can take the brunt force of your new raging pregnancy hormones. But the good news is that skincare has come a long way in developing products that mimic that sought-after pregnancy glow and are safe for baby at the same time. We’re here to help you decipher between the skincare products and ingredients that you can trust for yourself and for your baby.
What happens to your skin when you’re pregnant and why?
Pregnancy-related skin changes happen to almost everyone. Seriously! Maybe you have nine months of gorgeous glowing, clear skin or maybe you’re suffering from hormone-induced breakouts. Either way, blame the hormones! Hormonal fluctuations in your body, like your estrogen and progesterone levels, can influence all the changes that you might see in your skin. Many of the changes include:
- Clearer complexion
- Dark skin patches
- Stretch marks
- Moles/skin tags
The most common skin conditions women experience during pregnancy are acne, dry skin, and skin discoloration like melasma or chloasma. It’s also important to include that people with pre-existing conditions like eczema, psoriasis, or rosacea may also see fluctuations in their usual symptoms. Every woman is different which means the products and ingredients they include in their skincare line-up should be different, too.
Why is it important to review skincare ingredients when pregnant?
Certain off-limits food and beverages aren’t the only thing you should be thinking about when you’re pregnant. You should be taking a hard look at what goes into your current skincare lineup. We’re not saying you should toss your entire beauty arsenal and start over, we’re saying take a closer look at the ingredient list to see what might not be so good for you or your baby. There are some skincare products and ingredients that are known to be unsafe during pregnancy. Ingredients with known or suspected risks should be avoided during pregnancy because they are absorbed through the skin, they are absorbed into the bloodstream which can affect your developing baby. Remember, what you put on your body is just as important as what you put in it!
Product Dos and Don’ts:
There are certain products that you should make an effort towards incorporating into your new pregnancy skincare routine. Depending on which skin issues you’re facing, some may be more important to incorporate than others.
Products to include in your routine:
- Gentle face cleanser / acne-fighting cleanser
- Acne treatment (if necessary)
Products and treatments to avoid:
- Laser treatment
- Chemical peels
Which ingredients should you stay away from?
When deciding which products to include into your routine, there are certain ingredients you should avoid. These ingredients have associated risks when used while pregnant. However, some of them are okay in smaller doses—always consult with your doctor and be transparent about the products you use. The main ingredients to steer clear of include:
- Retinoids: Products that contain high dosage of retinoids or retinol should be avoided during pregnancy. This could also include products that have a high dosage of Vitamin A as well. There have been birth defects linked to higher doses of retinoids and prescription retinoids, like Accutane. High-dosage retinoids can pose a 20-35 percent risk of severe congenital defects.
- Salicylic Acid: Products that contain salicylic acid are normally used to treat acne but a high dosage, like in peels and some oral medications, are unsafe during pregnancy. Anything with 2 percent or less of salicylic acid is generally okay, but anything over that dosage should be avoided.
- Hydroquinone: Often used as a skin lightening agent or to reduce skin pigmentation, hydroquinone is often used to treat melasma and chloasma. It is absorbed through the skin at very high rates. Although there is no proven link between congenital defects or side effects, it is still significantly absorbed by the body, especially when compared to other ingredients. It’s best to limit your exposure.
- Phthalates: This ingredient is found in many beauty and personal products. When studied in animals, it has shown serious reproductive and hormone dysfunction. Phthalates are currently under human study and researchers are exploring its potential role in congenital reproductive health. Cosmetics are generally the top source of phthalate exposure.
Which ingredients should you look for?
Not all ingredients are bad, there are some great skincare ingredients you should seek out. You may already have products that contain them! Many are great substitutes for some of the ingredients listed above.
- Vitamin C: Often used in anti-aging and products that help with hyperpigmentation, Vitamin C can be a great additive to your skincare routine during pregnancy. It can be found in products like serums and various concentrates. Products containing Vitamin C can even help boost your immune system, protect your skin from damage and help maintain collagen!
- Hyaluronic Acid: Another great ingredient for anti-aging and hydration, hyaluronic acid is an ingredient you should look for when pregnant. If you’re suffering from dry skin, incorporating a concentrated serum with hyaluronic acid can be extremely helpful to give your skin a little extra moisture. Even if you’re more acne prone when pregnant, many acne-fighting products can dry out your skin and hyaluronic acid can help. Since it’s already produced in our bodies naturally, it’s great for all skin types.
- Titanium Dioxide / Zinc Oxide: These ingredients are often found in physical sunscreens and are a great ingredient alternative to some other more chemical SPF ingredients. Sunscreen is much needed for your skin, whether you’re pregnant or not. Try to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 15 or higher.
- Azelaic / Glycolic Acid: Both ingredients are generally found in acne-fighting products and are a better alternative for pregnancy acne and while nursing. Azelaic acid specifically can be great for discoloration and in addition it can help with breakouts and rosacea-prone skin.
Which skincare products do we recommend?
We know that’s a lot of information to take in. How do you know which products contain the right or wrong ingredients? Where do you even start when creating a pregnancy skincare routine? We have some great product recommendations that you can get at your local Waxing the City studio that are all- natural and perfect for your new routine. Sanitas is the tested-and-true clean beauty brand we swear by, whether you’re pregnant or not. Here are our picks from Sanitas that are never tested on animals and are free of parabens, phthalates, gluten, and other harsh preservatives:
- Sanitas Milk & Honey Cleanser: Made with milk proteins, hyaluronic acid and raw honey, this cleanser is a rich, restorative cleanser that is great for moms-to-be! It gently removes impurities while also nourishing dry skin. This cleanser would be perfect for someone who is treating hormonal acne but doesn’t want to dry out their skin.
- Sanitas Hyaluronic Concentrate: This serum is made with hyaluronic acid, olivem 1000 and amino acid complex. Olivem 1000 is a skin identical compound that helps efficiently deliver companion actives to where they can be utilized in the skin. Basically, that means it helps products boost their hydration rate. This serum is great for women who are looking for an extra hydration boost.
- Sanitas Vitamin C Moisturizer: This oil-free treatment is made with lipophilic vitamin and beta glucan. This moisturizer can help defend against UV damage and is a great alternative for other anti-aging products. It can help soften fine lines and wrinkles without harmful ingredients.
- Sanitas Solar Block: This non-chemical SPF 20 sunblock is the sunscreen you need in your life. It contains zinc oxide, an antioxidant nutrient blend with Vitamin C and E, and galactoarabinan. The addition of galactoarabinan makes your skin more radiant and helps improve the appearance of aging skin.
- Sanitas B3 Clarifying Complex: This clarifying treatment lotion can help soothe inflamed, problematic skin, and help minimize imperfections. Made with zinc, niacinamide and sulfur, it can help to relieve pore congestion and clear up problem areas. If you’re looking for a more gentle and cleaner way to treat your acne, try this one!
- Lemon Cream Cleanser: This clarifying, exfoliation treatment is perfect for someone who has developed hormonal acne and increased redness. This cleanser is made with Vitamin C and E and jojoba oil. These ingredients join forces to stimulate skin renewal and target bacteria to help keep your skin clear and smooth.
As we mentioned, check in with your primary doctor about any products you should be wary of and talk to them about which products you’re interested in using; every pregnancy and every body is different and has different needs. Once you’ve worked with your doctor, ask your Cerologist for recommendations on a new skincare routine. This is one pregnancy routine you can get excited about!