9x pregnancy skincare do’s & don’ts
To your skin, pregnancy can be either a blessing (hello, pregnancy glow) or a bitch (did someone say hyperpigmentation?). Either way, your skin could use some extra love and care during pregnancy. Here’s 9 skincare do’s & dont’s.
Don’t: get laser treatments when pregnant
Hair removal treatments using lasers are a no go during pregnancy. Hormone levels are changing and affect your skin, so you can’t be sure how your skin will respond. Plus: those hormones also cause an increase in hair growth (yay for good lookin’ locks on your head, less yay for hair in new places you’d rather not have them), so you won’t know for sure if the treatment has the desired effect. So if you’ve just started a session of laser treatments, ask the salon if you can continue after your baby is born. Laser devices for at home use have not been tested on their safety for pregnant women. Therefore it’s best to store those away for a few months as well.
Do: use sunscreen, lots of sunscreen
The level of melanin - the type of pigment that gives colour to your skin - increases during pregnancy, because of all the hormonal changes happening in your body. Exposure to the sun is a natural trigger that causes even more melanin, which can result in what they call a ‘pregnancy mask’ - local hyperpigmentation, mostly visible on the forehead, around the eyes and above the lip. In some cases this ‘mask’ fades over time, in the months after giving birth, but in some cases the dark spots remain visible forever. That’s why you should always apply sunscreen. And by that we mean lots and lots of sunscreen, all year round. Also: avoid the sun at it’s peak hours, between 10 o’clock and 2 p.m. and be sure to wear a hat while in the sun.
Don’t: go hard on chemical peels
While gentle at home exfoliation is totally fine, you should avoid any harsh exfoliants or chemical peelings. This all has to do with the same reason you should be going all-in with SPF: the risk of developing a pregnancy mask or hyperpigmentation. Chemical peelings strip your skin from dead skin cells, but they also expose that fresh layer of skin underneath, which is more prone to sunburn. And no, that’s not just the case in summer, hyperpigmentation can happen on a cold and crisp winter day as well. Acids in low percentages - for example a 2% salicylic acid product - are ok.
"DO CREAMS AND OILS
PREVENT STRETCH MARKS?
Do: use an oil or cream on your belly
Admit it, you want to know: do creams and oils prevent stretch marks? Well, technically: no. Stretch marks occur when skin is stretching faster than your body can produce smooth, healthy new skin. Which is exactly what happens when your belly starts growing - but stretch marks can also appear on your breasts or upper thighs. Whether or not you develop them, is mostly a matter of genetics. Whether or not they fade once your belly has bounced back, is a matter of - you guessed it - genetics, as well. There’s limited evidence that shows oils or creams can fully prevent stretch marks. So why bother? It seems that keeping your skin hydrated and supple does help, a bit. You won’t prevent those stretch marks, but there’s one more reason to rub your belly with oil, cream, or even put a belly mask (yes, they do exist) and that is taking a moment of me time, and a moment of appreciation for your body. And that’s priceless.
Don’t: change your entire skincare routine at once
If you want to make some changes to your facial skincare routine - for example if you’ve been using an ingredient that is a pregnancy-no-go, or if you feel your skin is changing because of the hormones (those suckers are responsible for way more than just morning sickness and mood swings) - sure, go ahead. That being said, it’s best not to change your total routine all at the same time. Why? If your skin is not responding well to one of your new products, it’s hard to determine which is the bad guy. Rather start with the most minimal routine - for example just a cleanser and a moisturizer with SPF - and build up from there, by adding a serum or other treatment. That way, it’s easy to check if your skin responds well to the newly added textures and ingredients.
Do: hydrate really, really well
Your baby will take whatever it needs from you to develop and grow. And if he/she needs water, he/she will make sure to get it. From your body, that is. On top of that: hormones can lead to dryer skin as well. That’s why it’s more important than ever to drink lots and lots of water. To hydrate your skin, your body, your baby.
"JUST TO BE SURE,
STEER CLEAR OF ANY
Don’t: use retinol when pregnant
Retinol has been proven to be a true anti-aging superhero. No wonder this derivative of vitamin A is used in so many creams and serums. It’s also prescribed by dermatologists as a cure to acne (in that case: in way higher doses, and taken orally). High levels of vitamin A however, are linked to birth defects and abnormalities. There hasn’t been enough research to show whether topically applied retinol is harmful to babies, but just to be sure, steer clear of any vitamin A-derived ingredients in your skincare products.
Do: enjoy that freakin’ glow
Are you one of those lucky ones with a ‘pregnancy glow’? A skin that looks more flawless than ever before? Well, just enjoy the shit out of it!
Don’t: worry about it too much
And if that glow is nowhere to be found, don’t stress it. Every body is different, every pregnancy is different. Know that any changes in your skin - pigmentation, blemishes - might be temporary. Blame the hormones, and trust that your body is doing exactly what it should be doing.