Everyone talks about the ‘natural pregnancy glow’ but the fact is that the hormonal surges during pregnancy can actually wreak havoc on your skin. You may get acne breakouts, or your skin darkens or become more prone to rashes and itchiness.
While our first instinct may be to reach for our favorite beauty products, we must be careful. The skin absorbs ingredients that get into the blood stream and may pose a risk to your baby. Here are some expert facts (and a few parenting tips) on what beauty products you can safely use.
Stay away from chemical treatments
Postpone skin peels, IPL and radio frequency laser treatments, and any chemical hair treatments until after you give birth. (Research on the common pregnancy hazards, and read our article on dangerous chemical hazards in household cleansers, too!)
However, you can safely use henna hair dyes. One parenting tip: leave the windows open when you do this, and use an organic product with a good brand equity—this is no time to experiment on generics! A good bet is Lush. Also do a skin test to test for allergic reactions.
Facials are also safe, especially if they use organic products. One parenting tip from moms whv’e been there: try doing facials at home, using ingredients in your own home. Try sugar scrubs and egg-white masks.
Don’t use anything with hydroquinine.This bleaching agent is often found in creams and soaps that claim to whiten, brighten or lighten skin or remove spots. Read the label!
Also avoid any whitening products that contain papaya. Yes, even products that are derived from natural ingredients like fruits can be harmful. Papaya contains papain, which can lead to digestion problems (which are already problematic during pregnancy) and has been linked to birth defects among lab rats.
But if that’s the case, how can you cure those dark spots/skin darkening that’s common during pregnancy? The best and safest way is to use sunblock to minimize pigmentation. All are generally safe, but choose one that is between 30-70 SPF for best protection.
Retinoids are used to treat acne, wrinkles and age spots. However, there is no clear guidelines on whether it’s safe for pregnancy so it’s best to avoid it altogether. Read the label for retinoid ingredients: tretinoin (found in Retin-a, Renova) isotretinoin (Isotrex) adapalene (Differin) tazarotene (Tazorac).
But you can still use the most effective method against anti aging, and that is moisturizing. Moisturizers can also help prevent skin itchiness which is common during pregnancy. Apply body lotion is within 3 to 5 minutes after a shower – skin is clean and damp, and will absorb and retain the most moisture.
You can also use beauty products that use glycolic acid products, since this is derived from fruit, milk and sugar acids that have been proven safe for use during pregnancy. Gycolic acids – also known as AHAs and PHAs – have a subtle skin lightening effect that could help with pigmentation.
Don’t use anything with Benzyl Peroxide or Salycilic Acid. This ingredient is found in anti-acne products, creams, facial washes, and even chemical hair dyes.
Also check the label for salycilic acid, which is sometimes found in organic herbal products, too! While some say that this is safe in small doses, it’s best to err on the side of caution.
However you can treat acne and pimples during pregnancy with products that contain azeleic acid or a combination of resorcin and sulfur (found in products like Mario Badescu Drying Lotion).
Photo from wellandgoodnyc.com