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Pregnancy Skin Care

Pregnancy is without doubt one of the most exciting times in life with so much anticipation, excitement, and joy. However, it can also be emotionally and physically exhausting, with most expectant mums experiencing sickness, fatigue, and anxiety. As the body changes during pregnancy, so does the skin. More than 90% of pregnant women also experience significant skin changes due to hormonal skin conditions. These can include eczema, rosacea, hyperpigmentation, stretch marks and acne. Therefore it is essential to have a good pregnancy skin care routine.

HOW DOES PREGNANCY AFFECT SKIN?

ECZEMA

Eczema is an umbrella term for several skin conditions that cause redness, itchiness, and inflammation. Some women with eczema may experience flare-ups during pregnancy, but others may find their symptoms disappear completely. However, it is also common for women to experience eczema for the first time while pregnant.

It is essential to keep the skin moisturised, avoid using harsh soaps and cleansers as these can aggravate the eczema.  Stay clear of any products containing perfume or fragrance as these can also irritate the skin. Switch to natural, organic products which are fragrance and chemical free products such as our Soothe Mama range.

As part of your pregnancy skin care, avoid taking warm showers as hot showers can dry out the skin. Switch to lukewarm water and moisturise immediately after getting out of the shower or bath.

Wear loose-fitting clothing and avoid wearing anything that is too tight or form-fitting. Tight clothing can hold in heat and irritate the skin. Also opt for natural fibres such as cotton.

Keep hydrated for good skin health as well as for the growing baby. It keeps skin soft and can reduce the symptoms of eczema.

Coconut oil is a natural moisturiser emollient and is known to reduce inflammation. It can be used as a lotion and applied directly to the irritated or itchy skin. We use coconut oil in our soothe mama balm which works well on areas of dry skin.

Changes in diet, such as avoiding dairy and processed foods can also help to alleviate eczema.

ROSACEA

Rosacea is a common skin condition that can cause flushing of the face, redness, outbreaks that look like acne, and visible blood vessels. Like many conditions, it can start or get worse during pregnancy. Rosacea is more common on fair skin and usually occurs over the cheeks and nose, although the chin and forehead may also be affected.

When pregnant, the volume of blood can almost double in your body.  That 'healthy glow' isn't always a comfortable experience.  The tiny blood vessels in the face can become more prominent and many women experience hot flushes and increased redness in their skin. The heat plus heightened sensitivity can also exasperate rosacea.

Certain factors are known to make rosacea worse. These include hot or spicy foods, caffeine, alcoholic beverages, extreme temperatures, and exposure to harsh elements.

Avoid skincare products that contain alcohol (ethanol). Always check the ingredient lists. Stay out of the sun as sun exposure is thought to be one of the worst triggers of rosacea. Our revive face oil works well to reduce the symptoms of rosacea as does Hydrate organic rose mist.

HYPERPIGMENTATION (MELASMA)

Often known as the 'mask of pregnancy', hyperpigmentation or melasma is when large patches of discolouration appear. The pigmented patches of skin are tan to brown in colour. They can appear around the eyes, on the cheeks, chin, forehead, temples, above the lip and other parts of the body.

It is thought that increased levels of the hormones oestrogen and progesterone stimulate excessive production of melanin in response to exposure to sunlight. Therefore, it is important to be sun-safe during pregnancy, and wear a sunscreen. Look for both a high factor (SPF50) UVB protection and UVA protection. Opt for mineral based sunscreens and ensure they are free from oxybenzone and octinoxate as these are known toxins.

It is vital to keep your liver and digestion happy to ensure proper absorption of vitamins and minerals. Ensure you are not lacking in protein, Vitamin B12 and iron.

Exfoliating regularly can also help to fade discolouration, try mixing some soft grain brown sugar with soothe mama oil and use to gently exfoliate the skin.

STRETCH MARKS

Stretch marks that occur during or after pregnancy are caused by the skin becoming stretched and expanded for a long period of time. The stretching causes a breakdown or rupture in the skin's support structure of collagen and elastin. Stretch marks seem to be genetically related as not all women experience them.

Stretch marks are one of the toughest skincare concerns to treat because there are no cosmetic ingredients or products that can really improve them.

Massaging your skin with a non-fragrant plant oil during pregnancy can help it become more pliable and reduce the risk of stretch marks. Try soothe mama body oil.

ACNE

With racing hormones, an increase in oil production, along with increased anxiety, many women experience breakouts during pregnancy. Hormonal acne usually appears around the chin, jawline and cheeks.

Many topical acne treatments are not advised during pregnancy, so it is best to switch to more natural acne treatments.  

Exfoliate once or twice a week, remove dead skin cells and improve blood circulation with natural cleansing balms, or nourishing exfoliators.  Soothe mama balm can also be used as a natural cleansing balm.

While some women's skin becomes oilier, for others dryness can occur as all the hydration goes to the baby first. It is important to keep the skin nourished and hydrated throughout pregnancy no matter what your skin condition.

WHAT SKINCARE INGREDIENTS SHOULD YOU AVOID?

When focusing on pregnancy skin care, it is also important to understand which product ingredients should be avoided. There are various ingredients that are advised against in pregnancy:

RETIN-A, RETINOL AND RETINYL PALMITATE

These vitamin A derivatives and others can lead to dangerous birth defects. It's best to avoid these vitamin A derivatives, which can negatively affect the development of your baby.

BENZOYL PEROXIDE AND SALICYLIC ACIDS

Benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid found in many acne treatments are ingredients to avoid during pregnancy.

DIHYDROXYACETONE

Dihydroxyacetone is a chemical used in many spray self-tanners. The chemical reacts with the dead layers of skin on your body and is seen as a safer alternative to sun tanning. Although it’s not absorbed into the body, it can be inhaled during application and is unhealthy for you and your baby.

ESSENTIAL OILS

Certain essential oils should be used with caution in pregnancy skin care. Many essential oils increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV, which isn’t ideal considering the risk of pigmentation is higher during pregnancy. Oils such as basil, rosemary, juniper berry, jasmine, cypress and chamomile blue should be avoided given their potential to over-stimulate and encourage menstruation. Menthol oils such as camphor, peppermint, and mint oil are also not recommended during pregnancy, especially for those late in pregnancy.

FORMALDEHYDE

An ingredient in many nail polishes and certain hair products, you should avoid using any products containing formaldehyde as it has been linked to fertility problems and miscarriage.

FRAGRANCE/PERFUME (PARFUM)

Is usually made up of other harmful chemicals, like parabens, benzene derivatives, aldehydes, and can cause irritation and redness.

HYDROQUINONE

Often used in products to treat melasma or a pigmentation of the skin should be avoided. It has a higher absorption rate than other topical chemicals, which makes it more likely for larger amounts to enter your bloodstream and affect your baby.

SUNSCREENS

Sunscreens may contain possible hormone disruptors like oxybenzone or avobenzone. These can interfere with your baby’s nervous system development. Consider using sunscreens with gentle mineral actives containing titanium dioxide and/or zinc oxide or avoid the sun.

TETRACYCLINE

A common antibiotic used to treat a variety of skin conditions; tetracycline and its derivatives (doxycyline and minocycline) should be avoided. Studies have shown that these can have negative effects both for pregnant mums and their babies.

PARABENS

Are used to preserve products and have been linked to cancer and nervous system issues. They are found in everything from foundations to styling gel.

PHTHALATES

An ingredient mainly found in beauty products to help stabilise the formula and have been linked to liver, kidney, lung, and reproductive issues.

As a general rule, most products are safe to use as part of pregnancy skin care however it is advised to check with GP when using prescription and over-the-counter products.