Pregnancy is such a special time and a moment in life where we really need to listen closely to our body and nurture it on many levels. During pregnancy, the body undergoes a significant amount of change in a relatively short period of time. The elusive pregnancy glow might be something we’d hoped for, but every one of us is different, some are lucky enough to experience it but for the most part, hormonal fluctuations can bring breakouts, dehydration, puffiness and pigmentation. The skin can also become more sensitive than usual, so products you’ve been using on high rotation may now suddenly irritate or aggravate. By eliminating certain ingredients and adding in others, the pregnancy skincare routine should centre around nourishing and protecting the skin.
Ingredients to avoid
It’s best to consult with your dermatologist or GP to get personalised advice, but in general, there are a handful of ingredients that should be avoided during pregnancy.
❌ All retinoids – including topical retinol treatments as well as oral medications like Roaccutane.
❌ BHAs (such as salicylic acid higher than 2%)
❌ Hydroquinone (used to treat hyperpigmentation)
❌ Essential oils (such as camphor, clary Sage, cinnamon, wormwood, parsley Seed, fennel, aniseed, black pepper, peppermint, thyme & mugwort)
❌ Phthalates (the most common one you’ll find listed is diethylphthalate)
❌ Chemicals with long unpronounceable names.
Ingredients to use
✔️ Vitamin C
✔️ Vitamin B
✔️ Essential fatty acids
✔️ Sunscreen both physical and chemical
✔️ Benzoyl Peroxide
✔️ Salicylic Acid 2% or less
✔️ Hyaluronic Acid
✔️ Azelaic acid
Choose gentler alternatives
Every complexion and its need are unique but I’m a firm believer in keeping things simple and purposeful. There are fantastic alternatives to accommodate any regime when switching out specific actives. Bakuchiol is a great natural alternative to retinol. Similar to retinol, it works by speeding up the skin’s natural cell turnover process, so can be used to treat both acne and ageing. I love the Medik8 Bakuchiol Peptides serum for this. Vitamin C and niacinamide are great for brightening the skin and assisting in preventing or treating pigmentation.
Hyaluronic acid, peptides, cermamides and essential fatty acids will quench and plump the skin, offering deep hydration and restoring devitilsed complexions, the skins saving grace, especially when dealing with sleepless nights and morning sickness. AHAs are great for gentle exfoliation to refine and revitalise our complexions. Where possible opt for organic formulas and avoid unnecessary fragrances, alcohol and preservatives. Multi-purpose products are another great way to simplify any routine such as moisturisers with SPF 50 and serums with antioxidants and hydrating properties
Tips for pregnancy skincare issues
Throughout the course of your pregnancy and even post-partum, the skin goes through many different stages. Try to be kind to yourself and not get too caught up in the state of your skin at each phase during pregnancy, as it is constantly in flux. If you can, take some time for an extra self-loving indulgence, have a long bath, apply a face or hair mask or give yourself a lymphatic massage using a nourishing oil and skincare tool such as a gua sha.
Melasma Also known as ‘the mask of pregnancy’, melasma occurs due to heightened levels of pigment-producing hormones, showing up as patches of discolouration on the face. Ensure you are wearing a broad-spectrum sunscreen every day, as well as using a gentle exfoliator (such as a lactic acid) every few days. Vitamin C slows the production of melanin, evening out the skin tone and reducing pigmentation.
Dehydration It’s common for the skin to lose moisture during pregnancy, which can be exacerbated when unable to keep fluids down due to morning sickness and post-partum when breastfeeding. Try hyaluronic acid or squalane, both powerful humectants which trap moisture from the air into the skin. Follow with an occlusive moisturiser and layer of luxurious oil over the top at night to lock hydration in.
Sensitivity The skin is prone to become more sensitive during pregnancy. As well as making sure you’re getting adequate sun protection via a broad-spectrum sunscreen, try non-irritating and fragrance-free products that will gently care for the skin.
Acne Unfortunately acne tends to crop up during pregnancy in the hormonal area of the face: the chin, neck and jawline. This is due to surging hormone levels, which can stimulate an increase in oil production. I’d recommend using a milk or oil cleanser to delicately cleanse the skin without stripping it of its natural oils, followed by a lightweight and non-comedogenic moisturiser that won’t clog the pores. It’s essential to exfoliate a few times a week with a pregnancy-safe AHA; azelaic acid can also be used as a treatment once a day.
Stretch marks A totally normal part of pregnancy, stretch marks are almost unavoidable as the body rapidly expands to accommodate the baby, causing the collagen and elastin in our skin to tear. I love using a rich moisturiser or oils for the body, rubbing in with a gentle amount of pressure to stimulate circulation and the body’s repair process. You can enrich your body lotion with a small amount of body oil to boost the lipid content and add extra nourishment.
Puffiness/swelling The result of the body holding more water than usual, puffiness/swelling is common in pregnancy. For the face and decolletage, a simple lymphatic drainage facial massage using either the fingertips or a Gua Sha/roller can feel wonderfully relaxing and instantly tighten the face, draining it of excess fluid. Simply add a few drops of oil for slip, and use upward and outward motions starting at the base of the neck and working towards the forehead.