When you’re pregnant you do not only eat for two. Every decision you make impacts both you and your baby: Should I cut back on coffee completely? Do I just let my roots grow and let my hair color fade naturally? How do I start on a regular exercise program while pregnant?
These things are all important aspects of your pregnancy and should be thought about carefully. Same thing goes for your skincare.
Everything that we put on our bodies gets absorbed into the bloodstream, some more than others. While you wouldn’t have given skincare a second thought pre-pregnancy, now is the time to consider the possible effects of your skincare products to your unborn baby.
Skin changes during pregnancy
Pregnancy brings plenty of changes in women’s bodies. Aside from the growing belly, expectant women also experience ups and downs in their skin. Hormonal changes can make the skin behave rather erratically. If you are pregnant and you notice some changes on your skin, don’t worry—these are all normal and would subside eventually. Below are some noticeable skin changes that women experience during pregnancy:
These red or brown streaks can be found on the abdomen and breasts, and occasionally on thighs as well. As you gain weight around your belly and breasts, the elastic supportive tissues underneath the skin gets, well, stretched. Stretch marks are more obvious when you gain weight too quickly or if you are carrying a large baby. However, not all pregnant women will get stretch marks. Genetics play a role here, so if your mom or sister has them, it’s possible that you’ll have them as well.
Though unsightly, stretch marks lighten in color over time. However, they do not completely disappear. What you can do to prevent more stretch marks in appearing is to make sure that your skin is hydrated. Eat foods that are rich in Vitamins C and E, as well as zinc and silica, to encourage your body to create more collagen. Additionally, you should also make sure that your skin is moisturized. Shea butter is a popular ingredient in stretch mark creams because it helps soften the skin. Alternatively, you can use virgin coconut oil to moisturize your belly.
Hormonal changes can make you break out during pregnancy. If you are already suffering from acne, the breakouts could be even worse. The hormones responsible for this are called androgens, which increase the production of sebum. While there is no way to tell whether you’ll get pregnancy acne or not (some women don’t), it’s best to observe a healthy skincare routine that will prevent acne from developing or from getting worse.
A natural cleanser like the Biconi Radiant Skin Cleanser Bar is best for pregnant woman. It is made from natural ingredients, which makes it suitable for sensitive skin. Aside from reducing inflammation, it also helps lighten pigmentations, which are common during pregnancy. Follow up with a toner and a moisturizer to make your skin taut and supple.
Also called the “mask of pregnancy”, melasma are dark, splotchy patches of skin that are common during pregnancy. Although genetics play a huge part on whether you’ll get melasma or not, exposure to the sun is also a factor. Women with darker skin are more prone to having melasma than those with lighter skin tone. The mask of pregnancy can appear on your upper lip, forehead and chin—all areas that are exposed to the sun—but it can also surface on parts of the skin that are already pigmented (i.e. nipples and freckles).
Melasma goes away on its own after the delivery of your baby. There is no need for any special skincare regimen to make melasma disappear. But it’s important to always keep your skin hydrated, as dry patches can make melasma even more obvious.
Notice that dark line running down your belly? It’s called linea nigra, which is brought by the increased production of melanin. Literally translated to English as “black line”, linea nigra is the darkened version of your linea alba (white line), which is the line between your belly and pelvis. As your hormone changes, the white line turns into a brown one (not black as the name suggests), but it will disappear completely after giving birth.
Just like with melasma, you don’t need a special skincare routine to make linea nigra disappear. However, make sure that you put on sunscreen and cover up your belly if you need to hit the beach. The sun’s rays can make the pigmentation even more obvious.
Most of these changes go away on their own right after your baby is born. However, if you have a rash or an itch that won’t go away, it’s best to talk to your GP to see if it is obstetric cholestasis or something else.
Skincare ingredients to avoid
While most skincare products are safe to use during pregnancy, there are some that contain ingredients that can be harmful to your baby. When pregnant, it’s best to avoid products containing any of the following ingredients:
Retinoid is a form of Vitamin A that speeds us the skin’s renewal process. It is commonly found in anti-aging products and is known as one of the best treatments for wrinkles and dark spots. Whether taken topically or orally (as in the case of Isotretinoin), skincare products containing retinoid should not be used during pregnancy. According to RareDiseases.org, using retinoid can lead to Fetal Retinoid Syndrome, a mental and physical birth defect in the unborn babies.
Bothered by the dark spots on your face? Try rosehip oil instead. It is rich in essential fatty acids that aids in faster skin regeneration.
An excellent acne treatment, salicylic acid comes from the aspirin family and helps reduce inflammation or redness of the skin. Though relatively safe to use in small doses (i.e. as an ingredient of a toner), chemical peels are another story. Also, it can be extremely drying to the skin. Natural salicylic acid comes from fruits, but its commercial form is made from chemicals that can irritate the skin.
If you badly need to use an anti-acne product during pregnancy, look for one that has naturally derived ingredients. Better yet, concoct your own skin-renewing facial mask from berries or tomatoes.
Hydroquinone is commonly found in skin whitening products. It prevents pigmentation and helps lighten dark spots. However, hydroquinone is linked to the development of kidney disease and should be avoided by pregnant women.
Melasma is caused by the change in hormones in the body and not by sun exposure. If you are bothered by dark spots on your face, use lemon juice mixed with honey to naturally lighten the skin and prevent acne.
Some natural skincare products contain soy. It helps prevent wrinkles, hydrates and firms the skin, and reverse sun damage. However, it has estrogenic effects that could worsen the appearance of melasma.
If your skin is in dire need of hydration, use virgin coconut oil instead. It contains essential fatty acids that moisturizes the skin without making it greasy.
Found in antifreeze, laundry detergents and paints, propylene glycol (PG) is a form of mineral oil that is also used in skincare products and cosmetics. It is a humectant, which helps attract or retain moisture in the skin. Although pharmaceutical grade PG is as strong as the ones used in antifreeze, it can still cause itching, irritation and nausea. It’s best to avoid this ingredient during pregnancy and beyond.
Virgin coconut oil is an excellent natural moisturizer for the skin and hair. Apply it after a shower to seal in moisture and to make skin soft.
Whatever you eat, your baby eats it as well. Whatever you put on your body gets absorbed into the bloodstream and could possibly affect the health of your unborn baby. When choosing a skincare product while pregnant, look for one that is free from harmful chemicals. Biconi offers natural skincare products that are safe to use by pregnant women. Shop pregnancy skin care products.