“Pregnancy glow, more like pregnancy horrowshow,” a pregnant friend recently texted me, with a selfie attached depicting a slow creep of discoloration across the bridge of her nose, followed by a desperate, “what is this?!” Although I’m no medical expert, a quick Google search yielded the answer: melasma, or skin discoloration caused by a surge in hormones, otherwise known as a “pregnancy mask”. Pregnancy, while usually a cause for celebration in many women’s lives, also comes with many side effects that can forever alter your body and your skin. Melasma is but one of many skincare problems that arise during pregnancy, and almost all of them are triggered by drastic changes to your hormone levels. In order to avoid some of the maternity skincare pitfalls associated with being pregnant, read Savoir Flair’s guide below.
Take Your Vitamins
During your pregnancy, you need a lot of extra vitamins and minerals in order to ensure the baby’s health. You also need additional doses of some vitamins and minerals in order to replenish what the baby uses. For instance, pregnant women should absolutely take extra calcium to aid bone density, since their baby is feeding on their supply of calcium in order to grow bones, and folic acid is needed in order to prevent neural tube birth defects.
Aside from helping the mother and baby, vitamins are also great for keeping your dermal layer nourished and healthy at a time when it is stretching and growing, and most prenatal vitamins also boost hair and nail growth. For instance, while folic acid is helping prevent birth defects, it also prevents unwanted skin discolorations like melasma!
Experts recommend that pregnant women also take increased doses of Vitamin A, B-Complex, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Magnesium, Iron, Omega-3, and DHA, so check the label on the bottle before you buy and make sure all of these vital ingredients are included.
Avoid Harmful Ingredients
While you nourish your body from the inside out with vitamins and minerals, you also need to attend to the surface of your skin. However, it’s likely that – at least while you’re pregnant – you might have to forego your traditional skincare regimen, as many products contain ingredients that are harmful to pregnant women or their fetus. Listed below are all of the skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy:
- Parabens: While a common cosmetic ingredient, studies suggest that parabens wreak havoc on the body’s hormone levels, which could disrupt fetal growth.
- Retin-A, retinol, and retinyl palmitate: Medical doctors urge women to avoid this group of products, even when pregnancy causes adult acne outbreaks. They present a possible risk to the fetus by potentially interrupting fetal growth.
- Essential oils: Doctors recommend avoiding essential oils because their concentration levels vary by product and brand, meaning ingesting or using too much could be extremely harmful since they absorb into the body quickly. For instance, rosemary oil could cause uterine contractions at high doses, while tea tree oil is harmful when ingested in large amounts. If essential oils are a major part of your skincare routine, talk to your doctor about which kinds to avoid.
- Salicylic acid: Although this another common skincare ingredient, it could also pose potential harm to the fetus. Experts recommend swapping salicylic acid out for glycolic, acid, and mandelic acids instead, which are safe and effective.
- Accutane: This potent ingredient is a huge hazard to pregnant women, as it has been proven to cause birth defects. Avoid it at all costs.
- Hydroquinone: If you start to experience the dreaded “pregnancy mask” or other discoloration problems, do not reach for this product, as it poses a threat to the fetus when absorbed into the body.
- Formaldehyde: Unfortunately, for all the gel manicure lovers, you’re going to have to switch nail treatments temporarily. Formaldehyde can cause miscarriages, so it’s much safer to stick with regular nail polish, preferably brands that are labeled “3-Free” or “5-Free” to indicate they do not contain formaldehyde.
Find a Skincare Line That's Right for You
While the list of skincare ingredients to avoid seems long and daunting, never fear, there are plenty of brands out there that cater specifically to pregnant women. Belli is a brand that is formulated by actual physicians, and every product is guaranteed to be paraben and phthalate free, allergy tested, and free of artificial dyes. Meanwhile, Novena has a maternity line that is vegan and organic, or you can re-do your entire skincare regimen using the comprehensive selection of organic products at Juice Beauty. Dermatologists also recommend Bio Oil to help prevent stretch marks, Amarte ‘Daily ExfoliPowder’ for gentle daily exfoliation without the harmful ingredients, SkinCeuticals ‘Phloretin CF Gel’ for acne-prone moms who have to avoid retinoids, and Neutrogena ‘Pure and Free Baby Sunscreen’ for protection against the sun and free radicals.