This is for all you new baby mamas, soon-to-be baby mamas and friends of baby mamas out there.
Having a child is daunting – especially if it’s your first. You can get all the advice in the world to care for your new bubba from other women who’ve done it before, but information about caring for yourself and your pregnancy beauty regimen is a bit vague.
Sensing this gap on the details front, we reached out to two authorities on pregnancy skincare – Anna Mitsios, Founder of Edible Beauty and Fertility Naturopath, and Zoe Devine, Skin Expert at Skinstitut – for everything you need to know about beauty when you’re expecting…
CHANGES TO YOUR BODY
Besides the obvious (big belly, big boobies, big booty…) here are some other physical changes that could happen to you body while you’re up the duff. Totally worth it though, we’ve heard!
- Pregnancy glow – “This is actually a thing,” explains Devine. “We have more blood flow in the skin while we’re pregnant, which can create a more luminous and radiant complexion. Though it is more apparent in some women than others,” she says.
- Breakouts & pigmentation – During the first and second trimester, adult acne along the chin and pigmentation above the lip is normal, says Devine. It’s understood that these areas are linked to our reproductive organs and affected when there is hormonal change in those area. Though, “this usually balances out when you finish breastfeeding,” she reassures.
- Hair thinning/hair growth – No winners here. Excess bodily hair growth (underarms, legs, etc.) is quite common throughout pregnancy because of higher estrogen levels. Alternatively, you could get hair thinning, especially during breastfeeding, since much of your nutrients are going to the milk supply. Following this, your hair may grow back quickly, but this is it returning to its normal cycle because your nutritional and hormone levels are back at their norm.
- Stretch marks – Stretch marks happen when our collagen fibres are overstretched and break (most common during third trimester). Lying in the sun (without SPF protection) can have a knock-on effect and prematurely deplete collagen, further exacerbating stretch marks; so can genetic pre-disposition and stress.
Solve all your pregnancy skin woes with the below products, which our experts deem pregnancy must-haves:
ANNA MITSIOS, EDIBLE BEAUTY
- Eye Cream – Use one with caffeine and cucumber to de-puff eyes, and gently massage to boost circulation in the area to help pre-empt dark circles. (Try: Edible Beauty Gold Rush Eye Balm.)
- Sheet Masks – Use a sheet mask of the hydrating variety while breastfeeding to rejuvenate the skin. (We suggest: SK-II Facial Treatment Mask.)
- Mineral Foundation Powder – Conceal any redness with a thin veil of mineral foundation powder. These don’t aggravate sensitive skin and are safe to nap in. (We suggest: Jane Iredale Amazing Base Loose Mineral Powder.)
ZOE DEVINE, SKINSTITUT
- Body Oil – Massage antioxidant-rich oils onto skin during your pregnancy to help boost collagen and reduce the likelihood of stretch marks. (We love: Skinstitut Multi-Active Oil, Vanessa Megan Mumma’s Bubba Bump Pregnancy Oil and 10 & Co. Mother Lover Body Oil)
- Hydrating/Repairing serum – Many serums, especially brightening ones, have chemical agents and actives that produce instant results. While you’re pregnant, steering clear of these is advised, however serum-use is still recommended since these are the most effective corrective products you can use. Choose one that hydrates and repairs in oil-form. (Try: Skinstitut Rejuvenate-15 Serum.)
- Cleanser – Time-poor mums should try to cleanse every evening – if not twice a day, says Devine. Opt for a gentle cream cleanser, especially if your skin has become reactive. (We suggest: Bioderma Sensibio H2o for makeup removal, followed by Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser).
NATURAL BEAUTY OR NOT?
Then there’s the whole debate about using only natural products while pregnant. Mitsios is of the opinion that if you can, why not?
“The placenta is not actually a barrier between a pregnant woman and a baby,” she says. “Quite alarmingly, 287 chemicals – from skincare products, the environment, household cleaning products, etc. – have been shown to be present in the umbilical cords of babies”.
(Editor’s note: This U.S study conducted by Environmental Working Group in association with Commonweal in 2005 tested a sample size of 10 babies born between August-September 2004. The full picture: here.)
Mitsios continues, “with the average woman using 168 chemicals daily, many of which have been linked to reproductive or developmental toxicity,” it might be best just to err on the side of caution by using natural beauty products, where possible.
But since we turned out seemingly fine, we query Mitsios about the use of chemically-enriched products by our own mothers while they were pregnant with us. She explains: “We turned out OK, but the effect might be accumulative.” While there is not enough data to support this, Mitosis believes because our toxic load is increasing, some of our genes may be affected and this passes down the generations. “We’re also using more product on babies these days, and the environment which we can’t control, is becoming more toxic. What we can control is our own exposure,” she adds.
The counter debate is that a complete overhaul is not necessary. By all means, avoid highly concentrated and prescription chemicals, but ultimately, Devine says it comes down to the concentration of the ingredient in the product. “Some products might use a small amount that’s safe and tolerated by the skin,” she explains.
She advises that if there is ever any doubt over a specific product or ingredient, speaking to the brand, official stockist or a skin expert should always be your first point of call.
1. Avoid retinoids.
“Retinoids are a form of Vitamin A and when used in a concentrated [or prescriptive] form in creams, can be linked to birth defects in an unborn foetus,” explains Mitsios. “Avoid using retinols or retinoids. And, if you go to a beauty salon, some treatments can have them,” she warns. That said, vitamin A in its natural form, for example in Rosehip oils is completely fine to use. (Try: KORA Organics Luxurious Rosehip Oil.)
2. Don’t make any dramatic beauty changes.
“If you are already using active products like an AHA-chemical exfoliant and your skin is fine, there is no need to discontinue use,” informs Devine. “But, if you haven’t used an AHA-chemical exfoliant before, your skin is more responsive than normal while pregnant, so don’t start,” she says.
3. Go for gentle salon treatments.
Desperate for a facial while preggers? Go for something that’s gentle. “Microdermabrasion is safe, and facials are safe,” says Devine. “Please avoid peels, your skin will not respond favourably to them,” she adds.
Got pregnancy beauty tips? Share them with the sisterhood below in the comments!