No, you don’t need to give up beauty for nine months… you just need a few baby tweaks.
Pregnancy is many things: a wondrous feat of nature, an incredible ode to the female body, an almost comically magical time of skin-stretching and out of control cleavage and thinking you couldn’t possibly get any bigger…but next minute, you have no ankles. Magical.
But one thing it’s not is a fun beauty time. Same goes for breastfeeding. Aside from the melasma, Sahara-esque dryness, hormonal acne and postpartum bum fluff, there’s a whole lot of confusion around what you can and can’t use. Hell, I am pregnant and I’m still confused (that could be pregnancy brain though). So I brought in the big guns: Dr. Michele Squire, pHD scientist, science educator and founder of QR8, and Tegan Natoli, co-founder of Bump Day Spa to help clear up all those pregnancy and breastfeeding skin questions.
The Good, The Bad And The Hormones
The hormones. Oh man, the hormones! It’s like a highly emotional demon has taken over your soul, forcing you to cry because you had to wait too long for coffee/ it was too hot/ you realised that you actually wanted tea. And those same crazytown hormones are also responsible for some epic changes in your skin, hair, nails, gums and even sweat glands… because as it happens, it takes quite a lot to grow (and feed) a human.
Cute Pregnancy And Postpartum Skin Conditions
(That Are Actually Total Jerks)
Pigmentation, particularly melasma, occurs in up to 75 per cent of pregnant women, usually around cheeks, forehead, nose, and upper lip. “It’s a result of the pigment-producing cells in your skin (‘melanocytes’) over-producing pigment, which is then deposited in cells throughout the epidermis and dermis,” says Dr. Squire.
Hormones generally trigger it, though the sun will exacerbate it. For a lot of women it fades when the hormones settle (six to 12 months postpartum), but around a third aren’t so lucky. It’s not treatable during pregnancy, but you can minimise the damage with a strict sun protection routine, and avoiding products that may trigger inflammation/ irritation.
Then are the other kinds of spots: the pimply kind. Tegan says, “Acne can be caused by an increase of the hormone called androgens which can create more oily skin causing pores and breakouts.” Essentially we start producing more oil, which feeds acne-producing bacteria and hey presto, zits! As for treatment, Dr. Squire says it’s always best to check with your doctor before treating acne during pregnancy, “especially if you’re using prescription oral or topical acne medications or antibiotics as some of these are not safe during pregnancy.”
The Bump Beauty Guide
Have a poke around the Internet and you’ll see just how much information there is out there about what is and isn’t safe during pregnancy. It’s hard to know what to believe, and what is hyperbole. Like, is it really safer to go ‘natural’ with products?
Dr. Squires weighs in on this: “If ‘natural’ fits with your personal philosophy then that’s one thing, but don’t allow yourself to be greenwashed into believing that ‘natural’ somehow indicates safety (or efficacy). The best beauty products are those that are led by evidence, from reputable companies with an infrastructure that allows for rigorous quality and safety checks, and work for your skin, at a price you can afford.”
The problem with a lot of ingredients is that there simply hasn’t been enough research on them or their potential effects through pregnancy, because research needs test groups, and – surprise! – there aren’t too many people volunteering to play guinea pig during their pregnancy.
That said, these ingredients that have been studied and deemed unsafe for pregnancy: retinol and prescription retinoids and hydroquinone. The former has been linked to some mental and physical birth defects, while the latter has an extremely high absorbency rate, which puts it on the ‘no’ list.
… continue reading this story in the Winter 2020 issue of Gritty Pretty Magazine. Including four expert-approved safe switches during your pregnancy.