Is it just our Instagram feeds or are they all just finished? Friends, family, co-workers, influencers … bumps occur everywhere! Blame cabin fever or some trick of the eye, but don’t shoot the messenger (that’s us) to kindly remind that in addition to all of the wonderfully joyful changes that pregnancy brings, there are also breakouts, melasma and There are stretch marks. Baby’s health always comes before skin care, but it can still be disarming when the complexion you’ve worked so hard on pulls a bait and switch. The beautician and mother of Sofie Pavitt, who will soon be two years old, knows all about it. Below is her answers to the most important questions about pregnancy skin care, from the products she loves and would never recommend. Sofie, take it away!
Pregnancy skin is real
The key word for all major skin changes during pregnancy are hormones – they can have a significant impact on the skin. If you are usually very dry, your skin may feel very plump and glowing. Or if you’re usually oily and acne prone, monster breakouts can occur. Melasma, a form of hyperpigmentation sometimes referred to as the “mask of pregnancy”, can be a major problem during pregnancy. Your hormones are still insane while you are breastfeeding, so it is best to continue your skin care routine while you are breastfeeding. I will not perform major treatments on clients while they are breastfeeding – the risk of pigmentation and side effects is still too high.
You should avoid these ingredients
The big one that should be avoided is retinoids or retinol in some form. Retinoids are what we call a teratogenic drug, which means that they can cause deformities within fetal development. In other words, they are known to cause birth defects. There is some debate about whether the body absorbs enough topical retinoids to cause problems, but who wants to risk that? Just avoid them. This also applies to oral isotretinoin or Accutane, which is extremely dangerous to use during pregnancy – so much so that you need to do a pregnancy test before getting a prescription for it. Other things to avoid are hydroquinone bleaches which are systemically absorbed and arbutin can break down into hydroquinone so I think avoiding it too. If your skin is particularly sensitive, some chemical sunscreens can be irritating to the touch.
But you don’t have to throw away all of your acne products
Many pregnant customers switch to a natural line of products because they think it might be safer to do so. You should always ask your doctor, but since you’ve asked me, I don’t think there’s a need to avoid drug stores or active ingredients during pregnancy. First, natural products can be very comedogenic. If you are already acne prone and break out from excessive hormones, it can cause problems. Additionally, products containing benzoyl peroxide, AHAs, and sulfur can be of great benefit in combating pregnancy-related outbreaks. Salicylic acid falls in a gray area of pregnancy safety, but most of the studies on it were done in the 1970s and tested oral salicylic acid, aspirin. Personally, I feel very comfortable using 2 percent salicylic acid themes once or twice a week during pregnancy. IS Clinical’s Cleansing Complex contains willow bark, a super gentle, natural form of salicylic acid, and is great for a thorough cleanse when you’re feeling oily or constipated. Another super gentle scrub is Tatcha’s Dewy Serum, which uses lactic acid. For something stronger, I love Dr. Loretta’s Glycol Peeling Pads. A peeling here and there also feels great – I use the ZO Skin Health Peeling Polish.
It is easier to prevent melasma than to treat it
I’m a big fan of ZO Skin Health’s Brightalive Skin Brightener to protect myself from hyperpigmentation. Tranexamic acid, niacinamide, and peptides make this gentle but super active product – I apply it every morning. Vitamin C serums also help with protection. My current favorite is the silicone-based Allies of Skin serum. SPF is not negotiable. In the morning, I go straight for a moist SPF because I have the feeling that if you put on a moisturizer and then some sunscreen, it can be easy to get the SPF too light. I love the Extreme Protect from iS Clinical, RéVive Soleil Superieur and the Every Sun Day Mineral SPF from Dr. Jart. And if I want to spend a lot of time outdoors, a hat is a must. When I was pregnant with my first one, I spent a day in the sun and the glare from my white t-shirt made me hyperpigmented! If something like this happens, you can get rid of it by using a hydroquinone after you finish breastfeeding, which I did too.
The same goes for stretch marks
Let’s go there. Getting stretch marks is perfectly normal, but they are still a major problem for most of my pregnant clients. Hydration is key to prevention and skin strength – make sure you drink plenty of water and keep your bump hydrated every day. My undoubtedly favorite body butter, pregnant or not, is Mutha. I just started using Perricone MD’s Cold Plasma Body Treatment and I’m super impressed with it. I’ve also used the Evereden Soothing Belly Masks a couple of times – a sheet mask for your bump! Very fun and very moisturizing. You should also know that some people are more likely to be predisposed to stretch marks, which is fine.
When your skin changes, so should your moisturizer
I use a canopy humidifier while I sleep which definitely helps, and I take extra fish oil for my skin. Dr. Loretta’s moisturizing cleanser is a must-have – it’s super gentle, pregnancy-safe, and the only active ingredient in it is peptides. At night I can add a cleansing balm from Eve Lom or Augustinus Bader beforehand if my skin feels particularly dry. Furtuna Skin Balm, Shiffa Healing Balm, and the Reparative Moisture Emulsion from iS Clinical are some of the most popular moisturizers for my dry skin. But as the mother of an 18-month-old man who is also six months pregnant and runs a skin care business, there are some nights when I have exactly 30 seconds to bathe my child, put them to bed, and pass out make to rub a little something on my face. I love using First Aid Beauty’s Ultra Repair Cream, which is very gentle and has colloidal oatmeal in it, or Avènes Cicalfate Cream to save time for me and Nico. I just make sure I’m extremely hydrated before bed.
Lean into the strangeness
My belly button popped out like the plastic button on a turkey the day I went to work with Nico. Another strange pregnancy phenomenon I experienced was my feet being so dry after the first birth! I would recommend investing in a good foot cream. I’ve used O’Keeffe’s Healthy Feet, which is extremely unsexy, but I haven’t found anything that works better yet. Please send me suggestions if you have them!
– Sofie Pavitt
Photo about the author