By the time we get pregnant, many of us have our skincare regime locked in - often after years of trial and error. We know the brands we love, we know what works, and for many of us, it’s a relief after years of skin issues. So it can be a bit of a shock to discover that pregnancy can change your skin, sometimes quite dramatically, which can really hit your confidence, hard.
That ‘glow’ that everyone tells you to expect? You can thank - or blame - your changing hormones! You’re not doing anything wrong if you experience teenage-like acne, dehydration or even become more sensitive to sun exposure or your usual products.
And that’s just your face! You may experience changes in the skin on the rest of your body, too. Stretch marks, itchy skin and skin tightness are all commonly experienced during pregnancy.
You may also be surprised to learn that some of the ingredients in your everyday products are not recommended for use during pregnancy.
While we can’t guarantee you won’t experience some of the skin changes mentioned in this article, if you take good care of your skin during pregnancy, you have a better chance of a positive experience if you follow the tips below!
Read on for our recommendations for a safe, effective pregnancy skincare routine.
Why Your Skin Can Change During Pregnancy
We hear so much about the ‘pregnancy glow’, but what actually causes it?
Many women experience an increase in the production of your skin’s natural oils when they conceive. This is often attributed to a combination of altered progesterone levels and an increase in blood flow and volume. This is great if the result is dewy, lit-from-within skin; it’s not so great if the overproduction of your skin’s natural oils leads to breakouts, clogged pores and hypersensitivity.
Why It Can be so Hard to Care for Your Skin
To put it plainly, it can be difficult to care for your skin during pregnancy because the changes can render your skin almost unrecognisable - in both good and not-so-good ways!
If your skin becomes oily, your usual moisturisers may be too heavy. Alternatively, if you usually have oily skin and it becomes dehydrated, your regular moisturiser may be too light! You may need to be patient while you find the formulation that’s right for you.
Additionally, you may find that the skin on your face and body becomes incredibly sensitive during pregnancy. Many women report their skin feeling quite itchy or a burning sensation, which is often resolved with regular moisturising. As your bump gets bigger, you may need to enlist the help of your partner or someone close to assist you, particularly when it comes to your feet!
Why it's Important to Look After Your Skin During Pregnancy
Your skin is the body’s largest organ, and it doesn’t just stretch to accommodate your growing baby! The skin plays a vital role in warding off infection, regulating your body temperature, and even regulates the production of Vitamin D - a vital nutrient for both your health and your baby’s. It can also become incredibly sensitive during pregnancy, which can potentially cause any pre-existing conditions you had prior to getting pregnant, to flare up again.
Know this: you’re not doing anything wrong if you experience teenage-like acne, dehydration or even become more sensitive to sun exposure or your usual products. And you certainly shouldn’t feel self-conscious or upset if your skin deviates a little (or a lot!) from its usual state.
It’s important to ensure that your skin is hydrated and moisturised throughout your pregnancy to protect skin that is a little more sensitive than usual, and to avoid or reduce stretch marks.
Stretch marks occur when the stretching and subsequent shrinking of the skin goes beyond what your body’s collagen and elastin can repair at the time. For some women, stretch marks are permanent. For others, they fade quickly. You can reduce the appearance of stretch marks by ensuring your skin is hydrated and well nourished internally (through adequate water intake and by eating plenty of fruit and veggies) and externally, through adequate hydration and moisturising. We love Mama & Bird's antioxidant belly oil delivering long lasting hydration and creating a beautiful all over glow.
Why it’s Important Your Skincare Products are Safe for Your Baby
It’s difficult to quantify how much of what you put on your skin enters into your bloodstream, so it’s best to be cautious with a number of ingredients commonly found in skincare.
A safe pregnancy skin care routine nourishes, hydrates and protects your skin, and avoids those skincare ingredients and treatments that can impair foetal development.
The ingredients most commonly recommended to avoid during pregnancy are: Retinol (also known as Retin-A or Retinyl Palmitate), Hydroquinone, concentrated essential oils, advanced skin treatments such as laser, and cosmetic injectables. The jury is still out on some ingredients, such as AHAs, but as always, our advice is ‘When in doubt, don’t’.
Pregnancy is a fantastic opportunity to really simplify your skincare routine and to experiment with more natural skincare products. A good product to start with? GAIA Pure Pregnancy Belly Butter. This lush, rich cream is specially formulated to maintain moisture, suppleness and elasticity while your belly is stretching to accommodate your growing baby. It contains Certified Organic Wheat Germ Oil, Certified Organic Shea Butter, Pure Cocoa Butter, Certified Organic Rosehip Oil, Certified Organic Aloe Vera Leaf Extract and Natural Vitamin E. Use it anywhere on your body that requires extra moisturisation and protection.
If you thought you left acne behind in high school, think again. When you get to the 6-week mark of your pregnancy, you may start to experience breakouts, which are typically caused by a surge in progesterone. This hormone spike causes your skin glands to secrete more oil, or sebum, which can clog up pores and lead to breakouts.
While it’s not something you need to worry about, health-wise, it can be a bit of a confidence killer, but know you’re not alone! In fact, more than half of all women report experiencing acne, ranging from mild to severe, during pregnancy.
Sadly, there’s no quick fix, but the good news? You can lessen the severity with some really simple steps:
- Be gentle with your skin! Avoid exfoliants and don’t scrub too harshly
- Choose oil-free skincare products
- Get some sun on your skin! Just 15 minutes of unprotected sun exposure, outside of peak UV time, can make a huge difference to your skin
- Eat a varied diet with plenty of fruit and veggies: make sure you’re getting plenty of Vitamin C, as this is involved in collagen production in the skin!
Stretch marks can really take a toll on your self-image during and after pregnancy. While we all intuitively ‘know’ that we’re growing a tiny human, the appearance of stretch marks can be confronting. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do.
Firstly? Invest in a product designed specifically for the prevention and treatment of stretch marks. One of our favourites, and a best seller at Queen Bee, is the Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil. It was been developed in consultation with experienced midwives and pharmacists, is dermatologically tested, and is certified natural skin care - so you know it’s safe for you and your baby.
Secondly, stay hydrated from the inside! Supple skin doesn’t tend to develop stretch marks as often (or as severely) as dehydrated skin. If you can’t stomach drinking litres upon litres of water, you can increase your hydration levels with water-rich fruits and vegetables, such as cucumbers, watermelon and oranges. A diet rich in fruit and veggies also provides a lot of the nutrients that are essential for skin repair, so it’s a win-win!
Finally, try to gain and lose weight at a slow, measured pace. We know this can be difficult when certain foods are appealing (or unappealing!) during your pregnancy, but rapid weight gain, followed by rapid weight loss, is the most common cause of stretch marks. Work with your doctor or primary health care provider to create a plan that works for you.
Nipple Care During Pregnancy
We often forget that the skin on our nipples is skin that needs to be taken care of, and trust us: you’ll never be so aware of your nipples as you are during pregnancy and the postpartum period!
Beautifully formulated to naturally soothe, soften and hydrate sore, cracked nipples, we love Mere Botanicals Nipple Cream. Its special formulation of moisturising active botanicals naturally soothes, heals and hydrates your nipples, which can become sensitive, itchy and even flaky during pregnancy.
Some tips for caring for your nipples during pregnancy:
- Wash with plain water, avoiding soaps and body washes containing fragrances
- Wear a cotton bra, and use a breast pad if you’re leaking colostrum
- Massage the breast and areola regularly with an oil-based product, such as a nipple cream.
Taking care of your skin during pregnancy is essential to avoid some of the conditions we mentioned above, and it’s also a great opportunity to slow down and show your body some love while it goes about the hard work of growing a tiny human. Taking time to execute your skin care routine can be a great way to bond with your baby, or even your partner, and it’s a great way to come back to yourself.
We have a gorgeous range of products to help you on your pregnancy skin care journey. You can browse the range (or find links to send hints to your loved ones!), here.