Pregnancy Skincare 101

By Camille Styles

It’s one of the “joys” of pregnancy: crazy hormones send your skin into a tailspin of dryness, acne, or redness, but there’s such a dearth of research out there about what treatments are safe to use during pregnancy that launching any kind of new product regimen can be scary. Now that I’m on my second go round, I’ve had time to develop a better grip on my pregnancy skincare routine, using a small selection of natural products that are 100% safe for baby, but contain enough active ingredients to keep any sudden acne flare-ups at bay. Click through for a few things I’ve learned, what ingredients to avoid, and how I’m currently treating my skin, and I’d love to hear any tips you might have in the comments for getting that elusive “pregnancy glow” that every mama-to-be craves!

Most of us know how important it is to pay extra attention to the things we put into our bodies while pregnant — alcohol, caffeine, sushi (I know, all the good stuff…*sigh*) But it’s also crucial to watch what we’re putting on our skin since some topical ingredients are absorbed into the bloodstream.

Common ingredients to avoid:

  • Retinoids. A type of vitamin A that’s found in many antiaging products  (like Retin-A). High doses can be harmful to an unborn baby. Also watch for labels that say Differin and Retinol.
  • Salicylic Acid. Since this is the active ingredient in most acne products, it’s the one I’ve had to be most on the lookout for when looking for treatment options. Since high doses in the oral form have been shown to cause harm, it’s best to avoid topical use altogether, especially in the form of peels, which penetrate more deeply into the bloodstream. This includes beta hydroxy acids; though alpha hydroxy acids, glycolic acids, and lactic acids are considered safe.
  • Latisse. I’ve used this eyelash enhancer for a few years, and love how long and thick it’s made my lashes. Unfort, most doctors say it’s a no-no while you’re preggers, since it’s had some adverse effects during the animal testing (and has never been tested for pregnancy safety on humans.) Bummer, yes. But baby’s safety is definitely worth giving up lush lashes for a bit.

image by rylee hitchner photography

A new routine.

When I found out I was pregnant, I knew I couldn’t continue using all the products in my normal skincare routine (see slide 1 — I own products that contain them all!)  But instead of resigning myself to breakouts during the next 9 months, I took a more proactive approach by finding safe, all-organic products that really work. 

My current lineup is centered around the organic results-driven skincare line, Éminence. It uses fruits and herbs that are unusually high in nutrients, as well as active compounds that harness these potent ingredients, into collections targeted at different skincare issues.

Before bed, I use the Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser followed by the Red Currant Balancing Concentrate, and sometimes a treatment mask (more on that later.) In the morning, I swipe on Kate Somerville’s Clarifying Treatment Toner, followed by another dose of the Red Currant Balancing Concentrate and then my normal makeup routine.

Other great organic lines you may want to check out, depending on your individual skin type and biggest concerns:

Kora. Created by Miranda Kerr – and she swears it’s the secret to her dewy glow.

Tata Harper. Super effective and all products smell amazing.

RMS. Each product contains just a handful of organic ingredients.

Josie Maran. Her argan oil-based skincare and makeup is so nourishing to skin.

Suki. It’s Exfoliating Foaming Cleanser is a cult favorite.

photo by yuna leonard photography via 100 layer cakelet

Face masks.

Although I’m not usually a face mask person (especially with a 2-year-old running around, who has the time?) But I’ve learned that if there’s ever a time to give your body a little extra pampering, it’s during pregnancy. A face mask that contains all-natural ingredients is a great way to give your skin an extra boost to combat dryness, irritation, or acne. I’ve been applying a thin layer of Éminence Clear Skin Probiotic Masque before bed a couple nights a week, and when I wake up in the morning, it’s completely absorbed into my skin and provides an extra burst of treatment to keep breakouts at bay.

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As much as I love my beauty rituals, this pregnancy has actually been the first time that I’ve ever started a monthly facial routine. Since I can’t use some of the more potent exfoliating products, I’ve found that getting hands-on treatment by someone who’s knowledgeable in treating skin from the inside-out is a really effective way to keep my skin clear and glowing, naturally. I’ve been getting a cool “hydradermabrasion” facial that exfoliates, extracts oil, and helps correct hyper pigmentation. Seek out a spa or facialist in your area that specializes in natural skincare and uses organic products — then feel free to ask tons of questions during your session to find a good at-home routine for you.

image by michael rad photography

Clarisonic Brush.

Since many of the topical exfoliating treatments on the market aren’t safe during pregnancy (because they contain retinoids and salicylic acid — see slide 1), there’s no better time to take advantage of the Clarisonic brush’s cleansing technology that removes the dirt and oil that are deep in your pores. Plus, when you do apply natural and organic products after cleansing with the brush, they’ll absorb more effectively. A few important tips that I’ve learned about my Clarisonic through the years:

  • Store it in a dry place. Although I use my Clarisonic in the shower, it’s important to let it dry out outside the shower to prevent mildew buildup.
  • Remove makeup before using the brush — if you skip this step, you can actually end up grinding makeup deeper into your pores.
  • Change the brush head regularly – every 2 to 3 months – to ensure a germ-free environment.

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Prevent stretch marks.

We all know that during pregnancy, skincare extends beyond the face — we want to do everything we can to prevent stretch marks! Although there’s no way to guarantee you won’t get them (some of it is based on heredity, your skin pigmentation, and the size of your baby), there’s no better way to promote your skin’s elasticity than by applying a nourishing body butter or creme every single day. A few of my favorites are:

Burt’s Bees Mama Bee Belly Butter

Bella B Tummy Honey Butter

Earth Mama Body Butter

Get your Omegas.

It’s important to take a DHA/Omega-3 supplement every day to promote baby’s growth and development, and the fact that it benefits mama by reducing inflammation and promoting glowing skin is an added bonus.

And by consuming plenty of “good fats” in our diet by eating fatty fish like salmon, flaxseeds and walnuts, and avocados, we’ll enhance skin’s elasticity and natural glow. After all, your overall health is reflected through your skin, and there’s no better time than pregnancy to take the absolute best care of yourself you can.

image by erin hearts court via 100 layer cakelet