How to Get Your Glow Back After Having a Baby

Start with a healthy dose of self love.

By Brandy Joy Smith

With two kids at home, here’s something I know for sure: no two pregnancies or postpartum experiences are the same. Your body goes through a deluge of hormonal shifts during and after pregnancy. Some hormones drop, others soar, and what results is a true whirlwind of an emotional and physical journey. When I looked in the mirror postpartum, I felt unrecognizable, and couldn’t wait to recover my confident, pre-baby self. So, I started with my skin, digging into the best postpartum beauty products—and all the get-your-glow-back advice from the experts.

After having Liam, I was so busy and overwhelmed with the experiences of being a first-time mom that I didn’t even notice some of the changes that were happening in my body. All I was focused on was getting to know this new, tiny person and wondering if I was doing this whole motherhood thing right. When I had Norah, I was a bit more comfortable and had a better handle on things. And while I certainly had my hands full, I was feeling more aware of the changes in my own body. 

If you’re reading this in a panic because you’re experiencing the same, sometimes stress-inducing changes, don’t worry. This story has a happy ending. It took a few months, but with a little gentle coaxing and a lot of patience, I got my groove–and my glow back! So, how did I get there? Through a few essential steps that I’d highly recommend to any new mama. Let’s get to them.

Feature image by Zachary Gray.

postpartum beauty products
Image by Michelle Nash

What are common skin conditions women may experience postpartum?

Among the many changes I experienced was a complete shift in my post-pregnancy skin’s appearance. Throughout my first pregnancy, I had that signature glow (you know, the one everyone’s commenting on). But after I delivered Liam, I was almost immediately left with dull, dry skin that didn’t do anything to help my nighttime feedings-induced under-eye circles! My usual skincare routine was no match for the woes I was experiencing, and I just wasn’t feeling like myself. I tried reaching for the foundation and concealer, but when I applied my products, they’d only cling to my thirsty, flaky skin. Not a cute look—and it only made me feel worse. It was abundantly clear that instead of attempting to cover up my skin issues, I needed to focus on giving my skin some extra TLC. 

What helped was knowing that I wasn’t alone in this particular struggle. Many women experience changes in their skin’s appearance postpartum. An onset of acne can be common with hormonal shifts and the high stresses that moms experience. Another common complaint is melasma. Those who experience melasma see uneven brown patches of hyperpigmentation on the skin develop as a result of a build-up of melanin. It’s totally harmless but can sometimes stick around even with intervention.

The dullness and dryness I was experiencing, on the other hand, are also common. Now I’m one for fully embracing yourself as you are, loving every inch of that mommy body (and don’t forget about your face, too!). But during a time when so much of your devotion goes to your baby, it can feel rewarding to do something for yourself. With hormones raging, I wanted a bit of my old self back—and to feel good in my own literal skin. I turned to an expert for the answers.

Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD

Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce, MD is a board-certified dermatologist and dermatologic surgeon specializing in the practice of both cosmetic and medical dermatology. She views cosmetic dermatology as synergistic to a happy, healthy lifestyle and regularly counsels her patients in a balanced, natural approach to both cosmetic and medical dermatology.

postpartum beauty products
Image by Michelle Nash

Why does skin appear dry postpartum?

I spoke with Dr. Elizabeth Geddes-Bruce to get some insight into post-pregnancy skin. She shared that while new mothers have spent the last nine months with that rosy, pregnancy glow, it’s normal that they may now be experiencing skin that appears dull and feels dry post-baby. “Thanks to hormone changes, sleep deprivation, and stress, our skin can take a bit of a beating. Thankfully, many of these changes are temporary as the skin has an amazing quality of bouncing back and being amenable to repairs with a little TLC,” said Dr. Geddes-Bruce when asked why our skin changes after having a baby.

“During pregnancy, the body has a higher blood volume and higher levels of hormones. Quickly after birth, these levels plummet and the effects on the skin can be a bit jarring. Couple that with some sleepless nights and general self-neglect, and you’ve got a recipe for skin that needs a little help turning over and retaining moisture.”

postpartum beauty products
Image by Belathée

What steps can new mothers take to get their glow back?

When it comes to the best postpartum beauty products, Dr. Geddes-Bruce says to look for “products that contain niacinamide, zinc, azelaic acid, and hyaluronic acid during this time period. They are all safe to use while pregnant or nursing, and will keep your skin soft, hydrated, and bright.” 

A Good Facial

The first thing I did when I noticed that my skin had lost its glow was book an appointment with my esthetician. When I finally had the chance to see her after my body had some time to recover, she suggested a LaserAway Clear + Brilliant skin rejuvenating facial. This laser facial permeates the skin microscopically and speeds up cell turnover, polishing away dull skin and revealing a more refreshed glow. This facial launched my postpartum skin journey, and while it definitely felt raw and red for a few days after, I saw a marked difference in texture after about a week.

postpartum beauty products
Image by Michelle Nash

Load On The Moisture

Part of the reason my skin felt so dry was because I was so busy juggling my two babies that I would entirely forget to moisturize. After a little research and recommendations from my friends and esthetician, I settled on the Therapi Honey Skincare Ultra Radiance Cream. This super-thick cream is formulated with organic botanicals, so it’s perfect to incorporate into your pregnancy skincare routine, too. 

My esthetician also suggested Three Ships Dew Drops, which is a serum that contains vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. While hyaluronic acid works to combat dryness, vitamin C is clinically proven to brighten skin.

Together, this cream and serum duo helped bring life and plumpness back into my devitalized and stressed-out skin. I kept these products on my nightstand so I didn’t even have to get out of bed to apply them during snuggle time with Liam and Norah. 

Boost That Glow

While I was able to sneak away to get a laser facial once, I didn’t have time to get routine professional facials during the first year of Norah’s life. I knew that chemical peels could really help to brighten my complexion, so I was thrilled to find Goop’s Goop Glow. These glycolic acid overnight peels allowed me to get the benefits of a chemical peel safely at home once a week. This is a product I still use today because the results were so dramatic. Within a few months, my glow was back in full force!

Be Easy On Yourself

Little ones take priority, but it’s important to remember that being a great parent means taking care of yourself, too. Stress shows up in so many ways, including your skin and hair. However, I’m not going to sit here and tell you to get more sleep because let’s face it—you’re not going to get it. But this is a good time to lean on your partner or loved ones to give you some time to yourself. Tyler goes out of his way to spend quality time with Liam and Norah so that I have the opportunity to take a relaxing Epsom salt bath to unwind. A little time to unplug goes a long way. 

And there you have it. If you’re struggling from stressed out and dull skin, I hope you’ve found some helpful advice as well as a reminder that you’re not alone in this. If you’ve experienced the same thing, I’d love it if you shared your holy grail products and routines that helped you get your glow back.