Pregnancy, trying to conceive and skincare: What you need to know
Lots of things can change about your skin during pregnancy, this is due to the changes in hormones and an increase in the quantity of blood your body now contains.
Your endocrine system is in overdrive. Oestrogen and Progesterone are the chief hormones present during pregnancy and there can be negative and also positive effects to all these changes.
Please note if you are suffering with any issues with your skin while pregnant please book in with myself brightskin.ie for specific help and guidance, as each woman is different.
Due to an increase in blood in the body, you may have the much longed for pregnancy glow. This extra blood brings more oxygen and nutrients to the skin, meaning your skin is in a healthier state.
This is great, but it's also short lived and your skin will return to its pre-pregnancy state after pregnancy. Also a shift in the hormones Oestrogen and HcG can cause a very slight increase in basal body temperature, giving the skin a slight flushed appearance.
The changes in hormone levels can trigger a few different issues with your skin. Some of these issues can be breakouts, acne of varying grades, dryness, sensitivity, pigmentation (mask of pregnancy), excess oil production and the dreaded stretch marks.
Breakouts and Acne
Get yourself a face wash with pregnancy safe levels of Salicylic Acid, Environ Sebuwash is one that is safe in. This will help to kill bacteria, and dissolve any oily build up.
Dryness and Sensitivity
Ditch your foaming face wash for something creamy like the Avene extremely gentle cleanser, use it in the same way by massaging it into the skin and remove with a face cloth or Cleanse off Mitt and lukewarm water.
Use a hydrating and calming Serum like Skingredients Skin Veg and don't forget SPF.
First things first prevent it with SPF. If pigment is present, try the Murad Rapid Age Spot Correcting serum. It's pricey, but it works! Only use it on the affected area to make it last way longer.
Cannot be treated or avoided. Bump creams and oils are lovely and help with any itch associated with stretching skin, but stretch marks are like scars and only time will fade them.
Including lots of Omegas in your diet, drinking lots of water and moisturising twice a day, MAY help reduce their severity. I would recommend a tummy oil, like the Mama Mio range, this will ease any itchiness and is packed with skin healthy and pregnancy safe omegas. It's your best bet at keeping the skin on your tummy in good shape, and it is a gorgeous and luxurious product to treat yourself with daily.
What to avoid
Salicylic acid, however there are some cleansers that have levels that have been deemed safe for use. (Environ SebuWash). Ensure you avoid over the counter wart treatments, as they have a very high level of Salicylic acid.
Vitamin A, however the use of low levels of the Retinyl Palmitate form of Vitamin A have been deemed perfectly safe (Environ AVST 1 and 2)
Retinol, a form of vitamin A that is unsafe, if something says RETINOL anywhere on the packaging, it is not advised you use while pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive.
Vitamin A Supplements, not safe at all in any dose while TTC or pregnant.
Benzoyl Peroxide, not safe for use, if you have acne, a dermatologist may prescribe its use in a form under 2% to be used locally.
Botox/Fillers, not safe for use.
Essential Oils, specifically Mint oil should be avoided, however, other essential oils may cause sensitivity during pregnancy, best to avoid.
Hydroquinone, Not safe, but also not available in Ireland so no fear here.
It is also important to know that, while yes, you should avoid all of the above as a precaution, these products won't penetrate through to your bloodstream in levels high enough and therefore cannot get anywhere near a growing baby. This is all a precaution.
The use of Tretinoin which is a prescription form of Vitamin A has reported 4 cases of birth defects but the role of topical tretinoin use in these cases is unknown. Therefore all Vitamin A products have been deemed not safe as a precautionary measure. So if you have been using some skincare containing Vitamin A without knowing, not to worry, more recent studies of women using Tretinoin in the first trimester have shown no increased risk.
The problem with skincare and pregnancy is that we don't have enough data, as testing on pregnant women is difficult. So until we do, we avoid these ingredients, to be on the safe side.
Skincare for your hospital bag
When packing your hospital bag, it is a good idea to pop in a couple of skin bits to ensure you are feeling the best version of yourself after that first shower after childbirth, also known as the best shower of your life.
Let's be realistic here, you can bring a complex routine with you, but you won't have the time, energy or inclination to bother with skincare when you have a newborn in hospital especially now with covid restrictions as you will be alone most of the time. So here is a mini checklist so you can ensure you have just what you need. Bear in mind you don't want to have strong products on your skin as they can transfer to the baby when you are having those first few days in your baby bubble with lots of skin to skin.
Top Tip- just decant some of your own products into travel sizes if you have them.
1. Gentle cleanser and face cloths
2. A gentle moisturiser
3. An SPF for home time.
4. Also a facial spray is nice for cooling you down during labour or even washing your face from the bed, if you can't get up for a while after anesthesia. Avene or La roche Posay would be good choices.
I tend to recommend the brand AVENE for this time in your life. The hospital is hot and dry and you want something gentle on your skin as it may be sensitive and also you don't want anything transferring to the baby's skin and irritating it. Avene is a product that is as gentle as it is nourishing and is just what your lil face will need in those first couple of weeks.
Please always check with your GP, Midwife, Obstetrician or Gynae if you have any questions.
If your skin is in need of some expert advice, I am taking bookings for Virtual Skin Assessments and have availability from March onwards.
I also have a webinar on Sunday the 21st of February covering most common skin conditions. Attendance is €25. Book your spot brightskin.ie
Gráinne Callaghan from Westmeath is the owner of Bright Skin, an online education and consultation service.
Brightskin.ie offers Online Skin Assessments €40 for clients and educational Webinars €25 for people working with skin and skincare. She is a former secondary school teacher with a passion for educating people about skin and skincare and providing fact and science led information to her clients. No BS, no marketing, no sales targets, just honest advice.