Pregnancy Skin Care: What is Safe and What to Avoid
Did you know that one out of 33 babies in the United States has a birth defect? The major cause of these defects is unknown, but there are theories that some skin care products could be responsible for it.
Raging hormones often lead to breakouts – a problem that pregnant women need to deal with carefully. Acne during pregnancy is worse compared to puberty because you have limited options in skin care products. There are some skincare solutions that are not ideal for use when you are pregnant because they can harm your growing baby.
Here are some pointers on pregnancy skin care that could ensure your unborn child’s safety.
1. Chemical Peels Using Beta Hydroxy Acids or Salicylic Acid Are a No-No
Pregnant women should skip products containing salicylic acid and other BHAs for the next nine months. Salicylic acid is a common ingredient in acne products and cosmetics. Although there are no conclusive findings that topical application of BHAs could result in birth defects, it would be better to stay away from these products to be safe.
In large doses, BHAs may result to lower birth weight and increase malformations. With topical use, acid absorption should not be significant enough to cause damage; however, doctors agree that expectant mothers should not take the risk.
2. Go Oil-Free All the Way
It would be best to observe these rules whether you shop for a face cream, sunscreen or lotion.
Remember that your hormones are in overdrive during pregnancy, so you are prone to breakouts. It would be better to keep those zits from appearing, rather than desperately looking for ways to get rid of them.
3. Choose Titanium or Zinc Oxide Sunscreens
If your sunscreen contains oxybenzone, stop using it right away, because this chemical could potentially harm your unborn child. The best choices in the market are physical sunscreen products that contain titanium oxide or zinc oxide.
Oxybenzone is a highly absorbent chemical that could seep into your skin quickly. While it can prevent skin darkening effectively, it is also linked to lower birth weights. In one study, findings revealed that mothers exposed to this chemical gave birth to baby girls with lower birth weights – a risk factor for type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Aside from that, this chemical is strong enough to interfere with your hormones. This could lead to problems with your baby’s development.
Compare to oxybenzone, zinc and titanium oxide are safer. Of the two, zinc oxide sunscreens (such as Natural eScentials Zinc Oxide Powder Sunscreen) provides better production from UVA rays without putting you and your baby at risk.
4. No Retinol-Based Products for Pregnancy Skin Care
Retinol may be a miracle in a jar, but pregnant women should steer clear of this product. Retinol happens to be one of the most controversial ingredients for pregnancy skin care products. Absorption rate for this chemical is low, but there are cases of birth defects linked to its use.
No matter how effective retinol is in improving the appearance of your skin, you should not resort to products containing this vitamin A derivative. The “ban” on retinol products is not just for pregnant women; it should also extend to breastfeeding mothers. Researchers have yet to figure out the role of retinol in birth defects, but based on their latest findings, this product should not be part of your maternity skincare routine.
After giving birth and breastfeeding, you can use this product again, since it is effective in combating skin aging. If you have stubborn stretch marks, this could also be the perfect solution to that problem, as well.
5. Pregnancy Skincare for Acne: Glycolic Peels And AHAs
Acne during pregnancy can be a nightmare. Your best bet is to go for AHAs and glycolic peels. These acids are safer than BHAs, since they come from a natural product – sugar cane. Before you dive into using this topical remedy to get rid of those pesky zits, there are some things you need to know about these acids first.
Glycolic peels could solve your acne problems, but they could make skin darkening worse. Cosmetics containing glycolic acid are safe, but never use this chemical in high doses. A research study revealed that administering high doses of this acid to animals can result in reproductive effects. In humans, this chemical is safe when applied topically, since the skin only absorbs a minimal amount. Even so, always check with your doctor before trying any new product or skin care treatment.
6. Never Take Oral Acne Medication Without Your Doctor’s Approval
You should never take any oral acne medicine without your doctor’s approval when you are pregnant. Once you have confirmed your pregnancy, doctors generally give you a list of medicines you can take. Keep in mind, there are some medications that could harm your unborn child, and the risks increase when you take medicines orally.
Among the number one tablet that you should never take is oratane or roaccutane. This is a big no-no for any pregnant women. This is not only linked to birth defects, there is solid proof that it could harm your baby. This tablet may be one of the best ways to help your skin clear up, but it could also be your baby’s worst nightmare. Major defects could result from taking this medicine and that is the last thing you want your baby to suffer from, but it is preventable by avoiding it.
If you need to take any kind of drug and you are pregnant, ask your doctor if it is safe for your baby first. Even if your web searches say it’s alright to take that medicine, it is still important to double check with your doctor, just to be safe.
7. Laser Treatments Are Out of the Question
Laser treatment is all the rage, but expecting mothers should pass on regular laser treatments. Pregnancy dermatology does not recommend laser treatments, including IPL. It would be better to wait until after the breastfeeding stage before you resume your laser treatments.
These treatment options are all about applying laser on the surface of your skin. In fact, many people do not see much risk in these procedures, but these are not advisable for pregnant women. Even IPL treatments for hair removal are not advisable for expecting mothers.
Another reason why you should skip laser treatments is fully aesthetic – laser treatments during pregnancy can lead to permanent skin discoloration. Foregoing those trips to the dermatologist’s office can spare you a lot of stress, because it may save you from permanent skin darkening.
8. Minimize Your Exposure to Hydroquinone
Hydroquinone is among the most effective chemicals in skin whitening products, but not for pregnant women. Skin darkening is one of the most annoying maternity skin care problems for women; however, do not pick up any product with hydroquinone, even if there are no studies stating explicitly that it is bad for your baby.
There is one study on the use of this chemical in pregnant women, and based on the findings, there are no adverse effects. There are many loopholes in this research, though. For one, the sample size is too small. Aside from that, it is a known fact that the absorption rate of hydroquinone ranges from 35 to 45 percent, and this high rate worries health care experts.
Due to these concerns, doctors advise mothers not to use skin whitening products with this ingredient. Pregnant women can safely use zinc or titanium oxide sunscreen products, and should also minimize sun exposure.
9. Just Say No to Benzoyl Peroxide
Benzoyl peroxide is a popular ingredient in anti-acne creams and gels, but it would be better to skip it when you are pregnant. There are no studies indicating this ingredient could harm your baby, but just like salicylic acid, doctors do not recommend it to pregnant women.
Some advice columns suggest benzoyl peroxide could be a safe choice when you are pregnant, but only if the chemical content is five percent or lower. Since your baby’s health is on the line, you are better off choosing safer alternatives, as the risk in using this product cannot be ruled out. The wisest thing to do is to ask your doctor to recommend a safe product to use instead of benzoyl peroxide.
10. Apply All Topical Acne Medications with Caution
When it comes to topical medication, doctors have different opinions. Some health care professionals believe small concentrations of chemicals pose no harm, since they are for topical application; however, there are doctors who do not want their patients to take unnecessary risks.
Products using vitamin C as its primary ingredient are generally safe for use. Meanwhile, if you apply topical medicines containing clindamycin and azelaic acid, ask your doctor first. Amoxicillin is also an option, although you need to wait until after you are in the third trimester before using it.
If you are unsure whether you should use a topical medication or not, ask your doctor to recommend a safer product for pregnant women.
11. Use Rosehip Oil to Hydrate Your Skin
Rosehip oil is a miracle worker for preventing stretch marks, and it is one of those celebrity pregnancy skin care secrets that deserves more publicity. Using oils to keep your skin moisturized is totally safe, especially for expecting mothers.
In one interview, Miranda Kerr shared that she used this oil all throughout her pregnancy. Even after giving birth to a 10-pound baby, she did not get any stretch marks. Miranda is not the only fan of this oil. Kate Middleton also loves rose hip oil. A report by Us revealed that the Duchess of Cambridge uses this oil to keep her skin flawless and free of wrinkles.
12. Blue Light Treatment: A Safe Pregnancy Skincare Treatment for Acne
Blue light is a new method for getting rid of acne, and it is safe even for expecting mothers. Pregnancy acne is clearly the biggest concern for a lot of women. This is a safe and painless option that could eliminate the need for topical medicines.
While blue light therapy is not a cure for acne, it can hold those zits back for a few months. Most dermatologists use it to prevent acne. Blue light treatment is good for pregnancy skincare, since it can kill the Propionibacterium or P. Acnes bacteria that causes acne. Administered twice a week for about 15 minutes during each session, this is an effective way to keep your face smooth and free from breakouts. This pregnancy skin care for acne works well, even for breastfeeding mothers.
13. Skip Your Wax Appointments
Missing your appointments to the waxing spa during pregnancy can save you a lot of pain and stress. Waxing is mainly for aesthetic reasons, and if you do not have any pressing need to do it, you can skip it for the next nine months. No rule says you should not wax those hairy areas during pregnancy, but expecting mothers should not experience undue stress, and those painful sessions can be stressful.
Of course, the choice is up to you; however, keep in mind that stress is the leading cause of miscarriages, which is why pregnant women need to chill out more. Stress is also linked to premature births and low birth weight.
Waxing should not be the only thing cut out from your pregnancy skin care routine. You should avoid any procedure that causes you pain or discomfort.
14. Choose Water-Based Makeup and Toners
You do not have to avoid cosmetics entirely if you are pregnant, but when choosing your beauty products, look for items that are water–based. This is one of those pregnancy skin care tips you can continue following, even after you have given birth. Choosing makeups which are alcohol-free are better, since they are easier on the skin and they are lightweight, too.
A water–based makeup is also the best choice when you have oily skin. Since women who are pregnant often struggle with acne because of the hormonal changes in their bodies, it would be better if they use makeup that is not alcohol-based.
15. Get Some Rest
Everything is better after a night’s rest, and this includes acne. Breakouts become worse when you are not getting enough rest. Carrying a child could take its toll on your body too, so you should maintain a healthier sleeping cycle. While acne is normal when you are pregnant, your pimples could diminish if you get enough sleep.
Pregnancy could make sleep difficult, especially when your unborn child decides to go on a rampage late at night. Try to buy lots of pillows, as this helps prop you up to a comfortable position, so you can sleep better. Adequate sleep is one piece of pregnancy skin care advice that works all the time.
16. Mind What You Eat
What goes into your body affects your overall appearance and your baby’s development. Every person needs to eat healthier, but pregnant women should pay more attention to their food. When you are pregnant, loading up on nutritious foods, such as vegetables and fruits are a must to support your baby’s growth. Pregnant women also need to take folic acid and other necessary vitamins to make sure their child gets all the nutrition they need.
When it comes to skin care, food also plays a vital role. There are certain types of food that could give you breakouts, such as junk food and sweets. Too much sugar is bad for your skin and for your baby. For this reason, you should learn how to control your urges to eat greasy, salty or sugary foods.
A Few Final Thoughts
Pregnancy is an exciting time in a woman’s life, but it comes with numerous hormonal changes that could lead to various skin issues. Pregnancy skin care bans women from using some of the most effective products in the market, but it is also an opportunity to try out other solutions that you may have never considered before.
Do not stress over your skin care problems, since there are always solutions. You can stay beautiful while safeguarding your unborn child’s well-being with these useful 16 tips.