During pregnancy, our largest organ – the skin – can become unbalanced. Some women suddenly get smooth, rosy peach skin. For others, however, pregnancy hormones become a beauty problem.
It may be that dry skin becomes oilier. Or nasty blackheads or pimples sprout, like in puberty. Even severe acne could develop. Often in the first trimester of pregnancy, sometimes even after birth. The culprits are so-called androgens, which the body now increasingly releases. These male sex hormones stimulate sebum production. At the same time, they stimulate the growth of horny cells that are deposited at the opening of the sebaceous glands. An unfavorable combination that leads to skin blemishes even in women for whom pimples were previously a foreign word.
Many pregnant women are unsure which products they can still use and which not. Is salicylic acid unproblematic during pregnancy? What about glycolic acid? And is retinol okay? The answers might surprise you.
First and foremost, you should discuss with your health care provider which products you’d like to use.
Fortunately, most skincare products such as facial cleansers, toners, moisturizers, eye creams, exfoliants, and lip balms can be used safely during pregnancy. However, there are some active ingredients where caution is advised.
Use skincare during pregnancy
Misinformation about skincare during pregnancy causes frustration and confusion for pregnant women – at a time when they should be enjoying it to the fullest. To get the clarity we need, we asked the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists to answer the questions we’re asked most often. Here they are:
- Salicylic acid (BHA) is an excellent exfoliant, and the lower concentrations found in skin care products are safe during pregnancy. However, you can use an exfoliant formulated with glycolic or lactic acid (AHA) during pregnancy instead. And what about professional AHA or BHA peels? For treatments on a larger area of the body, AHA should be preferred.
- Sunscreens pose no known risk to pregnant women. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists could find little medically based evidence that sunscreens pose a risk. Rather, dermatologists strongly advise using sunscreen daily. If you notice that your skin becomes more sensitive during pregnancy, a sunscreen with gentle mineral ingredients such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide may be a good alternative because they are better tolerated. Learn more about sunscreen and UV filters here.
- You should avoid the ingredient arbutin and derivatives such as alpha-arbutin during pregnancy, as both degrade to hydroquinone on the skin. Instead, use products with at least 5% niacinamide and various forms of vitamin C.
- External use of azelaic acid is also considered safe during pregnancy. There is good research showing that it can help with discoloration and be beneficial for blemishes and rosacea-prone skin.
- Anti-aging products containing vitamin C, niacinamide, hyaluronic acid and peptides are generally considered safe during pregnancy as well. There are no studies showing that they pose a problem with external use. But we reiterate: If you’re unsure about using a new anti-aging product or combination of ingredients (like CBD), consult your doctor and follow her advice.
- During pregnancy and breastfeeding, it’s best to avoid retinol (vitamin A) and prescription retinoids (Renova, Retin-A, Differin, Tazorac, and generic tretinoin). You can switch to an anti-aging serum that does not contain retinol or derivatives thereof (retinyl retinoate, retinaldehyde, or hydroxypinacolone retinoate) for as long as you can.
- Prescriptions for other skin problems: Your doctor will be able to advise you on which medications are appropriate for external use during pregnancy and how they should be used.
Important note: This article is not intended to replace medical advice from your doctor. Only she knows your medical history and can give you advice based on your individual needs. All final decisions about skin care products and ingredients during pregnancy should be made in consultation with your health care provider.
Adapt care products to the skin's appearance
If the skin changes, it also needs different care. “If the skin suddenly produces more sebum, switching from an oily to a moisturizing product can improve the skin condition,” explains dermatologist Dr. Natalie Garcia Bartels from Berlin.
Basically, the motto is: less is more! If in doubt, ask your dermatologist, your pharmacist, or a specialist cosmetician (some pharmacies employ appropriately trained staff) which cleansing, and care products are good for your skin now. It is better not to treat more severe or extensive skin blemishes yourself. Squeezing pimples is also taboo because this pushes the sebum deeper into the skin and risks inflammation. Home remedies such as toothpaste or tea tree oil are also unfavorable. They dry out the skin or can trigger allergies.
Thorough and gentle care
Drink plenty of fluids, pay attention to a healthy diet and lifestyle, and care for the face and décolleté regularly. It is important to cleanse as thoroughly as gently to remove excess sebum and makeup residues. To do this, wash the face and décolleté with a pH-neutral cleaning product in the morning and evening before going to bed. Pat the skin dry, then clarify with facial toner.
Finally, pamper both with some nourishing cream, which, like all skincare products, should be adapted to the current skin condition. If the skin is now oilier than before, it probably only needs something moisturizing in the morning and not a night cream. In case of skin impurities, be sure to change the washcloth and towel frequently.
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A wellness program for your face
Pregnancy can change the texture of your facial skin.
Some women get noticeably drier skin – for others, the skin becomes oilier than before, and perhaps skin blemishes appear. Especially in the first trimester of pregnancy, pregnancy acne can develop due to hormonal changes. In both cases, you should treat your facial skin to a regular wellness program.
The basis for this is thorough cleansing. Mild, soap-free washing lotions or cleansing gels are ideal for all skin types.
For dry skin, skincare creams and makeup should contain both moisture and oil – oil-free products cause the skin to swell up and lose even more moisture. Oily skin, on the other hand, needs care that contains a lot of moisture, but no fat or oil.
Once a week, you should treat your face to, particularly intensive care. Exfoliating masks remove horny scales and skin impurities. Moisturizing masks act like an intensive treatment.
Pregnancy care for the bust
Another side effect of your pregnancy is that very soon you will have a larger cleavage. Already in the first weeks of pregnancy, your bust will grow significantly, shortly before birth the weight of each breast can increase by up to 400 grams. However, this also puts a strain on the skin – skin care during pregnancy should therefore always be dedicated to the bust as well.
Gentle massages with mild massage oils have a relaxing effect and keep the skin of the breasts and décolleté elastic. Cold-warm alternating showers, daily rubs with a damp washcloth, or gentle brush massages – preferably with a soft baby brush – also have a skin-tightening effect.
It is particularly important to avoid nipple stimulation during preterm labor, as this can intensify contractions. Therefore, make sure to leave out the nipples when massaging.
After a massage or water treatment, you should apply a skin-tightening and moisturizing cream or lotion to your breasts. A well-fitting bra is a must during pregnancy to support the strained connective tissue.
During pregnancy the pigmentation of your skin changes
Almost always, the pigmentation of your skin changes during pregnancy. The effect of hormones is responsible for this. Nipples, the areolas, and also moles and birthmarks become darker.
From the third month of pregnancy, slight pigment discoloration may appear on the face – the trigger for this is the pregnancy-related increase in melanin-stimulating hormone (MSH), which stimulates the formation of skin pigments.
The fact that the areolas become darker is not a freak of nature, by the way, but serves to make it easier for the baby to find the nipple when breastfeeding.
On the abdomen, the linea nigra – a vertical dark line extending from the navel to the pubic bone – almost always appears. These pigmentary changes recede very quickly and completely after birth.
If you are bothered by the pigment spots on your face, you can conceal them very well with appropriate make-up. Good is a sunscreen that has at least sun protection factor 20, optimal would be to avoid the sun to a large extent.
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The belly: streak-free and beautiful
The skin on the belly is extremely stressed during pregnancy due to the enormous stretching. If the skin on the belly is taut and itchy, brush massages are pure pleasure. They stimulate blood circulation and strengthen the connective tissue.
However, if the belly grows very quickly or if a woman has an inherited weakness of the connective tissue, stretch marks can form despite all precautions. These are stripe-like, purple tears in the collagen and elastin tissue of the skin, which later fade but do not disappear. Although they cannot always be completely avoided, they can be prevented: rub the abdomen daily in circles with a massage glove. In addition, apply a special cream or body oil to the abdomen twice a day. This can be combined perfectly with a plucking message to stimulate the circulation: Carefully take the skin between thumb and forefinger, gently roll it back and forth, and then spread it. This is not only good for the skin, but also promotes well-being. It is said to be particularly effective from the 13th week of pregnancy – but this has not yet been scientifically proven.
The face: What to do for dry or oily skin?
Thorough cleansing is important for all skin types. For dry skin, it should be gentle, normal soaps and wash lotions are taboo.
Cleansing gels or ph-neutral, mild facial soaps are optimal. Their lipid-replenishing substances help to maintain the skin’s protective layer and they moisturize the complexion while cleansing.
To prevent the skin from becoming tight and flaky, the day cream for dry skin should contain both fat and moisture. A moisturizer without fat can cause the skin to swell and lose even more water. Ideal active ingredients: moisture binders such as hyaluronic acid and urea, aloe vera, and vitamin E.
Intensive moisture provides a weekly mask. To remove the film of dirt and sweat from the skin surface and to prevent the sebaceous glands from clogging, deep pore cleansing is recommended for blemished skin. Peel-off masks do a thorough job.
They cover the skin with a film, which simply takes away impurities and horny flakes when they are removed. The care products should contain plenty of moisture, but only a little oil, otherwise you’ll get pimples. A yeast pack is good from time to time: mix a cube of baker’s yeast with a little warm water to form a thick paste, apply to the face, and rinse off with lukewarm water after about five minutes.
Best Mineral Sunscreen for Face
La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Ultra-Light SPF 50 Fluid
Anthelios Mineral Ultra Light Sunscreen Fluid has a non-whitening, fast-absorbing texture that leaves a matte finish on skin. 100% mineral sunscreen provides broad-spectrum SPF 50 protection, developed specifically for sensitive skin. Recommended for: Face– for all skin types, especially sensitive skin. Water Resistant 40 Minutes.
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Seven Minerals 100% Aloe Vera Gel
From real freshly cut aloe leaves, not powder – making it one of the purest and strongest on the market. Thanks to 100% natural thickener Seaweed Extract (instead of Xanthan or Carbomer), it absorbs rapidly with no sticky residue – leaving your skin smooth and silky. It is a clear, slightly thinner gel – an excellent daily treatment for face, skin & hair. Regular use soothes the skin, leaving it soft and supple with a healthy glow.
Best Medication Cream to Treated Acne
Touch Acne Treatment Gel Cream
This lightweight gel fights existing face and body acne prevents future breakouts and reduces redness. Use as a daily treatment or spot treatment. Effective for all types of face and body acne including cystic, pimples (pustules), whiteheads, blackheads, papules, and nodules. Less irritating than 5% or 10% benzoyl peroxide gel products.
Best safe serum for face
MAKEP:REM Relief Moisture Green Ampoule Serum
This soothing and calming ampule only contains 18 ingredients that are effective for damaged and irritated skin. This green-potent serum heals damaged skin, soothes irritated skin, and normalizes and improves skin conditions with Brazilian Green Propolis. Brazilian Green Propolis is an anxi-oxidant ingredient that contains Artepillin-C that effectively protects the skin.
Best Pregnancy Safe Face Wash
BELLA B Foaming Face Wash
Bella B Foaming Face Wash addresses the key concern of oily skin and blemishes by gently cleansing the skin with pharmaceutical-grade tea tree oil and several key natural and organic ingredients. Free of cleansers often not recommended for use during or after pregnancy: benzoyl peroxide, alpha-hydroxyl acid, and salicylic acid. Antioxidants from organic pomegranate, green tea, and acai berry as well as key emollients like shea, cucumber, aloe Vera and honey make Bella B foaming Face Wash the ideal cleanser for new and expectant mothers. Use twice daily for clean, clear skin.
Best Face & Body Mask to Prevent Acne
Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask
This is an oil-absorbing, deep pore cleansing therapeutic sulfur masque containing ten percent sulfur to clear acne plus soothing aloe, purifying kaolin, and bentonite clays. Clears up, and helps prevent acne. Designed to exfoliate the surface of the skin with natural Sulfur at the maximum OTC level, absorb excess oil and help purify clogged pores.
Best Pregnancy-Safe Deodorant
Native Natural Unscented Deodorant
For Men and Women- Native’s high performance award winning formula is strong enough for both men and women. All you have to choose is your favorite scent. Aluminum Free- Native Deodorant isn’t a chemistry experiment, and is made without aluminum, parabens, phthalates, and talc. Natural deodorant contains naturally derived ingredients. Also use both safe, synthetic, sustainable fragrances (free of phthalates) and natural fragrances.
Best Eye Cream for Sensitive Skin
Mario Badescu Olive Eye Cream
Nourish very dry, dehydrated under-eyes with our most moisture-intensive eye cream. Formulated with a rich and creamy texture for luxurious application, it features a concentrated blend of Olive Leaf Extract, Cocoa Butter, and Beeswax to deliver intense moisture to help ensure lasting hydration for parched skin. Best used overnight.
Best Oil with Natural Ingredients
Mustela Maternity Stretch Marks Oil
Specifically formulated to help limit the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy and postpartum by delivering hydration to the skin, this oil: provides long-lasting hydration, improves skin supplements, soothes sensations of comfort leaves the skin soft, supple, and radiant.
What you should better not use for skin care during pregnancy
With regard to the skincare products you use during pregnancy, you should try out what works for you. You may also seek advice on this from a professional beautician. However, caution is advised with some products.
For example, essential oils for skincare should not be used on your own during pregnancy – the essential oils of ginger, bay leaf, verbena, cinnamon, juniper, and some other plants can induce labor or be harmful to your baby during pregnancy. Medicated skincare products should be prescribed by your doctor for the same reason.
During pregnancy, substances containing alcohol and cosmetics with strong chemical active ingredients, such as bleaching creams for skin discoloration and some ointments for acne, are also taboo for external use. Creams containing the active ingredient vitamin A should also not be used.
It is optimal to use natural cosmetics for skin care during pregnancy. Your midwife and doctor will be happy to advise you on special active ingredients and products. You can also find suitable products in our online store.
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