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So, You’re Pregnant…Here Are The Beauty Changes To Make Now

Written by

Katie Nash

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Photo by Sabrina Bot

You’re pregnant! Congrats! So, what does that mean for your beauty routine? While you do your best day-to-day to live a healthy, balanced life, a pregnancy can have you viewing your daily routines with new eyes and a fresh perspective. Suddenly your “self” care affects more than just yourself. Many of your current practices become more important than ever (i.e. drinking plenty of water and getting quality sleep), but it’s also a good time to make sure that your tried-and-true beauty routine is still appropriate now that you’ve got a baby on board. We checked in with Dr. Amelia Hausauer, one of the Bay Area’s leading dermatologists, who shared her expert advice for moms-to-be. So, while the coming months will bring lots of newness, these simple beauty changes are a perfect place to start.

Read the Labels
First things first: Know what’s in your products. Unfortunately, many topical treatments and over-the-counter products haven’t been tested on pregnant women, which can make decisions on skin care difficult and confusing. FDA approval is not required when it comes to cosmetics, so it’s always good to do your own ingredient check. Read those labels! When in doubt, you can cross reference with sites like Skin Deep or apps like Think Dirty to be sure that the ingredients in your current products are safe for you and your baby.

Opt for Acne-Fighting Alternatives
Many of us battle acne well into adulthood, but you’ll want to ease up on the fight for the next nine months (or at least pull a few punches). Dr. Hausauer informs us that “nearly all acne-fighting agents are considered unsafe to use when pregnant, especially vitamin A-derived retinols and retinoids,” as high amounts of Vitamin A have been shown to cause birth defects in a developing fetus. She also points out that some of the other more common acne remedies are also unfortunately questionable, advising her pregnant patients to avoid using benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. There is debate in the medical community over the dangers of using these two when pregnant (both benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid have a fairly low absorption rate through the skin), but most dermatologists, including Hausauer, err on the side of caution and advise against their use since there have not been significant studies involving pregnant women. Instead, try utilizing the antioxidant power of Vitamin C to safely combat acne while also boosting collagen and fighting free radicals and UV damage. Marie Veronique’s Vitamin C, E and Ferulic Acid serum is a great retinol alternative for pregnant women. (For more tips on fighting pregnancy-related acne, head over here.)

Ditch the Hydroquinone
As hormones circulate during pregnancy, there is an increased risk of developing pigmentation. You may have heard of the term melasma, commonly called “the mask of pregnancy,” which causes gray-brown patches to appear, usually on the cheeks, bridge of the nose, forehead, chin, and above the upper lip. Hydroquinone is the most common bleaching and lightening agent to combat this condition, but sadly it is not safe for the growing fetus and should be avoided. Instead, Hausauer recommends the use of an alternative like The Ordinary Azelaic Acid as a safer approach for pigment control, plus as a bonus it also fights acne…win-win!

Prioritize Sun Protection
We know by now that sun protection is always important, not only to keep our skin looking good and to prevent premature aging, but to protect against potentially life-threatening skin cancer. But what you might not know is that the skin is even more sensitive to damaging ultraviolet rays when you’re pregnant, so it becomes extra important to use that sunscreen! This seems pretty straightforward; however, not all sun protection is created equal. According to Dr. H, it’s best to opt for sun protection formulas that include “physical, not chemical blockers to limit pigmentation.” Additionally, she recommends pregnant women “look for sunscreens with micronized particles that sit on top of the skin like a shield rather than nano-sized particles that are small enough to penetrate the skin and get into the circulation.” She advises patients to stay away from chemical sunscreen ingredients like benzophenone, which disrupts endocrine systems and oxybenzone, which is potentially tied to low birth weight.

Swap Waxing for Sugaring
Overall skin sensitivity is increased when pregnant, which means our most sensitive areas can be even more at risk for irritation. So, when it comes to bikini maintenance, you might consider sugaring as a more gentle and safe alternative to traditional waxing treatments. The hair removal experts at Cane Sugar Studio in San Francisco explain that while wax can potentially contain harmful chemicals and artificial scents, their recipe “is 100% natural and (many say) a more effective alternative to waxing.” Wax is typically hotter than sugar formulations, and can often be too harsh on tender skin.

And while we are on the topic of ‘care down there’, it’s important to note that it’s common to experience vaginal itching or swelling when pregnant, but not all vaginal creams are safe to use during pregnancy. Opt for treatments or products with natural, calming ingredients like Medicine Mama’s Sweet Bee Magic and Sweet V lines, which includes an all-natural feminine wash and skin cream formulated specifically for the most sensitive areas.

Take a Time Out on Treatments
In general, Dr. Hausauer recommends holding off on many in-office treatments. Wait until after pregnancy and breastfeeding to resume Botox, fillers, laser therapies, etc. While light chemical peels using fruit acids like glycolic or skin-boosting procedures like Dermalinfusion or Hydrafacial may be safe, Hausauer’s general rule of thumb is this: laser treatments or Botox probably won’t harm the baby, but if something unanticipated were to happen, is it worth the guilt and anxiety of not knowing whether your elective procedures contributed? She reminds us that “there is plenty of time to primp and pamper after delivery and breastfeeding, and if you have specific questions about treatments it’s always best to discuss in detail with a board certified dermatologist.”

For more on pregnancy prep, check out these Mindful Pregnancy Tips, ASMR for Pregnant Women, Minimalist Pregnancy Essentials, and How to Optimize Your Health During Pregnancy.

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