Does taking care of your skin while pregnant differ from you normal non-pregnant regimen? You betcha!! Pregnancy can come with its own array of skin complications that should be dealt with carefully. Additionally, some dermalogical treatments that you may be used to getting are not appropriate for when you're expecting.
I had the privilege to get the 411 on appropriate prenatal skin care and product-use from one of Santa Monica's best dermatologists, Kelly Bickle, MD. Kelly and her colleague, Lily Strand of LCS Skincare, answered some pertinent questions regarding taking care of one's skin during pregnancy and how to approach some of the skin complications that arise during pregnancy as our hormones are fluctuating and our ph balance changes. They both take a more natural and holistic approach with the services they provide, which is why I chose to reach out to them for their prenatal recommendations.
I wanted to address the topic of melasma first as it was and still is one of my biggest personal skin challenges after I became pregnant both the first and second time.
What is melasma? It is a brownish pigmentation on the face (typically in the "T zone" and cheek area) that is caused by hormonal fluctuation and can worsen with sun exposure. For some, it goes away after you give birth and your body begins to normalize again (3-4 months postpartum). For others, myself included, it can be an ongoing issue that takes diligence and patience to keep in check.
According to Kelly: When women experience melasma during pregnancy, we call it chloasma, or the "mask of pregnancy". It typically arises in the second and 3rd trimesters. Women with darker skin types are going to be more prone to developing melasma, and melasma can be particularly difficult to treat, so prevention is key. It is due to a combination of hormone changes and UV exposure. And sometimes, despite all efforts, chloasma may occur, so we have treatments that can be initiated once pregnancy and nursing are done and hormone levels revert back to normal.
Prevention is Key
According to Lily: Pregnant women experience internal hormonal changes that increase progesterone, estrogen, and the melanocyte stimulating hormone which can all cause an increase in pigmentation resulting in the 'the mask of pregnancy'. My favorite sunscreen is Elta MD’s UV Pure SPF 47 with broad-spectrum protection against UVA (aging) and UVB (burning) rays. The active ingredients are natural and chemical-free, which makes it a perfect gentle, daily sunscreen! (and great for pregnant women who want to minimize any chemical exposure during pregnancy). Also, it can be hard to remember to keep applying sunscreen throughout the day -- invest in a wide-brimmed hat and sun protective clothing to add to your everyday skincare routine!
Kelly: This is a tough one during pregnancy! Seeing an experienced esthetician for acne to perform extractions can be helpful as the bulk of traditional prescription medications are off limits. If the acne is severe, see your dermatologist to weigh the risks and benefits of your treatment options. The same applied to traditional rx treatments for rosacea, so one needs to focus on avoidance of triggers (spicy foods, hot liquids, hot foods, alcohol (shouldn’t be using in pregnancy, anyway), heavy exercise, hot baths / saunas, extremes of weather / temperatures, stress ).
Lily: Facial treatments and LED Light therapy are a great way to go about treating acne or rosacea during pregnancy. If a patient is experiencing breakouts, thorough extractions, gentle resurfacing with diamond microdermabrasion, and healing LED Light Therapy with anti-bacterial and anti-fungal blue light will drastically help clear the skin safely and naturally. For rosacea, mild resurfacing, pure oxygen therapy containing nourishing anti-oxidants, enzymes, and vitamins and a combination of blue and red light therapy will help keep redness and irritation at bay.
Kelly: As Lily mentions, LED lights are safe to use and can be helpful to decrease inflammation and decrease bacteria that contribute to breakouts, so they are probably one of the best options for treatment of acne and rosacea during pregnancy.
We have covered that we need that vital last step in our daily regimen- especially while pregnant- applying and re-applying SUNSCREEN! But what about the steps before?
Below is a suggested am and pm skincare routine from Kelly:
A safe, basic skin care regimen during pregnancy (and throughout life) consists of cleansing, moisturizing / hydration, and basic sun protection.
For an am routine: wash with a gentle cleanser - if your skin is more prone to irritation or dryness, stick to a soap free cleanser that is free of fragrances and dyes; active ingredients such as salicylic acid, glycolic acid, benzoyl peroxides, and retinoids should all be avoided during pregnancy. After cleansing, apply a sunscreen - I agree with Lily - something with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide that are safest to use during pregnancy is best, and Elta MD is my favorite so far. If you feel like you need an additional moisturizer on top of the sunscreen, go for it, but I don’t think it should be necessary.
For pm: cleanse again, and I do really love the Ayrumedic Vacha toner to enhance the cleansing and hydration, and follow with the moisturizer of your choice. A simple basic moisturizer is best, and we are really loving the Ayrumedic cream.
Recommended daily routine from Lily:
- First, african black soap is a wonderful, natural cleanser that is safe to use during pregnancy morning and night. It moisturizes with shea butter, helps keep hormonal breakouts at bay, and keeps the skin soft and clean without stripping it’s natural oils.
- Next, Ayurmedic’s Vacha Toner uses hydrating botanical extracts to balance the PH of your skin and give you a fresh clean glow (it also smells amazing!)
- Lastly, at night moisturize with Ayurmedic’s Enhancing Cream and swap out in the morning with Elta MD’s UV Pure Broad Spectrum Sunscreen.
*Steer clear of products containing retinoids, hydroquinone, and salicylic acid.
Kelly and Lily shared their favorite facial products for everyday use that are also safe for use during pregnancy. See below for product details and feel free to click on the links to purchase or learn more. Keep in mind, these are not sponsored ads...
If you're like me, you LOVE any and all kinds of facial treatments. Gimme that glow! However, most dermatological treatments need to be avoided during pregnancy. Kelly and Lily weighed in on that which must wait until you have given birth and are finished with breast feeding:
Kelly: Pretty much everything, unfortunately! Go in and get facials with Lily (or whoever your esthetician may be), but unfortunately most dermatologic treatments (prescription topicals, peels, lasers, botox, fillers, etc) are off limits until after pregnancy and nursing.
Lily: Peels, glycolic, lasers, skin lighteners, prescription acne treatments, and injectables should be avoided during pregnancy.
Taking care of my skin has long been a priority. It is good to know how to safely take care of yourself while pregnant so you can prevent skin complications and make sure you are doing what is best for baby. Thank you to Kelly Bickle and Lily Strand for the proper guidance. If you live in the Los Angeles area, I recommend reaching out to their office an scheduling a visit!