Your body is going to go through a lot of changes while you’re pregnant, and your skin is one of the lesser known victims of this wonderful 40-week journey.
We’ve put together a range of advice about how to care for your skin whilst pregnant and keep your baby safe while you do. You can find the topics covered in our pregnancy skin care guide below.
Keep in mind that it’s nearly impossible to know exactly how pregnancy will affect your skin, so listen to your body and be prepared to throw out your old routine to tackle the new challenges you face.
- How to tackle bad skin during pregnancy
- What should I eat when pregnant?
- What skin care products are safe to use when pregnant?
- Does water hardness matter?
How To Tackle Bad Skin During Pregnancy
You should focus on making sure you and your baby are healthy at all times, and your body is one of the biggest alarms if there’s something wrong.
Skin is no different - bad or dry skin can be a sign of a more important issue that should be looked at and rectified. Whether it’s a lack of hydration, vitamins or nutrition that’s absent from your diet, they all serve to cause issues with the health of your skin and your baby, meaning they shouldn’t be ignored.
We’ve included tips and advice on how to care for your skin over the 40 week period to ensure that your baby stays healthy and you always look and feel your best.
Pregnancy Skin Care and Your Diet
Your diet has a big influence on the condition of your skin - potentially even more so when you’re pregnant.
What you should be eating when caring for your baby aligns pretty well with what you should be eating to keep your skin healthy too - go figure! According to NHS advice, some of the top foods to eat (and some to avoid!) are:
- Dairy products
- Starchy foods
- Lean proteins
- Fruit & vegetables
- Fatty or sugary foods
- Undercooked meats
Dairy products are an absolute must for an expectant mother. As both protein and calcium are a critical component of a healthy pregnancy, ensuring you have enough as part of your diet can go a long way to achieving that. They also carry a number of extra benefits for your skin, so it’s a win-win!
Starchy foods contain a superb balance of vitamins, carbohydrates and energy to keep you and your skin feeling great. It’s suggested that around a third of your diet should consist of foods from this family, with examples including potatoes, pasta, bread, rice and so on.
How To Handle Stretch Marks, Blemishes & Acne
As some of the most common skin issues faced during pregnancy, we’ve compiled a few remedies and steps you can take to manage them and keep your skin in the best condition possible throughout your pregnancy.
Appearing as a result of damage to your skin, stretch marks can’t be avoided completely but can be managed with a few handy remedies. The most important factor is to keep your skin as hydrated as possible - drink plenty of water and use hydrating creams to help. Be sure to avoid any creams that contain ingredients we discuss further down in this article.
There are a number of shelf creams and lotions that work to reduce the visibility of stretch marks. While they don’t guarantee results and won’t remove them completely, by applying these early and consistently over the course of your pregnancy - especially as you’re gaining weight during the first 2 trimesters - to help reduce the overall scarring that occurs.
Always check with your doctor when considering any treatments during pregnancy.
Blemishes & Acne
Whilst acne and skin blemishes won’t happen to everyone during their pregnancy, it is likely that you’ll be affected. The vast change in hormonal balance is the root of the issue; your body struggles to adjust to the fluctuations, typically during the first trimester, leading to acne and other skin issues.
Unfortunately, many of the typical acne treatments use strong chemical ingredients that have absorptive qualities, which is a huge red flag for pregnant women. We recommend avoiding any products that don’t explicitly state they’re safe for pregnancy and advise to only use gentle treatments. Skin care products to avoid are listed below.
What Skin Care Products Are Safe To Use When Pregnant?
Although many products you use during your daily skincare routine are perfectly safe for use while pregnant, there are a number of untested and potentially hazardous substances you should avoid.
With the sheer number of new products entering the market every single day, we always recommend checking the results of a given product’s tests - has it been dermatologically tested and approved? The main culprits to keep away from during your pregnancy - no matter how desperate you might be to give your skin some TLC - are as follows:
Avoid Products Containing:
- Benzoyl peroxide
Often found in anti-ageing products and some acne treatments, retinoids are a form of synthetic Vitamin A that can be absorbed into the skin and has an effect on the efficiency of cell reproduction & skin recovery. Although the amount of Vitamin A absorbed is low when used in normal amounts, studies have shown that Vitamin A itself can have negative implications on pregnancy - ingested or otherwise. For this reason, we recommend staying well away to be sure.
A go-to for anyone who suffers from hyperpigmentation - a side effect that often occurs during pregnancy as your skin goes into overdrive - hydroquinone is a skin lightener that will be at the heart of many creams that promise to clear your skin up. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the task, it has an incredibly high rate of absorption into your body (40% approx.) and should be avoided at all costs. Once it enters your bloodstream, it will reach your baby and it isn’t worth the risk posed.
Used in acne treatments, this is another ingredient that can be absorbed into your bloodstream and cause complications with your pregnancy. You’re probably sensing a trend here and you’d be right to do so. The takeaway advice from all this is that be cautious about high-potency creams and products - they’re usually incredibly effective because they are concentrated or are rather aggressive. Always opt for gentler options where possible.
A known carcinogen to humans, with studies suggesting that infertility and pregnancy complications are linked too, formaldehyde should be at the top of your list. Although many believe that formaldehyde is banned from use in the European Union, it can be used in low-quantities in certain products (0.2% of total product contents maximum). It’s possible to find this ingredient in nail varnishes and polishes, especially ones used in salons that have industry application, and you should avoid any products that contain them whilst pregnant.
So What Can I Use?
Outside of the big ones we’ve listed above, there are no studies suggesting ill effects from the majority of chemicals and ingredients found in common beauty products. Focus on keeping a simple skin routine that uses kind-to-skin products backed by clinical testing, and keep your skin hydrated as best as possible. Skin problems often crop up while you're going through the journey, so try not to fret about it too much and just be as healthy as you can!
Does Water Hardness Matter?
The hardness of water in your home will likely have an effect on the health of your skin over the 9 month period, as hard water contains a number of chemicals and minerals that are left on your skin as residue when bathing or washing. Fitting a water softener into your home’s water supply will help ensure soft water is usable at all times for bathing and washing activities, providing your skin with a gentler and friendlier environment. It’s important to note that bathing with hard water has no adverse health effects on you or your baby - we’re talking purely cosmetic health here - and hard water is recommended for consumption when staying hydrated over soft water.