There are a seemingly endless number of ways the body adapts and changes throughout pregnancy — it’s nature at work. And while some are obvious, others may be more unexpected, such as those that occur within your skin. While the pregnancy glow is well-known by now, breakouts, dryness, and discoloration are also common. Complicating things further is that many skincare ingredients are off-limits when you’re expecting. Fortunately, knowing the factors behind pregnancy-related skin concerns — as well as which pregnancy-safe formulas can help — can make all the difference.
Mama Glow Set
How does skin change during pregnancy?
First, the pregnancy glow: It’s entirely real — for some. Technically, it’s the “result of increased blood flow and oil production that gives the skin a more radiant appearance,” says Marisa Garshick, MD, a dermatologist in New York City.
Other changes may be a little less welcome. “Acne can also occur during pregnancy in some individuals as a result of hormonal changes, which can trigger more oil production and lead to clogged pores,” explains Garshick. Your skin might just be more oily than usual — or it can make an existing predisposition to acne worse, meaning oily or acne-prone skin may flare during pregnancy.
Conversely, certain skin types may even become drier to the point of irritation. It’s also the work of hormonal fluctuations in the body over the average 40 weeks of pregnancy. “Dry skin can also become itchy, which can contribute to some of the itching women can experience in pregnancy,” Garshick says.
Last but not least is the issue of hyperpigmentation, or dark spots, which can remain long after birth. “Pregnancy can lead to or worsen melasma or hyperpigmentation in patients, which is related to changes in hormone levels during pregnancy,” says Garshick. Melasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” describes the brown or gray patches that appear on areas of the face that get the most sun exposure — think the nose and cheeks. While women of color are particularly prone to discoloration as it is, a study in the International Journal of Women’s Dermatology found that melasma is overwhelmingly common among that demographic, too.
What causes changes in skin during pregnancy?
You can blame all of it — from breakouts to that pregnancy glow — on hormones. However, once you give birth and your hormones shift back to normal, that doesn’t mean everything will instantly resolve. “While some of the changes improve postpartum, it can take time to see the changes occur,” Garshick says.
What’s the best way to treat skin concerns during pregnancy?
Certain ingredients and formulas aren’t safe to use during pregnancy, so it’s important to know exactly what you’re applying — especially if you’re dealing with breakouts or melasma.
Though a spike in oil production may lead to acne, you shouldn’t reach for your traditional anti-acne products. In fact, “many common acne-fighting ingredients such as salicylic acid, retinoids, and benzoyl peroxide should be avoided in pregnancy,” says Garshick. For instance, the safety of benzoyl peroxide hasn’t been studied in pregnant women — understandably, as few would want to risk safety for the sake of research — so it’s best avoided entirely if possible. (Plus, conventional acne treatments may lead to more acne — go figure — so that may work in your favor anyway.)
The answer to dryness is, as always, ample moisture. “Regular use of moisturizer is important,” says Garshick. “When possible, try to use a cream or ointment that can help provide more moisture and seal it in.” She also recommends applying it soon after you get out of the shower, as that helps to “trap in moisture and prevent the skin from drying out further,” she explains.
For pigmentation issues, be it dark spots or melasma, you can’t go wrong with vitamin C. One study found that it works preventatively to defend skin against UV-induced hyperpigmentation — important, seeing as sun exposure is a major contributor to melasma — while another study found that it can improve the appearance of existing melasma. In a nutshell: It’s a good idea to incorporate it both before and during pregnancy, especially if you know you may be prone to based on your skin tone. And, as always, sunscreen is a must for anything hyperpigmentation-related. “It is especially important to use sun protection while pregnant to try to prevent it,” says Garshick.
Clearly, finding the right skincare routine during pregnancy can get complicated, as many products are either off-limits entirely or don’t have conclusive evidence that they’re truly safe for you and your baby. That’s why the new Mama Glow Set takes the guesswork out of it. With the Calm Pure Radiance Oil (which nourishes skin, soothes inflammation, and contains antibacterial helichrysum to counteract any breakouts), Vitamin C Booster to even skin tone and defend against discoloration, and Moisture Lock Overnight Mask to fend off dryness, it targets the most common skin concerns during pregnancy in three safe and simple steps — so you can focus on everything else.
For mama’s who are looking for more pregnancy safe recommendations, check out the new MadeSafe Healthy Pregnancy Guide.