Pregnancy will cause a number of changes to the body, some expected while others may be not-so expected. One of the most common and annoying changes is acne breakouts that often resemble those of the bygone era of your teens. The higher levels of androgen hormones can stimulate oil production and contribute to more blackheads and breakouts.
But reaching for whatever zit cream or wash worked then should not be used at all while carrying and breastfeeding your baby. Here is what research tells us what your best options are.
The Good News
AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) are safe to use during pregnancy despite their ability to be absorbed by different layers of skin. AHA’s are used in cosmetic products such as exfoliates, moisturizers, and emollients. They are used to treat ichthyosis, acne, photoaging, and other hyperkeratotic conditions. Because they increase cell turnover they are popular in regenerative and anti-aging serums as well. Look for Glycolic Acid, usually in the percentage of 8% and up.
Safe Acne Treatments
Sonic cleansing systems – These systems are used to vibrate your dead skin cells and loosen them semi-naturally from the skin, reducing clogged pores and, in turn, breakouts.
Non-invasive spa and at home facials – It is important to check the ingredients of any products used during your facial against the list below.
For the safety of yourself and your baby, we recommend you avoid the following:
Retin-A, Renova (tretinoin)
Retinol (acid, linoleate, palmitate)
Tazorac and Avage (Tazarotene)
Salicylic acid (Closely related to aspirin)
(BHA) Beta hydroxy acid
*Note: Studies have shown that high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child. Oral retinoids, such as isotretinoin (a.k.a. Accutane, an acne treatment), are known to cause birth defects.
What to Avoid: Other
Avoid toners and harsh cleansers if they seem to irritate the skin - Pregnancy makes skin more sensitive
Heavy moisturizing creams with fragrances – Light, fragrance-free, moisturizers are fine for daily use.
Benzoyl Peroxide and Laser treatments – These harsh treatments are dangerous to your unborn child.
To be safe, use mild over-the-counter cleansers only. These are less likely to have harsh chemicals and are generally easier on your skin.
Soy* – This ingredient has estrogenic effects, which can possibly make those dark patches, also known as melasma or cholasma, worse.
*If you have dark skin or melasma, avoid these ingredients, or choose 'active soy' products instead.
Drug-Free Treatment: Ingredients
Lemon peel oil or lemon juice - Natural anti-bacterial and skin brightener
Green tea extract and cucumber
Tea Tree oil - Natural anti-bacterial
Honey - Natural healing properties
Drug-Free Treatment: Other
Limit washing to two times per day and after heavy sweating.
When you do wash, use a gentle, oil-free, alcohol-free, and non-abrasive cleanser.
Use your fingertips instead of a washcloth or sponge. Washcloths and sponges can irritate sensitive skin and lead to breakouts.
After washing, rinse your skin with lukewarm water. Then gently pat dry and apply moisturizer.
Avoid over-cleansing. It can over stimulate the skin's oil glands.
Shampoo regularly. If you have oily skin, it's best to shampoo daily.
For spot treatment: take a tiny amount of baking soda mixed with water and dab it directly onto individual spots.
BONUS TIPS – Glowing Skin Smoothie
1 scoop of Hemp protein
½ cup fresh blueberries (frozen if not in season)
½ bunch dandelion greens (without stems)
12 oz. of coconut water
1 Tablespoon raw cocoa powder
Pour coconut water into blender
Add and blend all ingredients together until smooth and creamy.
Pour into large glass and enjoy!
Hemp protein contains omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids. These are awesome skin boosters, helping fight acne and also minimizing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
Blueberries are rich in fiber and contain Vitamins A and C. They are also loaded with antioxidants and can help repair damaged skin (acne, scarring, broken capillaries, blotchy skin, etc).
Dandelion greens improve liver function, working to detox your skin and body.
Avocado and raw cocoa powder are packed with antioxidants and will leave the skin glowing after unclogging your pores and leaving it crystal clear.
Finally, coconut water has a high level of potassium and will keep your skin hydrated and moisturized.
Rest assured a small minority may be enjoying the “glow” the vast majority of women are hiding out under the raincloud of persistent, discouraging pimples. Just remember, this is completely temporary and 100% manageable.
Side Note: Many women complain about things they never thought would happen to their bodies once they got pregnant. Here is a recommendation for a good read. http://www.amazon.com/Ina-Mays-Guide-Childbirth-Gaskin/dp/0553381156