Pregnancy can be an overwhelming time – there are a million and one things to be thinking about, and it is a huge period of change! What you put in your body is one of the most important things to think about during pregnancy, and it’s important not to forget about what you put on your body either. It can be stressful to think that something as simple as a face cream could affect your baby – but in reality, your beauty routine is something to consider, but not something to stress over! There’s a mammoth amount of information out there that can be overwhelming. We’ve broken down the key ingredients you should avoid, and how you can treat common skin conditions that arise during pregnancy. Also, if you’re feeling unsure about anything, remember you can always ask your obstetrician for their recommendations.
Try to avoid these ingredients
Pregnant women should be cautious as to what products they use, as there is the potential for products applied to the skin to be absorbed into the bloodstream and cross into the placenta. With that said though, there have actually been very minimal studies that show a direct link between certain ingredients and any effects on an unborn baby. The majority of commonly used ingredients are completely safe, and only a handful are recommended to be avoided completely. We’ve mentioned the main ones that might already be in your skincare routine, but this is not a comprehensive list of every ingredient and their risks.
Retinoids are quite powerful ingredients used in some anti-aging products and treatments for acne, pigmentation, and plaque psoriasis. Retinoids are a type of vitamin A that increases your skin’s cell renewal to help brighten the skin, improve skin texture and help prevent skin collagen from breaking down. Studies have shown that oral retinoids and taking high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child, and are known to cause birth defects. While topical retinoids applied to the skin haven’t shown to cause problems in pregnant women, doctors recommend that pregnant women err on the safe side and avoid them completely.
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) and Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHAs) work as chemical exfoliants on the skin to help with many skin concerns including acne, pigmentation, skin texture and aging. Salicylic acid is the only BHA to be studied during pregnancy, and high doses of the acid in oral form have been shown to cause birth defects and various pregnancy complications. Similarly with retinoids, while only small amounts of a BHA would be absorbed into the skin if applied topically, doctors generally recommend that it’s best to avoid excessive or frequent use of BHA products. It’s also important to consider the strength of the BHA, as some products (like peel treatments) contain higher percentages of BHA than others. Try to stick to products with less than 2% BHA, or avoid using them altogether.
AHAs have not been studied in pregnancy, but are generally considered to be low risk in skincare products as long as they’re used sparingly!
While there haven’t been any studies done on the effects of Botox on an unborn baby, it is widely recommended that pregnant women do not get Botox treatments. It’s generally recommended that Botox be avoided even 3 months before conception, during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. While there’s no evidence that it’s unsafe, doctors recommend avoiding any medical treatment or intervention during pregnancy if its risks cannot be justified.
Common Skin Concerns During Pregnancy and How to Treat Them
During pregnancy, changes in hormones can lead to changes in your skin. One of the more common skin conditions during pregnancy is hyperpigmentation which can occur at varying levels, the worst being melasma. Pregnancy hormones cause the production of melanin to increase, resulting in dark spots or patches typically across the cheeks, nose and forehead. Hyperpigmentation will typically fade after delivery, but can be persistent. To prevent it from worsening, it’s recommended to limit sun exposure and wear high factor sun protection. Vitamin C products and treatments are safe during pregnancy and can be used to help fade hyperpigmentation and help stop dark melanin areas from developing.
Hormonal changes can also cause acne or an increase in acne. While there are many ways to treat acne, some of the ingredients – as mentioned – are not safe to use during pregnancy. With that said, products containing benzoyl peroxide or AHAs can be used sparingly, and other effective treatments like dioic acid and colloidal sulphur are safe to use.
Many women also find their skin becomes a lot more dehydrated during pregnancy due to hormonal changes, and bodily fluids going from them to the baby. It’s important to stay hydrated, and keep your skin moisturised. Hyaluronic acid is a great ingredient for dehydrated skin as it draws in water and helps the skin absorb and retain more moisture.
If you’re unsure about anything, be it a product, how often you can safely use it, or how to treat a particularly bad skin condition during pregnancy, ask a professional like your obstetrician who’ll be able to clear up any confusion. If you’re looking for new (pregnancy safe!) products to add to your routine, and help treat any skin issues, head into a beauty store and consult with the professionals there. With new brands and products coming into the market constantly, there are so many safe options for pregnant ladies. Adapting your skincare routine to be pregnancy safe should be a stress-free experience!