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Pregnancy and Skin

As magical and mind-bending pregnancy is, as challenging it can be on our body, mind and skin. Often, when pregnant, we may feel that our body does not belong to us and that we lose control over it. These thoughts and experiences are linked to hormones, as these play a huge role in the way our "being" changes and responds to pregnancy.

Nine months of hormonal adjustments interfere with the established habits, preferences and even taste. Although pregnancy experiences are individual and vary from person to person, however, for many it combines both positive and negative changes.

When it comes to skincare, there are a few main issues that come up time after time..

1. Pigmentation

Usually called the “mask of pregnancy” or hyper-pigmentation is often developing in the second trimester and is found on the forehead, cheeks and nose. It happens due to increased hormone levels. For some, pigmentation disappears after pregnancy, for others it stays.

It is important to avoid strong brightening skincare products, as most of these can be potentially harmful to the baby, even via breastmilk. Chemicals such as Vitamin A derivatives (Retinols), high potency glycolic and salicylic acid, kojic acid- should be avoided, as well as advanced brightening salon treatments (IPL, laser, chemical peels, microneedling to name a few).

Solution: Vitamin C contains brightening properties as well as strengthens the immunity of the skin. Take it both internally (more oranges would never harm), and externally- check if your serum or cream contains Vitamin C.

Bakuchiol is a potent antioxidant, visibly reduces skin discolouration from environmental exposure, and has a pronounced soothing effect.

2. Skin Breakouts

Pregnancy Acne is a common concern and it occurs due to the increase of progesterone level. It is tempting to start using anti-acne treatment ingredients such as Retinoids or other forms of Vitamin A, as well as Salicylic acid but should be avoided.

Solution: If your skin is oily, you can use clay and charcoal products. Both act as an absorption sponge, clearing impurities and decongesting the pores. Lactic Acid is a milder and safer alternative to Salicilyc and Glycolic Acids. Bakuchiol is a nature's response to Retinols. Though not as strong and powerful as Retinol but not nearly as irritating.

For more aggressive acne and inflammation try Blue Tansy. Blue Tansy is a medicinal herb, recognised for its skin-soothing properties.

3. Stretch Marks

During pregnancy hormones can soften the fibres of the skin, making it more prone to stretch marks. You may get stretch marks on your tummy as your baby grows and your skin stretches.

Look out for natural products, especially plant-based oils. Be careful with the essential oils as some can be unsafe for the baby and breastfeeding.

Solution: Using body oil daily and early in pregnancy make a big difference in the skin's resilience and recovery. Vitamin E oil is particularly good. Vitamin E is an antioxidant known for its anti-ageing and skin regenerating benefits and proven to be the best at treating and preventing stretch marks and scars. Massage the oil into the tummy, sides and breasts.

4. Smell Sensitivity

In the first trimester particularly, this concern might be enough to completely change all personal hygiene and skincare products you have used before. Having developed a complete intolerance to anything with the slightest fragrance, I certainly did have to change a lot of skin and bodycare products.

Solution: Follow your gut instincts, as your body is probably telling you what you should avoid. Since many skincare products contain artificial fragrances, essential oils and potentially harmful chemicals, your smell sensitivity is a way your body is telling you to "back off". Note that some "fragrance-free" products will have fragrance suppressing synthetics in them, so it is worth choosing natural skincare.

Lastly, if you have none of the concerns I listed above and lucky enough to experience the so-called "pregnancy glow"- congratulations! It is truly a great feeling to have that healthy and natural glow! You can thank hormones for this too! Skin glow and clear complexion occurs due to a 40% increase in blood volume, which makes the skin seem more radiant during pregnancy. Hormonal changes deliver more oxygen and nutrients to all organs, including the skin and hair. Also, weight gain can “fill out” the skin and make it look tighter and smoother.

Needless to say, keeping well hydrated and nourished both internally and externally is so important for you and the baby and regardless of whether your pregnancy has been easy or tough, that moment of meeting your baby and holding her or him skin-to-skin worth every high and low.

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