Skincare Guide During Pregnancy
Evidence-Based Tips for Nurturing Your Skin During Pregnancy
By Aesthetics Academy of Virginia
Pregnancy is a time of significant changes, including those that affect your skin. Hormonal fluctuations and physical changes can lead to various skin concerns such as acne, pigmentation, and stretch marks. In this comprehensive guide, we provide evidence-based skincare recommendations to maintain healthy and radiant skin during pregnancy, ensuring the safety of both you and your baby.
Hormonal Fluctuations and Skin Changes during Pregnancy
1.1 Hormonal changes Estrogen and progesterone levels rise during pregnancy, which can cause various skin issues such as acne, pigmentation, and increased sensitivity (1). These hormonal changes can also lead to an increase in oil production, which can exacerbate acne (2).
1.2 Physical changes as your body adapts to accommodate the growing baby, the skin stretches, which can lead to the formation of stretch marks. Additionally, increased blood flow and circulation during pregnancy can cause skin to appear more flushed or red (1).
1.3 Skin conditions common during pregnancy Some women may experience specific skin conditions during pregnancy, such as pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy (PUPPP), prurigo of pregnancy, or intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy (ICP). Consult your healthcare provider if you suspect any of these conditions (1).
Building a Pregnancy-Safe Skincare Routine
2.1 Cleansing Choose a gentle, hydrating cleanser to remove dirt, oil, and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural moisture (2). Over-cleansing can result in increased oil production and worsen acne (3). Use lukewarm water and cleanse twice daily, in the morning and evening.
2.2 Toning Opt for a gentle, alcohol-free toner to help balance your skin’s pH and hydration levels. Look for toners with soothing and hydrating ingredients like rosewater, chamomile, or aloe vera.
2.3 Exfoliation Exfoliate with a gentle scrub or a chemical exfoliant containing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) or beta hydroxy acids (BHAs), avoiding high concentrations of salicylic acid during pregnancy (4). The American Academy of Dermatology (AAD) recommends exfoliating to help with acne and skin texture (2). Aim to exfoliate 1-2 times per week to avoid over-exfoliating and irritating your skin.
2.4 Serums Choose serums with pregnancy-safe ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, vitamin C, and niacinamide. These ingredients can help with hydration, brightening, and improving skin texture.
2.5 Moisturization The AAD suggests using fragrance-free, hypoallergenic moisturizers (2). Look for ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin to maintain your skin’s barrier and hydration levels (5). Consider using a separate, heavier moisturizer for nighttime use to aid in skin repair and hydration while you sleep.
2.6 Eye cream Use a gentle, hydrating eye cream to address puffiness, dark circles, and fine lines. Look for ingredients like caffeine, vitamin C, and peptides to help brighten and firm the delicate skin around your eyes.
2.7 Sun protection Both the AAD and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommend using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 (6,7). Opt for mineral-based sunscreens containing zinc oxide or titanium dioxide (8). Apply sunscreen daily, even on cloudy days, and reapply every two hours when spending time outdoors.
Addressing Pregnancy-Related Skin Concerns
3.1 Acne Consult your dermatologist for pregnancy-safe acne treatments. According to the AAD, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and azelaic acid can be safe options during pregnancy (9). Topical antibiotic creams, such as clindamycin and erythromycin, may also be safe for use during pregnancy (10).
3.2 Pigmentation to address melasma or chloasma, also known as the “mask of pregnancy,” use ingredients like vitamin C, niacinamide, and azelaic acid (10). Always wear sunscreen to prevent further pigmentation (6,7).
3.3 Stretch marks Regularly moisturize with products containing shea butter, cocoa butter, or vitamin E to keep your skin supple and minimize the appearance of stretch marks, as suggested by the AAD (11). Massaging the skin can also help improve circulation and elasticity (12).
3.4 Varicose veins and spider veins to help prevent or reduce the appearance of varicose veins and spider veins, elevate your legs when resting, avoid standing for long periods, and wear compression stockings as recommended by your healthcare provider (13).
3.5 Eczema and dry skin Pregnancy can exacerbate eczema or cause dry, itchy skin. Use gentle, fragrance-free cleansers and moisturizers, and avoid hot showers to help manage these symptoms (14). Consult your healthcare provider if your eczema worsens or if you need guidance on pregnancy-safe treatments.
Professional Skincare Treatments during Pregnancy
4.1 Facials: Choose gentle, hydrating facials using pregnancy-safe products (12). Avoid treatments with harsh chemicals, peels, or laser therapies (13).
4.2 Prenatal massage: Massage can help improve circulation, reduce stress, and alleviate pregnancy-related discomfort (14). Ensure that your massage therapist is experienced in prenatal massage and uses pregnancy-safe oils and lotions (15).
4.3 Hair removal Waxing and threading are generally safe hair removal methods during pregnancy. Avoid laser hair removal and electrolysis, as their safety during pregnancy is not well-established (16).
Ingredients to Include in Your Pregnancy Skincare Regimen
5.1 Hyaluronic acid: This naturally occurring substance helps retain moisture and plump the skin, making it a great choice for pregnant women experiencing dryness and sensitivity.
5.2 Ceramides: Ceramides are lipids that help maintain the skin’s natural barrier, preventing moisture loss and protecting against environmental irritants.
5.3 Glycerin: Glycerin is a natural humectant that helps draw moisture to the skin, making it an ideal ingredient for dry and sensitive skin during pregnancy.
5.4 Aloe vera: Aloe vera is known for its soothing and healing properties, making it a great option for pregnant women with sensitive or irritated skin.
Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy
6.1 Retinoids Avoid using retinoids, including retinol and tretinoin, during pregnancy, as they may pose a risk to the developing baby (16).
6.2 High concentrations of salicylic acid While low concentrations of salicylic acid in cleansers and toners may be safe, avoid using high concentrations, such as in peels, as they could be harmful to your baby (4).
6.3 Hydroquinone This skin-lightening agent is best avoided during pregnancy due to potential risks to the fetus (17).
When to Consult a Dermatologist
If you experience severe skin issues during pregnancy, such as extreme acne, worsening pigmentation, or unmanageable dryness, consult a dermatologist for professional advice and appropriate treatments.
8.1 Skincare after delivery Continue using gentle, hydrating products after giving birth. Your skin may take some time to adjust and return to its pre-pregnancy state.
8.2 Addressing postpartum skin concerns for lingering pigmentation or acne, consult your dermatologist to discuss suitable treatments or products. If you’re breastfeeding, ensure any treatments or products used are safe for both you and your baby.
8.3 Self-care Make time for self-care, including regular exercise, a balanced diet, and adequate sleep, to promote overall well-being and healthy skin.
Skincare during pregnancy requires special attention and care to ensure the safety of both the mother and the baby. By understanding the changes your skin undergoes, using pregnancy-safe products, and adopting appropriate skincare practices, you can maintain healthy and radiant skin throughout your pregnancy and beyond. Always consult your healthcare provider or dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment recommendations.
Tunzi, M., & Gray, G. R. (2007). Common skin conditions during pregnancy. American Family Physician, 75(2), 211-218.
American Academy of Dermatology. (n.d.). Pregnancy skin care: Dealing with acne and dry skin. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/pregnancy-skin-care-acne-dry-skin
AAD. (n.d.). Face washing 101. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/care/face-washing-101
Keri, J., & Shiman, M. (2019). Safety of dermatologic medications in pregnancy and lactation: Part I. Pregnancy. Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, 80(4), 947-968.
AAD. (n.d.). How to prevent and treat dry, chapped skin. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/skin-care-basics/dry/prevent-treat-dry-chapped-skin
ACOG. (2019). Skin conditions during pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/skin-conditions-during-pregnancy
AAD. (n.d.). Sunscreen FAQs. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen-patients/sunscreen-faqs
AAD. (n.d.). How to select a sunscreen. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/everyday-care/sun-protection/sunscreen/choose-sunscreen
AAD. (n.d.). Acne can put a damper on hopes of glowing skin during pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/pregnancy
AAD. (n.d.). Melasma: Diagnosis and treatment. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/a-z/melasma-treatment
AAD. (n.d.). Stretch marks: Why they appear and how to get rid of them. Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/cosmetic/stretch-marks/get-rid-of-stretch-marks
International Dermal Institute. (n.d.). Skin care during pregnancy. Retrieved from https://www.dermalinstitute.com/article/15/
AAD. (n.d.). What dermatologists tell their patients about skin care during pregnancy . Retrieved from https://www.aad.org/public/diseases/acne/derm-treat/skin-care-during-pregnancy 14. Field, T., Figueiredo, B., Hernandez-Reif, M., Diego, M., Deeds, O., & Ascencio, A. (2008). Massage therapy reduces pain in pregnant women, alleviates prenatal depression in both parents and improves their relationships. Journal of Bodywork and Movement Therapies, 12(2), 146-150.
ACOG. (2016). Committee Opinion No. 670: Prenatal Massage. Retrieved from https://www.acog.org/clinical/clinical-guidance/committee-opinion/articles/2016/08/prenatal-massage
Kornek, T., & Augustin, M. (2021). Topical retinoids in the treatment of acne vulgaris. Hautarzt, 72(1), 7-14.
Nordeng, H., & Ystrom, E. (2013). Perception of risk regarding the use of medications and other exposures during pregnancy. European Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 69(1), 207-214.
Remember that each pregnancy is unique, and it’s essential to consult your healthcare provider or dermatologist for personalized advice and treatment recommendations. Navigating skincare during pregnancy can be challenging, but with the right information and care, you can maintain healthy, radiant skin throughout this special time.
If you’re passionate about skincare and helping others achieve clear, healthy skin, then Aesthetics Academy of Virginia is the perfect place for you to start your journey. Our academy provides comprehensive training on the management and treatment of acne, as well as other aesthetic procedures, and our experienced instructors ensure that you have the skills and knowledge needed to succeed in this field.
By enrolling in our academy, you’ll gain access to cutting-edge techniques and technologies that are used in the industry today. Our training is hands-on, allowing you to apply what you’ve learned in real-life scenarios and prepare you for your future career. Our courses are designed to be flexible, allowing you to learn at your own pace and fit your studies around your other commitments.
At Aesthetics Academy of Virginia, we believe that education is the key to success, and we’re committed to helping our students achieve their goals. We provide ongoing support and guidance, even after you’ve completed your training, to ensure that you’re fully prepared to enter the workforce and make a difference in the lives of your clients.