Skincare You Can and Can’t Use While Pregnant

Skincare You Can and Can’t Use While Pregnant

Pregnancy can cause significant changes to your skin, so when everything is changing and you’re not feeling as confident, you want to know how you can overcome these new found skin issues safely. Whether you are unsure which ingredients and treatments are suitable or need advice on what to avoid, our doctor-led team at Lumea Aesthetics will be able to answer your questions and steer you in the right direction. 

How does your Skin change during Pregnancy?

While some lucky ladies experience nine months of that “pregnancy glow”, others may experience at least one of these bothersome issues caused by changing hormones:

  • Melasma (dark patches)
  • Acne
  • Dry skin

Melasma

Melasma is a form of hyperpigmentation caused by changing hormones, with other contributing factors being UV, visible light, heat exposure and genetics. So if you have noticed dark irregular patches on your upper cheeks, nose, above your upper lip and forehead, you’re not alone! Melasma is an issue for many expecting; it is so common that it’s often referred to as the “Pregnancy mask”.

The dark spots that develop in pregnancy can be treated but usually, fade within a few months of delivery when your hormone levels return to normal. Although if your melasma persists post-pregnancy, fear not, as we have a various number of treatment options for you, including chemical peels, skincare and topical medications.

How To Treat Melasma Safely?

A gold standard topical treatment for melasma is hydroquinone, which is used to lighten skin pigmentation. Its safety for use whilst pregnant has not yet been established; therefore, we don’t advocate for its use, but we offer alternative pregnancy-safe compounded skincare.

Sunscreen daily is a must as UV radiation is a leading factor that worsens melasma. Although you may not be exposed to direct sunlight, UV rays can reach your skin through windows and cause damage, so wearing a high protection sunscreen both indoors and outdoors and wearing wide brim hats outside when possible is recommended. Remember that visible light from mobile phones and computer screens are also contributing factors, further emphasising the importance of wearing a high SPF broad-spectrum sunscreen containing iron oxide daily.

Sunscreen also helps maintain results obtained from treatments throughout your pregnancy journey. At Lumea, we have a range of pregnancy-safe sunscreens available, including the Aspect Sun range, which has a selection of UVA and UVB SPF 50+ skincare that is lightweight and fast-absorbing for use all year round.

Pregnancy Acne

You may have thought you left acne behind you following puberty, so it may be a surprise to see pimples and spots occurring throughout your pregnancy. A leading factor causing these sudden breakouts is the hormone fluctuations you experience during pregnancy,

Hormones play a significant role in all acne cases because they dictate how much oil our body produces, which contributes to the formation of pimples, therefore becoming a common skin issue during pregnancies. It is typical for the severity of acne to be worse in early pregnancy and for it to improve at later stages.

How To Treat Pregnancy Acne Safely?

Commonly prescribed oral medication for treating acne that must be avoided during pregnancy are oral isotretinoin (e.g.Roaccutane) and certain antibiotics such as tetracycline (e.g. doxycycline), as they have been linked to miscarriages and birth defects. Common topicals ingredients to also avoid are topical retinoids (e.g. tretinoin) and high salicylic acid concentration formulas.

Low dose salicylic acid, which works by preventing clogging, clearing pores and  exfoliating the skin. They are generally considered safe along with other ingredients, azelaic acid and fruit acids.

Although technically not skincare, LED phototherapy is safe for use to treat acne in pregnancy, reducing inflammation and killing the bacteria (Propionibacterium acnes) that contributes to acne. If acne is severe or simply not improving with prescribed or our medical-grade skincare, there are topical and oral antibiotics that we can prescribe.

Dry Skin

As a result of fluctuating pregnancy hormones and a range of other factors, your skin may look a little lacklustre. Although hormones are the leading cause of dry skin pregnancy, some other elements may also contribute, such as morning sickness, pregnancy-related increased kidney function resulting in increased urination, inadequate fluid intake, especially as your body requires increased amounts of fluids to support your growing baby.

How To Treat Dry Skin?

Dry skin may be irksome, but here are some pregnancy-safe remedies to tweak your current skincare regime to make you feel more like yourself again.

  • Cleansing- Cleansing your skin is essential but make sure to not over-cleanse your skin as it will cause more dryness, so limit to using a cleanser solely at night and cleansing with water in the morning. A favourite is Gentle Clean by Cosmedix Elite; it removes makeup and dirt for even the most sensitive skin.

  • Hydrating Mask- Treat your skin to a hydrating mask once a week gives your skin an extra moisture boost. The Aspect probiotic mask is the ultimate pick me up formula that delivers probiotics and antioxidants to reveal a radiant glow.

  • Actives – Help boost hydration with actives such as niacinamide.

  • Serums – Depending on the dryness you experience, exfoliating serums containing AHAs (e.g. lactic acid) can help slough off dry surface skin, promoting smoother hydrated skin.

  • Moisturiser- Applying a high-quality moisturiser or oil will help tackle dryness. Aim for a quality moisturiser with ingredients such as hyaluronic acid, which binds to water to help retain moisture in your skin

Lastly, stay hydrated! Drinking plenty of water throughout the day will promote skin moisture. Pregnant women should consume 10 – 12 glasses of water per day.

Skincare Chemicals to avoid while Pregnant

  • Retinoids/Vitamin A – A hero product for acne and great for reducing fine lines and wrinkles. In medical studies, oral retinoids have been shown to cause miscarriage and birth defects; therefore, we recommend avoiding all retinoids during pregnancy. Although there isn’t any safety data on topical retinoid, we recommend avoiding it whilst pregnant.
  • High dose salicylic acid – is a popular, topical treatment for acne. Although safe to use in small doses (2% or less in strength), you need to avoid using high dosages.
  • Hydroquinone – tackles hyperpigmentation by reducing the production of new melanin. Its risks during pregnancy outweigh the benefits for those with pigmentation issues.  

 

Why do you need to avoid these ingredients?

Avoiding particular topicals including retinol, hydroquinone and high doses of salicylic acid is essential, as evidence isn’t clear regarding all. Still, some suggest they may cause harm to your developing baby. Therefore, we recommend being on the side of caution and eliminating these ingredients throughout your pregnancy journey.

Alternatives for Skincare while Pregnant 

So here’s the good news, you can maintain your glow and fight against those skin issues whilst also protecting your baby. Despite there being products that aren’t pregnancy safe, there are a lot of favourites that are perfectly fine to use and will assist in your skincare challenges, which include:

  • AHA’s and BHA’s – Alpha Hydroxy Acids such as lactic acid, glycolic acid, and Beta Hydroxy Acids such as low concentration salicylic acid can help treat skin issues like pregnancy acne or boost your glow thanks to their exfoliating properties. 
  • Vitamin B – Niacinamide is an absolute must-have for pregnant women as it’s a multi-tasker. It hydrates, reduces inflammation, regulates sebum production & is fantastic for pigmentation issues. We love and recommend the Aspect Dr Multi B plus (it’s an absolute gem).
  • Vitamin C – Nothing beats the luminosity you receive from topical Vitamin C, so thankfully, it is entirely safe to use. Ascorbic acid is an antioxidant that promotes collagen production, protects skin cells from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure and brightens uneven skin tone. We love and recommend the Aspect Dr Active C Serum, formulated with both Vitamin C and a peptide complex that helps with pigmentation and promotes elasticity for a firmer, brighter complexion. 
  • Hyaluronic Acid – Found naturally in your soft tissue and is used in skincare to improve your skin’s surface hydration. HydroGel from Synergie Skin is an oil-free formula that rebalances hydration levels. 

 

All products listed above can be purchased at Lumea Aesthetics.

For more information regarding our approach to pregnancy safe skincare and treatments, please don’t hesitate to book a consultation with our doctor-led team to ask any questions or create a new skincare plan suited for your pregnancy skin needs.

And please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions you have – I’d love to hear from you so we can start working together on a refreshed, healthy and confident you.

My best wishes and I hope to see you soon.

Author

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    Dr. Toro Ogundoyin - MBBS, DIP.FSRH A highly experienced cosmetic doctor respected by both peers and patients, Dr Toro is noted for maintaining patients’ individuality and the natural balance of their features while delivering safe and effective aesthetic outcomes. Although cosmetic medicine has always been Dr Toro’s passion, she also has a background in emergency medicine, occupational medicine and general practice, across both Australia and the UK. LinkedIn | Facebook