If you’ve ever known a pregnant person or been one yourself, you’re well aware of the toll a bun in the oven can take on one’s skin. It’s not uncommon to experience stretch marks, bulging veins, breakouts, hyperpigmentation, rashes, hair loss, and hives during pregnancy, just to name a few. Your primary concern during and after your pregnancy is to ensure the well-being of your child, but it’s important to take good care of your skin’s health and appearance, too.
Unfortunately, some products you might typically use to treat various skin problems are deemed off-limits for those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, mainly due to a lack of research on the effects of certain ingredients. For instance, doctors will often advise against the use of hydroquinone, retinol (vitamin A), and salicylic acid if you’re pregnant or nursing. Fortunately, not all skincare products are off the table. It’s always wise to talk to your dermatologist about different products before using them. That said, let’s go over some of the best skin products for pregnancy and breastfeeding so you can keep your skin and baby healthy during this turbulent time.
The hormonal shifts that occur during and after pregnancy can knock your collagen count out of whack -- this isn’t ideal considering the role collagen plays in keeping the skin elastic and hydrated. If you want to keep your skin from sagging and/or drying out during this time, then you might take collagen supplements and/or hydrating serums rich in vitamin C and hyaluronic acid. These skincare products can help safely brighten your skin, reduce fine lines, reverse discoloration, and maintain overall hydration.
As we’ve discussed several times before, wearing sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or more each and every day is crucial to protecting your skin from sun damage and preventing early aging. Some sunscreens aren’t advised for pregnant and nursing people, however, due to their dense chemical composition. Rather than ditch this essential product altogether, talk to your dermatologist about a mineral-based sunblock. These non-chemical sunscreens primarily contain zinc, titanium, and key enzymes that help heal the skin while blocking the sun’s harmful UV rays.
The vast majority of pregnant people experience acne during pregnancy and for some time after delivery due to rapid hormonal changes. As common as this condition is, it can be a major distraction and become painful when breakouts are severe enough. While many standard acne treatments should be avoided by those who are pregnant or breastfeeding, azelaic acid, which derives from wheat, offers a safe and more natural solution. These products come in the form of a topical gel or cream that helps regulate skin pigmentation and slough away dead skin cells to remove pimples and reduce future breakouts. As an alternative, you might also try pimple patches composed of hydrocolloid (as opposed to salicylic acid). These single-use patches help dry out targeted pimples and breakout zones while preventing the urge to touch or pick at your skin.
Rashes are other common skin conditions during and shortly after pregnancy. While most of these itchy lesions disappear on their own, they can become quite irritating and painful if not treated. While cortisone creams acquired over the counter aren’t fully tested for human use (let alone pregnant humans), these products are often recommended by dermatologists if one’s rashes escalate in severity. Many of these products also contain soothing ingredients like aloe and vitamin E for immediate (though temporary) itch relief.
If your face is struggling with dark spots, lines, breakouts, and other issues, a face mask can go a long way to mitigate these problems. Be mindful of the product you use, though; beta-hydroxy acids (BHAs) are not advised for pregnant or nursing people, but alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) such as glycolic acid are usually deemed acceptable. These non-retinol peel masks can exfoliate your skin, fade dark spots, and restore a more even texture. As always, talk to your dermatologist about these peels before applying them to your skin.
The skincare products listed here only make up a handful of the options available for those who are pregnant and breastfeeding, but they offer a great place to start if you’re trying to take care of your skin while protecting your child at the same time. Your trusted dermatologist and the experts at Premier Dermatology Partners can give you more insights into what you can and cannot use on your skin when pregnant or nursing. To learn more about our providers and all the services we offer, contact us today.