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Natural Skin Care for Pregnancy

You find out you're pregnant, and immediately the awareness of what goes in and on your body peaks. You want to do everything you can to protect and nourish the precious life growing inside of you. Since skin products are often chemically formulated, when they are absorbed into the body, their harshness can pose a danger to your baby's development. Your body goes through many hormonal changes during pregnancy, and common skin problems often surface as a result. Take steps to care for your skin in natural, nontoxic ways.

Diet and Exercise

Healthy skin starts on the inside and is reflected on the outside. Fresh foods and plenty of water help to detoxify the body and nourish the skin. Include antioxidants like soy and Vitamin C in your diet, recommends Dr. Neil Sadick, a New York City dermatologist and the author of "The New Natural." Fish and turkey are good food choices for meeting protein requirements. Green tea is a healthy beverage choice.

Some skin problems worsen during pregnancy due to stress, and that stress shows up on your skin. Exercises like yoga help to lessen tension. Make relaxation and breathing techniques part of your daily routine, and you'll be on your way to glowing skin.

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Stretch Marks

Many women develop pinkish streaks on their skin. Even though these typically fade after delivery, there are ways to lessen the impact of stretch marks during pregnancy. Dr. Bernard Gramlich, a compounding pharmacist, natural skin-care activist and founder of GRAM Skincare in San Diego, says, "I recommend using products with natural cocoa butter to help prevent stretch marks." Additionally, vitamin E capsules are great to rub on your belly to prevent stretch marks. Always check labels, warns Dr. Gramlich. Vitamin E products sometimes use a combination of essential oils and alcohol, which can make stretch marks pinker. Since the treatment can be greasy, use it at bedtime.

Aloe vera gel can also have a positive effect on stretch marks. Advises Dr. Sadick, "Stretch marks can be reduced in severity by staying away from hot showers and the application of a moisturizer while the skin is still wet before drying."

Red, Itchy Skin

From the belly down to the soles of the feet, red and itchy skin is often a concern during pregnancy. Dr. Gramlich recommends products that contain chamomile and cucumber. These ingredients help calm and cool the skin and reduce inflammation. They are safe enough to use twice a day, when you wash your face in the morning and evening. You can also look for similar fruit and vegetable ingredients. Avoid products that contain parabens and preservatives, Dr. Gramlich warns. Opt for naturals like essential oils.

Moisturizers are of utmost importance, says Dr. Sadick. Use gentle cleansers that are not harsh on the skin. Urea and lactic acid are effective hydrating components, he advises. Try taking an oatmeal bath to help relieve discomfort, or dip a soft cloth in milk and apply it on the itchy regions of the body.

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The extra hormones in your body might cause a breakout of acne due to the secretion of oil. Cleanse twice daily with a mild, fragrance-free soap. Pregnant skin is sensitive, so abrasive exfoliates and scrubs should be avoided. Natural, oatmeal-based scrubs, found in health-food stores, offer a better alternative. Use oil-free cosmetics that say “noncomedogenic” or “nonacnegenic” on the label. Keep your hands away from your face so you won't trap the oil in the pores.

Pregnant women who suffer from acne should stay away from any product that has over 2 percent salicylic acid, warns Dr. Gramlich. It can affect the baby in multiple ways. For example, you can often see the symptoms of Reye's syndrome from being exposed to products that use too much salicylic acid. Smaller doses of the ingredient, however, will not harm the baby.

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