As your belly expands and your anticipated arrival kicks and prods inside of you, it's possible that your skin-care routine will need a little kick too. That healthy glow may not be lighting up your face when skin-care issues unique to pregnancy take over. For some, the skin-care routine you had before might be suddenly inefficient. "What was working fine before might all of a sudden be causing new problems with rashes and sensitivity," says Bridget Riley, an aesthetician and owner of Boston Skin Solutions skin and laser clinic. "Your skin might flat-out change during pregnancy, or you might find all of a sudden you can't tolerate how your usual products smell." Address the skin-care challenges and changes with gentle cleansing strategies that will diminish the imperfections those hormones may be inflicting on your skin while you wait for baby's arrival.
The Pregnancy Mask
Skin care during pregnancy should be individualized and flexible. Many women experience little to no change in their skin, while others are affected by what is known as the curse of hyperpigmentation -- melasma. A hormone-driven condition, melasma produces the discoloration also known as "the mask of pregnancy," says San Francisco dermatologist Richard Glogau. “It is more common in skin types with some degree of tan, but it can occur in virtually any skin type."
Protection of the skin from long-wave ultraviolet A light is something to look for, Glogau advises. "Using a sunscreen product that is outstanding in blocking long-wave ultraviolet A light is key to keeping your skin tone even when you are expecting."
Whether you were acne-prone before your pregnancy or not, you might experience a surge in breakouts for the next nine months. And, unfortunately, the acne preparations you were using are likely to cause inflammation, making the breakouts worse, says Riley. "You and your skin-care professional will have to dial things down a bit, since your skin will be more sensitive," she cautions. "In general, go organic whenever possible."
A mild organic scrub should do the trick, or sweeten your cleansing routine with sugar scrubs. All-natural cleansers and toners with anti-inflammatory ingredients will help keep your skin calm and smooth. Look for products with green tea, chamomile, cucumber extracts and plant extracts. Avoid prescription products with harsh chemicals used to treat acne, such as Retin-A, warns Riley. These are too harsh for your skin during pregnancy.
Revealing That Healthy Glow
Remove dead skin and keep your body in silky smooth shape during pregnancy by exfoliating to reveal softer, newer skin beneath, revealing that glow you've heard so much about. The best and proper method of exfoliating the body is performed on dry skin, says skin therapist Regina Wright of the Spa at Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago. "Apply sugar scrub using massaging circular movements to dry skin," she says. "Once the entire body has been exfoliated, turn on the shower and the warm water will remove the dry skin but seal in the oils from the scrub, leaving the body silky smooth and hydrated."
While your baby is growing inside, you may notice new sensitivity to smells and skin-care products. "It's important to recognize that during pregnancy, women are more sensitive in all areas, including pain and ingredient tolerance," says Christie Lavigne, director of skin care at Oasis Westchester Day Spa in Dobbs Ferry, New York. Avoid products with essential oils or too much fragrance to reduce the risk of skin irritation and even nausea. Services such as micro-dermabrasions can also cause unnecessary irritation to the skin, says Lavigne.
This doesn't mean you can't treat yourself to a day at the spa, though. A gentle massage with shea butter or cocoa butter can combat dryness and stretch marks and leave you feeling refreshed when the weight of that little one drags you down. "With proper care and caution, most pregnant women can and should receive treatments to help pamper, relieve stress and enjoy a little TLC before the arrival of their little one," says Lavigne.