Pregnancy touches every biological system in our bodies, altering our microbiomes temporarily, and often for good, in order to prep the body for birth. From stretch marks to melasma, breakouts and loss of firmness, pregnancy can really take a toll on the body’s largest organ, skin. Research has shown that nearly half of all pregnant women experience dramatic changes in their skin during those baby-building nine (but really 10) months. Thankfully, there are some things pregnant women can do to keep skin looking healthy, smooth and firm and mitigate post-pregnancy skin damage. With a little preventive skincare maintenance, you can not only enhance and embrace the pregnancy glow, but you can also prevent a lot of post-pregnancy skin concerns before they even start. Here’s how.
Stretch Marks 101
Stretch marks are essentially the skin’s response to rapid weight gain or loss. This is why pregnancy is a classic offender. During pregnancy, it isn’t just the belly that’s stretching, the hips and rib cage also widen, and that means the skin covering them widens, too. As the baby grows, collagen and elastin in the skin rupture if it’s stretched too quickly, which happens often during pregnancy. These periods of skin growth might also explain why a pregnant belly is itchy or appears red and irritated. Stretch marks (lightning bolts, tiger stripes, mommy marks etc.) are the visible result of skin that’s healed after rapid growth (or weight loss). There are steps pregnant moms can take to help skin stay healthy as it stretches, curbing or eliminating the appearance of stretch marks.
1. Moisturize. Probably the most important step you can add to your skincare routine to protect and possibly prevent the appearance of stretch marks is to keep skin hydrated. Applying a cream, lotion, or oil-based moisturizer packed with nourishing ingredients (we love jojoba, apricot and olive) can prevent the skin from drying and help it retain elasticity. A great oil like The Radiance Body Triple Blend Nourishing Body Oil applied twice daily can keep the skin supple and quenched.
2. Protect. Pregnancy brain is real and can make you forget things you normally wouldn’t, like applying sunscreen before prolonged exposure to the sun’s UV rays (aka a trip to the pool). Super stretched out skin, like a pregnancy belly, is more sensitive to UV rays. So, make sure to add a pregnancy safe sunscreen to your routine, like a mineral sunscreen with at least an SPF 30, prior to hitting the beach or pool.
3. Treat. Sometimes the hyperpigmentation of stretch marks is just unavoidable, and if it’s something you want to treat, there are definite ways to reduce their appearance and even out skin tone. One of the most effective ways to diminish stretch marks is by microneedling. An at-home microneedling tool like the GloPRO® Microneedling Tool and BODY MicroTip™ Attachment are an easy, at-home way to safely, painlessly fade stretch marks.
Microneedling fades stretch marks by creating tiny micro-injuries in the skin. This puts skin’s healing system into overdrive creating collagen and producing new tissue. New, restored tissue replaces the damaged tissue and over time, the stretch marks fade away - no lasers required. Additionally, adding a targeted serum to the treated area after you microneedle will amplify results. Why? Because microneedling enhances the absorption of skincare. The micro-channels give skincare an all-access pass to deeper layers of the skin, so your products will no longer sit on the surface; they will absorb in deeper layers of the skin where cellular turnover occurs.
You thought you outgrew pimples in high school, but your body is suddenly in the midst of an “acne throwback,” breaking out like never before. Where’s the pregnancy “glow?” Thank your hormones for this one, ladies. Your body is producing extra hormones (especially during that first trimester). This increase in hormone levels causes the natural oils in your skin to jump into overdrive. Extra oily skin means a higher chance of clogged pores and other skin concerns. Unfortunately, nothing over-the-counter treats hormonal acne from pregnancy better than time, but there are steps you can take to decrease the oil on your skin, ensure your skincare products are being delivered to your skin as effectively as possible and treat any acne scars that might remain.
1. Choose the right cleanser. The same acne treatments or cleansers you were using pre-pregnancy aren’t going to work as effectively during pregnancy. To combat oily skin while pregnant, look for products with a targeted pH restoration formula like BeautyBio’s The Balance pH Balancing Gel Cleanser. Some beauty products look to alcohol and other skin-stripping ingredients to regulate oil production, which often ends up drying skin out. We still need to retain a level of moisture, otherwise skin will breakout from dehydration. The cleanser step is usually where we see the most oil-stripping happening, so try to avoid alcohol-based wipes or cleansers and instead opt for gentle ingredients like oat kernel and ginger root extract.
2. Microneedle. Microneedling prompts skin’s healing response and will allow products to absorb more deeply and therefore, work better. Although we don’t recommend microneedling over active breakouts, you can definitely treat the area around the breakout.
If you experience acne scarring post-pregnancy, microneedling will help diminish their appearance. Using an at-home microneedling tool every day can help promote new skin regeneration, brightening and lessen the appearance of acne scars.
Another pregnancy related skin concern (although not exclusively) is the sudden development of melasma. Melasma refers to areas of dark spots and discolorations on your cheeks, forehead and even chest. While you can develop them anytime, pregnant women are more susceptible to developing them because of, you guessed it, hormone changes. Sometimes, these patches disappear after pregnancy, but in many cases, they can linger for years after. Microneedling can treat patches of melasma effectively and painlessly. By creating tiny, unnoticeable injuries in the skin, the cells are signaled to produce collagen and send for healing white blood cells to repair the damage. When this happens, new skin is created and the melasma damage fades faster than it would without microneedling treatment.
Pregnancy is a journey not just for you, but for your body and your skin. Your body is rapidly changing, growing and preparing to bring life into the world. The changes your skin will endure as part of the growth process are, for the most part, totally treatable and manageable with a strong at-home skincare routine. Microneedling and applying targeted, yet gentle, skincare will create lasting, clinically proven results to keep skin looking firm, smooth and healthy. If you have any concerns about introducing new products or ingredients into your routine while pregnant or nursing, we always advise checking with your doctor. But as a general rule, if you establish a good routine to take care of your skin, it will take care of you.