Pregnancy is such a special time in any woman’s life, but caring for the skin during this time requires special considerations!
Teratogens and Product Safety
A teratogen refers to an agent or a factor which contributes to the malformation of an embryo. Drugs and chemicals fall into this category. It’s important to be aware of the safety of what you are putting on your skin while baby is on board. Isotretinoin, a Vitamin A derivative found in the prescriptions Accutane and Retin-A are a definite NO. OTC Retinoids and medical grade retinoids are best avoided until pregnancy and breastfeeding are over. You may see it listed as “Retinol” in the ingredients list of your product. It is also important to avoid Salicylic Acid, as it is derived from Aspirin, which has been proven unsafe for children under 12 due to the risk of Reye’s Syndrome. While antibiotics such as Doxycycline are typically prescribed by dermatologists for mild cases of acne such as acne vulgaris, your dermatologist will prescribe a different category of antibiotic such as Azithromycin, Cephalexin, or Eythromycin. This is typically only for more extreme cases of painful, cystic acne, which unfortunately can plague you during pregnancy.
The Two Camps of Pregnancy:
Camp One: “My skin has never looked better! I’m glowing!”
Camp Two: “My skin has never been this bad! I am broken out in acne and I have dry patches too!”
While some women experience a boost in their skin’s glow from all of the estrogen and other hormones, many women find that their skin has a “freak out”- at least initially as HcG levels triple daily during the first trimester. If you find yourself in the second camp, take heart! There are a few things you can do to safely care for your acne.
- Switch up your cleansing routine-. Make sure to use a foaming or gel cleanser with mild exfoliants in the evening to thoroughly cleanse the excess oil off. Avoid using a salicylic acid wash, as this is on the no-fly list of ingredients. L-Lactic Acid is okay. The Clear Skin Probiotic Cleanser from Eminence is a great choice.
- Change your moisturizer. Choose a moisturizer that is meant for combination skin (oily in the T zone and normal everywhere else). Unless your skin truly is oily, resist the urge to use products designed for acne or oily skin types, as you may end up over-stripping the skin of oil. When this happens, the skin produces more oil to compensate, resulting in a breakout! Homeostasis is the key. A product that is hydrating without being too thick, and my absolute favorite for this phase of life is the Hydrating B5 Gel by SkinCeuticals. You can use this morning and night.
- Exfoliate, Safely. Even though retinol is off the table, there are still some great exfoliants you can use 2-3 times per week to remove dead skin cells and to keep the oil-water balance of the skin in check. An enzyme exfoliant will safely do the trick. I used the Silk Renewing Peel by Silk Therapeutics all throughout my pregnancy and it kept my skin clear and glowing! The peel’s only contains 5 ingredients, so you can be sure of the purity of the product and its safety while your delicate baby grows! The active ingredients are lactic and glycolic acid, both have been proven safe for pregnancy.
- See an Aesthetician for a Great Facial and Thorough Extractions. If you do have acne breakouts, do not attempt to extract them yourself and certainly do not pick! The influx of your hormones can make you susceptible to hyper pigmentation after being exposed to UVA/UVB rays, a condition in which the skin stays red, brown or dark for a very long time after the blemish heals. See a trusted aesthetician who will choose the proper exfoliant for you and perform a safe and thorough extraction to clean the skin of sebaceous debris and reduce bacteria. It is important to note that while the High Frequency Machine is used post extraction to kill bacteria (among other uses) this is not safe while you are with child. Ask if they have access to a blue LED light- this is appropriate for pregnant clients and can kill a subtype of bacteria responsible for most breakouts, P.acne bacteria.