The myth of "the pregnancy glow", supposedly caused by an influx of feel-good hormones combined with that infamous rise in body temperature, is just that: a myth.
Growing a new human inside your body is a phenomenal experience, but with it comes a whole new slew of things to worry about, like strangers feeling the need to touch your belly or the idea that you're bringing a child into our current political and environmental crisis. Included in that evergrowing list is your skincare routine. Your baby is essentially a sponge for all the things you put on and inside your body, which is why it's so important to know what skincare products are and aren't safe to use when you're pregnant.
But when it comes to determining which beauty products are safe for you to use at every stage, the waters are murky. It’s surprisingly difficult to find solid pregnancy skincare advice online. There is, however, one thing that the internet can agree on: your skin will go through significant changes throughout pregnancy.
Those with previously blemish-free skin find themselves tackling acne, whilst eternally oily types are suddenly as dry as a desert. And what was that about that glow that's promised to us during pregnancy? Well, it turns out that "glow" is actually code for pregnancy-induced acne, heightened sensitivity and a "pregnancy mask" of pigmentation. Not to mention the stretch marks, sore nipples and swelling.
To help, we consulted the experts to see what the ideal pregnancy skincare routine would look like. Check out Dr Tiina Meder - dermatologist, cardiologist, and founder of Meder Beauty Science - advice below.
Retinol - "Skincare products formulated with retinol derivatives are not recommended. There is no definitive proof of any negative effects yet, however, it has been suggested that retinol derivatives may pose a risk of harm, however minor, to the embryo."
Systemic Retinoids - "Often found in acne treatments, systemic retinoids (particularly Roaccutane) are strictly forbidden during pregnancy, so much so that dermatologists advise women not to plan a pregnancy for the whole duration of therapy."
Injectables - "These will have to wait too. Botulinum toxin, fillers, and bio revitalisation are officially forbidden from being administered to pregnant women in all countries of the world.
Machine Treatments - "Whether high-intensity or energy-assisted methods, should be avoided. Laser resurfacing, RF liftings, and, of course, cryolipolysis, should also be avoided during pregnancy."
Whitening Solutions - "and brightening solutions with hydroquinone are safe to use during pregnancy and won’t harm the foetus. However, skin can become more sensitive during pregnancy, increasing the risk of side effects and complications from these treatments."
Salicylic Acid - "Salicylic acid is also safe to use during pregnancy and won’t harm the foetus. However, like hydroquinone, salicylic acid is not recommended either, for the same reason. Salicylic acid can be found in many skincare products, including body care, so be sure to read a product’s ingredients list before use."
Glycolic Acid - "The jury is still out on glycolic acid, with some dermatologists recommending it be avoided during pregnancy. However, this doesn’t mean all AHAs need to be avoided! Citric and lactic acids, for example, are safe to use during pregnancy."
Essential Oils - "Although natural, there are several essential oils that should be used with caution during pregnancy. The agents they contain have small molecular weight and high volatility, so they may affect the body as a whole. Many essential oils increase the skin’s sensitivity to UV, which isn’t great considering the risk of pigmentation is higher during pregnancy."
Camphor, peppermint extract, and mint oil - "I also wouldn't recommend these during pregnancy - especially for those late in pregnancy or those with an increased risk of miscarriage. These ingredients are perfectly safe for use outside of pregnancy, however, pregnant women should ensure skincare products are free of these ingredients before using them."
So what should yOUR Pregnancy skincare routine look like?
Gentle is the word you need to remember. The ideal pregnancy skincare routine is unique for everyone. Even if you’ve been pregnant before, your skin can react completely differently the next time around. That being said, it's a perfect time to treat your skin with extra love and care, as "you'll be likely experiencing changes like acne, extreme dryness, and irritation."
Skin Perfecting Liquid Exfoliant, €31.20, Paula's Choice
To combat pregnancy skincare issues, a gentle exfoliation is key. Infused with witch hazel and green tea extract, this gentle daily exfoliator does an amazing job at clearing pores, smoothing the surface of your skin and keeping breakouts at bay.
Azelaic Acid Suspension, €7.20, The Ordinary
Unfortunately, retinoids (and retinol), the holy-grail ingredient that works wonders on both acne and fine lines by promoting skin-cell turnover, are considered unsafe to use during pregnancy. So how should pregnant women address acne if many go-to products contain retinoids and salicylic acids? Azelaic acid. It works by killing bacteria found in pores and also decreases the production of keratin. Although typically prescribed by doctors under the name Finacea, azelaic acid can also be found over the counter.
Rose Absolute Serum, €62, Africology
Founded by an aromatherapist, Reiki Master, holistic healer and mother of four, Renchia Droganis, this serum has been ailor-made for hormonal skin, it’s extra soothing and also good for menopausal issues. Rose is renowned for its ancient anti-ageing properties and the scent re-balances the emotions. Perfect when you find yourself weeping at yet another building society advert.
Arma-Bust Cream, €78, Meder Beauty Science
Plumping, moisturising and firming cream for the bust and décolleté area. Safe to use during pregnancy and lactation, founder by Dr. Tiina Meder, the Arma-Bust Cream is recommended for restoring the breasts’ shape and reducing stretch marks post-pregnancy.