Congratulations on your pregnancy! Whether it’s your first, second or third (or dare I say, 4th, 5th or 6th??); if you are expecting, then expect this… your body is going to go through some pretty amazing changes. While it’s busy growing your new little human, an expanding waistline is a given and probably one of the only times in a woman’s life when we can relax and proudly let our tummy block the view down to our toes.
Stronger nails, healthy, shiny hair and fuller lips are just some of the other perks of pregnancy and while your skin can also radiate with a phenomenal ‘pregnancy glow’, there can sometimes be some not-so-welcome skin issues that may arise.
Why is my skin going cray-cray?
Hormones darling. We often hear hormones blamed for skin issues such as acne, eczema and dermatitis but you’ve probably never fully understood the power these tiny chemical messengers can wield until you go through pregnancy.
When I was pregnant with my first baby, I suffered from terrible morning sickness for the first 3 months. I basically lived on ginger biscuits and tea because that was all I could stomach until, on the very first day of my second trimester, my morning sickness disappeared! It was like someone had flicked the switch on my hormone-meter and just like that… I felt totally normal again.
While it’s different for every woman, hormonal surges throughout a pregnancy will cause changes in our skin. Some of us will get skin changes occurring early on in our pregnancy with rashes, redness, acne and discolourations popping up in the first trimester while others will have this amazing glow until the second or third trimester’s hormonal siege takes hold… but don’t panic… like my morning sickness, it is usually temporary and there are things you can do to alleviate the symptoms in the meantime.
Here are 4 common pregnancy skin issues to expect while you are expecting… and what you can do to ease the symptoms.
Medically known as Chloasma or Melasma, this type of hyperpigmentation develops as dark, brown coloured patches on the forehead, nose, upper lip and cheeks, often resembling a mask. You may have heard of it being referred to as ‘the mask of pregnancy’ and is caused by an increase in the hormone estrogen which then stimulates the production of melanin - the skin’s natural pigment/colour. Further magnified by an increase in progesterone levels and the effects of sun exposure, hyperpigmentation can be tricky to avoid.
Be sure to protect your skin from the sun. Avoid using chemical sunblocks during pregnancy as studies have shown that chemicals commonly used in sunblocks, such as oxybenzone can absorb into the bloodstream and may reach the fetus. Instead opt for a ‘physical sunblock’ containing minerals such as titanium dioxide or zinc oxide which sit on the surface of the skin to deflect away damaging UVA A and UVB rays.
Try ASI’s Rejuvenating Day Cream packed full of Zinc for chemical free sun protection that is also healing and restorative for your skin… perfect for controlling break-outs and sensitivity, this daily moisturiser also contains vitamin B3 for hydrating and illuminating dry, depleted and lack luster skins.
Top it up with some mineral make-up, like ASI’s Loose Mineral Powder for an extra layer of yummy mummy sun protection… it’s comes in 5 different shades and can be pressed onto the skin with your favorite Kabuki Brush or simply sprinkle it into your day cream and mix to make a tinted moisturiser!
2: Break Outs
Increased progesterone levels, especially during the first trimester of pregnancy, is also often the catalyst for breakouts. Responsible for preparing the uterus to support the growing baby, the increase of this hormone also stimulates your skin’s oil glands to produce more oil, clogging the pores and creating the perfect environment for the p-bacteria that causes acne to proliferate. You may even get break outs in places you’ve never had pimples before… like your back, shoulders and upper arms.
These breakouts can be treated during pregnancy but take care and avoid products that contain retinol & retinoids (vitamin A), Benzoyl peroxide and high concentrations of Salicylic acid like those found in professional peels.
Instead opt for alternatives such as the Rejuvenating Foaming Cleanser, containing citric acid to lightly exfoliate dead skin build-up, unclog pores and wash away excess oil… its light, foamy goodness will leave your skin feeling clean and fresh without over drying. Also keep a spot treatment on hand such as ASI’s Clearing Renewal Complex... containing Magnesium Sulfate and Chlorhexidine to fight surface bacteria and prevent further breakouts. Simply dab it on spots as they sprout and watch them run for the hills!
For the body, keep a bottle of Anti-Bac Cleansing Gel in the shower. Perfect for targeting infection and odour causing bacteria on the body, it contains safe levels of Lemongrass and Tea Tree essential oils both possessing antibacterial properties perfect for ingrown hairs or breakouts on the body and the added benefits of Chamomile helps to combat irritation whilst calming and soothing all skin concerns.
3: Sensitive Skin
You probably know that pregnancy can make you emotionally sensitive but did you know that your skin can also become sensitive, even to things that never bothered you before?
Take it easy and adopt a minimalist skincare routine. Now’s not the time to be experimenting with the latest, crazy skincare discovery (step away from the birds nest cream & snake venom serum).. Your skin has got too many other things to deal with right now. Instead, stick to true and tested formulations such as those used by the Australian Skin Institute. These vegan friendly range of products contain a minimal number of ingredients delivered into the skin using cutting edge nanotechnology. Every ingredient is there to improve and benefit the skin and they are not mass produced meaning you’ll always get a super fresh hit of goodness.
To relieve skin sensitivity try R3 - Relieve, Repair, Restore . It contains restorative Vitamin C and anti-inflammatory Calendula to soothe and heal. And for an extra cooling boost on a hot sensitised skin pop on a few drops of Pure Hydration Concentrate, loaded with thirst quenching Hyaluronic Acid, it not only hydrates the skin like no other ingredient, it helps to calm redness and heat, preventing broken capillaries from forming.
4: Spider Veins
Speaking of broken capillaries… during pregnancy, increased blood volume to all parts of the body can put pressure on our veins causing painful swelling (in the legs particularly) and causing the tiny little capillaries of the skin on our face to dilate and burst. This can often be seen as a flush of permanent redness on the cheeks, nose and chin or, if you look closely enough, can be seen as a network of tiny, red threads under the skin.
While these can be effectively treated with IPL or Laser, you will need to wait until after the baby is born to have treatment. In the meantime, keep your skin calm… avoid extreme temperature changes such as having a super hot shower or allowing the cold to hit your skin and be cautious of foods that elevate your body temperature like spicy foods.
Be sure to add a Vitamin C serum to your skincare routine. Vitamin C applied topically is known to enhance collagen synthesis in the membrane of these tiny blood vessels, helping to keep them strong and resilient. ASI’s Vitamin C Serum no-sting formulation uses a transdermal delivery system that penetrates into the deeper layers of your skin where it’s needed most. Plus, this formulation doubles up as a make-up primer, making it the perfect pregnancy skin buddy.
illustration credit to http://quintondewing.com/