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Skin care for new mums; How does your skin change during pregnancy? Navigate hormonal breakouts and melasma. What skin care is safe during pregnancy?

Firstly, congratulations! Secondly I understand how scary becoming a mother can be. Being responsible for a whole little human being but also trying to keep life and a bit of you as an individual ticking over (all whilst battling morning sickness, a changing body followed by no sleep and no spare time!).

Being able to rely on your skin to show up and perform when you are not feeling 100% would be fabulous but very few people get to bask in the ‘pregnancy glow’ alone. Our skin really reacts to all that is going on in our body and the surge of pregnancy hormones is no different.

How do pregnancy hormones affect skin? How pregnancy causes hormonal acne & melasma.

Of course, growing baby means tummy’s and everything else grows quickly which stretches skin, leading to stretch marks on stomachs, back, breast and upper thighs. Basically on anywhere that is stretched faster than the skin is able to cope with.

Blood is circulating more through our whole body including the skin and rising levels of androgen hormones such as progesterone lead the skin to become more oily. These together lead to the ‘pregnancy glow’. For drier or dehydrated skin this can be fantastic and often eases irritation and dermatitis. However too much of this oil can lead to congestion or breakouts, particularly in oiler skin types.

Changing levels of oestrogen and progesterone impact pigment producing cells and for some can cause melasma changes on the face and darker lines on the abdomen which can then be worsened if from even low exposure to UV in sunlight.

Are melasma and acne the only skin changes in pregnancy?

Whilst stretch marks, pigmentation and breakouts are the ‘biggies’ the dramatic and fantastic changes that are happening inside a woman’s body can cause a whole range of skin issues. Mild itching is really common again due to increased body temperatures, changing blood flow and hormone levels. Other common skin complaints include driness, development or flares rosace, red patches or spots, sensitivity to UV, fragrances etc, varicose veins, the list is almost endless.

Whilest many skin issues can be explained by normal changes of pregnancy there can be other more serious conditions that are linked to pregnancy that would need to be dealt with to make sure you and baby stay strong and healthy. So if you notice quick or dramatic changes never hesitate to speak to your midwife or GP.

What skin care is safe in pregnancy?

It is very important to make sure that your skin care is safe. Even though most of the risk from medicines is when you ingest them, as this leads to higher levels in the blood, even active ingredients can be absorbed through the skin. And for some, that comes with a risk of serious developmental issues to baby, it just isn’t worth the risk.

Big ones to avoid are retinol and retinoids and higher levels of salicylic acids.

There are, however, many fantastic and safe active ingredients that can be used to either maintain your anti-aging or specific skin routine or to target new skin concerns.

Even investing in a fantastic cleanser, moisturiser and SPF will set your skin in good stead. Make sure you choose them to suit your skin type, but as we know things can change so it can be useful to have a spectrum of products and understand when they would be good to use so you can adapt to your skin’s changing needs.

A balanced cleanser and good moisturiser will help your skin manage the changing levels of natural oils.

Adequately hydrating skin helps on all levels, beyond giving a more dewy look it helps stabilise skin so reduces itching, minimises flares of inflammatory conditions such as dermatitis and rosacea and allows your skin to heal better so reduces severity of breakouts and their lingering effects such as pigmentation.

SPF is a fantastic option to really minimise melasma and avoid inflamed and angry acne breakouts.

If you have sorted your ‘basics’ but feel your skin needs more check out some of the pregnancy safe active ingredients below and how they can be used;

Pregnancy- Safe Active Ingredient

What it helps with…


Repairs & softens fine lines and wrinkles, hydrates, boosts collagen

Vitamin C

Repairs & softens fine lines and wrinkles, Antioxidant, boosts collagen, brightens tone & pigmentation


Softens fine lines, hydrates, reduces breakouts, antiinflammatory, brightens pigmentation

Azelaic Acid/Lactic acid/ Glycolic acid

Smooths texture, reduces breakouts, antiinflammatory, minimises pigmentation

What nutrition and supplements are good for pregnancy skin?

Your midwife and GP are a great source of information to advise you on the key supplements for you and baby. As a minimum Vitamin D and folic acid should be taken to ensure baby develops healthily. Beyond this many nutrients can come from a healthy diet. But we know morning sickness, cravings and tiredness can make it hard to stick to eating a varied and ‘eat the rainbow’ diet. Here well formulated multivitamins can help and choosing an all natural product that avoids synthetic bulking agents can really help avoid worsening bloating and bowl side effects that are so common, again due to hormone changes in pregnancy.

Nutrients such as vitamin D, folic acid and omega-3 are so important for the whole body. They are responsible for immunity, healing, energy, stress etc and as we know, if these are not managed well we see the effects on our skin.

Can supplements help more than skin? Can supplements help baby brain, tiredness and mood?

I am a great advocate of looking after our skin from the inside out. If we are healthy and happy our skin will show this.

Our body nourishes baby and often diverts away key nutrients that we need to help grow our little one. Omega-3 is integral for baby, and us, but we know that new mothers are almost completely deplete in omega-3 due to this process but this is often something new mums are not told about.

A well formulated omega-3 in addition to your vitamin D and folic acid will really help you whole body, mind and skin stay well.

How do I know what my skin needs in pregnancy?

It can be a mine field finding a skin care routine that works even without the concerns and needs of pregnancy and the unknown that comes with parenthood. Talking things through in a consultation and having a person to sound question and concerns off will help you learn what you skin and body need at this important time, and what to expect as you progress from pregnancy to new parent hood.

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