Skincare tips for pregnancy

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I thought it was timely to write down some notes on how to care for your skin when you're pregnant. As many will have experienced, the whole 'pregnancy glow' thing is something of a myth because, during pregnancy, all the good stuff in your body is going to the baby (Mother Nature prioritises the new life), while the host - that's you! - is sent whatever's leftover, if anything.

This means that your skin isn't getting the nutrients and other goodies it normally receives. For those of us with naturally dry skin, this can make matters so much worse - an effect that's doubled in the cooler months, when your skin normally suffers more anyway.

Since I'm currently on my second pregnancy and my dry skin is feeling the effects of this combined with the cold weather, I thought it was timely to share some tips I've learned along the way. Some may seem obvious, but hopefully there's an idea or two in there that's new and helpful : )


Watch what you're feeding your skin

This is an obvious one but it's worth mentioning anyway because it absolutely makes a difference. The baby will take whatever nutrition it needs from your body, and the leftovers are sent to you. So those pregnancy vitamins your doctor recommends are not only for bub's benefit but also for yours: you'll feel better if you're making sure you eat well and taking your supplements, and your skin will benefit too.

For the same reason it's important to stay well-hydrated and make sure you're not taking in too much alcohol or caffeine (which of course you should be limiting anyway), and some women choose to forsake those things during pregnancy altogether.

You'll make your own decisions about what you will and won't eat when you're pregnant, but do limit things like salt and processed foods if you want to feel your best and reduce the impact on your skin.


Adapt to changing conditions

It's entirely possible that your skin type may change for the duration of your pregnancy and won't re-settle itself until sometime after. I've known women with oily skin say that their skin suddenly became dry and dehydrated early in their first trimesters, which meant that the skincare they were using was no longer suitable for their skin.

So keep an eye out for any changes and adjust what you need to. You may have to buy different products to keep your skin feeling comfortable throughout your pregnancy, and targeted skincare can really help send nourishment where you need it most.

Ask your doctor - not Doctor Google

This is an important one. You'll hear a lot of rubbish about what you can and can't do when you're pregnant, and I strongly recommend speaking to your doctor in favour of listening to secondhand information or googling information online.

For example, I've heard people say that you can't dye your hair or use self-tanners when you're pregnant, but my doctor said this was rubbish and I could do both. Don't take this information as gospel though: different countries have different standards when it comes to what ingredients can and can't be included in products, and research is always bringing new information to light. 

So go directly to the source and ask your obstetrician what you can and can't use. If in doubt, get a second medical opinion. Don't listen to people who don't know what they're talking about. There may well be certain things you can't use when you're pregnant (after all, your skin's your biggest organ), but few people know what these actually are and there's a lot of misinformation out there these days that's best ignored.


Reconsider your cleansers

This is an important one, and it's one I've been juggling with myself lately. When my skin's starting to dry out and turn red and flaky, I tend to look at what hydrating products I'm using and adding things like oils and nourishing masks to help the issue. 

But this is only part of the battle and it helps to look at what kinds of cleansers you're using - eg some foaming cleansers can be too astringent and you may find you're better off using cream, balm and oil cleansers while you're skin's in bad shape. Super gentle cleansers are also available that have adjusted pH levels (eg see my recent post on the SebaMed cleanser I'm loving), and you can find some in the chemist or supermarket for a song. 

So don't just layer on the thick creams: all your skincare should be looked at. I wish adding an oil could solve all problems, but that's certainly not my experience!

Adjust your routine based on what your skin can tolerate

I love using glycolic acid because it does such good things for my skin, and when my skin isn't too dry I can use a glycolic toner once or twice a day - on top of the other exfoliating products I use once or twice a week.

Unfortunately I can't do this at the moment because my skin became stripped after I tested a bung moisturiser (and I've also had a cold for over a week, which doesn't help), so I've had to drop back the treatments and go easy on the glycolic and other exfoliants for now. My skin isn't normally this sensitive, but it becomes that way when I'm pregnant and is less resilient than usual.

Sometimes treatments that have always worked for you can make matters worse, so if your skin has been changing during pregnancy, keep an eye on it and adjust your routine where necessary.


Moisturise and then moisturise some more

I'm always surprised by the amount of moisture my skin drinks up during pregnancy, and this becomes even more pronounced when the temperature drops.

I find myself not only needing to use a larger amount of my serums and creams than I did before (because my skin seems to absorb more than usual, so the applications become bigger), but I also find myself re-hydrating countless times throughout the day.

Now's a good time to invest in a decent facial spray that's easy to apply and keeps your skin feeling comfortable and looking plumped. Occasionally I'll find the time to add a layer of cream during the day, but let's face it, facial sprays are easier and faster so you're more likely to use them.

Don't forget your body

I'm not going to give you a list of ways to avoid stretchmarks during pregnancy, because quite frankly, such things are largely hereditary and there's not a hell of a lot you can do about them. Having said this, I have found that applying a heavy-duty cream or oil at least once a day (twice is better, if you can manage it) helps tremendously with comfort. 

In my first pregnancy, my skin was getting so itchy - it can do this when it's stretching too fast - that it was keeping me up at night, distracting me when I was trying to work and was really affecting my general wellbeing. I did get a script for an anti-itch cream, but I didn't end up using it because I found that applying my body oil more frequently was enough to keep the problem at bay.

So be generous with the body care. It doesn't need to be expensive - just pick something that keeps you feeling supple and hydrated. As to whether liberal and frequent applications will also help prevent stretchmarks, I really can't say - but it's worth trying at least, yes?


In sum

That's it! I could probably rustle up a few more tips but I think that's enough for one post. 

Do let me know if you've discovered any good skincare tips that have helped you during pregnancy - I'm always up for hearing more : )


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