What Happens to your Skin During Pregnancy

January 22, 2018

What Happens to your Skin During Pregnancy


Pregnancy can be a time of excitement and happiness but also uncertainty, especially when it comes to skincare. Nowadays there are a multitude of sources for information on how to keep mom healthy and baby safe from books to magazine articles and of course the internet. While useful, after all knowledge is power, sometimes it can be overwhelming, confusing and even misleading. So you’ve heard of that pregnancy glow but skin conditions such as acne, heightened sensitivity and pigment issues are concerns that plague many. The struggle is real, mamas! To help you navigate the beauty minefield that pregnancy presents, here's an overview of what happens to your skin and how best to treat it.

The problem: The mask of pregnancy

Coupled with increased photosensitivity, you can experience a surge in pigment-stimulating hormones while pregnant and these can contribute to melasma – large patches of discoloration appearing on the face. While some of the tried and true solutions for pigment issues such as laser and chemical peels should be avoided as well as the skin lightening ingredient hydroquinone, topical vitamin C is an excellent alternative. Vitamin C delivers more than just brightening benefits. It plays crucial role in collagen production and acts as an antioxidant, protecting cells from free radical damage. Our Revision Vitamin C 30% lotion will give your skin a glow pregnant or not! It's also extra important to be sun-safe during pregnancy. Broad spectrum physical sunscreens that block both UVA and UVB rays are great to protect without chemicals that absorb into the skin and cause irritation. One of my favorites is EltaMD’s UV Pure is good for both face and body, offers SPF 47 and is water resistant. We also carry Elta’s UV Physical, a tinted version for the face.

The problem: Hormonal Acne

With fluctuating hormone levels, an increase in oil production and anxiety added into the mix, many women break out during pregnancy, especially around the chin, jawline and cheeks. While you may want to stay away from traditional acne remedies containing benzoyl peroxide, retinol and salicylic acid, alpha hydroxy acids such as glycolic and lactic acids as well as natural enzymes can be well tolerated and have been shown to be safe. Facial treatments at Paradise Dermatology are personalized to treat your skin safely and effectively while providing relaxation and rest. Products like EltaMD Foaming Facial Cleanser, a gentle cleanser that foams to loosen makeup, oil, and other impurities on the skin and in the pores, and Avene Skincare’s Clean-AC cream work to clean, soothe and hydrate the skin without causing additional breakouts.

The Problem: Heightened sensitivity

Hormonal Changes in pregnancy can also increase skin sensitivities, making you more sun sensitive and exacerbating skin conditions such as eczema and rosacea. Additionally, when pregnant the volume of blood in the body increases often tipping that healthy glow into redness. Using a product such as Colorescience All Calm, a chemical free mineral SPF 50 with soothing agents to calm skim and a tinted redness-neutralizing base gives you several solutions in one easy step. Simplicity and efficiency is essential for busy moms! In the office, calming treatments that include LED light therapy and facial lymphatic massage work wonders to relax your skin and you too!

The Problem: Drier Skin

While hormonal changes cause some women’s skin to become oiler, for others dryness can occur. Also, credit a loss of bodily fluids which are traveling from you to baby and your skin can become more reptilian than radiant. Besides drinking plenty of water, using a hyaluronic acid serum such as Revision’s Hydrating Serum can help your skin retain moisture. HydraFacial treatments can be customized for expectant and nursing moms to give skin a major hydrating boost.


While you might find many ingredients that can be used safely during pregnancy, there are various ingredients – both natural and synthetic- that are completely advised against during pregnancy and nursing. Below is a list and where you might find them.

  • Prescription Medication – Most prescription topicals are not safe during pregnancy and possibly nursing. Check with your medical provider.
  • Vitamin A/Retinol – All retinod products should be avoided during pregnancy as some studies have linked them to birth and child defects.
  • Phthalates/formaldehyde/toluene – Look out for these chemicals in perfume and nail polishes as they have been linked to hormonal disruption in some studies. With limited data, adverse effects on the fetus cannot be ruled out.
  • Ammonia – Found in some hair dyes. Your colorist should be able to advise you on ammonia-free options and at what point it is safe to color your hair.
  • Dihydroxyacetone (DHA) – DHA is the active ingredient in self tanning products. While it is considered safe by some to use self tanning creams or lotions, scientists are still unclear as to how much absorption of this ingredient is possible through the skin. It is best to avoid spray tanning as inhalation is a concern. Since the effects of DHA on the pregnancy are not known and it has not been proven safe during pregnancy, it’s a good idea to steer clear.
  • Certain Essential Oils – There are many natural and organic products that are gentle and have wonderful benefits for you skin during pregnancy, however certain essential oils should be avoided as they can encourage uterine contractions, adversely affect your baby in its early developmental stages and decrease milk production. Diffusing oils aromatically is a safe way to enjoy their therapeutic benefits during pregnancy.

If you are expecting a new little bundle in your life, congratulations and good luck! My best advice is to relax and enjoy the ride. As a mother of 2, I can vouch for the old saying that in parenthood…the days are long, but the years are short.