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Skincare is not one-solution-treats-all. There are many ways in which pregnancy changes our bodies. Every journey to motherhood is different, but according to Los Angeles-based board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Onyeka Obioha, MD, one of the biggest ways pregnancy impacts the skin is through hyperpigmentation.
Body changes during pregnancy
The increase in estrogen during pregnancy makes it very common to develop pigmentation on the stomach. The linea nigra (pregnancy line) is an example of this pigmentation. Chloasma and melasma can be caused by hormonal changes as well.
Oil production also changes during pregnancy. This means that people are more likely to break out, but it’s not a hard-and-fast rule. Some struggle with acne their entire lives, and then once they get pregnant, their acne clears.
There is also an increase in blood flow during pregnancy. Some people are susceptible to developing little red areas called angiomas, which are basically a collection of superficial blood vessels.
And lastly, when you’re pregnant, your skin is stretching, breaking the skin. Chief Scientific Officer at Evereden, Dr. Joyce Teng, says, “When this happens, there is an underlying blood ‘bundle’ that shows, and this is why stretch marks first appear red. When the skin turns white, this is because the dermis starts to heal. The goal of overall treatment is to moisturize the skin to increase the elasticity, so that early on, you won’t have the broken cracks. Although the elasticity of the skin is largely genetic, hydration through certain known ingredients, such as marula oil and rosehip oil, also can help to build skin’s elasticity.”
How should you start changing your skincare routine during pregnancy?
Simply speaking, your routine should be simplified. Less is more. Stick with staples like SPF and antioxidants but ditch the big no-no’s: topical vitamin A products and beta hydroxy acids. Oftentimes, low-strength alpha hydroxy acids can be used in the second and third trimesters.
How can I reduce the appearance of stretch marks?
Well hydrated skin is more supple and better able to withstand the forces of stretch. Ceramide-based products and humectants such as hyaluronic acid are big staples. Peptides can help skin tone and texture. Topical retinoids are the only clinically proven topicals to be helpful for stretch marks — but they can’t be used during pregnancy or while nursing.
What are some other ingredients that help growing skin?
Centella Asiatica (found in Evereden Golden Belly Serum and Nourishing Stretch Mark Cream) is rich in amino acids, beta carotene, fatty acids, and phytochemicals. More research is needed to fully understand the benefits, but it’s thought to calm inflammation, serve as an antioxidant, and have anti-aging, hydration, and wound-healing properties.
Skincare rich in pregnancy-safe brighteners and antioxidants such as vitamin C, vitamin E, and azelaic acid can be used for hyperpigmentation. Mild-strength alpha hydroxy acids — lactic acid, glycolic acid, mandelic acid — are also effective for pregnancy-induced acne.
What about in-office treatments?
Microneedling punctures the skin and creates micro injury which stimulates your body’s wound-healing response and helps break up the tissue. There is also a procedure called Cellfina that also helps break up the tissue and stimulates wound healing.
After pregnancy, what should I do for my postpartum skin?
As hormones change postpartum, so will your skincare concerns. You may have dry skin before pregnancy — and oily skin after pregnancy. Tailor your cleanser appropriately. If oily, exfoliating cleansers are helpful. If dry, use a creamy cleanser so as not to over-dry the skin. Stick with non comedogenic — aka oil-free — facial moisturizers. Incorporate new products slowly as your tolerance may change. Lather up on SPF so that pregnancy-induced hyperpigmentation can fade as fast as possible. And finally, exfoliate the dead skin cells that accumulated in pregnancy!
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