Skin Health: Pregnancy, Postpartum, and Beyond

My second baby was born in the midst of the pandemic when schedules and structures had loosened or fallen apart completely. Amid shutdowns, school closures, and work from home orders, everything, including my own image in the mirror, looked different than I had imagined. Every typical challenge seemed to be accentuated, but the truth is every pregnancy and birth is a series of ups and downs, emotionally, physically, and hormonally. There is tremendous growth in motherhood and, with that, tremendous vulnerability. While beautiful, this transformation can sometimes make expecting mothers feel significantly out of sorts within our changing bodies and skin.

The same hormones responsible for high emotions, morning sickness, and preparing joints to carry this new little person can also wreak havoc on your skin. Looking and feeling your best comes with a new set of hurdles, and most realize more acutely than ever, that natural and pure products are an absolute must for the  safety of a growing baby and new Mama.

Everyone’s experience is unique, but the most common skin concerns tend to be pregnancy-related acne, hyperpigmentation, and dryness. An immediate reaction to acne, especially if you’ve rarely experienced it before or maybe not since teenage years, may be to use something strong to stop it in its tracks. But actually, many of those harsh ingredients are not recommended for pregnant women. Traditional ‘tough acne fighters’ like Retinols and Hydroxy Acids, BHA & AHA, are not entirely safe and our skin absorbs everything we use topically. Instead, natural antiseptics like Calendula & Lavender can soothe irritated and inflamed skin and help regulate the sebaceous gland’s oil production to prevent breakouts. Evening Primrose Oil is another favorite, containing omega-6 fatty acids, to help with hormonal acne.

Hyperpigmentation during pregnancy, sometimes called ‘the mask’ or clinically Melasma, can appear due to an overstimulation of melanin. Thank you again, hormones! Here, avoiding the sun and synthetics can help minimize the effect. Discontinue using any products with artificial fragrances which are linked to hormonal imbalances and treat yourself to a chic new sunhat to protect the newly, or more acutely, sensitive skin you may have. 

Hydration is something we all need for anti-aging and overall skin health, but growing babies require a lot of liquid in utero, and whatever they need, they take from us! Soon to Mama’s need to prioritize drinking more fluids than before and using hydrating products to boost the moisture required for radiant skin. Look for products containing Meadowfoam Seed Oil, which closely resembles human sebum, to help lock in moisture. Safflower and Squalane are both ultra-hydrating and soothing emollients to add to your essential ingredient list. 

After baby is born, skin-to-skin is essential. It’s the most natural and immediate bond between a mother and baby. The skin transfers deep signals from baby to Mama during this time of simple touch, skin to skin. It helps baby regulate their heart rate, temperature, stimulates appetite, and digestion. Many women admit that their passion for clean skincare intensified during this time, which was undoubtedly the case for me. Nothing makes it more clear that what we use on our skin matters than this time of closeness with a newborn whose skin is so delicate.

Passing on a legacy of self-care and natural skin health is important to impart to our children, starting from day one. When I use natural products, I feel a sense of well-being, balance, and security, knowing that I’m giving my skin everything necessary to heal during postpartum and protect the delicate pure skin of my baby. Taking time to be gentle and kind to your skin and yourself will ease the fluctuations that come with pregnancy and keep you looking and feeling your best so that you can keep up with all the new responsibilities and twist and twist turns ahead.