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Beauty & Skin Care Tips for Pregnant Women

Tips for Melasma, Stretch Marks, Tired Eyes & More


Pregnant woman eating an orange
Jorn Georg Tomter/Photodisc/Getty Images

What’s In Your Beauty Products?

Pregnancy causes hormonal changes that affect the body and therefore the skin. Skin during pregnancy can experience anything from blotchiness to acne. While some of us might take chances with cosmetics that some deem unsafe because it’s not scientifically proven, pregnancy can make one a lot more concerned about what’s actually in beauty products. Ingredients, especially in lotions, creams and oils, can be absorbed into the bloodstream and be potentially harmful to the unborn child. You might want to change your products, as well as your skin care routine, especially if you plan to breastfeed. Fortunately there are many products that are specially formulated for pregnant women to safely address their special skin care needs.

Some Ingredients to Avoid

Salicylic Acid. Salicylic acid is used to treat skin disorders such as acne, because it helps deep cleanse pores and exfoliate the skin. High doses of salicylic acid in oral form, though, have been known to cause birth defects. While some health professionals say that a small amount of the topical form is safe in certain products, it’s best to avoid even topical use of salicylic acids, and in facial and body peels in particular. To be on the safe side avoid beta hydroxy acids (BHA) and alpha hydroxy acids (AHA).

Retinoids. Retinoids are great anti-aging agents in cosmetics, but high doses of vitamin A has been proven to be harmful to the unborn child. Isotretinoin, an oral retinol found in products like Accutane, which is used for acne, also causes birth defects. It’s not shown to cause problems in topical form (Retin-A, Renova) but it’s best to avoid using products containing this ingredient.

Try Organic

Since there are other chemical ingredients found in everyday beauty products that can potentially harm the reproductive health of your child, opt for certified organic products shampoos, lotions, body washes and cosmetics.

If you’re unsure about your products, consult your obstetrician about products that are safe to use during pregnancy. Your doctor can make recommendations for products that are best for you as well as give you advice.

Skin Problems During and After Pregnancy

There are a few skin problems that can crop up during and after pregnancy because of hormonal and physical changes.


Women of color are susceptible to skin discolorations due to excess melanin production and pregnancy produces hormones (more estrogen and progesterone) that stimulate the skin to make more melanocytes. One such skin discoloration is melasma, also called “the mask of pregnancy,” which can occur in the second to third trimester. The condition causes dark brown patches to appear on the cheeks, forehead and upper lip. UV rays aggravate melasma. Be sure to wear a safe sunscreen and limit your time in the sun to prevent dark patches from appearing. If you do get dark patches, do not use bleaching products. Melasma usually fades after delivery. Meanwhile you can use a concealer on the discolorations.

How to Treat Melasma During Pregnancy

Stretch Marks

There’s not much that you can do to prevent stretch marks and some women are more susceptible to them than others. To help reduce stretch marks, drink a lot of water, make sure you take any vitamins and nutrients recommended by your obstetrician, and eat a healthy diet. You can also use a gentle skin brush or washcloth to massage the skin and increase blood flow to the area, which might help. Before the stretch marks have a chance to form, keep the skin moisturized by applying a natural emollient like cocoa butter to your stomach and breasts.

Acne/Oily Skin

During pregnancy the skin can become oilier. If this is the case, switch to oil-free formulas. Breakouts can occur during the first trimester. As mentioned, prescription acne medications have been proven to be harmful to use during pregnancy. Consult your obstetrician about how to safely treat acne. One good note, if you already have acne, sometimes pregnancy actually clears up the condition!

Other tips for breakout prevention:

  • When using makeup opt for products that are noncomedogenic to avoid clogging the pores and causing breakouts.
  • Use mild cleansers daily to remove excess oil and prevent breakouts.

Dry Skin

  • Keep skin moisturized. Avoid hot bathes and showers and use mild cleansers that will not further dry out skin.
  • You can also get dry, itchy bellies from the stretching of the skin. Massage the belly with cocoa butter.
  • For sore, cracked nipples, instead of regular lotions and moisturizers, use special nipple creams and ointments.

Tired, Swollen Feet

  • Moisturize and massage feet with a refreshing foot gel or cream that contains cooling ingredients like menthol, eucalyptus or peppermint oil.

Varicose Veins

  • Avoid prolonged standing and be sure to get enough vitamin c in your diet.

Makeup Tips

  • If you experiencing dry skin, use hydrating foundations or tinted moisturizers.
  • Use blusher to perk up tired complexions.
  • Be sure to get enough rest. If getting your full eight hours isn’t an option (especially after delivery), use concealer under the eyes for dark circles. Take five to ten minutes to cover puffy eyes with cool cucumber slices, moist tea bags or cool compresses.
  • When using concealers, use a shade lighter than your foundation. Then apply foundation only on areas where you have not applied concealer.
  • Remember to finish off your look with lipstick or lip gloss in a shade that you love.

Take care of yourself.

Be sure to get enough sleep and try relaxation techniques like meditation or take pre-natal yoga classes. Stress is a big beauty buster.

Here are more beauty tips for expectant mothers.
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