A guide to skincare when you are expecting

    There is no doubt that there are a lot of changes when it comes to being pregnant. Aside from what you can eat or drink, or the kind of physical exercise you can do, your skincare routine can also change too. Why may you ask? This is because certain ingredients can be absorbed through your skin, which can impact your baby’s health. Fortunately, most over-the-counter (OTC) products are completely safe for pregnant women to use, but a few may contain products that can be harmful. Therefore, here are a few examples of what types of harmful ingredients to look out for. Your body will be sure to thank you! So be sure to read below to learn more about skincare for pregnancy


    Skin changes during pregnancy

    Although some people may overlook it, your skin can change during pregnancy. This is largely the result of hormones, as they can influence your immune function as well as your cardiovascular system. While a lucky few may be relieved that their skin does not change much, other people will experience a few worsening skin issues as time goes on. Some of the most common issues include dry skin, acne, and darkening skin (otherwise known as chloasma or melasma). 


    Additionally, people that already have existing skin conditions such as psoriasis, rosacea, or eczema, may find that their symptoms change during pregnancy (either for better or for worse). 


    Moreover, because the size of your belly will grow larger, you may see yourself gaining stretch marks, hair growth, spider veins, or even hair loss, to name a few.


    Why does skin change? 

    As mentioned above, the reason skin changes is mainly due to fluctuating hormones. As experts have pointed out, when someone is pregnant, their internal body environment changes to accommodate the growing baby. The increase in blood flow as well as hormones can sometimes give people the often-reported pregnancy glow. That being said, it can also give you acne, stretch marks, and spider veins, in addition to melasma. Due to these changes, ingredients that were once normally safe to use may find themselves having unintentional side effects when someone is pregnant. For instance, they may become more sensitive and find their usual skincare routine irritating. Of course, you must also remember that people may have different experiences because not all pregnancies are equal. So if someone you know may have certain side effects to a particular skincare product, that does not mean you will have the same experience or vice versa. 


    All in all, even with our technological advances, it is nearly impossible to predict how exactly hormones will affect the skin of every single individual out there. You may even end up experiencing different symptoms with each trimester. As such, your beauty routine can change weekly, or even monthly, depending on how you are feeling. If you are not sure where to start regarding this topic, then it is best you seek help from a reputable dermatologist or OB/GYN. 


    Ingredients to Avoid

    Unfortunately, as of right now, we currently do not have any studies pertaining to how certain skincare ingredients affect pregnant women. This is because clinical trials are limited as a result of ethical concerns. However, a few animal, anecdotal, or even case-specific studies have shown a few fetal effects related to common skincare ingredients. Here are a few of them listed below for your perusal:



    On the whole, it is safe to say that vitamin A is a crucial vitamin needed for optimal immune, skin, reproductive, and eye health. Once it is absorbed through the skin, your body then converts it into retinol. A few pro-aging skincare products will contain a type of retinol called retinoids, which are used to reduce fine lines and reverse acne. They do this by assisting the surface-level skin cells to exfoliate faster, in addition to boosting collagen to heal the skin. 


    However, despite their benefits, most dermatologists will recommend that anyone pregnant should skip retinol or vitamin A-containing skincare products. This is because a few of them have been known to interfere with fetal development and lead to birth defects. For instance, isotretinoin has been documented as posing a risk for congenital irregularities when fetuses are exposed in utero. Of course, be sure to talk with your healthcare provider if you are not sure whether to use a product with this ingredient in it or not. 



    These ingredients can be found in ‘bleaching creams’ that help whiten the skin, and fade hyperpigmentation, dark spots, and melasma. While they can reduce skin pigmentation, especially those that have been brought on by pregnancy, experts still advise pregnant women to avoid them. This is because the body can absorb hydroquinone faster than when compared with other ingredients, so it is best if you limit exposure to it during pregnancy. 



    Fortunately, formaldehyde is rarely used as a disinfectant and preservative, because it is known as a carcinogen. As such, it can increase the risk of miscarriage and infertility. That being said, there are formaldehyde-releasing chemicals that can be found in cosmetics that have a similar dangerous effect. These include bronopol, Diazolidinyl urea, and more, to name a few. 



    You can often find parabens in skincare products, as well as shampoos too. This is because they help to preserve products and increase their shelf-life. However, BPA can be a concern as it can act as an endocrine disruptor, and is absorbed by the skin easily. A few studies have even shown that BPA may have certain negative effects on pregnant people. However, currently, the research is not conclusive enough and more studies will be needed to determine whether or not they are actually harmful to pregnant people. 


    Chemical sunscreens

    While sunscreen is an important part of everyone’s daily skincare routine, there are a few ingredients you need to look out for. One of them is oxybenzone and its derivatives, which are usually found in sunscreens, and help to filter out UV light. However, a few studies have shown that it can potentially have adverse health and environmental effects. This is because oxybenzone is an endocrine-disrupting chemical, so it may end up disrupting hormones and cause permanent damage to both you and the developing baby. It can also be irritating for a few people. To be on the safe side, experts recommend that people use physical sunscreen which tends to contain ingredients like zinc oxide that helps to block UVA and UVB rays.  

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