Well everyone is expecting a boom in child births in 9 months so let’s get your skin prepared! What may be safe skin care to use under normal circumstances may not be so safe while pregnant or breastfeeding. As with food or medications, anyone that is pregnant, breastfeeding, or undergoing fertility treatments needs to take a closer look at their skin care to make sure it is safe during this time. Chemicals or medications within the products can absorb through the skin and cause varying degrees of systemic or blood absorption. Once it’s in the blood stream, it can directly affect your baby. While some products are definitely not safe in pregnancy such as isotretinoin or Accutane, others have just not been studied to the extent we need them to be to confidently say they are safe. For this reason, many adopt the “better safe than sorry” approach. Additionally, it may make sense in theory to then stick with organic or all-natural skin care, but we need to be careful with this as well. Anything that typically falls under this category is not regulated by the FDA to any degree. You, therefore, can’t be certain that concentrations or purity of the ingredients are actually what they claim to be.
Pregnancy and breastfeeding, unfortunately, also is a time that women can experience more breakouts, dryness, eczema, hyperpigmentation, or melasma. Hormone levels are high which also just makes our skin go crazy. Our baseline skin problems can be exacerbated while new ones may appear. Additionally, most of us have gotten into a good routine with our skin care and are finally seeing promising results, so it can be disappointing to have to stop all the hard work you’ve already put into skin. If any of this resonates with you, if you are pregnant or breastfeeding or thinking about it, or even if you are undergoing fertility treatments, we’ve got some tips and recommendations that will keep your skin healthy during this time. As always, it’s extremely important to confirm the safety of any and all products with your Ob/Gyn.
1. Stop anything that might have a retinol, retin-A, or tretinoin. These are vitamin A derivatives commonly found in anti-aging skin care products. They can cause birth defects so are not recommended irrespective of the concentration or strength.
2. Check your acne products for benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid. These should be avoided as well.
3. Skin lighteners should be stopped if they contain hydroquinone. The absorption of HQ is higher than other products so more of it can get into your blood stream.
4. Alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) such as lactic acids are typically safe but in lower concentrations and should be confirmed with your OB/GYN. These can be used for antiaging, acne, and overall skin health.
5. Do continue to wear your mineral sunscreen (zinc), this is the best defense against pigment changes. Be careful with chemical sunscreens.
6. Do moisturize with products that contain hyaluronic acid, shea butter, or glycerin. These are generally safe.
7. Vitamin C is also a great addition that may help with pigment changes and keep your skin bright.
Always remember to speak to your OB/GYN to ensure the safety of any skin care product you use. Things that seem benign can be the opposite so do your research, check the ingredients, and double check everything with your medical professional.