The ELLE-Approved Pregnancy Skincare Bible
Expecting and wondering about your beauty routine? Here’s what you need to know.
by : Melissa Fejtek- Sep 2nd, 2021
Our teenage years aren’t the only occasion when hormones wreak havoc on our skin. While some may experience the elusive “pregnancy glow”, others deal with hyperpigmentation, bouts of acne, and increased sensitivity. The real kicker? There’s no one-size-fits all solution. “Too many times we focus on trying to correct a situation, especially on our face, by throwing things on it. But it’s such a band-aid approach, because many of our skin conditions arise from much deeper-rooted issues,” says Vee Mistry, certified esthetician and founder of Toronto-based private facial studio SKINBYVEE. When it comes to skin, Mistry takes an inside-out approach, factoring gut health, stress levels–and yes, pregnancy–into consideration. “The goal is to look after the skin in the most prescriptive, individual way possible. Each pregnancy is unique, and each person is going to respond differently.” That being said, there are a few things mums-to-be can do to navigate skin changes brought on by pregnancy. Ahead, we consulted Mistry to find out what to do–and what not to do– when expecting. Here’s what she had to say.
How to handle the “mask of pregnancy”:
Melasma–a form of hyperpigmentation often triggered by pregnancy–is often caused by hormonal shifts. A telltale sign you’re experiencing melasma? “You’ll typically notice it in large patches, right above the upper lip, around the forehead and the eye area,” says Mistry. “For those instances, what you really want to focus on is SPF”. Mistry recommends physical (i.e. mineral-based) SPFs, such as Dermaquest’s SheerZinc SPF30 ($63). Here’s why: chemical sunscreens work by absorbing UV rays and converting them into heat. Physical SPF, on the other hand, sits on top of the skin, reflecting UV rays. “With physical protection, you’re not allowing the heat into the epidermis, which is better for anybody struggling with pigmentation,” she says. “When you put heat on an inflammatory situation, it just heightens the inflammation.”
“Vitamin E is amazing for barrier repair; hyaluronic acid has amazing moisturizing properties, and vitamin B3 – niacinamide – is great for anti-aging, hydration, and any type of constricting of capillaries.”
Steer clear from:
Avoid vitamin-A based formulations, like retinoid-, retinol- and retinaldehyde-based products, which don’t have enough clinical data backing their safety. Another ingredient you should try and stay away from in high doses is salicylic acid. “Salicylic acid is a beautiful ingredient that really helps with clearing out the follicles, but the challenge is that it has the same ability to be inflammatory,” says Mistry. “Hydroquinone is also great as a lightening agent, so it’s really good for anybody struggling with sun damage, acne pigmentation, and post-pregnancy melasma, but during the time that you are pregnant, there’s a possibility it can penetrate to a blood level.” If you’re wondering about a specific ingredient, be sure to consult your physician to see where they stand.
Try these ingredients instead:
To combat dullness and uneven skin texture, opt for glycolic acid, which has a larger molecular structure and is less likely to cause adverse effects. “Use it in a cleanser format, because it’s on-and-off, rather than a serum or mask which stays on the skin for a larger amount of time.” If you’re concerned about fine lines, opt for vitamin C, which can brighten the complexion, combat free radical damage and accelerate cell turnover. “Vitamin E is amazing for barrier repair; hyaluronic acid has amazing moisturizing properties, and vitamin B3 – niacinamide – is great for anti-aging, hydration, and any type of constricting of capillaries.”
When going for a facial:
Stay away from chemical peels, as well as invasive laser and radiofrequency treatments like Thermage and Fraxel. Physical exfoliation treatments, like microdermabrasion, can also irritate sensitive skin. Instead, opt for customized, non-invasive facials that cater to your skin’s specific needs (Vee herself performs a game-changing custom 360 facial). LED light treatments are safe for pregnancy and are great for addressing issues like inflammation and fine lines.
“Make sure you’re washing your face with cold water day and night.”
If there’s one thing you should do:
One thing that all moms-to-be can benefit from? Cryotherapy, also known as cold therapy. “Make sure you’re washing your face with cold water day and night,” says Mistry. By introducing cold temperatures to the skin, blood vessels constrict and dilate, reducing flushing and inflammation in the skin. This is especially beneficial if you have underlying sensitivity, or you’re facing conditions like eczema, psoriasis or rosacea, which can be exacerbated by hormonal changes. Stock your fridge with protective biocellulose masks (we love this option by Skinceuticals), gel-cream lotions, jade rollers, gua sha tools, or even cryotherapy sticks to keep the skin cool and calm.
If you want to give your skin some at-home TLC:
Hot baths are an absolute must when it comes to relaxing–but again, don’t forget to splash your face with cool water after you’ve emerged from the tub. “Cool water calms the skin and also helps bring down our blood pressure,” she says. Another thing to keep in mind is that shifts in hormone levels may cause a dip in energy. Lean into products that are multi-purpose, like the Elemis Pro-Collagen Cleansing Balm ($95). “You use it as a makeup remover, or, you could apply a slightly thicker layer on the skin and leave it on as a mask.” Massage the skin as much as possible when you’re cleansing the face. “Take an extra minute to massage upwards and outwards towards your nodes to help promote blood flow and bring fresh oxygen to the cells.”
Sleeping masks and eye masks are also great low-effort ways to pamper your skin. “Not everybody is able to sleep as well throughout the pregnancy, especially as you get towards the final trimesters” Mistry recommends 111SKIN Eye Masks (from $145). Choose from de-puffing, brightening and hydrating options. “You wake up in the morning with beautiful, radiant skin.”
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