The very first sign I was pregnant was a change in my skin. One day, out of the blue, it freaked out and continued to misbehave. I got out of the shower and my face was red and raw, it felt as though I had gotten a chemical peel except I doubt I had even remembered to wash my face (fatigue was sign #2). Now that I’ve had time to reflect back on being pregnant (my kiddo will be a year old in March), I wanted to share the beauty products that helped me get through it, the things I had to cut from my routine, and the items that just didn’t work the same during pregnancy as they did before. Although everyone’s pregnancy experience is different (and you should absolutely consult your doctor about what you use during these months), my biggest skin concern became sensitivity. Turns out the influx of hormones caused my skin to become extremely sensitive and not just on my face. Throughout pregnancy I had to avoid anything with fragrance, including dryer sheets! Read on for my best tips, products and recommendations.
Things I normally love (and have returned to post-baby), but shelved during pregnancy:
Check out my in-depth review of the serum HERE.
Though “they” say Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs) are ok during pregnancy, supposedly Beta Hydroxy Acids (BHA) are not; since this contains Salicylic Acid (a BHA) it’s a no-no. For the duration of pregnancy I pretty much skipped all exfoliation. If you absolutely must, I’d recommend the dr. brandt® MICRODERMABRASION with a light hand (I wrote about it HERE).
Neutrogena Ultra Sheer Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 70 (affiliate link)
$24.99 (2 pack)
No chemical sunscreens allowed during pregnancy. I could tell you I used some fancy mineral sunscreen once I retired this one, but the truth is I was so sick I mostly just stayed inside. I did however end up with two little sunspots I didn’t have before baby, so do as I say not as I did. If you are not with child, this ultra-fine mist protects from the sun and gives your skin the most beautiful sheen! Scott Barnes, JLo’s makeup artist, actually swears by it (regardless of whether you’re going in the sun or not). Now for a much longer list…
New things I adopted during pregnancy:
Sun Bum Original Moisturizing Sunscreen Lotion (affiliate link)
For the few brief outings I did go on while pregnant, I opted for this broad-spectrum protection because it’s formulated without oxybenzone (which is linked to hormone disruption), oil or parabens. The texture is creamy, doesn’t leave a white cast, is waterproof for 80 minutes and enriched with vitamin E. I still use this brand of shampoo and bubble bath on the little monkey (aka my son) because it’s never once irritated either of our skin and the foam version comes with a pump for single-hand use…a feature you didn’t know you needed until you have only one hand free holding a baby all the time. Bonus: it smells like bananas.
Seattle has three sunny months if we’re lucky, so I like to get an airbrush tan the rest of the year. The jury is still out on Dihydroxyacetone (DHA- primarily used in sunless tanning products, is derived from beets and sugar cane, and by the fermentation of glycerin). Because most concerns surround the inhalation of DHA, while pregnant I opted to use this foam from St. Tropez. Pregnant or not, it’s the best I’ve found for at home application. It stains your hands after mere seconds so splurge on the mitt. It never leaves me with any streaks though and the undertone (as weird as it sounds) is more of a green-brown than orange. Put lotion on your hands, elbows, knees, feet and face beforehand and when you need to do those areas at the end just swipe on with whatever is leftover on the mitt, don’t pump any additional mousse. Also, don’t forget your ears. A dust of baby powder in any creases is an extra step but helps. This is worth the splurge!
I wish I had a solid recommendation for you here because something nobody talks about during pregnancy is sweat. My whole body sweat more for the entire nine months and it turns out I’m not the exception. Aluminum chloride hexahydrate is in most antiperspirants, and more and more studies are linking this to breast cancer, so I’d like to ditch it altogether. The problem is, natural deodorants with things like baking soda to kill odor don’t actually have any antiperspirant (read: sweat reducing) ingredients like aluminum in them. I tried Tom’s (smelled like a hippy), Crystal (does absolutely nothing) and this deodorant by Ursa Major. It has clay in it which helps absorb some moisture (still felt swampy eventually), and peppermint, which was cooling upon application in a pleasant way. Ultimately, I went back to my tried-and-true Secret and gave up the hunt, but I would call this the best alternative option.
As it turns out that “pregnancy glow” is actually oil, so much oil. My normally dry face was a butterball by noon. I’m not much for makeup touch ups throughout the day, so instead of a powder I used these drops on my tzone under my foundation at the beginning of the day. They’re too much for my dry skin now (I find they just emphasize texture and make my makeup adhere in patches) so I’ve given them away, but during pregnancy they were awesome. Also, I did blot my face but not with anything fancy, usually just tissues (even toilet seat covers work great in a pinch).
Rosebud Perfume Co. Rosebud Salve (affiliate link)
I will level with you, this is just fancy rose scented petroleum jelly, but at the heart of it, most salves are. Coconut oil wasn’t heavy duty enough for my severely chapped lips but this stuff helped. Bonus: they have a mint version and the scent seriously helped with nausea. Mint gum, mint chapstick, straight up mint essential oil, give pregnant me all of it. The tube version of this product is more tidy but if you opt for the tin you can just rub the excess into your cuticles because it isn’t sticky. I also tried the Bite Beauty Agave Lip Mask while pregnant, which is three times the price of this, and I prefer the Rosebud.
Another minty lip option that’s non sticky and more glossy than the salve is this tube. Liz actually gave it to me and I was ever so grateful!
Something else no one told me is that the aforementioned “glow” extends to your scalp. My hair was super greasy during pregnancy. I used dry shampoo every day that I didn’t wash it. The floral scent of this guy is a little strong (but better than dirty hair scent) and if you hold it too close, it does impart a white cast. But you can brush it through to remove any appearance of powder and it works! I’ve tried cheaper alternatives and they don’t perform as well. This mattifies the majority of any oil without leaving my fine hair feeling heavy.
Bio-Oil Skincare Oil (affiliate link)
The third trimester of pregnancy left my skin feeling stretched, itchy and dry. I have a friend whose breast augmentation left her with awful scars…until she used this. So I used it nearly every day, and didn’t get a single stretch mark during pregnancy. I’m a big fan of coconut oil but too much can leave my skin feeling greasy for longer than I have to stand around naked waiting for it to absorb. This is thinner albeit a little powdery-smelling. The bottle isn’t the best delivery method (messy) but for the price it can’t be beat. A light-weight, quick-absorbing, vitamin packed oil that didn’t irritate my ultra-sensitive prenatal skin.
Essential Oxygen Certified BR Organic Brushing Rinse (affiliate link)
In addition to everything else, your gums swell during pregnancy (aka Pregnancy Gingivitis). The inflammation is caused by hormonal changes that increase blood flow to the gum tissue. For me this made them more sensitive, irritable, and swollen. It was unsightly and uncomfortable. I found that if I rinsed with hydrogen peroxide (or just poured a little over the toothpaste on my brush) the discomfort was greatly reduced. Plus as a bonus I noticed after a few months of this routine my teeth had significantly whitened. The Essential Oxygen line makes a mint flavored rinse, straight up hydrogen peroxide and a toothpaste. Please please use the food grade version, don’t just buy a brown bottle of hydrogen peroxide and don’t swallow it!!
Tinkle Eyebrow Razor (affiliate link)
$4.23 (pack of 6)
While it’s true your hair does seem longer and thicker while pregnant (due to the lengthened growth cycle, you’ll have less fall out), it’s also true that this goes for ALL of your hair. Think five o’clock shadow on your legs by noon. Also true is the fact that your skin becomes more sensitive to having any hair ripped out, so cue a nine month sabbatical from all waxing. I tried going in for a leg wax around month four and actually stopped the girl halfway through. Unfortunately, I’d look like Burt from Sesame Street if I went nine months without hair removal, so I needed a solution. These little razors are cheap and easy to use on the face. Just as you wouldn’t shave your legs dry, you shouldn’t shave your face dry either. I found any beauty oil worked well. Also, it’s best to complete this beauty treatment in the evening and sleep on it as opposed to layering pore-clogging makeup right over that newly exposed skin. Since pregnancy, I still shave my face, alone my jaw line, above my eyebrows, my top lip. My makeup goes on much more smoothly without the peach fuzz to cling to and a couple swipes with these razors are less expensive and less painful than waxing.
As a whole, pregnancy led me to examine the ingredients in beauty products more closely and that’s something I’ll always carry with me. With less energy and time to spend on makeup and skincare (not only as a pregnant woman but now as a new mother) I’ve pared down my list of essentials and really focused on nourishing my skin to provide a good base. So if you’re currently expecting or hope to be in the future, take a look at the products you’re using and be prepared to make a few changes. And when it’s all over, try to remember to schedule that wax and spray tan, you deserve it!