Pregnancy skincare can be a minefield with hormone changes playing havoc with your skin, but finding out the facts and taking action can help avoid problems, says award-winning skincare expert & facialist Lisa Franklin
While some women experience the ‘pregnancy glow’, hormonal changes both during and afterwards can cause complications for skin. They could range from acne, dark spots (known as chloasma) and hair growth, to itchy dry skin, moles and spider veins. So much to look forward to! But pregnancy skin need not be a nightmare. We asked expert Lisa Franklin to describe the conditions she sees at her clinic and explain how she treats them.
How do you treat skin conditions during and after pregnancy?
Firstly I treat each client as an individual and design bespoke treatments around them – skin condition depends on the DNA and overall wellness of each person. Pregnancy results in increased blood circulation that affects the face as well as the body, and brings more oxygen and nutrients to all organs, including skin. This brings that famous ‘glow’ of pregnancy.
I believe that the best treatment is to maintain a thorough facial cleansing routine. Gently stimulating cell turnover and removing all skin debris and pollution will support the skin structure during all trimesters and help significantly reduce any small hormonal bumps and prevent hyperpigmentation.
Are there any other skin changes you’ve noticed in women before and after they give birth?
There’s often an increase in dryness and hyperpigmentation going into the third trimester, and if the individual is breastfeeding, the skin becomes more oily. Often the skin on the sides of the arms become dry. Any freckles and moles might look darker, and you might have melasma (skin discoloration). Women with darker skin may notice these changes during pregnancy more than lighter-skinned women, but for all mums, the marks should fade.
How should your skincare regimen change during and after pregnancy?
It’s important to communicate with your therapist so they can adapt your in-clinic treatments and homecare routine. I cannot emphasise enough the importance of maintaining a skincare regime. During pregnancy and after childbirth a simpler routine with more emphasis on cleansing and nurturing will help you through the biggest change in your life.
Can you recommend specific ways to help conditions already mentioned?
It’s highly important to try to keep to a routine and to ensure you are exfoliating. If you’re prone to acne and breakouts, these may flare up as hormone levels rage.
The oiliness from progesterone increase may cause breakouts. Once again, gentle cleansing to restore balance is key. Try not to use harsh astringents to strip away oils as this will only create more of an imbalance.
Which products or ingredients should pregnant women avoid?
- Retinol – some studies have shown that taking high doses of vitamin A during pregnancy can be harmful to an unborn child, and oral retinoids – such as isotretinoin (a prescription acne treatment previously sold under the brand name Accutane) – are known to cause birth defects.
- Benzoyl peroxide and salicylate together should not be used, either.
- Essential oils are natural and as such are not assessed by the FDA or other regulatory bodies but they are potent chemicals and should be used with care.
- Hydroquinone, used in skin lightening creams, has a high absorption rate and should also be avoided.
- Aluminium chloride is present in many deodorants and could cause harm.
- Formaldehyde, present in most nail polishes, could also cause harm.
- Chemical sunscreens such as avobenzone are hormone disruptors and should also be avoided, as should self-tanning preparations that contain dihydroxyacetone.
Which products from your range do you recommend for pregnancy skin?
All our products, apart from the Night Repair Treatment, which contains retinol, are perfectly safe to use. We have a range of super active serums to address common skin problems during pregnancy. Pigmentation can be reduced with the Clinic Privé No. 5 Serum, once breastfeeding has ceased. If redness, inflammation or ‘spider veins’ are an issue, then the No. 4 Serum will help soothe and repair. The No. 2 Serum will solve any acne issues without harsh treatment and, finally, if your skin looks tired and dehydrated, the No. 3 Serum will boost hydration and restore that glow.
Are some of the skin changes during pregnancy permanent?
Some of the pigment discoloration can seem stubborn and permanent, as it can take a long time to fade away, so supporting this will aid repair.
Any top tips for dealing with problem skin during and after pregnancy?
- Cleanse: use a mild cleanser twice a day to keep your skin feeling fresh.
- Moisturise: apply a lightweight moisturiser twice a day to keep skin hydrated and supple. Use a separate eye cream for dark circles or puffy eyes.
- Protect: shield skin from the sun by using a sunscreen. It also helps to keep acne and pigmentation away. If pigmentation persists after the birth, treat it with skin lightening serums such as our No. 5 Serum, which you can start using after breastfeeding has stopped.
- Exfoliate: once a week, use a mild scrub with soft granules to remove the dead cells from your skin. It helps to lighten dark spots and reduce acne as well.
- Be gentle: This is a challenging period for the body as a whole. Hormone levels plummet and tiredness is common, so gentle treatments are key.
- Sleep: Get as much sleep as you can, let your body heal. Breastfeeding issues can cause tiredness and a strain on the body’s resources, so be kind to yourself. Drink plenty of water and rest as often as you can.
About Lisa Franklin
Award-winning skincare expert Lisa Franklin has developed her own range of products for her Clinic Privé private clinic in London. She aims to improve skin problems caused by city life, such as pollution. Her non-invasive treatments include facials, CACI lifting procedures, light- to medium-depth skin peels, and DNA testing to try to identify what vitamins and minerals might be needed to help protect against ageing skin.