There's a lot of literature out there about maternity clothing dos and don'ts and recommended dietary overhauls for pregnant women. In fact, everyone seems to have an opinion on those topics, some which are helpful, while others just add to the noise. But there's one pregnancy topic that doesn't get as much time in the spotlight as we'd hope: skincare.
To state the obvious, pregnancy usually comes with plenty of unfamiliar physiological changes and lifestyle adjustments, including everything from fluctuations in complexion and clarity to new ingredients on the no-fly list. So to learn a little more about pregnancy-specific skincare best practices, we reached out to Claire Zhao, CEO and co-founder of Amareta, a line of products designed to "complement hormonal changes in women." And to get a personal take from an endlessly stylish healthy-living guru and entrepreneur, we also reached out to Danielle Duboise, co-founder of Sakara Life.
Since she's in her second trimester, we asked her to share some of the tips and tricks she's picked up along the way.
Read through the potential changes to prepare for, the harmful ingredients to avoid, and the skincare routine updates to make accordingly. Then, shop all their favorite pregnancy skincare essentials at the end.
The Skin Changes to Look Out For
"I had some major breakouts and unevenness in my first trimester," Duboise tells MyDomaine. "It may have been the hormones, or it may have been my insatiable cravings for bagels and crackers—a big departure from my Sakara routine. Whichever it was, I felt really frustrated by my skin and the constant blemishes."
Aside from hormonal breakouts, there are some other common skincare concerns that arise during pregnancy. According to multiple studies, melasma and hyperpigmentation are the most common. This is because increased estrogen levels can stimulate the production of more pigment." That's why you might be seeing a darkening of moles, freckles, and sunspots. Puffiness and bloating can also be common concerns as well as stretch marks.
The Skincare Tips and Tricks for a Fix
To combat some of the issues she encountered, Duboise started seeing facialist Lisa Shannon. She "helped me change my routine, as my tried-and-true regimen wasn't working on my new skin issues. Her philosophy centers around building your skin up and making it healthy, rather than over-exfoliating and -toning. She did a lot of facial massages to get my lymph moving as well as the gua sha facial," Duboise shares. This ended up turning her "skin around and taught [her] that, just like everything else in the body, the skin must be loved and nourished rather than over-scrubbed/stripped."
Another easy at-home addition to your routine is using a jade roller to reduce puffiness. Duboise uses it every morning, but "just make sure you apply plenty of oil or moisturizer so it can slide over your skin rather than rub," she advises. "And I'm still trying belly oils, but so far, I love Biosil and plain vitamin E oil." As far as any changes to the beauty routine, "I had already been using all-green/chemical-free makeup, but once I got my skin under control, my pregnancy glow finally kicked in, so I stopped wearing makeup in general except for special occasions.
It's made me feel extra feminine and beautiful being in my most natural state," says Danielle.
The Health Concerns and What to Avoid
The list of harmful ingredients to avoid in skincare products is pretty extensive, so as you can imagine, it just gets longer during pregnancy. Since Amareta takes the all-natural, organic approach to the next level, we decided to consult its list. You can check its full list of harmful ingredients to get more details, but here are the most common ones to look out for when you're rethinking your skincare routine while pregnant: harsh preservatives like phenoxyethanol, chlorphenesin, benzyl benzoate, and sodium benzoate; acne treatments like benzoyl peroxide, salicylic acid (BHA), and retinoids; and synthetic and hidden toxic fragrances like parfum, limonene, cintrol, and phthalates.
Endocrine-disruption chemicals like triclosan, oxybenzone, and BPA should also be avoided. And outside of a specific skincare routine ingredient, Duboise also says, "I absolutely avoid traditional nail care that contains harsh chemical like formaldehyde and acetone."
And Now, Learn the Pregnancy Skincare Essentials
If you want to plan ahead, keep this organic breast oil on deck to use in a few months. It's packed with nurturing ingredients to soothe chapped skin and calm sensitivity from breastfeeding.
If you want to add a little color to your lips while also keeping them nourished and feeling natural, Duboise suggests opting for Coola lip balm in a shade of red.
One of Duboise's favorites, this serum is packed with age-defying antioxidants, balancing minerals, and brightening vitamins.
"Our most unique product is the Moon Light Brightening Gel Cleanser for hormonal dullness, sensitivity, and hyperpigmentation," says Zhao. "It has ingredients high in antioxidants that give your skin a glowing and refreshed complexion and contains vitamin C, offering a hydrating effect. All of our SKUs are made with safe ingredients that are basic but effective, and not overwhelming to the skin."
"I swear by our Sakara Beauty Chocolates," says Duboise. And that's something we can get behind. "They're clinically proven to plump skin in two weeks, and eating a chocolate a day is absolutely something I can do! That said, I decided to stop taking anything that wasn't just whole, clean food from Mother Nature while pregnant (thank you, Sakara). But if you're not pregnant, get them ASAP! I notice a difference not taking them, so I've increased my healthy fat intake to try and get the plumpness back until I go back to eating the chocolates.
But gaining weight from pregnancy helps with the plumpness also."
Zhao explains that this product (and all of its products) "addresses common skin conditions associated with the hormonal changes during pregnancy and breastfeeding, including hormonal acne, striae (stretch marks), pruritus (itching/skin sensitivity), and hyperpigmentation." It's about to be your go-to facial serum.
Here's a great cleansing balm for anyone looking for a gentler option. "It creates a milky texture when you wash and has a cranberry fiber for gentle exfoliation. It's great for hydration and has antiseptic to calm skin sensitivity," says Zhao.
"We spoke with the expert group of APA for about a year while curating the 13 SKUs currently available," says Zhao, so when it comes to finding effective skincare products for pregnancy, look no further. This belly oil is super soothing and helpful with stretch-mark reduction.
If you're looking for a treatment mask that's organic and effective, Duboise recommends this resurfacing mask from Tata Harper. And we have to agree that it's pretty transformative, whether or not you're pregnant.
As always, sunscreen application is key. This is Duboise's go-to sunscreen during the day since it's moisturizing and also comes in a tinted version.
And now, hear from a dermatologist about what you should and shouldn't put on your skin and how to treat melasma and acne.