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Skincare While Pregnant - Do I Need to Do Anything Differently?

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Our lovely fans come to us a lot with questions about how best to treat their skin. We’re known as a bit of an oracle (*blush*) when it comes to caring for skin that’s become stressed out or is acting contrary, so we love you coming to us with your skin concerns.

Whether you have acne prone skin, skin that’s too oily, too dry or is extremely sensitive, we can help you with skincare advice and finding the right skincare products for your skin type, whatever it is.

But one question we get asked more than any, is how to best care for your skin when you’re pregnant.

In this article:

How Might My Skin Change During Pregnancy?
What Are the Common Skin Issues During Pregnancy?
Can My Baby Be Affected By My Skin Changes?
What’s Safe to Use on My Skin When I’m Pregnant?
What’s Definitely Not Safe to Use on My Skin When I’m Pregnant?
Can I Take Skin Supplements While I’m Pregnant?
Caring For Your Pregnancy Skin

So this week we’re going to delve deep into the science of skin when a woman is pregnant, why it can change and become even more unpredictable and how to care for it. In the coming weeks, we’re also going to cover what happens to your skin after you’ve given birth and if you’re breastfeeding, so make sure you look out for that article, too.

But for now, pregnancy and the changes it can make to your skin. 

How Might My Skin Change During Pregnancy?

Like the majority of the changes our body goes through during pregnancy, our skin changes are all influenced by the new and ever changing hormones that are surging through our pregnant bodies.

As much as the hormonal imbalances try to control our moods and emotions, they also influence our skin. As many as 90% of pregnant women experience “significant and complex skin changes”. So if nothing else, you’re most definitely not alone.

Here’s some common ways you may find your skin changing through pregnancy… 

What Are the Common Skin Issues During Pregnancy? 

Stretch marks are perhaps the most well known (and almost expected) skin concern related to pregnancy. They’re caused by the stretching of your skin as your bump grows, and are most common on your stomach, boobs and thighs.

There’s also evidence that the hormone imbalances that occur during pregnancy have an effect on the middle layers of your skin. The effect of this can be that these middle layers no longer ‘stick’ to the upper, visible layers of skin. This then results in the thin ridges and silvery lines commonly associated with stretch marks.

Whilst many of us are embarrassed by our stretch marks, they’re nothing to be concerned or worried about. Rather, they’re really a proud badge of honour! 

Am I More Susceptible to Skin Damage During Pregnancy? 

In terms of stretch marks, yes, this does seem to be more likely during pregnancy, just like someone who’s gained or lost a significant amount of weight over a relatively short period of time will also probably experience stretch marks.

But try not to see this as anything bad or damaging. Instead, see them as the visible proof that your body is amazing and has grown another human being! (We’re also totally in love and in awe of anyone who can turn stretch marks into art using glitter.) 

Acne Spots

Whether you’ve previously had acne prone skin before or not, pregnancy can cause you to break out like you never have before. The old wives’ tale that we “get the glow” during pregnancy can feel so far from the truth for some of us, we can be left wondering what on earth we did to deserve such, quite frankly, hacked off skin.

Hormone related acne (including teenage acne and menopausal acne as well as pregnancy acne) is related to a rise in the hormones called androgens.

Androgens are male sex hormones, but they’re also present in female bodies, just to a lesser extent. During pregnancy, our levels of these androgens rises and it’s this rise that can lead to acne.

Androgens signal to the skin to produce more sebum, the wax like substance naturally produced by the skin to keep it moisturised and protected, and to increase the size of the pores of the skin. This causes the skin to become more oily, and the pores then become more at risk of becoming blocked.

Excess oil causes dirt, makeup, dead skin cells, bacteria and pollutants to become trapped in the pores, leading to acne spots. This type of acne should ease in the weeks and months after giving birth, and we’ll go into more detail about managing your skin in the sections below. 

Pigmentation Changes

Some pregnant women notice that certain areas of the skin, including their nipples, areolas and existing moles, freckles and scars are darker during pregnancy. This is perfectly normal and they should all return to their previous colour after pregnancy.

Another skin condition that some women experience is called the  “mask of pregnancy”. Otherwise medically known as melasma (or sometimes chloasma), this causes the skin around the forehead, cheeks and neck to become visibly darker, or more pigmented.

Melasma is caused by an excess of the skin pigmentation component, melanin. Melanin increases when we get a tan and is naturally present in higher concentrations in those with darker skins. It helps to protect the skin against burning and damage from the UV light from the sun but it’s common for it to increase during pregnancy, causing the tell tale ‘mask’ like symptoms.

Around 70% of pregnant women experience the mask of pregnancy, and it normally disappears after giving birth. It can be helped by avoiding being in direct sunlight for too long. 

Itchy or Sensitive Skin 

As the skin over your bump gradually expands during pregnancy, it’s normal for it to begin to itch.

With all this growth also comes an increase in blood flow. Pregnant women produce more blood to meet the needs of their growing baby, which in turn causes their blood vessels to dilate, or expand.

This can lead to skin sensitivities and a flushed look and feel of the skin on the face. Carrying the weight of an unborn baby, plus the increased blood flow, can also cause you to feel hotter and develop heat rashes all over your body.

It can also mean that you notice that your capillaries, the tiny blood vessels that deliver blood, oxygen and nutrients to your skin, appear more visible, especially in areas such as your cheeks and neck.

All of these elements together can make our skin more sensitive, even if you haven't struggled with sensitive skin in the past. This can cause you to develop itching and sensitivities to the skincare products you’ve always used or that you’re more sensitive to the sun and you develop prickly heat or hives. All of these symptoms should calm down once you’ve given birth.

On the plus side, this increase in blood flow also means that your skin retains more moisture, making your face appear plumper, and any fine lines getting ‘filled in’ making them appear less visible. Bonus! (And the true reason for the baby glow.) 

Can My Baby Be Affected By My Skin Changes? 

An obvious and very real worry when you’re pregnant is how the symptoms you experience, including nausea, headaches and cravings as well as skin problems, might affect your baby.

In terms of skin changes, the vast majority of skin issues you may experience during pregnancy aren’t harmful to your baby, or you for that matter. So breathe a sigh of relief at one less thing to think about.

There are cases when a skin condition called obstetric cholestasis (also sometimes called intrahepatic cholestasis of pregnancy) causes itching skin, which can be a sign of something serious.

It affects the work of the liver, preventing bile acids from moving from your liver to your gut, causing them to build up in the body instead. Studies suggest that this condition can mean a higher chance of your baby being born prematurely or stillborn.

Obstetric cholestasis causes skin itching, without a visible rash. This itching can be more noticeable on the palms of your hands and the soles of your feet and can become worse during the evening and overnight. Other symptoms of obstetric cholestasis include passing dark urine and pale stools.

The NHS say that 1 in 140 pregnant women will be affected by obstetric cholestasis, and it requires medical attention. If you’re at all concerned, then it’s important to speak to your midwife or doctor as soon as possible.

A more rare condition, called pemphigoid gestationis is another skin condition that can develop during pregnancy. Pemphigoid gestationis causes itchy skin that then develops into blisters. It’s caused by an autoimmune response in the body to tiny parts of the placenta moving into your bloodstream.

This condition can lead to a premature birth or delivering a baby with a low birth weight. It can also lead to your baby being born with blistered skin, which can be treated with creams and should disappear within six weeks of birth.

It is very rare, but if your skin is itching, anywhere on your body and it’s turning into fluid filled blisters, or you’re at all concerned, speak to your midwife or doctor. 

What’s Safe to Use on My Skin When I’m Pregnant?

If your regular, every day skincare products that you usually use aren’t causing you any problems, or you haven’t developed any skin issues that bother you, then it’s perfectly safe to carry on using them.

If you’re struggling with acne prone, sensitive, oily or upset skin, then you may need to consider different skincare products. The Sönd range of skincare products have been specifically designed to nourish all skin types, especially so, those who have stressed out skin.

Our hero ingredient is our unique silica salt complex that is alkalising on the skin, helping to promote hydration, healthy cell regeneration and happy skin, right from deep within the lower layers. And it’s perfectly safe during pregnancy.

The Sönd range of products are kind, gentle and made from 100% plant derived, natural ingredients and our army of fans can’t rave about the difference we’ve made to their skin enough. 

What’s Definitely Not Safe to Use on My Skin When I’m Pregnant? 

If your skin has become acne prone or is struggling with other skin complaints during pregnancy, believe that things will get better in the weeks and months after giving birth.

Until then, we’d highly recommend using skin nourishing skincare products such as ours and relaxing, leaving any extreme treatments such as laser or microneedling acne treatments to after pregnancy if necessary.

If your acne or other skin condition is severe or it’s really getting you down, it's worth speaking to your midwife or GP. They can talk you through your options, because some common acne treatments for example, are not suitable for use in pregnant women.

These include some topical retinoids and antibiotics. Isotretinoin gel treatments are  most definitely not suitable for use during pregnancy.

Can I Take Skin Supplements While I’m Pregnant? 

There are skin supplements that can be helpful for supporting healthy skin, especially so, acne prone skin.

Most are safe for use during pregnancy, however it isn't safe for pregnant women to take vitamin A supplements, or supplements that are naturally high in vitamin A, such as cod liver oil. This is because high levels of vitamin A can cause birth defects.

It’s also advised that you don’t take a vitamin E supplement, since it can cause complications with abdominal pain and possible premature amniotic sac rupture. 

Caring For Your Pregnancy Skin

We completely understand how you might want to be glowing and skin healthy throughout your entire pregnancy. That’s why we wholeheartedly believe in our skincare products to help you on that quest.

We hope all of our info here has been helpful, and we wish you all the best for the rest of your pregnancy! Don’t forget to look out for our article on postpartum skin and breastfeeding for when you need it. 


Hannah de Gruchy BSc(Hons)

About Author

Hannah de Gruchy is a freelancer writer who specialises in health and wellness. She has a keen interest in the biology of skin and loves using her words to help separate the real science of skincare from the pseudoscience of some skincare brands. Hannah has a degree in Human Biology and many years’ experience working in laboratories around London. Using this experience, Hannah enjoys turning complex science into interesting, engaging and easy to digest pieces to read. In her spare time, Hannah runs, practices yoga and loves cooking plant based foods.

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