There are so many changes that occur during pregnancy— from our body, to our skin, to our hair, to our mood, to our sleep cycles and the list goes on. The journey definitely differs between individuals and it is highly dependent on how one reacts to the unavoidable hormonal changes.
The most common symptoms amongst pregnant women are dark spots, acne prone skin, breakouts, dryness, increased sensitivity, greasy hair or dry scalp, hair loss, and most definitely, stretch marks. Some get really lucky, and their skin is glowing throughout the entire pregnancy.
I am not sure which category of women I belong to. I think my skin is still in pretty good shape because I’ve consciously been keeping up with an updated skincare routine, but I definitely have had some skin concerns since getting pregnant. I found that some of my most beloved and frequently used products are now too harsh for my skin. My skin has become increasingly sensitive and getting dark spots have become my biggest fear.
Since graduating from the first trimester, I did a complete refresh of my skincare routine and made sure that the products I am using not only cares for my skin, but also does not cause harm to the little one developing in my womb.
It has been said that retinoids (when orally consumed) will cause birth defects, although the effect of topical application is unclear. There might be other toxic ingredients in skincare products that should be avoided too.
I’m certainly not an expert in this field so I would always advise you to check with your dermatologist or google whether each individual product you want to use is pregnancy-safe before going ahead with it. As a rule of thumb, I’ve decided to keep my skincare routine with products as natural and minimal as possible.
Ultimately, it is about finding the products that work. Like most things pregnancy-related, there are a lot of opinions and school of thoughts out there, and finding the answers you need can mean wading through a great deal of noise. My two cents is to arrive at a routine that is most suited for you, your lifestyle and your skin type.
So here is a quick round- up of my favourite products in my skincare, body care and hair care routine that I’ve been constantly using since getting pregnant.
Stretch marks are one of my biggest (and most realistic) concerns. Fully embracing pregnancy might mean welcoming stretch marks with open arms, but I guess the good ol’ saying goes “prevention is better than cure”. And while it is still not yet known whether I’ll end up getting stretch marks as they usually occur only towards the end of the pregnancy, when the baby grows at an exponential rate, I endeavour to do everything in my best ability to prevent them from appearing. As there are massive physical changes happening to the body and a growing belly is definitely one of them, it is really important to start applying body oils and creams to the entire belly, back, butt and thighs from as early as 12 weeks on, even before you start showing.
As a side tip: Get the entire Clarins Beautiful Pregnancy set from iShopChangi.com for a really good bundle deal at tax-free prices! It’s a travel-exclusive, so remember to stock up on it when you’re flying through Changi Airport.
The CLARINS Stretch Mark Control Cream helps to maintain the skin texture, soothe the skin from the fast changes and minimize stretch marks from appearing. It enhances the production of collage fibres to boost my skin’s elasticity and resistance to the impending stretch marks as my belly expands and skin stretches to accommodate the growing baby. My skin especially around the belly area has felt tighter but the cream not only soothes the dry patches but my skin feels more resistant and the skin tone appears a lot more even. I have been diligently using this product in the day and the Body Treatment Oil at night! I also have shared in my Product Empties article that the CLARINS Tonic Body Treatment Oil – Firming/Toning is in my top pregnancy beauty holy grail list and I have been using these two products together! The Body Treatment Oil is perfect for use at night as it not only soothes the skin but also locks in all the moisture into my skin. I apply a generous amount all over my tummy, breasts, butt and thighs.
As a treat and a little pampering session (twice or thrice a week), I make it a point to exfoliate my skin with the CLARINS Exfoliating Body Scrub. This scrub exfoliates away the dead skin cells and dirt on my body. Exfoliation is really important given how much product I apply around that area day in and out. It not only cleanses the skin well, but it helps to nourish while gently removing the build-up of sebum, dirt and dead cells, making the absorption of the other body care products so much more effective!
The biggest pregnancy concern is hair loss and before I share about what I am doing to prepare myself for the inevitable, I want to reassure you that hair-loss relating to pregnancy is usually temporary. If you notice, your hair seems a bit thicker during pregnancy and your nails seem to grow extra fast. This hormonally-triggered hairy situation should fall out within six months of giving birth, which you can credit (or blame) to the higher levels of oestrogen in the body during pregnancy. Increased blood circulation and pumped-up metabolism also bring more nutrients to the hair and nails. Daily hair loss is also suppressed during pregnancy but it will be resumed once the baby is born. All the hair that didn’t fall out will fall out once the baby is born! This might lead you to believe that you’re experiencing hair loss.
With that in mind, I’ve been taking care of my hair and scalp with the entire range of AVEDA products. Aveda has been my long-time favourite brand of mine. During pregnancy, I’ve given extra attention to my scalp and switched my hair products to a range that is meant for hair thickening and strengthening. For my scalp, I have been using the AVEDA Pramasana Purifying Scalp Cleanser to deeply cleanse my scalp thoroughly to get rid of all the oil build up. This step is usually done before shampooing. I also take the opportunity to give myself a little head massage so that it not only relieves some occasional tension headache but it also allows time for the product to do it’s magic. I highly recommend the AVEDA Invati Advanced™ System range! They not only are really good for the scalp but the shampoo and conditioner I use help to strengthen each individual hair strand. This will help to prevent any occurrence of hair breakage and hair fall/loss due to other factors, aside from hormonal changes.
Created to protect your hair from heat styling, the AVEDA Smooth Infusion™ is a treatment that helps to ease the styling process and contains plants extracts to create a smooth surface on the hair. I am pretty much using this product every time before I have to curl my hair and I like to apply it on my wet hair and leave it on! I also like to use the AVEDA Be Curly™ Curl Enhancer whenever I curl my hair as it intensifies the curls as promised and makes my curls last much longer than usual especially in this Singapore heat!
3. Face Care
I’ve very recently switched my cleanser to a very gentle but yet effective one. The AVENE Soapless Foaming Gel is perfect as my daily gentle cleanser as it is formulated with minimal ingredients and it does not contain any potential irritants such as paraben, soap, fragrance or colouring agents! It is made of a gel-like texture that glides onto my skin very easily without any tugging. This cleanser has been very comfortable for my increasingly sensitive skin.
I always emphasise on double cleansing, so this step comes right before my Avene Cleanser. I love removing my makeup first with a cotton pad drenched in the BioDerma Sensibo H2O Micellar Water. The BIODERMA SENSIBIO H20 is a really gentle makeup remover that cleans up impurities and makeup from the face. It is fragrance-free, alcohol-free and paraben-free.
The SK-II Treatment Essence (FTE) is one product I cannot live without. I still recall googling whether or not this would be a pregnancy-safe product immediately after finding out I was pregnant. Doubling up as a toner, the FTE helps to moderate my skin surface renewal cycle and keeps it feeling ever so fresh and protected. The FTE prevents the formation of spots caused by sun damage by maintaining skin’s natural resilience. This helps me to keep my dark spots at bay. I’ve noticed especially since getting pregnant how rapidly and quickly dark spots around my cheeks form after being exposed to the sun for just a bit.
I always refer to the Lancome Advanced Genifique as my “maintenance serum”. The Youth Activating Serum works to improve my skin’s elasticity, radiance, firmness and smoothness. It is the one serum that I cannot live without and I was so happy to find that it is pregnancy-safe! I used to layer many serums onto my skin before the moisturiser but since getting pregnant, I’ve cut down the steps and just left it to the Lancome Advanced Genifique to do the work, as Iife started taking over and I wanted to get my skincare done within a jiffy! On occasion though, I layer this serum with some of my serums from skininc, like pure Vitamin C or hydrolic acid for that extra boost of brightening or hydration, respectively.
For my moisturiser, I am all for the Lotus Youth Preserve Face Cream from Fresh. It contains the Super 7 complex, a hydrating and radiance-boosting blend of 7 super-charged pregnancy safe ingredients (Lotus flower extract, Blue-green algae extract, Hibiscus fruit extract, Fig fruit extract, Vitamin C, Vitamin E and Vegetable Glycerol) that will help achieve a more youthful look. This moisturiser definitely gives a boost of hydration that lasts throughout the entire day. It visibly nourishes my skin and it is not too harsh for my increasing sensitivity.
On the topic of dark spots forming, I’ve also noticed a few new moles popping out/becoming more obvious than it has ever been before. Apparently, the higher levels of oestrogen and progesterone in the body stimulates the melanin cells in my skin to make more pigment. Hence, these moles and freckles seem to appear more noticeable.
I’m decided to invest in a mask that targets this concern specifically. This is new addition to my closet of favourite masks (as shared previously here). The– ORIGINS Dr. Andrew Weil For Origins™ Mega-Bright Dark Spot Correcting Night Mask is absolutely the perfect dream mask for me to use as it is a leave on night mask that does wonders for my skin. It not only restores translucency & diminishes the appearance of dark spots, I wake up in the morning with my skin looking brighter and more glow-y than ever. This can be used nightly or as and when needed, but it is also perfect for lazy days because my skin gets covered in one step, without having to worry about washing off/removal. The mask quickly absorbs into my skin, not leaving any traces on my pillow/sheets.
As I am so often under direct sunlight, sun care is extremely important for me. I’ve invested in two different sunblocks. The URIAGE Bariesun Mineral Cream SPF50+ is the last step to my skincare routine before my make up goes on. This product is a high sun protection cream that keeps my skin and neck area well protected from the sun. It has quite a thick consistency that might potentially leave some white marks but it can be avoided by applying a small amount, and blending it well into all areas of the face. I carry the VICHY UV Protect Skin Defense Daily Care – Invisible Mist as a sun spray in my handbag and I use it as a facial mist that is suitable over my make up but acts as a sun protection guarantee from the harsh UV rays throughout the day!
For my eye care, I am currently using the SISLEY Eye And Lip Contour Balm With Botanical Extracts as it hydrates and reduces the appearance of fine lines and under eye puffiness. This botanical eye care is formulated with natural plant extracts that protects the delicate areas on my face. It comes in a fresh gel like consistency that helps to reduce under eye puffiness and skin dryness.
There are a number of clean beauty brands creating products that are specifically formulated for the needs of pregnant and nursing moms in the market but my approach this time is to keep some existing products in my skin care regime that I really love (like the Facial Treatment Essence, L’occitanne Immortelle Reset Serum and Lancome Advanced Genifique) while switching up a few items in my routine like the cleanser and introducing a body cream targeted at stretch marks as well as a hair care range specific to hair loss and hair strengthening.
I’m always on the look out for multi-tasking products like the two-in-one Sisley Eye and Lip care, and I’ve taken on a general “less-is-more” approach. Parts of the pregnancy can get a little tricky, so always be sure to make yourself as comfortable as possible and treat yourself with as much TLC as you can! Eat well, sleep well and always be happy!