Pregnancy skincare: What to avoid and how to build a new routine 

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Pregnancy, with all the joy and happiness that it can bring, can also involve a never-ending list of dos and don’ts. As your body changes to accommodate a growing baby, the process can also have an impact on your diet, sleep, mental health and also your skin

Retinol or not? Is salicylic acid suitable? What about vitamin-infused serums? There are a lot of questions surrounding what’s safe and what’s not, and also what products will cater to your skin’s new needs. It pays to be careful, as skincare ingredients absorbed by your body will also be absorbed by your baby. 

The most common skin changes reported include dryness, excess oils, acne and darkening of the skin also known as melasma. Often, women with pre-existing skin conditions, such as eczema, experience a change in symptoms. “Pregnancy triggers a series of hormonal changes in the body which can have a direct impact on the skin,” explains facialist and skin expert, Donna Bartoli. “The rise in hormones like oestrogen and progesterone can lead to increased oil-production, giving some women oily skin for the first time in their lives, which if not kept under control with a solid skincare routine can lead to breakouts. 

“Additionally, heightened sensitivity in the skin may occur due to dilated blood vessels. The science behind these changes really all comes down to the hormones during pregnancy as they affect oil glands, collagen production and blood circulation.”

With more than 30k followers on Instagram, and the author of bespoke skincare guides, one of the most common questions Bartoli receives is how to adjust facial routines when pregnant. “During pregnancy, it is advisable to avoid certain products that might pose a potential risk to the growing baby. Three key ingredients to steer clear of include retinoids (vitamin A), salicylic acid or benzoyl peroxide, used to treat acne, and hydroquinone, used to treat hyperpigmentation. I recommend opting for pregnancy-safe alternatives during these nine months to ensure the wellbeing of both mum and baby.” 

To separate the fact from the fiction, and to keep it as simplistic and clear as possible, Bartoli has devised her essential five-step skincare routine during pregnancy. “If you already have a regimen, then you just want to adjust it slightly while removing the unsafe ingredients. However, if you’re building one from scratch, here’s a five-step, pregnancy-safe routine that’s gentle but effective.”

Step one: Cleansing

Cleansing is essentially keeping your skin clean, and it’s best to do this in both morning and night routines. Oil, cream and balms – there are plenty to pick from but Bartoli recommends buying products that are gentle without harmful ingredients. “Choose a cleanser that is gentle and soap-free, which will effectively remove makeup and dirt but keep the skin calm and hydrated.I recommend the Paula’s Choice Calm Ultra-Gentle Cleanser, which has a smooth finish and aims to reduce redness while preserving the skin barrier.”

Paula’s Choice Calm Ultra-Gentle Cushion Cleanser


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Step two: Hydration

“Because of the potential increase in skin sensitivity, pick a hydrating serum that contains nourishing ingredients, such as vitamin B5 and niacinamide, which will reduce the skin’s sensitivity. I love La Roche Posay Cicaplast B5 Serum for that extra dose of hydration.”

La Roche Posay Cicaplast B5 Serum


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Step three: Gentle exfoliation

Exfoliation helps to remove dead skin cells, which is necessary given our microbiome is constantly regenerating. “When pregnant, exfoliate your skin one or two times per week. It’s important to keep on top of dead skin, especially due to the increased oil production often triggered by hormones. Think about opting for an enzyme exfoliator instead of something more common like glycolic. The Susanne Kaufmann Enzyme Exfoliator is a glorious mask that leaves the skin hydrated and silky smooth.”

Susanne Kaufmann Enzyme Exfoliator


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Step four: Moisturiser

One of the most important ways to help maintain a healthy skin barrier is moisturising. “Prevent moisture-loss with a nourishing, fragrance-free daily moisturiser like the Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream. This is an intensely rich cream which also reduces the appearance of fine lines, wrinkles and hyperpigmentation.”

Augustinus Bader The Rich Cream


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Step five: Sun protection

“This is the most important step, especially during pregnancy. Hormonal changes cause the skin to have an increase in sensitivity towards the sun making it more prone to pigmentation. Wearing a factor 30 or above SPF, such as the Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50, daily will help shield the skin from the sun.”

Dermalogica Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF 50


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