There is a lot of uncertainty concerning safe skincare for expectant and breastfeeding mothers, as well as those trying to conceive. However, there is now an increasing body of research pointing to the fact that exposure to chemicals and in particular endocrine-disrupting chemical ingredients may pose a risk to normal development and may increase a child’s risk of disease later in life.
As the body’s largest organ, your skin absorbs up to 60% of what you put on it. For this reason, it’s especially important to be careful with your skincare and makeup when pregnant, breastfeeding or trying to conceive. It can be just as important for a growing baby as what you are eating. Women receive advice to stop smoking and alcohol consumption and eat a healthy, balanced diet during pregnancy. We think women should also be advised to clean their beauty routine.
In the first 20 weeks of pregnancy your baby is especially vulnerable to toxins, so it is advisable to limit any possible exposure. It is also advisable to limit such exposure in the three months prior to conception. Despite this, there is little emphasis placed on the unsafe skincare and makeup ingredients that women should avoid during these delicate times.
What skincare routine is best to adopt when you were pregnant?
A simple yet effective natural skincare routine that also creates a daily self-love ritual is especially important when you're pregnant. Using products made from safe, natural ingredients that are also suitable in pregnancy is essential - avoiding chemicals and nasty synthetic ingredients that pass through your skin and into the placenta, needs to be a focus.
Often women experience congestion and fluid retention as a result of hormonal changes, so focusing on lymphatic drainage by moving stagnant lymph fluid around the neck and face with a beauty tool, such as a Gua Sha tool will help with drainage and also improve the appearance of your skin.
What are the common skin issues that can be brought on by pregnancy and how best to alleviate them?
Pregnancy can bring on a hormonal party and can create many skin changes, from fluid retention, acne to hyperpigmentation. Not to mention your sense of smell may become heightened during this time and many products may be too overpowering.
Congestion from the change in hormones is the major concern, alongside postnatal hyperpigmentation being generally the second concern. Pre-existing conditions can improve or exacerbate during pregnancy also.
Listening to what your skin is telling you is incredibly powerful in finding what works and keeping your routine simple. Doing all you can to maintain healthy skin from the outside can often not be enough, since there is a complex change in hormones that can also be creating skin issues - recognising that it may also be an inner beauty job. Consulting a naturopath who may offer supportive supplements or a tweak in diet suitable to you can be immensely helpful. Take an external and internal approach, a holistic view of your skincare and wellbeing during this delicate time can help alleviate skin issues.
What skincare products or ingredients should be avoided when trying to conceive? Should these also be avoided while pregnant?
Generally speaking, there are ingredients that should be avoided when you are trying to conceive and when pregnant. Systemic retinoids like roaccutane, used in acne treatments, are a big no-no during pregnancy. Retinol derivatives are not recommended, that means you should be looking on the ingredients list for things like retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, retinyl palmitate and retinyl propionate often found in anti-ageing or acne treatments and whitening products containing hydroquinone and/or corticosteroids. We also strongly recommend avoiding using AHAs, benzoyl peroxide, parabens, fragrances, chemical sunscreens ( go for mineral sunscreen instead) Botox, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulfate and deodorants containing aluminum. All of this sounds like a huge list but it's actually very easy when you adopt a conscious clean beauty mindset.
Are essential oils safe during pregnancy?
This question gets asked a lot and generally speaking lavender, chamomile and orange are typically safe in microdoses (only 1 or 2 drops at most) when blended with an appropriate carrier oil as a base. If you experience nausea during pregnancy inhaling a few drops of ginger essential oil on a cotton ball may be really helpful. You can use a diffuser with a very small amount of essential oils that are safe but only have it going in your space for no longer than an hour at a time.
How important is it to be mindful of what skincare products are used when a woman is breastfeeding? What impact can certain products have on the baby – both via the skin and the breast milk?
What we have listed above would also apply, so avoid the same list of ingredients whilst breastfeeding also. Your skin is your largest organ that absorbs what substances you apply to it, so avoiding any potentially harmful ingredients that could make it's way into your breastmilk is a good philosophy to adopt. Your baby's and your health are imperative during this magical time so keeping to a clean beauty routine will only benefit everyone.
Are stretch marks (as wonderful as they are) preventable or treatable?
There are some well-known products out there that are marketed as "stretch mark products" but when you read the ingredients in them it's very scary! They have invested heavily in marketing, not health. We see this as misleading to women. Using natural oils to massage your belly can be a time to connect with your body and your growing baby - so choose oils such as calendula, apricot kernel, argan oil, almond oil and wheatgerm oil - drop in a pregnancy safe essential oil if your sense of smell can handle it. Simple and clean is always best.
Many women experience dry and flaky skin when pregnant. Which clean beauty skincare products are best to combat this?
We would always recommend trying some samples to see how your skin ( and your nose) will respond while you're pregnant first. Pregnancy safe products to combat dry and flaking skin by adding extra hydration are; Corbin Rd Restorative Cleansing Balm or Tailor Skin Care Oil Cleanser, both will remove dirt, pollution and makeup without stripping essential oils from your skin, follow with a hydrating facial mist, such as LaBonics Radiance Mist Toner to rehydrate and soften the epidermis, then to regenerate, lock in moisture and stimulate healthy collagen production try Mermaid Facial Oil. Then to follow, use a facial roller or Gua Sha every second day, to drain built-up fluid, move stagnation and increase blood flow and not to mention smoothing out those fine lines!
Which products are suitable for pregnant women experiencing acne or hyperpigmentation?
Again, we recommend trying samples first. During pregnancy, it feels like your skin can turn back to those teenage years where it's doing all sorts of crazy hormonal things... You may have to experiment to find what works for you as your skin might change constantly during pregnancy and then during breastfeeding! Try Polish Face Mask and Scrub by Tailor for its ability to be multi-purpose. You can use it as a face mask, exfoliant and spot treatment to reduce redness, remove flaky skin and blackheads and leave skin glowing. Botanical Facial Serum is formulated with the hero ingredient Kakadu Plum which is rich in Vitamin C, this product will work to brighten the skin, evening out pigmentation and reducing acne scars.
Is it necessary for women to check with their lead maternity carer before adopting a clean skincare routine when pregnant or breastfeeding?
If you are switching from products that contain a bunch of chemicals to a clean natural range of skincare then we don't believe so but if you are unsure it's always advisable to check with your lead maternity carer. Remember, we women have been birthing for eons and our bodies are perfectly designed to do just that, so trust it.