Before we were able to google anything and everything, pregnant women were blissfully unaware about the effects of what they put in and on their bodies. Now the pendulum has swung the other way and we seem to obsessively scrutinize every ingredient. While not every chemical is bad for you, there are some ingredients pregnant women need to avoid.
“There are three common ingredients to avoid when you’re either pregnant or breastfeeding: hydroquinone, all types of retinoids (including retinol) and benzoyl peroxide,” says dermatologic surgeon and RealSelf contributor Dr. Joel Schlessinger. Salicylic acid, formaldehyde (found in hair treatments) and chemical sunscreens should also be avoided, according to dermatologist Dr. Adarsh Mudgil. Same goes for self-tanners, spray tans, Botox, fillers and certain laser treatments.
So how can you combat wrinkles and acne while pregnant?
“Mild topicals are safe to use when pregnant, such as products containing clindamycin or erythromycin to help fight acne,” says dermatologist and RealSelf contributor Dr. Michele Green. “Getting microdermabrasion and oxygen facials are also safe when pregnant to manage acne from the surge in hormonal imbalance.”
If you can splurge on an in-office treatment, LED light therapy is a great tool to clear breakouts and fight wrinkles. “LED light was actually originally invented by NASA to heal astronaut wounds in space so it is very safe,” says Dr. Dennis Gross, dermatologist and founder of Dr. Dennis Gross Skincare. “Some devices have both red and blue LED light together, which provide even more benefits. You can use the SpectraLite FaceWare Pro — it has both red and blue LED lights that can be used simultaneously.”
Gross also singles out his DRx Clarifying Colloidal Sulfur Mask, which has colloidal sulfur and kaolin clay to get rid of breakouts as well as his Alpha Beta Pore Perfecting Cleansing Gel.
Green says topical vitamin C, hyaluronic acid and Argireline are helpful and safe ways to combat wrinkles. Schlessinger singles out LovelySkin LUXE Exfoliating Gel Mild 11% as being particularly effective. “It’s formulated with 11 percent amino fruit acids and vitamin C. These special amino fruit acids very effectively rejuvenate skin while simultaneously working in tandem with your skin’s natural moisturizing system.”
How about stretch marks?
“I recommend the Natura Bisse Essential Shock Intense Dermarepair to help prevent the formation of new stretch marks and to improve the appearance of existing stretch marks. One of the key ingredients this product uses is black crowberry extract, which diminishes the redness of existing marks while slowing down the breakdown of collagen and elastin fibers that can contribute to stretch marks,” says Schlessinger.
And always remember to keep skin moisturized. “Steady weight gain can also help prevent stretch marks,” says Green. “This allows the skin to gradually adjust without overstretching and disrupting the connective tissue in the skin.”
The same guidelines apply when you’re breastfeeding. “You don’t want to risk transferring chemicals through breast milk to your newborn, therefore you should avoid the same procedures and chemicals postpartum if you are breastfeeding,” says Green.