April 8, 2010

Pregnancy Beauty

Pregnancy can cause a number of obvious physical changes (i.e. weight gain and a bulging belly). However, there are some changes that can throw pregnant women for a loop, some a welcomed change and others... not so much.

Thanks to increased blood circulation during pregnancy, many women experience a pregnancy "glow". However, for many women including myself, this much romanticized glow lasts about a milisecond before giving way to a superabundance of other hormonal changes that wreak havoc on our skin.
1. Pregnancy Acne-While I haven't personally experienced pregnancy acne, it can be a problem for many. Even people who never previously suffered from acne might notice bumps and blemishes throughout their pregnancy. The good thing is that the acne should go away after delivery, once the hormones go back to normal. On the flip side, you can't use many popular and powerful acne-fighting medications when the zits pop up. Salycilic acid and retinol, are big no-nos. Some doctors give the green light to Benzoyl Peroxide (in products like Proactiv), however not only does everything you put in your body affect the baby, but everything you pur ON your body gets absorbed, and nobody is exactly sure whether BP affects the fetus. There are a lot of natural skin care lines that you can find at places like WholeFoods and Sephora that do not use these ingredients as well as harsh detergents so they help control acne without stripping your face dry, which can exascerbate the problem. Drinking lots of water and eating healthy foods full of antioxidants (colorful veggies, fruits, salmon and other lean proteins) can contribute to regulating acne from the inside-out. I aboslutely love the products from Ole Henriksen, and their blemish attack line contains natural ingredients to combat acne.

2. Skin Discoloration-Skin darkening or dark patches on the face can occur during pregnancy as well and is officially called chloasma or melasma (the mask of pregnancy). Women with darker skin tones are more prone to this problem and the effects can become more pronounced with each pregnancy. Darkening can occur around your upper lip, nose, cheeks, forehead and along the jawline. Seriously, just the other day, the hubz asked if I was planning on growing out my mustache! Furthermore, areas that are already pigmented, like scars and freckles may get even darker. Although melasma should generally fade away after pregnancy, sometimes the darkness never completely disappears. In the meantime, there are a few ways to safely minimize skin darknening during pregnancy. The most important thing you can do to prevent skin darkening is SPF! Using sun protection of SPF 30 or higher whether rain or shine (because UV can get you even when it's cloudy) and reapplying throughout the day will help tremendously. Using gentle cleansers and facial products also contribue to minimize skin darkening as harsh ingredients can make the problem worse. Another option is to...conceal it! A densely pigment-packed, opaque concealer like MAC Studiofinish Concealer SPF 35 is heavy-duty enough to cover tattoos, so why not skin changes caused by pregnancy?

3. Stretch Marks-It's that big "wah-wah", dismal moment of pregnancy...when you realize those ugly red or bluish lines snaking around your belly, hips, thighs, breasts...pretty much every place you can think of. Yep, stretch marks are one sacrifice women make to experience the joys of motherhood, but they needn't be inevitable! Now, we've all seen those commercials claiming that cocoa butter can magically make this type of scarring disappear, but honestly, not any one specific product is going to banish them completely. Stretch marks are tears in the skin that occur when there is severe pulling on the dermis beyond its natural elasticity (usually due to rapid weight gain or growth as in pregnancy). You can tell that stretch marks might form when your skin feels taut and super itchy. So, in this state, the skin will benefit from any type of moisture, whether its oil, lotion or cream. Using moisturizing products daily, along with the act of increasing circulation when applying, can help in reducing the appearance of stretch marks during pregnancy.