What they say about the second pregnancy is true. This time around I’m certainly more relaxed about the skincare products I use and food I consume. There are so many scary rumours out there! I had paranoia with every single ingredient I used – eating certain cheeses, raw foods, under-cooked meat, skincare products . . . you name it!
The internet is full of foods and ingredient to avoid during pregnancy and as usual, they get blown way out of proportion.
Take lavender for example. Should you avoid it? The Short answer is no.
Robert Tisserand, the “father” of aromatherapy says that there are 106,000 hits on Google stating lavender is an emmenagogue (uterine stimulant). He clearly sites scientific studies that refute this rumour.
“The online references to lavender oil as a uterine stimulant presumably originated from the few books (probably beginning with Valnet in 1964) that describe it as having an emmenagogic action. An assumption was then made that this was due to a uterine stimulant effect, and a further assumption was made that therefore lavender oil could pose a risk of miscarriage in pregnancy. However, there is no evidence that either lavender flowers or lavender oil stimulate menstruation.” – Robert Tisserand
What skincare ingredients should you avoid when pregnant?
According to the Motherisk program, at SickKids Hospital (here in Toronto): “Apart from hydroquinone (which has a relatively high absorption rate) and topical retinoids, skin care products are not expected to increase the risk of malformations or other adverse effects on the developing fetus.”
- Select essential oils (half of which you’ve probably never hear of: wormwood, rue, oak moss, camphor, parsley seed, sage, and hyssop).
I’d like to add the following ingredients to the list, not because they will cause harm to your baby, but because they can be irritating for the skin, especially during pregnancy when skin is more sensitive.
- Salicylic Acid
- Benzoyl Peroxide
- essential oils that contain high levels of phenols (they can be irritating to the skin, particularly during pregnancy, and are not recommended. See the International Federation of Professional Aromatherapists pregnancy guidelines to ease your mind and learn more about essential oil use during pregnancy.
* Pregnant or not, I don’t recommend the use of harsh synthetic skincare ingredients which can be harmful for the health of your skin long term. That said if you happen to use any of these common harsh ingredients, I hope this information puts your mind at ease!
When in doubt consult a practitioner you trust for advice. For essential oils, consult a licensed aromatherapist, for herbs and supplements consult a naturopathic doctor, for prescription drugs consult a medical doctor or pharmacist.
Skin Care products to use during pregnancy
Sensitive Skin & Redness
Holistic Vanity Redness Relief line is a fantastic option for anyone dealing with sensitive skin and dryness during pregnancy (which is very common because of hormonal changes).
Graydon’s The Putty (for dry skin) and the Super Sensitive Skin Stuff (for more oily, acne prone skin) are also great moisturizer option. For a cleanser, try a creamy, non drying cleanser, like Graydon’s Aloe Milk Cleanser.
Acne & Breakouts
Zyderma Clarifying Cream has been a saviour for me this pregnancy. It contains microsilver which is anti-microbial and helps to combats breakouts before they start. It also helps heal them within a few days after they pop up!
It’s so important to wear a daily sunscreen. During pregnancy the body produces more melanin making the risk of hyper-pigmentation higher. Even before my first son, I developed melasma, aka “pregnancy mask”, as a result of a hormonal change. Unfortunately this pigmentation under my eyes and on my upper lip darkens when I’m in the sun, and during pregnancy.
During pregnancy (and the summer) your best best bet is to keep hyper-pigmentation at bay by wearing a daily sunscreen, my favourite is Consonant’s The Perfect Sunscreen. You can also use Lactic Acid to exfoliate the skin 2-3 times per week and apply Seabuckthorn Berry Oil nightly to fade the pigmentation. Note: you’ll notice the biggest change after you give birth and your hormones normalize.
Sorry to break it to you, but 75% of women get stretch marks and no one really knows why some get them, and some don’t. Genetics definitely play a role. If they’re going to happen, no amount of cream or oil can really do much. Using a daily fatty acid rich oil, like avocado or coconut, can help to moisturize the area which helps keep skin supple. It will also help with itchiness, as the skin stretches.
If you do end up getting stretch marks, you have a greater chance of reversing them if they are red (which means they are more superficial and new). Occasionally they will fade on their own, but you can help the process out by using a glycolic acid to exfoliate the area and either vitamin E oil or Seabuckthorn Berry Oil to help reduce the “scar”. If they are really bugging you, Intense Pulsed Light therapy (IPL) may also help. Consult a cosmetic dermatologist to see your options. If the stretch marks are white or silver, it means that they are deeper and older, which have a greater likelihood of staying put.