The journey of pregnancy can bring some skin challenges. With hormonal fluctuations during pregnancy, your skin can become more sensitive and prone to dryness, and breakouts. Not to mention, increased sun sensitivity and risk of hyperpigmentation. A study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology says that up to 70% of women experience some form of skin changes during pregnancy, including dryness, itching, and hyperpigmentation. When you are pregnant with sensitive skin, it is important to have a gentle skincare routine.
So, what is the best skincare routine for sensitive skin during pregnancy?
From experience and research, the best skincare routines involve these five steps:
- Gentle exfoliation
- Sun protection
Step 1: Cleansing
Cleansing is the first and arguably important step in any skincare routine. It helps remove dirt, oil, and makeup, and prepares the skin for the rest of the routine. When it comes to sensitive skin, especially when pregnant, choosing the right type of cleanser is important. Some cleansers are too harsh and loaded with harmful chemicals and fragrances. These types of cleansers can irritate your sensitive skin.
For cleansing, we like oil-based cleansers, cream cleansers with natural ingredients, gentle foam cleansers, and gel cleansers for sensitive skin. It is always a good idea to look for products that do not contain fragrances, alcohol, harsh surfactants, and harsh ingredients.
One of the best options for cleansing sensitive skin during pregnancy is an oil-based cleanser. Oil-based cleansers like cleansing oils and cleansing balms are safe and gentle because, as they say, like attracts like; the oil from the cleanser attracts the oil and dirt from your skin, removing it gently. These types of cleansers are usually free from preservatives, harsh chemicals, fragrances, and irritants. Cream and gel cleansers can also be a good option for cleansing the skin, as long as it does not contain no-no ingredients such as phthalates, fragrances, or harsh chemicals.
Step 2: Gentle Exfoliation
Exfoliating in a skincare routine helps remove dead skin cells and improve skin texture. You can choose between physical exfoliation and chemical exfoliation. However, it's important to choose a method and a gentle exfoliant that will not irritate your sensitive skin during pregnancy. Some examples of physical exfoliants are washcloths, sugar scrubs, and salt scrubs. Exfoliants that contain ingredients like glycolic acid or lactic acid, and AHA’s(Alpha-hydroxy-acid) are considered chemical and can be gentler on the skin. According to a study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, these ingredients are effective at exfoliating the skin without irritating it.
To exfoliate sensitive skin during pregnancy, gently massage the exfoliant into your skin using circular motions. Be cautious when using physical exfoliants like scrubs, as these may be harsh on your sensitive skin. But, you can always use a washcloth daily to physically to gently exfoliate your skin. We want to avoid drying or irritating the skin, so try to limit the exfoliation of your face to once or twice a week.
Step 3: Toning
Toning can be a great addition to your sensitive skincare routine when pregnant. Toning is a step in the skincare routine that helps restore the natural pH balance of the skin and prepare it for moisturization. But, avoid toners that can irritate and dry out your skin, such as alcohol-based toners. If you choose to include a toner, try a natural solution like, aloe vera juice, rose water, cucumber water, or alcohol-free witch hazel.
For toning sensitive skin during pregnancy, simply apply the toner to a cotton pad and wipe it on your face and neck.
Step 4: Moisturizing
Moisturizing is essential for keeping the skin hydrated during pregnancy. Hormonal changes during pregnancy can make the skin more prone to dryness, and itching, so it's important to choose a moisturizer that provides hydration without irritating the skin. Look for moisturizers that contain ingredients like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, cocoa butter, or shea butter. A study published in the Journal of Women's Health, reveals that these ingredients are effective at hydrating the skin and providing long-lasting moisture.
To moisturize sensitive skin during pregnancy, apply the moisturizer to your face and neck after toning, and be sure to moisturize your whole body right after your shower or bath. Using an oil, butter, or balm on your growing bump can reduce itching, and dryness, and prevent stretch marks. Avoid using heavy, greasy, or mineral oil-based moisturizers that can clog pores and irritate sensitive skin.
Step 5: Sun Protection
Sun protection is important for sensitive skin during your pregnancy. Sensitivity to the sun can come as a result of the hormonal changes and fluctuations of being pregnant. Prolonged exposure to the sun can increase your risk for hyperpigmentation and other skin problems. As per a study in the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology, using a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher can protect the skin from both UVA and UVB rays.
To protect sensitive skin during pregnancy from excessive sun exposure, you can wear long sleeve shirts, dresses, and pants. You can use large-brimmed hats(anyone thinking sombrero), and UV protection glasses. If you plan on spending a lot of time in direct sunlight, consider applying broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher to your face and neck every morning, and don’t forget the other parts of your body that will be exposed to the sun. Dermatologists recommend that sunscreen is reapplied every two hours if you're spending a lot of time outdoors. Choose a sunscreen that is free of fragrances, alcohol, and other harsh ingredients that can irritate sensitive skin.
In conclusion, pregnancy can be a doozy for your skin, making it more sensitive, so it's important to choose gentle skincare products that won't irritate the skin. The best skincare routine for sensitive skin during pregnancy includes cleansing, toning, moisturizing, sun protection, and gentle exfoliation. Try some or all of these steps, to keep your sensitive skin healthy and hydrated during your pregnancy experience.