Pre and post pregnancy beauty

Pre and post pregnancy beauty

Pregnancy affects women’s hair and skin in different ways – find out how to treat the different conditions you may encounter in our pre and post pregnancy beauty guide.

When a woman becomes pregnant, her body goes through an enormous amount of change. Skin, hair and nails can experience both positive and negative symptoms. Fluctuating hormones are the cause of such extreme changes.

Every pregnancy is different, but one thing all pregnant women have in common is that they will notice some changes in their hair, skin and nails.

During pregnancy


Over 90% of women will develop stretch marks during pregnancy, and in most cases, the marks are permanent. They first appear as pink or purple lines and are caused by changes in the elastic supportive tissue that lies beneath the skin. Stretch marks will appear around the stomach, breasts, hips and legs. The best way to treat stretch marks is regular moisturising, as skin becomes more pliant when it’s well hydrated.

Pre and post pregnancy beauty


The normal growth of hair usually flows in the following three steps, growth, rest, and shed. The hair will grow; rest on the head for a period of time and then fall out. However, when pregnant, a woman’s hair growth is disrupted and the hair grows and rests, but does not shed.

This causes hair to be longer and thicker throughout pregnancy. But these hair changes usually aren’t permanent; most women lose a significant amount of hair in the postnatal period or after they stop breastfeeding.


Pregnancy hormones cause nails to grow at a much faster rate than normal. Some nails, as they grow quite quickly, can become stronger, while other nails will begin to break and split. In order to keep nails strengthened, make sure you are including all of the essential nutrients and vitamins in your diet. The cause for such rapid growth in nails is down to higher levels of oestrogen and other hormones.

Pre and post pregnancy beauty


The first three to six months after pregnancy sees the skin, hair and nails returning to the way they were before a woman becomes pregnant.

Skin will return to normal, hair will begin to shed and nails will become stronger or weaker, depending on how a woman’s nails were pre-pregnancy.


If your skin became much more oily during pregnancy due to increased testosterone levels, it should calm down post pregnancy. Women who suffered from acne should see it begin to fade in the months that follow. Discolouration will also begin to fade and any irritation or itching will disappear over time.


It may feel as though you are losing a lot of hair after you have brought your baby into the world. This is hair that did not shed during pregnancy.

It can be seem scary for some women to see so much of their hair fall out, but it is simply your hair returning to how it was before you became pregnant.


Nails that became brittle during pregnancy may regain their strength in the months following pregnancy. Nails that were also quite strong can become weak again. If you find your nails stay brittle, a good moisturiser can help to strengthen them.

Pre and post pregnancy beauty

Beauty expert Lynn Armstrong shares her advice on keeping your facial skin healthy during pregnancy.

Skin problems in pregnancy

Many of the problems experienced by the skin during pregnancy are the result of fluctuating hormone levels within our body, coupled with increased blood flow and fatigue. Every pregnant woman’s skin reacts differently to pregnancy.

Acne and pigmentation

Much of the acne experienced during pregnancy occurs in the chin and jaw area of the face, this is generally associated with hormone fluctuations and stress, both of which are present in all stages of pregnancy. Often acne-prone skin tends to be worse in early pregnancy.

Breakouts lessen in the fourth and fifth months with some experiencing little or no breakout activity for the remainder of the pregnancy due to the increase of female hormones in the blood stream. Unfortunately, once female hormone levels drop, breakouts can reoccur, generally after birth or once breastfeeding has finished. For those less prone to acne, pregnancy can be a time when we see eruptions on the face, chest and back that are not normal.

Again, due to pregnancy hormones often it will often rectify itself once everything is back to normal, but during this time some TLC may be required.

There are a full range of targeted acne products on the market, but remember not all are suitable for mums-to-be. A great overnight product to target breakouts and clear dead cells away is Dermalogica Overnight Clearing Gel. Its active ingredients work tirelessly to slough off dead cells and clear out pores as we sleep, healing the skin and reducing inflammation around the break out.

Also worth remembering, that even though all you want to do is cover up with some full coverage make up, it’s best to go lightly using a good primer and a mineral make up to help conceal the break out activity. In addition, try not to over clean the skin, as this can aggravate the problem.


Rosacea is another condition that can target the skin during pregnancy. The skin will present with redness, dilated capillaries and acne like breakouts.

Often, as a result of the additional blood in circulation in pregnancy, this skin condition should be handled with care. Using soothing and hydrating products will help in reducing the appearance of redness and irritation.

Exfoliation should be avoided along with fragranced products, toners containing alcohol and heavily foaming products.

Using a soothing cream cleanser with ingredients such as aloe and lavender will be beneficial to this skin condition. Rosaliac UV Anti-Redness Moisturiser with UV Protection from La RochePosay is a great product for tackling the redness while strengthening the underlying capillaries and providing UVA protection of 15.

Sunscreen and temperature regulation is vital in the treatment and maintenance of rosacea, so keep out of the sun!

Dry skin

Dry skin in pregnancy should not be confused with dehydrated skin, it can also exhibit the same symptoms, tightness and flaking. Dry skin should be well moisturised.

Often, in the early weeks of pregnancy the skin can become dry, especially if there has been a lot of morning sickness.

Dry skin should be gently exfoliated, to remove dead cells and moisturised well. Using a good quality grade of oil is well worth it and it can be used from top to toe including your hair. Avoid using harsh alcohol-based toners and soap-based cleansing products, both of which will strip the skin and result in irritation or potential breakouts.


Finally pigmentation, also known as the mask of pregnancy often seen in a ‘butterfly’ shape across the cheeks and nose and around the eyes.

Again, caused by a fluctuation in hormones, which causes the skin to tan more easily. In this case, it doesn’t tan evenly. Often the pigmentation disappears after birth, but in some cases, depending on the amount of pigmentation, it may require treatment.

SPF is essential if you are prone to pigmentation marks such as freckles as part of your normal reaction to the sun. In fact, I would say that SPF is always essential for pigmentation and ageing as well as protection. SPF should play a key role in our daily skincare regime and taking the ‘prevention is better than cure’ route is better when it comes to this skin condition during pregnancy. It should also be remembered that using an SPF after birth will help the pigmentation to dissipate faster and bear in mind that some contraceptive pills can also cause a similar type of pigmentation, so be sure to mention it to your GP.

More like this:

Post pregnancy hair loss
Dental health in pregnancy
Pregnancy body changes – your skin

Ask Tracey

Midwife Tracey Donegan answers your questions about pregnancy and birth

Q When should I have my first pregnancy scan? And how many scans should I get throughout my pregnancy?

Your first scan is known as your dating scan and is routine in all hospitals. Most mums will have this scan at their booking visit, which can be anywhere between 12-18 weeks. The earlier the scan the more accurate it will be. If you have experienced recurrent miscarriages some hospitals will scan you earlier. Contact your antenatal clinic for more information. In Ireland, most women will have two scans in a healthy pregnancy – a dating scan and an anomaly scan at around 20 weeks. However, some units provide a dating scan only. Private scans are also available in most cities and many parents use these services for additional reassurance and to find out the sex of their baby.



A rundown and images from The National Parenting Product Awards 2016


Ask Sarah

Q I’ve heard a lot about the Paleo diet and as I am very interested in reducing the amount of processed foods and grain based meals my family eats, we are considering following this diet. From what I read it seems to be a back-to-basics type of eating. Is a Paleo diet safe for children? My kids are aged seven and nine.

A The Paleo diet is one of the most fashionable diets around at the moment. It is also known as the ‘caveman diet’ and is based on cutting out processed foods, starchy foods like bread and potatoes and eating more meat, vegetables and fruit.
As fad diets go, it is not the worst but there are some good and bad sides to it. Reducing the amount of processed foods we eat is always a good idea and by doing that you will usually reduce the amount of fat, salt and sugar you eat, which is a good thing! The problem with the Paleo diet is that it also cuts out dairy (on the basis that cavemen didn’t drink milk) and this means that the diet is very low in calcium. For this reason it is really not suitable for children who do need a lot of calcium for growing bones. How did cavemen manage without dairy? They ate a lot more food than we do (up to 10,000 calories per day compared to the 2,000 most of us eat). By eating that amount of food they were able to pick up just enough calcium from green vegetables and seeds. To put it in perspective, you would need to eat 16 servings of broccoli a day to get all the calcium you need. This is easier to do if you eat 10,000 calories per day rather than 2,000.
The other problem with the paleo diet is that it is not entirely based in science. Many of the Paleo diets out there say you should not eat wheat, even though we know that cavemen did in fact eat wheat and other grains. These diets also don’t recommend that you eat blubber and the big lumps of fat that were also a large part of the caveman diet!
A final problem is that many Paleo diets encourage people to cut out beans and lentils and to get their protein from meat and fish instead. Many studies over the last few years are clear that eating too much animal protein is linked with more cancer and heart disease. Eating some vegetarian meals based on beans and lentils is a great way to get your protein without always going for meat.
Is this a diet we should follow? I think there is a lot we can learn from the Paleo diets. We could all do with eating less salt, sugar and processed foods and adding in more nuts and seeds as well as more vegetables. However, I think following a strict Paleo diet could lead to low levels of calcium and vitamin D and so it is not suitable for children or teens and adults would need to think about a calcium supplement.