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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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