Pregnant women need to know that anything they put in or on their bodies can affect their baby’s well-being. This goes for food, supplements, alcohol, cigarette smoke, and caffeine, as well as the lotions and creams they rub onto their skin. Basically everything a pregnant or nursing woman comes in contact with is of concern.
Some topical ingredients will get absorbed into the bloodstream, and dermatologists as well as OB/GYNs alike may warn you about certain prescription medications and potent ingredients to avoid. According to Beverly Hills Dermatologist Zein Obagi, MD, pregnant women should avoid applying any form of retinoids, including Avage, Differin, Renova, tretinoin, retinols, retinyl palmitate, Tazorac and any other variations. “Some pediatricians even recommend waiting at least 30 days after you discontinue use of retinoids to conceive. Pregnant women should not use hydroquinone for skin lightening and melasma.” He added that Tetracycline has been shown to cross the placenta, which can cause staining of the baby’s teeth and affect the way the skeleton develops so it should be avoided as well.
In general, salicylic acid peels are on the no fly list too. If in doubt about any product you are using, consult your obstetrician and/or dermatologist. If you have been using something that is not advisable, ask your doctor or pharmacist for a suitable alternative that is safe to use during pregnancy and breastfeeding.
According to New York Dermatologist Dr. Francesca Fusco, “When my pregnant patients ask me what is ‘safe’ to use while pregnant or breast feeding, I always advise them to check labels, and clear it with their OB or pediatrician (if breast feeding).”
Her go to list of products includes oils. “Almond is my favorite. Weleda Stretch Mark Massage Oil helps smooth tight skin and prevent stretch marks and smooth stretching skin as your stomach expands. It nourishes, smooths and maintains great hydration.” She also recommends products that are ideal for pregnant skin. “I look for products that are allergy-tested and free of parabens, fragrance, and harsh chemicals, and perfect for even the most sensitive skin. The First Aid Beauty line hits the mark on all the above. Their cult favorite Ultra Repair Cream, and best-selling Facial Cleanser and Daily Face Cream are wonderful. Many pregnant women get itchy due to changes in hormones and the Ultra Repair Cream is thoroughly soothing. I tell patients to keep one jar in a cool place and when the ‘pruritus of pregnancy’ strikes, slather don’t scratch!”
Fusco also recommends maintaining your hair and scalp. “A healthy scalp is the foundation for beautiful hair during any season Clear Scalp and Hair Beauty Therapy Mask with cactus is a deeply intensive hydrating mask that nourishes and gives hair resilience.”
As any mother knows, pregnancy can be a wild hormonal ride resulting in acne and even melasma, sometimes called the “mask of pregnancy.” Florida Dermatologist Dr. Heather Woolery-Lloyd says there are definitely topical options, even antibiotic ones, for treating unwanted acne while pregnant. “Topical antibiotics such as clindamycin and erythromycin fall into pregnancy category B, which means there are no proven risks in humans. Topical antibiotics can be safely used in pregnancy,” she says.
On the other hand, oral use of antibiotics may carry more risk and some studies show a weak association with certain birth defects. “Using oral antibiotics during pregnancy should be discussed with your physician and should be used when the benefits outweigh the risks,” Woolery-Lloyd advises.
She also recommends certain ingredients derived from natural substances for acne treatment. “Azelaic acid, derived from cereal grains, comes in a topical gel and cream formulas. This acne medication is also pregnancy category B,” she said.
Other natural ingredients that have been proven to be helpful in some acne studies and are safe to use during pregnancy are tea tree oil, a natural antibiotic; green tea, a popular natural antioxidant and anti-inflammatory; and lactic acid, which occurs naturally in our bodies. “Specific Beauty Exfoliating Cleansing Cloths offer gentle exfoliation and have aloe and green tea for skin brightening,” says Woolery-Lloyd.
According to Wooldery-Lloyd, benzoyl peroxide, sulfur-based therapies, and glycolic, acid do not fall into FDA pregnancy category A or B, but most dermatologists feel comfortable prescribing these treatments, as no adverse affects during pregnancy have been reported. However, most dermatologists avoid glycolic acid peels during pregnancy.
When it comes to treating hyperpigmentation or melasma, Woolery-Lloyd says to save the big guns like hydroquinone for after baby arrives. Brightening ingredients that are safe to use during pregnancy include licorice extract, green tea, lactic acid, and niacinimide (vitamin B3).
As you can see, there is some controversy regarding what exactly is safe to use during pregnancy. “In general if is important to recognize that studies are not commonly done on pregnant women, which unfortunately leaves us in the dark with regard to product safety issues,” says New York Dermatologist Janet Prystowsky. “The products that I consider safe to use during pregnancy include: mineral oil, Vaseline, Aquaphor, Pond’s Cold Cream, sunscreen with only minerals in it such as Aveeno Mineralguard SPF 50.” Her go to for acne treatment during pregnancy includes benzoyl peroxide, glycolic acid pads, and azeleic acid in prescription medications Finacea® and Azelex®. Also for acne, she likes Blu-U light. “For eczema, Aveeno baby eczema cream is fantastic and phototherapy (not tanning parlors) is safe. Small amounts of over the counter hydrocortisone for itches appears to be safe, but in general steroids should be avoided unless under a physician’s supervision,” she said.
Products and ingredients to avoid during pregnancy, according to Prystowsky, also include sunscreens that may be absorbed into the body, cosmeceuticals with peptides, salicylic acid, Rogaine® for hair loss, hydroquinone, and BOTOX®, though it has been used safely to treat pregnant women with migraines.
While breast feeding, topical retinoids may be added back and A+D ointment, typically used for diaper rash, works wonders on cracked and sore nipples between feedings. “Otherwise, while nursing I would continue the rest of the pregnancy restrictions because of concerns that products may get into the milk and have an untoward effect on the baby,” she says.
With all of the things to worry about during pregnancy, keep your skincare regimen simple. Basic moisturizers and mineral based sunscreen will go far in maintaining that mother-to-be glow. After your child is weaned, discuss a new regimen with a qualified skin care professional.
Photo Credit: clinique.com
Dermatologists will tell you that acne is not caused by dirt or by not cleansing thoroughly, but getting rid of pore-clogging sebum and debris is key to ending the acne cycle. The next vital step is to reduce the bacteria that cause breakouts.
If your acne is severe—meaning a steady collection of inflamed pimples popping up all over your face, chest, or back—go straight to a dermatologist and do not pass go or collect $200… Hard, painful, deep cysts respond best to drugs so over-the-counter skincare products won’t work. Find a board certified dermatologist at AAD.org or ASDS.net.
When following a dermatologist’s directions or seeking over-the-counter acne treatments, keep the following in mind for best results:
6 Acne Tips You Should Write Down
- Blackheads usually do best with a topical vitamin A-containing ingredient—like retinol;
- Consistency of products and usage will yield better results;
- Don’t pick or squeeze pimples—it can lead to a bigger infection and scars;
- Allow at least 6 weeks for any new regimen to start to work;
- Keep bangs off your forehead and avoid using heavy or creamy hair products that can cause blemishes;
- More is not more. Don’t apply your acne fighting products more often than directed to avoid irritation.
These NEW acne solutions are paving the way to having clear skin for the long haul, before heading to the doctor’s office for prescription medications and light based treatments.
Juice Beauty Blemish Clearing Collection ($55)
This acne fighting kit includes a one-month supply of four products that cleanse, treat, and moisturize, and everything is naturally derived. The cleanser features natural organic lemon, cherry, and aloe juices. The Blemish Clearing Serum reduces breakouts and unclogs pores with organic fruit acids and salicylic acid that is derived from willow bark. Big bonus: the kit includes Juice Beauty’s signature Green Apple Peel that gently clears pores and evens skin tone and texture via exfoliation.
La Roche Posay Effaclar Dermatological Acne System ($29.99)
La Roche Posay Effaclar Duo is the star of this system from dermatologists’ favorite French line La Roche Posay, formulated to reduce the number and severity of blemishes in mild to moderate acne. Called a dual action acne treatment lotion, Effaclar Duo contains micronized benzoyl peroxide to clear clogged pores and micro-exfoliating LHA for exfoliation. The system also includes a medicated gel cleanser that is powered by salicylic acid and lipo hydroxy acid for cell-by-cell removal of dirt and debris, and a clarifying solution to unclog pores and smooth skin texture. Clinical studies show that acne is reduced by 60% within 10 days use of the Effaclar system.
First Aid Beauty Skin Rescue Deep Cleanser with Red Clay ($24)
This foaming gel cleanser is formulated to remove makeup, dirt, and grime on problem-prone and oily skin. It also reduces sebum production and makes pores appear smaller instantly. It includes red clay to absorb impurities, detox, and purify, rosemary leaf oil to unclog pores and tone the skin, glycerin for moisture and protection, and the brand’s signature antioxidant booster to fight free radicals. The theory here is that drawing out toxins will reduce outbreaks. The Skin Rescue lineup also includes a red clay mask and user-friendly blemish control pads.
ClarityMD is a simple two-step system that is formulated with solubilized bakuchil, an antimicrobial ingredient that is more potent than benzoyl peroxide, and bisabolol, a natural-anti-inflammatory ingredient. The system comprises Deep Pore Cleanser and Clairfying Gel, which features a magic bullet delivery system that sends bakuchiol, bisabolol, and salicylic acid into the pores to promote rapid results. According to a clinical study, just one week’s use can lead to 50% reduction in inflammatory acne lesions. ClarityMD is extremely gentle and does not dry out skin or cause irritation, redness, or peeling like benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid-based acne treatments.
Clinique Acne Solutions Clinical Clearing Gel ($17)
This new super gel from Clinique features a 4-in-1 Clearing Complex to treat current blemishes and prevent new ones from forming. Salicylic acid clears away dead surface cells that clog pores and helps prevent future breakouts. Laminaria saccharina controls oil production, and sea whip extract calms and soothes irritated and red skin. Use the gel after cleansing, and be sure to apply an oil-free moisturizer over the gel. The gel is fast drying and can even be used as a spot treatment, and works for all skin types.
This collection pulls out all the stops for fighting acne. Carefully curated by Beverly Hills dermatologist Dr. Zein Obagi, the kit comprises: ZO Skin Health Offects Exfoliating Cleanser, Offects Exfoliating Polish, Offects TE-Pads, and Bio-Sulfur Masque. The regimen works to unclog oil trapped in pores, thereby reducing blackheads and whiteheads. The cleanser and polish target excess oil and exfoliate dead skin cells. The acne pads are loaded with 2% salicylic acid to unclog pores, reduce oiliness, and prevent future breakouts. According to Beverly Hills Dermatologist Monika Kiripolsky, “The mask, only available in the ZO acne kit, is a natural multitasker. It works to slow sebum activity, fight acne-causing bacteria and inflammation, and speed up healing.”
AcneFree Body Clearing Acne Spray ($10.99)
This spray is great for getting rid of bacne. It combines alpha and beta hydroxy acids with vitamin B3 (niacinamide) as an anti-inflammatory, and aloe for calming skin. “Choosing the right product is really important,” says New York Dermatologist Dr. Joshua Zeichner. “Not only do you need the right active ingredients to treat skin, but you also need the right vehicle. Sprays are a great option when you’re treating large surface areas or hair bearing areas. The back is especially hard to treat, because it’s hard to see and reach. A spray formulation is ideal, because it allows you to get the medicine to those hard to reach areas.” This is a bargain if breakouts on your body keep cropping up. Perfect for summertime when sweats adds to the problem.
In the vitamin world, the first big innovation for adults was gummy vitamins. Those little tart or sweet and fruity gems taste like Haribo candies, and are actually good for you. They may taste like a sweet treat, but it is important to remember that tasty vitamins should not be consumed like candy. Don’t be tempted to take more than the recommended dose found on the label.
Enter VitaMelts® from Nature Made. These little vitamin supplements not only taste good, but they literally melt in your mouth. You don’t need water to swallow them, as with capsules or mega pills. Just pop them in your mouth and they dissolve rapidly. It’s that simple. Instead of rushing out the door in the morning and forgetting to take your daily vitamins, VitaMelts come in handy little yellow tins that fit in your bag so you take them whenever you think of it. If you have trouble swallowing pills, these will make getting your daily dose of Vitamin C or Multivitamin blend a breeze.
The newest variation of VitaMelts was developed to encourage healthy hair, skin, and nails. Formulated with 60 mg of the skin loving antioxidant vitamin C to support collagen production and 2500 mcg of biotin to promote healthy hair, skin and nails, these little beauties come in a delish Strawberry Lemonade flavor.
Another favorite is VitaMelts Sleep, which delivers 3mg of melatonin to help promote sleep. And did we mention that they come in a decadent Chocolate Mint flavor? VitaMelts Sleep is perfect to take with you on long flights and when you have the luxury of sleeping in the next morning.
VitaMelts come in 8 varieties; Vitamins C, D, B12, Zinc, plus a Multi, Hair, Skin & Nails, Relax and Sleep.
Visit Naturemade.com to learn more about these tasty supplements and to get a $1.00 off coupon.