How to look after your skin during pregnancy

18 October, 2020

How to look after your skin during pregnancy

To glow or not to glow? To be honest, glowing skin during pregnancy isn't always within our control. As hormones race around our body, some of us are left looking healthy and radiant. In contrast, others face pigmentation, adult acne or skin that is suddenly feeling extra sensitive.

There are always elements that never fail to contribute to the health of our skin. Drinking plenty of water, eating fresh fruit and vegetables, limited consumption of dairy, processed foods and refined sugar all play a role in the structure and look of our skin.

Pregnancy skincare can feel like a minefield, so to help we have put together some advice when it comes to what to expect from your pregnancy skin, and the products and ingredients to look out for.


Skin changes that may arise

Pregnancy mask

Hyperpigmentation or pregnancy mask (also known as melasma) can be caused by a surge of pigment-stimulating hormones in pregnancy and an increased sensitivity to sunlight. 

The patches of discolouration can be genetic but usually fades once you have given birth, although, on occasion, it is a long-term condition. If you are breastfeeding, you might also notice that the discolouration remains, that's because pregnancy hormones levels remain high when breastfeeding, so can sometimes take up to nine months to settle down.

Making sunscreen a part of your daily skincare routine is very important. Make sure you choose a Factor 50 that offers both UVA and UVB protection, picking one designed for facial use usually means they are less oily too. It is also advised to seek shade, and wear hats to help protect your skin – in ALL seasons.

Using an acid-based exfoliator that contains a citric or lactic acid can be beneficial for pigmentation, but because pregnancy can increase your skin's sensitivity – test on a small patch of skin first. Avoid a grainy exfoliator – however fine; these products are not suitable for the surface of the skin.



Hormonal acne in pregnancy presents itself on the jaw, chin and cheeks, thanks to the sudden increase in hormones and feelings of anxiety.

It's essential to avoid any products that contain retinol because of the way that pregnancy can cause the skin to be super-sensitive.

Using gentle skin products with natural ingredients like witch hazel and tea tree oil can be effective. At the same time, AHA products can also help to elevate the symptoms of acne and reduce blemishes. Using a mask with AHA's once or twice a week is recommended.

Following a robust skincare routine with a few essential products can work wonders. It's important not to chop and change products if they don't work straight away; this can cause oil secretion to go into overdrive and make the problem worse.


Sensitive skin

As we've mentioned, it's common for your skin to become more sensitive than usual during pregnancy. As well as becoming more reactive to the sun, you might find that you can no longer use the skincare products and ranges that you've used before. 

It's also likely that skin conditions like eczema might flare up just when you have it under control. Choosing mild products that are free from fragrance (that activates inflammation) and irritants like parabens will help to soothe sensitive skin while wearing an SPF daily can help protect your skin from any discomfort caused by sunlight.



The volume of blood in our body can almost double when pregnant, causing that glow to turn rosy. This can have an impact on the blood vessels on our face, making the skin appear red and even trigger conditions like rosacea to become worse.

Look for soothing products with cooling and hydrating ingredients like aloe-vera or cucumber, or specific 'anti-redness' skincare ranges.


Dry skin

Because the body prioritises the baby over the mother when it comes to nutrients and hydration, some women can experience drier-than-normal skin when pregnant.

In this instance, it is recommended that not only making sure you are drinking the recommended 2 litres of water a day, but also eating high-water content fruit and vegetables, as well as healthy fats found in nuts and avocado.  This list from Bupa has a range of hydrating fruit and vegetables.

Using products that are oil-based or contain hyaluronic acid can help keep the skin hydrated.


Skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

There are some ingredients that we may not have mentioned but are widely advised to avoid when pregnant. We list below.



Found in hair colour – particularly home hair colour. When visiting a salon, make sure that they are using products free from ammonia.


Certain essential oils 

Basil, chamomile blue, cypress, jasmine, juniper berry and rosemary


Vitamin A/retinol

Often used in skincare. Vitamin A has been linked to congenital disabilities and can make the skin more prone to sun damage or pigmentation.



In nail varnish and perfume, research is being carried out to understand links to congenital disabilities.


Dihydroxyacetone (DHA)

A chemical found in spray tans, there are concerns about the risk of inhalation.


We hope this has provided you with some useful tips and guidance when it comes to pregnancy skincare. If either there was a time to start practising self-care and indulging in the products you need, it’s during those amazing months of pregnancy. If you have any ranges or products throughout pregnancy that you adored, please share with us on your social channels!


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