Pregnancy-friendly products I swear by
Being pregnant is special. You’re growing a tiny little human miracle within you, feeling them grow every week and feeling their little movements within you.
But then they take away camembert, then they take away wine, coffee….
But worse still? Half of your beauty regimen.
From swollen feet to stretch marks, being pregnant takes a huge toll on the body. Even the queen of fabulous maternity style, Beyoncé, can’t fight the effects of having a baby. And now that Meghan Markle has announced that she’ll be giving birth next spring, the royal family may need to add some baby-safe pamper products as well.
The hormonal payload of pregnancy can bring a vigorous strain of adult acne (face and body, delightful), increased itchiness or sensitivity and facial pigmentation.
But hey, you’ve guessed it... A lot of beauty products and treatments aren't safe for pregnant or breastfeeding women.
Among the obvious list of no-no’s:
- neurotoxins like Botox (which can cause paralysis in babies)
- any form of retinol or vitamin A (which can cause foetal deformities in high doses)
- and hydroquinone (a skin lightener used for hyperpigmentation).
Everything changes and you can’t bring out the big guns.
Not even the high-street potions are ‘safe’ anymore.
Two major ingredients to avoid: salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide—which are in basically every acne-fighting product.
So, when it finally dawned on me that this pregnancy was actually happening, it meant that my current skincare routine was well and truly out of the window. It meant that I needed to re-evaluate …everything.
My morning routine
I’ve started each day throughout my pregnancy with a gentle micellar water cleanser. It gives a lovely feeling of cleanliness ready to apply my products for the day.
After this I’ve been applying a vitamin C serum. I’ve gained quite a lot of hyperpigmentation throughout my pregnancy (a HUGE shame given how flawless I’d got my skin to be with the help of ZO Skincare prior to the baby bump). Using vitamin C serum is not only safe but it means that I can avoid hydroquinone and rest easy that the baby is happy and healthy.
After that, to balance out the lack of sleep and the sudden dryness in my skin, I use a hyaluronic acid serum for hydration and plumpness. I’ve also been using this on my hands along with a moisturiser as my hands have felt so dry recently.
Last step is SPF. Vital. Never leave the house without it if you want to age gracefully. And I mean never. Even on the greyest of days for a trip out to a darkened cinema.
My evening routine
I double-cleanse at night to ensure that I remove all of the pollutants from the day, the oil and the makeup. That’s not necessarily to avoid harming the baby, that’s to avoid harming my skin and clogging pores to result in one breakout that I can avoid.
I use a natural, oil free, mallow extract cleanser to take off my eye makeup without dragging the skin and then I’ve just been using a gentle foaming cleanser from Clarins to gently wash my face.
Most of my go-to night products have been off the table from the moment that I saw the two lines on my pregnancy test (including all retinol creams as well as one of my favourite toners, Biologique P50, which has salicylic acid).
Instead, I’ve been finishing with a thicker hydrator, or the Barrier Restore Serum and Micro Nutrient Hydro Mask from natural beauty line Marie Veronique. They're safe and clean making them a great alternative to keep my skin hydrated throughout the night.
The biggest treat that I’ve found throughout the pregnancy is sheet masks. Not necessarily because of the benefit to my skin but because they make me slow down a little and sit down.
Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t stop, as much as everyone has firmly told me to again and again throughout the pregnancy, and I think that the sheet masks are a perfect opportunity for you to remember to take five minutes to yourself, put on a television programme and unwind – that’s where the real benefit to the skin comes too.
For my body I’ve absolutely lived in Bio-Oil so far. And while I know that it can’t actually permeate anything below the top layer of the dermis to remove any existing marks, I do believe that I’ve felt a difference when it comes to strengthening the skin to prevent stretch marks.
Aside from that, I’ve kept everything else to a minimum – largely because I don’t have the energy/can’t really reach to use any exfoliating scrubs and such in an evening. Sigh.
While there’s no evidence that getting your hair dyed or using high-street shampoos can have a negative impact on you and your baby, I’ve switched mine out to use Rahua Shampoo and Condition. Rahua’s quinoa-enriched conditioner contains 100% natural ingredients which mean that no potential harmful dodgy chemicals are being absorbed through your scalp.
I’ve actually been really lucky and not had any signs of sore, swollen feet (yet). But what I have found is that I’m struggling slightly to reach them now!
After a shower I’ve been applying Palmer’s cocoa butter to my feet and then popping my socks on while reading my book to help it all to soak in.
Nail varnish is fine to use while you’re pregnant but if you get your nails done in a salon, make sure it's a well-ventilated one (the fumes aren't great for you now — not just because of safety issues but because they can make you feel queasy).
As for acrylics, there's no proof that the chemicals are harmful to you or your fetus, but to be absolutely safe, you might opt to forgo those tips until the baby comes like I have. If your hormones didn't get the memo and you find that your nails have become weak or brittle, try a clear nail hardener and reapply often (plus make sure you're getting enough calcium).
I’ve also found that I need to moisturise a lot more at the moment. That may be the cooler weather too so I’m just applying a gentle moisturiser throughout the day.
While it felt like I was having to think of the lesser alternative at first, I’ve actually enjoyed finding new alternatives for my beauty regime.
What would I unreservedly buy again, either for myself or as a gift?
The Elemis Japanese Camellia Oil, £37 (I’ve already picked up another bottle in Duty Free). The Bloom & Blossom sprays (everyone should carry a mini foot spray in her handbag).
The De Mamiel pregnancy facial oil, though possibly in one of their seasonal varieties next, just to see what that’s like. Origins A Perfect World Eye Cream, £32, for helping me look and feel more awake on less coffee.
And Pai’s Avocado and Jajoba Hydrating Day Cream, £36, for a gentler morning.
I’m sure I’ll be back on the retinols as soon as it’s safe — but with a few new additions. And a new baby, too. Crikey.