Modern lore says she who is with child radiates with a glowing complexion and lustrous hair. But, in reality, that rosy look isn't at all de rigueur. “You’re told you’re going to be this glowing, beautiful pregnant lady, and that is often not the case,” says Heather Rogers, MD, a Seattle-based dermatologist. In fact, many pregnant women suffer from worsening acne, intensified dark spots, and other not-so-awesome skin issues. And, even more experience dilated blood vessels and increased blood flow to the skin, which results in a flushed look and sensitivity.
When you pair these shifts with the trend for consumers to go more “natural” when it comes to beauty products, you create a perfect storm, in which expecting women can develop anxiety about using anything they may perceive as containing too many chemicals.
And, let’s face it, there's enough stress among pregnant women as it is. "At least in my friend group, pregnancy doesn’t always come easily," says Dr. Rogers. "People are working hard to achieve this goal. When they do become pregnant, they want nothing to go wrong, and that leads to a lot of stress on the mother."
This uneasiness often stems from reading every study out there. Yes, widely-publicized research, released earlier this year, suggests toxins in everyday items, including cosmetics, could damage the brains of fetuses — possibly contributing to lower IQs, ADHD, and autism spectrum disorder. But, says Dr. Rogers, this doesn’t mean you should altogether forsake glycolic and salicylic acids, benzoyl peroxide, or even retinol — you just have to know how and when to use them. And, if you're pregnant, you should be gentler with your skin, she says: “As a general rule, you want to use less abrasive, less medicated products.”
To get the real scoop on skin care for two, we talked to Dr. Rogers and Dr. Jenny Murase — a Palo Alto-based dermatologist whose specialties include pregnancy and lactation — about how to treat different skin conditions while you’re expecting.