In between addressing the physical strains of pregnancy and anticipating the needs of your soon-to-be-born baby, there’s probably hardly any room in your mind for taking care of your skin. But, if you’re not careful, some of the skin changes you’ll go through while you’re expecting—stretch marks, hyperpigmentation, and blemish marks—may actually persist long after you give birth. Worse, some of your current skin care ingredients may actually be harmful for the baby. To avoid putting both your skin health and your baby in danger, here are the top 3 skin care products you need to stock up on as soon as you find out you’re pregnant.
- A Rich Moisturizer - One of the most common side effects of pregnancy is stretch marks, but most pregnant women don’t do something about this until they see the telltale signs. Usually by then, it’s a lot harder to treat. So to make sure you don’t get them in the first place, start slathering your skin with thick moisturizers even before your baby bump shows. Ideally, look for products rich in ingredients like vitamin E, shea and cocoa butters. "Hydration is key,” says dermatologist Dr. Gary Goldfaden. “Products containing vitamin E and collagen-elastin are best.” For stubborn marks that won’t disappear after child birth, dermatologist Dr. Marina Peredo offers VBeam Laser Treatment, a pulsed dye laser that safely destroys skin impurities without furthering damage.
- A Broad-Spectrum Sunscreen - Another common skin issue you need to watch out for is melasma or “the mask of pregnancy,” a skin condition caused by the overproduction of a melanocyte-stimulating hormone, and is characterized by dark splotches on the forehead, upper lip and cheeks. Dr. Goldfaden and Dr. Peredo both recommend staying out of the sun, but if that’s not an option, wear a broad-spectrum sunscreen daily and limit sun exposure during the peak times of the day. “Although these effects usually aren’t permanent, carry a sunscreen of at least 30 SPF with you and reapply throughout the day for optimal protection,” says Dr. Peredo.
- A Lactic Acid-Based Exfoliant - Due to fluctuating estrogen levels, some women will also develop acne on the face, neck, chest and back during the first three months of pregnancy. But beware, most acne medications, chemical exfoliants and peels may be unsafe to use during pregnancy. “Most acne medications like Retin-A and benzoyl peroxide are unsafe to use during pregnancy, so alternative options have to be used,” notes Dr. Peredo. Instead, she suggests looking for alternatives that contain milder ingredients like sulfur or lactic acid, as these are best for sensitive skin.