The composition of any product you apply to your skin or hair is always important. When is the time to re-examine your skin care products? If possible, when you start “trying”, even before you find out that you are actually pregnant. It is very important to examine carefully what you put in your body and what you apply to your body when you are pregnant. Because lactation continues the connection between your body and the body of your child, you will still have to remember to check the ingredients of your cosmetics after birth.
First recommendation: if you are in doubt, ask your doctor: show him/her the ingredient list of the product you are uncertain about.
Second: oral retinoids like tretinoin (RetinA) are contra-indicated during pregnancy. Why? Because their mechanism of action involves binding to the nuclear membrane and telling your genome and the genome of your child which genes to express. The last thing you want is to interfere with the development of your child. Retinoids are present in our bodies naturally and the application of topical retinoids like retinyl acetate is unlikely to affect the existent level of retinoids in your body, but ask your doctor before using them. Benzoyl peroxide ages the skin, so try to avoid it. Salicylic acid at the concentrations used in SAS salicylic wash should be fine, especially because it is rinsed off (but you may prefer to avoid the alpha/beta exfoliator).
My third recommendation may surprise you: avoid products advertised as “natural”. The first instinct of a would-be-mother is to be protective of the child, and advertising uses this instinct to make us choose products that may not be the best. So called natural products tend to contain some natural fragrances that can be strongly allergenic, like Balsam of Peru. Other natural products that can be problematic are those containing eugenol, geraniol, amyl cinnamal, etc. Please note that these are naturally existing fragrances so buying “natural” will not help you avoid them.
How about preservatives? Preservatives are a must in any product that will be bought at a store or online and that contains water, because preservative-free preparations will allow growth of bacteria and mold and some of them will surely be dangerous. If you see a natural product that says “preservative free” and contains water, don’t touch it. It either contains unlisted preservatives or it will grow microbes. Either way, it is a bad idea.
Acne and rosacea are skin problems that can worsen during pregnancy, so finding a good skin care routine that you feel happy with is important.
What to do about stretch marks? Stretch marks are deep scars that happen when your skin is stretched too fast and beyond its capacity. This capacity depends enormously on your genetics and you cannot change your genes. Stretch marks happen not just during pregnancy but in any situation in which your demands on your skin cannot be met, like during adolescence and rapid weight gain. But you can support your skin during these months. Skin Actives sells ELS, every lipid serum, and these lipids will be welcomed by your skin. Collagen serum can also help. For large areas of the body it may be easier to use rosehip oil, and if you take bath you can add some to the water (don’t slip!).
You may lose hair during pregnancy and lactation. You cannot play here with hormones, these would interfere with the complicated changes in your body, but you can use Skin Actives hair serum. If in doubt, ask your doctor but there should not be any problem with the ingredients in this topical serum. Conversely, avoid any OTC hair product.
During lactation, take care of your nipples. The usual products used for this purpose contain lanolin and lanolin is great for many things. Unfortunately, it can lead to allergic reactions so make sure you use highly purified lanolin, which is almost free of lanolin alcohols.
Schaefer C, Peters P, Miller RKM (2015) Drugs during pregnancy and lactation, 3rd edition. Elsevier,Academic Press, NewYork, 918 pp.
SAS products you can use during pregnancy and lactation, but show the ingredient list to your doctor.
Acne: salicylic wash, T-zone serum, collagen serum
Stretch marks prevention: ELS, collagen serum, rosehip oil.
Hair loss: SAS hair serum.