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Skin Care in Pregnancy

Taking care of your skin during pregnancy is not something many expecting women think of, until confronted with newfound skin concerns that have never surfaced before.

The hormonal changes that occur in the body may trigger several skin concerns:

• Pigmentation (melasma/chloasma)

• Acne or ‘backne’ (acne of the back & shoulders)

• Peri oral dermatitis

• Severe dryness

• Stretch marks (stria) or linea nigra

• Unwanted hair growth

For some, the hormonal fluctuations may improve the skin for the better, giving rise to a natural radiance called the ‘glow’. This can be related to an increased blood flow to the skin resulting in a healthy, dewy appearance, which is also caused by the fluctuations of pregnancy hormones.

As aestheticians, we see the whole spectrum of what can happen to the skin when our female clients fall pregnant. Treatment is tricky, because clinical trials cannot be conducted on women while pregnant, and one must rely on what has been proven mild and safe to use during pregnancy.


Women, who have suffered little from acne before, may find an increase in acne breakouts during pregnancy, again due to the hormonal changes. Acne breakouts might also flare up on the chest, shoulders or back. Also referred to as ‘back-ne’.

If left untreated these may lead to scarring and to post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (a very stubborn form of pigment left on the skin after an acne breakout has healed).

This can especially happen in women with darker skin tones.

When acne breakouts occur, it is a good idea to avoid harsh toners containing any form of alcohol, as well as granular exfoliators, as these can irritate and strip the skin even more.

Ingredients that are generally considered safe include:

Salicylic Acid 1%-2%, found in cleansers. More strongly formulated products containing Salicylic Acid should be avoided.

Niacinamide (Vit B 3) has anti-inflammatory properties

AzelaicAcidworks to reduce blackheads & whiteheads

The ZO Exfoliating Cleanser gently cleanses & exfoliates the skin without stripping the natural barrier, containing both Salicylic Acid & Niacinamide. Alternatively, the LaMelle Clarity Cleanse is also indicated for oily and congested skins and contains a combination of botanical extracts and hydrating ingredients.

The Clarity Corrective AM is a lightweight moisturiser that is formulated to improve the health and appearance of problematic skin.

A fantastic treatment to have while pregnant, is LED light therapy, especially the red light wavelength setting. LED light therapy assists with the healing of the skin and works to reduce inflammation in the skin. It is non-invasive, relaxing and can be done weekly.


The true cause of melasma has not yet been established. It is assumed that the fluctuation and composition of the body’s hormones influence the pigment producing cells, also called melanocytes.

Darker skin types are more prone to hyperpigmentation during pregnancy, because they naturally have more active melanocytes. In this case preventing further stimulation of these pigment producing cells is very important. Wearing a high factor, broad spectrum sunscreen is the most important thing to do and will help prevent any hyperpigmentation from darkening.

Our favorite sunscreens to recommend include: ZO Smart Tone SPF50, MelaBock SPF50+ or the Heliocare Water Gel SPF50.

Other Ingredients that can assist in controlling pigmentation during pregnancy include:

Niacinamide (Vit B3), which helps build cells in the skin while also protecting them from environmental stresses, such as sunlight, pollution, and toxins

Kojic Acid (not higher than 1% formulation)is used to lighten visible sun damage, age spots or scars

The ZO Brightalive Non-Retinol Skin Brightener actively works against treating pigmentation while being completely safe to use while pregnant or breastfeeding.

The Lamelle Brighter Day is a medium light cream that assists in improving uneven skin tone.

There is another pigmentary skin occurrence that happens in the later stages of pregnancy called Linea Nigra or the pregnancy line. It is a brownish pigmented line that runs vertically across the midline of the abdomen. Linea nigra typically does not require any treatment and disappears within a few months after delivery.

Stretch Marks (Striae) & C-Section Scarring

Stretch marks (striae) can appear as pink, red, tan or even purple streaks on the abdomen, breasts, hips, buttocks or other places on the body. They are common in almost 90% of pregnant women, especially during the last trimester.

Stretch marks are tears in the supporting layers of the skin. They are caused by a combination of factors:

- Genetic predisposition

- Softening of the connective tissue (a normal occurrence the body undergoes in preparation for delivery)

- Rapid pregnancy weight gain

- Severity depends on genetics and degree of stress on the skin

Prevention includes gaining weight steadily over the course of the pregnancy as indicated by your doctor, dry skin brushing and an application of a supportive body cream containing ingredients that support the skin’s structural integrity.

Delta Shaping Lotion is designed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks and uneven skin tone. It is safe to use in pregnancy, contains 9 unique active ingredients including Bukuchiol, a natural alternative to Retinol. it can be applied twice daily to affected areas.

If a delivery was done by C-section, 6 weeks post delivery, the DELTA Scar Phase M is ideal to promote healthy tissue remodeling while ensuring correct collagen deposition, reducing the chance of developing a hypertrophic scar (thick, raised scar).


• ANY Topical Retinoids incl: Retinols, Tretnoin, Adapalene

• Hydroquinone HQ


In general women who are pregnant should avoid having strong chemical peels, micro needling or laser treatments done, because the skin can respond in unexpected ways.

If you are experiencing new found skin concerns while pregnant, the best recommended course of action is to talk to your aesthetician, who will guide you through these 9 months using gentle treatments and safe ingredients.

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