Are you postpartum and suddenly experiencing a number of new skin concerns? Welcome to the club! And let me tell you – it is totally normal! Your skin is likely experiencing quite a bit of stress (hello newborn!) and hormonal imbalances that take place during and after pregnancy. During pregnancy hormones like progesterone and estrogen are at an all-time high (hello pregnancy glow)! The progesterone dilates the blood vessels causing a boost in circulation, while the estrogen triggers collagen production that builds up a stronger skin barrier.
The aftermath of giving birth can be a roller-coaster ride for your skin. Many women will notice a more pronounced under-eye circle, melasma, discoloration, dullness, and skin that is covered with breakouts- thanks to fluctuating hormones, stress, and sleep deprivation. Another reason could be a neglected skincare routine (too many late-night feedings and poopy diapers!) or our skin just going through a change.
Here are some of the questions that are frequently asked from new moms and women in their 30’s who are experiencing similar changes in their skin.
Is it true women that who are pregnant with boys have better skin rather than women that are pregnant with girls?
When a woman is pregnant with a baby girl, there is some evidence that shows hormone levels are slightly higher than those expecting a baby boy. However, as pregnancy progress, those hormones steadily rise regardless of the gender of the baby.
I wanted to make this question more fun so I decided to take a poll with expectant mothers as well as those who were pregnant with a boy and a girl- including myself. I can attest to this myth being true, and so do a handful of other mothers. Many of them agree that during their pregnancy with a boy they had the ethereal pregnancy glow and their experience was easier. During their pregnancy with a girl, they experienced a host of complications as well as conditions with their skin they didn’t have before- discoloration, dull and congested skin.
So in my opinion- yes, this is true!
Will my skin ever go back to normal?
Let’s start with the good news. The not-so-pretty changes you see in your skin post-pregnancy are mostly temporary. Will it ever go back to normal- that’s not an easy question to answer. Our skin goes through so much during our lifetime and changes all the time. One minute it’s oily, the next it’s dry. The best thing you can do is keep it healthy. Having a solid skincare routine and using products that have ingredients that are beneficial for the skin is definitely the first step. The second step would be seeing a Licensed Esthetician at least once or twice a month will definitely make your skin look and feel its best. If your skin doesn’t improve, then the next step would definitely go see a Dermatologist.
So, let’s talk about skincare. It’s definitely confusing, to say the least- there are so many products out there making magical claims and is it even true? My suggestion is to keep your skincare simple and effective. Make sure to also choose products that are gentle, nourishing and baby-safe that will help de-stress and strengthen your skin.
I like to follow these 3 easy steps:
If you’re breastfeeding, I recommend your postpartum skincare routine follow the same guidelines as it was during pregnancy because some of the ingredients can be absorbed through the skin. It can then make it through your milk then to the baby.
Now is a great time to introduce gentle Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHA’s) like glycolic acid or lactic acid to help exfoliate your skin without irritation and is safe to use while breastfeeding. It will help slough away dead skin, brighten your complexion and help smooth fine lines and wrinkles. Antioxidants are also great- they help protect the skin from environmental stressors, free radicals, and also to lock in hydration throughout the day. It also helps improve the texture and appearance of the skin.
After you finish breastfeeding your little one, you can start using retinol. Retinol helps stimulate collagen production and regulate skin cell turnover resulting in radiant and younger-looking skin. I think retinol is a definite must-have in everyone’s skincare routine!
Here’s a simple but effective skincare routine you should try!
Cleanse gentle, non-stripping formula that won’t leave your skin feeling tight and dry. I love using a milky or slightly foaming cleanser in the morning.
Treat: I would use a Vitamin C that will help brighten your skin or an antioxidant serum that will protect your skin from environmental stressors, free radicals, and keep your skin hydrated all day long.
Protect: A broad-spectrum sunscreen of at least 30 is ideal! I strongly believe that using an SPF daily is the most important thing you can do for your skin to keep it looking young and radiant!
Cleanse: I love a good double cleanse! I love using a cleansing balm or oil to gently melt away makeup and sebum, then follow up with a water-based cleanser to wash it all away.
Treat: I would suggest using moisturizing treatments like hyaluronic acid and ceramides to restore the skin. I would use lighteners and brighteners to help with hyper-pigmentation and dark spots. If you’re done with breastfeeding, I would incorporate retinol slowly. Once a week the first week, twice a week the next, then so on once your skin builds a tolerance to it and doesn’t show any adverse reactions.
Protect: This step is all about your luxurious creams full of hydration and nourishment that will keep working while you sleep.
Once or twice a week at night, you can incorporate a chemical exfoliant. If you feel your skin is dry, dull, and want to help smooth fine lines and wrinkles, you can use glycolic acid exfoliant (alpha hydroxy acid). If you feel your skin is congested, oily, and have a few blemishes, you can use a salicylic acid exfoliant (beta hydroxy acids).
I love using Naturopathica’s Pumpkin Purifying Enzyme Peel once or twice a week. It has a 3 % lactic acid concentration that exfoliates the skin reveals a clearer and brighter complexion. It also has pumpkin puree which is a powerful antioxidant and can also act as a mild retinoic acid substitute (less irritation). This peel is great when you have acne/congested skin. This peel also smells amazing! It smells like a slice of pumpkin pie!
What should women do about dark spots? Is there a specific type of facial or treatment that will help?
During pregnancy and postpartum our skin goes through a lot of changes. The most common ones that many women experiences are hyperpigmentation and dryness.
Pregnancy can sometimes cause a skin condition called melasma, often also referred to as “mask of pregnancy.” It’s a pigmentation disorder that causes brown or gray patches on the face that can appear on the forehead, bridge of the nose, and cheeks. It’s not really clear what causes melasma, but estrogen and progesterone sensitivity are associated with the condition. This means birth control, pregnancy and hormone therapy can somehow trigger it as well as sun exposure because the ultraviolet rays affect the melanocytes (cells that control pigment in our skin).
Adding a vitamin c serum to your skincare routine may help because it is an antioxidant that protects your skin against environmental stressors as well as lightening any dark spots or patches.
My favorite is Timeless 20% Vitamin C and E Ferulic Acid Serum. It has a 20% concentration of L-ascorbic acid which is a highly effective skin antioxidant because it penetrates deeper into the skin. It corrects hyper-pigmentation which is great for dull, discolored, and stressed-out skin. It also brightens and evens out skin tone as well as build collagen that reveals a more youthful and radiant skin.
Another great ingredient that can help with this is niacinamide. My favorite one to use during the day is Bliss Glow and Hydrate Skin Serum It’s a multi-action power serum that has special grade niacinamide (B3), hyaluronic acid, and vitamin E. I love using niacinamide because it helps diminish pores and blemishes and also helps improves dullness for a radiant complexion. What more can I ask for?
If topical treatments doesn’t help, I would recommend doing chemical peels. Chemical peels are applied by skin therapists, estheticians, or medical practitioners who use highly-concentrated exfoliants. After a chemical peel, you should experience some skin flaking, peeling or downtime, depending on the strength of the peel. To minimize downtime and deliver the best results, a series of peels are usually performed over a six- to 12-week period, followed by maintenance twice a year. The results are amazing!
Microneedling is also a great way to help with dark spots and discoloration. What is micro-needling? It is a procedure that uses a bunch of tiny needles to puncture the first layer of skin. This process works to rejuvenate your skin by boosting collagen production and helps reduce scars and hyper-pigmentation which in turn reduces the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines and elevates the overall texture of your skin.
Pro Tip: I would not recommend chemical peels or microneedling if you are still breastfeeding.
My skin feels dry and dehydrated even if I drink water. What can I do?
As we age our skin becomes drier because of less oil production, a decrease in cell renewal, and sun damage. The skin also doesn’t produce as much natural moisturizing factors as it used to. The best thing you can is to moisturize, moisturize, moisturize! Hyaluronic acid will also be a great addition to your skincare routine to make sure you lock in that moisture avoiding any trans-epidermal water loss(TEWL). This is when water passes from the dermis through the epidermis and evaporates from the skin’s surface causing a variety of skin conditions.
Naturopathica’s Calendula Essential Hydrating Cream is definitely magic in a jar! I use this product when my skin feels parched and dry and it instantly adds the hydration my skin desperately needs. It contains calendula extracts which is an anti-inflammatory and also helps accelerate cell repair as well as skin rejuvenation.
Image’s Ageless Total Pure Hyaluronic Acid Filler is my holy grail! I can’t live without it and trust me- you can’t either! This is a physician – formulated product that delivers an instant boost of hydration and also fills in fine lines and wrinkles without an injection! This is also known as botox in a bottle! Pretty amazing stuff!
As we get older I know we should be incorporating new products in our skincare routine. What should a 30-year-old, 40-year-old, 50-year-old add to their routine?
Having a solid skincare routine and sticking to it is a good place to start- cleanse, treat, and protect is my foundation to a solid skincare routine.
In your 30’s make sure you are using sunscreen daily (no excuses), start using eye cream (if you haven’t already), and an encapsulated retinol.
Pro Tip: Do not use retinol if you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant or breastfeeding.5th pic:
|A retinol that I love is Press Restart Gentle Retinol Serum from Versed. It has encapsulated retinol which means it is housed in a carrier system that releases over time making it more gentle on the skin. It also has Bakuchiol which is a plant-based alternative to retinol that makes it more gentle.|
|My holy grail sunscreen that I have used for years and have purchased over and over again is Image Skincare’s Prevention+ daily matte moisturizer SPF 32. I love the microsponge technology that absorbs surface oils and shine and this sunscreen is a broad-spectrum which means it protects our skin from both UVA and UVB rays. They also have a tinted version and a hydration version if you have dry skin.Seeing a Licensed Esthetician once or twice a month will also be beneficial and a great start to help maintain and prevent any future conditions with your skin. Estheticians can thoroughly analyze your skin, create a customized skincare plan for your specific skin type, and are trained to perform treatments such as chemical peels, microdermabrasion, LED light therapy, microcurrent, and the list goes on!In your 40, 50’s and so forth I would recommend using higher percentage retinol, thicker creams that will keep your skin moisturized, and if you feel your skin needs a little rejuvenation then going to a dermatologist for botox and fillers could be an option. This is a very personal choice and there is no right or wrong age to start.Best advice you can give someone about their skin and/or skincare routine?Always listen to your skin and NEVER skip sunscreen! Our skin is the biggest organ in our body and provides a form of protection. We need to keep healthy so it can do its job. The first step is sticking to a skincare routine that works for your skintype and use active ingredients that will target your skin concerns. Sun damage is the first sign of aging and is not reversible, but definitely preventable. The #1 prevention of several skin conditions is to apply sunscreen, every day (no excuses)!|