After Years of Perfecting My Active Skincare Routine, Here’s How I’m Tackling Pregnancy-Safe Skincare

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As a self-confessed beauty and skincare junkie, I have spent a good portion of my life scouring K-Beauty Reddit feeds, engaging in in-depth conversations with MECCA employees, practising Gua Sha and slathering my face with the latest oils, serums and masks on the market.

As far as hobbies go, this one has brought me endless bliss and if I could put on my LinkedIn profile ‘professional self-care enthusiast’ I would (wait — can I do that? I should do that). So, when I found out last year I had fallen pregnant with my first child, I was beyond elated. But as any new expectant mum will know, as soon as the excitement settles you have to start preparing for some big changes in your life — among them: completely overhauling your skincare routine

After years of perfecting my daily/weekly/fortnightly regime through trial and error (and some truly horrific skin aversions), I felt bereft over the fact that most of the products I used, which contained active ingredients deemed not safe for pregnant people to use, would have to be thrown out or cast to the side for the next nine or so months.

Processing this information was, in a way, a journey through grief. My weekly Sunday three-mask ritual — gone! My gentle-yet-deep-cleansing salicylic acid exfoliator — gone! My beloved serums that know exactly how to bring my dull skin back to life — gone, gone GONE! 

So here’s how I moved through the five stages of grief:

1. Denial

At first, I thought “surely I can use my skincare products, it will be fine!”. But after going down the path of denial (and jumping on Google) I quickly realised that, no, I probably shouldn’t risk it — or could I? Dr Jan Knight, a medical doctor specialising in skin, says that it’s best to chat to the experts rather than seeking out advice from the internet.

“There is a lot of fear and uncertainty about what is safe to use,” she said. “It is best to have a conversation with your GP or Obstetrician about what you are using (be it hair dyes, AHA/ BHA washes, Benzoyl Peroxide face wash) and make an informed decision that you feel comfortable with.”

2. Anger

If I told you how much money I have spent gathering my perfect lineup of skincare products that get my skin looking plump and nourished, well, I might have to kill you. For legal reasons, that’s obviously a joke, but when I tell you I felt RAGE casting my pricey holy grail products to the back of the cabinet…. well, look it wasn’t pretty. I may or may not have stress eaten two (packets) of Tim Tams.

But as Dr Knight explains, overhauling your skincare products during pregnancy doesn’t necessarily have to be a costly exercise. In fact, some of her most recommended products can be found at your local pharmacy for a fraction of the price you may have been paying for top-tier serums and creams.

“Azclear and La Roche Posay have great lines that are fragrance-free and won’t cause irritation to the skin whilst having all the right ingredients. CeraVe also has a great line of moisturisers with no nasties and are even safe to use on your baby.”

3. Bargaining

Ok, ok so at this point I’m starting to get the gist. Switching up my skincare routine is a tough pill to swallow but a necessary one to ensure the safety of me and my baby. But I’m also starting to think about the what if’s — what if I drank more water before I fell pregnant, or what if I had more leafy greens, then maybe my skin would be better prepared to withstand the lack of expensive skincare products on my skin.

Of course, reality sets in when Dr Knight reminds me that the best thing we can do for our skin during pregnancy is, “eat a balanced diet, try and maintain some exercise. Inner health will be reflected in your skin.”

4. Depression

As I made my way through the end of the first trimester, I experienced some pretty nasty breakouts that can sometimes flare up thanks to the influx of hormones coursing through the body during pregnancy. Normally during a breakout, I call on my trusty spot treatments, but now, I couldn’t use them. With all of the strange changes happening to my body, contesting with flaring skin honestly made me feel quite depressed and was the last thing I wanted to worry about.

However, as Dr Knight explains, if you’re going through any changes to your skin, your GP or obstetrician can help advise on the best course of action on how to treat concerns like acne.

“Depending on the stage of pregnancy you are in, and after a conversation about ‘risk profile’ of medications, they may prescribe a course of antibiotics (for their anti-inflammatory properties) or topical treatments including Benzoyl Peroxide or Glycolic Acid wash.”

5. Acceptance

Like many other areas of my life, managing skincare throughout pregnancy has been one full of lessons. I think the biggest realisation has been that my life is going to change, serums and all. And you know what? That’s totally ok! And part of this beautiful journey! As I creep ever closer to meeting my baby I have accepted that maybe the excessive skincare regime I once adhered to with military precision might not be part of my future.

In fact, Dr Knight suggests using this time during pregnancy to make some changes to your skincare regime to best prepare for the long nights ahead and new (time-poor) schedule.

“Forget the double cleansing and five-step serums. Instead, find a gentle cleanser or micellar water to remove your makeup and sunscreen that you will use every day,” she says. And rather than get bogged down in worrying about lamenting the skincare products I can no longer use, I think I’ll take some sage advice from Dr Knight instead: “Try and enjoy this incredible time in life.”

While I might sound a tad dramatic, I’m happy to say I’ve moved through the five stages of grief that come along with having to overhaul your skincare regime during pregnancy and have come out the other side feeling content with my current, maternity-safe routine.

For any expectant mothers who are going through what I did, I encourage you to speak to your doctor, healthcare provider or regular dermatologist to chat through your skincare routine and get the tick of approval on any beauty products before using them.

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