November 29, 2013

Skincare Q&A: Pregnancy-Related Acne Issues

As an online esthetician, I'm always answering questions about adult acneingrown hair problems, rosacea, or general skin sensitivities. So! I thought that I would feature a skincare Q&A on my blog to address some of these issues.

There are some questions that are sent to me via email or through ChickRx, a site where anyone can ask questions that relate to various lifestyle topics and experts (like myself) can offer valuable advice or suggestions. If you have any questions that you would like to ask (or have featured on the blog), please don't hesitate to speak out in the comments below! If you would rather have a question be answered privately, I am always available by email. :)

This week's Skincare Q&A features concerns of pregnancy-related adult acne and beauty issues. 


"I recently found out that I'm pregnant. Do I need to worry about what's in my skincare and beauty products? Should I switch to all-natural? What about the products that contain Salicylic Acid or BPO?"

Many natural ingredients are harmful to the skin and baby, and many ingredients with long names or that come from a lab are great for sensitivity, acne, and baby.

We have to be sure how we define "chemical" and "natural". Not every chemical is bad, and not every natural ingredient is good. Many ingredients that sound "chemical" are actually naturally derived but have a chemical-sounding name to make the formula look more unique or scientific.

There are some natural ingredients that are just disastrous for breakout-prone or adult acne skin, like cocoa butter, avocado oil, and coconut oil. There is also a much greater chance of sensitivity reactions with natural products. While it's understandable to not want to put potentially harmfully things on your skin, there is a lot of hype and misinformation designed to scare people into buying one product line over another.

I have recommended to many clients that they check with their OB about use of Salicylic Acid. More and more doctors are actually approving it these days. The Salicylic Acid gel that I carry is not the form classified as an OTC drug, so it's safer and more gentle and effective than any other product you would use. You'll probably be told to not exceed 1% or 2% -- this is when the Salicylic Acid in question is the kind that is classified as an over-the-counter drug. 

Benzoyl Peroxide (BPO) has been found to be completely safe for pregnancy. For persistent acne BPO is fantastic because it flushes pores out and cuts oil at the same time that it kills bacteria.  Pregnancy acne can be incredibly stubborn and inflamed.  It's important to keep ahead of it by keeping the pores exfoliated while calming them down at every opportunity.  

In terms of facials and procedures, nothing electric is ok (except for a rotary exfoliating brush), and the jury is still out on strong peels that don't contain Salicylic Acid, like Glycolic Acid.  Check with your OB.


"I'm breaking out on my chin after having a baby. What can I do?"

A little trick has been played on us women... The pores on the sides of the chin, like the sides of the nose and between the brows, are slightly smaller than the pores on the rest of the face due to facial contours, but the oil glands are a little bit bigger because those areas are part of the T-zone. 

During the 3 months or so after birth, when testosterone levels are a little higher, oil production increases and can rush into these tighter pores. When a skincare routine at home causes dehydration or clogging, the skin can't get rid of the excess oil and blackheads develop when this oil mixes with dead skin cells.  This stuck-in oil can irritate the linings of pores creating painful blemishes.  These blemishes don't always involve bacteria, but can stay around for a long time.

So, what to do? These pores need to be calmed down and flushed out. The best way to do this is to follow a skincare protocol every night until your skin clears.

1. Gently rub the area with an ice cube in circular motions for about 2-3 minutes. Next, dry the skin off very gently and apply either Salicylic Acid or BPO -- whichever is approved by your OB. Then, apply a clay mask on the areas of breakouts in a liberal amount and leave on for 15 minutes. Rinse well and follow with toner and hydrator. 

Once your skin clears, you can follow a regular non-clogging, hydrating, and anti-inflammatory skincare regimen. However, nothing will be solved if your skincare routine is either pore-clogging or dehydrating.

By the way, if your breakouts are concentrated on one side of your chin more than the other, take note of whether you're leaning your chin on your baby's head.  Conditioner can have pore clogging ingredients.  Baby lotions are notorious for containing very pore clogging ingredients!  Be careful of where your baby's skin touches your face.  Better yet, avoid lotions for your baby altogether - if baby's skin is dry, it might be the water and the wash.  Use a water filter for sink or tub, and use a wash for extra sensitive skin in order to avoid harsh detergents (even the no tears washes can be drying).


"Since I had my daughter 2 years ago, my skin is oily and I always have little bumps on my forehead. What can I do to clear my skin up?"

When tiny breakouts are concentrated on the forehead like that, we have to look at your haircare, especially if you have bangs, how you wipe about sweat while you work out, and the skincare products you're using that might be irritating or getting pushed into your pores whenever you wipe with your hand or a towel.  Any or all of these can be the problem.

Twice a day, gently rub ice all over the broken out areas for about 2-3 minutes. Then, 3 nights a week, wash your face with a skin safe cleanser and apply clay mask in a liberal amount. Leave the mask on for 10 minutes, rinse, apply toner, and then only apply your nighttime lotion if you feel dry after 20 minutes. As long as you're using an alcohol-free toner, you can let your own oil moisturize your skin.


"Can using self-tanning lotion hurt an unborn child?"

Always remember that sometimes a "chemical" can come from natural sources, and sometimes a chemical that doesn't come from natural sources can be totally harmless. Dihydroxyacetone (or DHA), which is the chemical involved in sunless tanning, is derived from natural sources such as sugar beet. It was originally intended to be formulated as an artificial sweetener, but when spittle ended up dyeing the formulator's arm as she was eating it, lightbulbs went off above her head! 

DHA basically dyes your dead skin cells, which is why you get a much more even color application after exfoliating.  It had to be perfected over a few decades because it originally turned the skin an ugly orange shade, but the formulators found a way to purify it in such a way that it now turns the skin a nice shade of brown. Either way, it's so safe that you can actually spray it into your mouth and remain completely unharmed. So, I say: spray tan away! You and your baby will be absolutely fine.

Know a late 20-something, 30-something or 40-something who is pregnant and having skin troubles ?  Please share this post!