by Katelyn Skarzynski
So you just spent nearly 10 months growing the most perfect little human, avoiding all of the high risk foods and questionable skincare products, while learning to embrace all of the major bodily changes. Now that your little babe is here, you were probably hoping you’d be the anomaly human whose body just snaps right back, internally and externally. Sadly, that person is a myth that was only invented to make everyone experiencing postpartum woes feel terrible about themselves. They don’t call it the Fourth Trimester for nothing!
Along with everything else, there are a lot of concerns about our skin in the months following pregnancy. We polled moms on their biggest concerns for postpartum skincare and the overwhelming similarities in your responses proved that everyone experiences it (and I just had a baby this summer so I'm with you!). Now, what can we do about it?
Tired, dull skin
One of the most common responses was regarding how dull skin looks after pregnancy. Let’s face it, you’re probably not getting a whole lot of sleep right now, your hormones are running wild, and your skincare routine has most likely taken a backseat to your new priorities. Being a new mom myself I know the time for self-care is limited.
Focus on a few easy steps to make your skincare seem manageable. As you and your baby fall into a more predictable schedule, you’ll be able to work more steps into your routine.
- Cleanse twice daily - stick with a gentle cleanser. Avoid harsh soaps and chemicals as your skin is likely still sensitive
- Never skip your SPF - apply every morning after cleansing (I wear our Peptide SPF 30 daily). This is much needed when you’re heading out on long walks with your baby! If you can reapply after being outdoors then that's a bonus.
- Treat your under-eyes - gently dab on a night cream with your ring finger to load your under-eyes with peptides and vitamins (We have a great one!) that will treat fine lines, puffiness, and elasticity. Then in the AM I reach for our Firming Eye Gel because it helps with puffiness. No one will have any idea you’re only running on 2 hours of sleep!
- Hydrate! - drinking a ton of water was super important during pregnancy and it still is! A thirsty mama is bound to have thirsty-looking skin so try to maintain the same 12 8oz glasses that are recommended during pregnancy.
- Consider using a humidifier in your room - they’re great for your skin and, rumor has it, they help newborns sleep more soundly- bonus!
Dark spots on skin
Those annoying spots that show up on your skin and linger after pregnancy are known as Melasma and are fairly common. They’re caused by an increase in hormone levels and often made worse by exposure to harmful UVA/UVB rays. These spots will often fade on their own, though it may take some time. Wearing a daily SPF is extremely important in helping these spots fade. Continued exposure to the sun will only make them worse. To be extra cautious, toss on a cute hat and sunglasses before leaving the house!
There are creams on the market that your dermatologist can recommend, however, if you feel your skin is still sensitive, the risk may outweigh the reward. Be sure to check with your doctor if you’re nursing or planning on becoming pregnant soon before using any medicinal creams.
Employing a Vitamin C product can assist in brightening as can Azelaic and/or Glycolic Acid.
After pregnancy (and likely during), you may find yourself breaking out like you’re back in high school. This is often caused by a change in progesterone levels which can lead to an increase in sebum production. Too much sebum oil can clog pores and lead to breakouts and blackheads.
For my breastfeeding mamas, keep in mind that your hormone levels can remain high until you wean your baby. This may cause acne to linger until then. These hormone levels will balance themselves out soon enough, but in the meantime, here’s what you can do:
- Cleanse twice daily with a gentle cleanser - sorry to sound like a broken record but this is the best way to make sure oil and dead skin don’t linger around and clog your pores. Our Clarifying Charcoal Cleanser is a great bet if you're breaking out.
- Exfoliate - I know time is of the essence and it may seem like an impossible task, but keeping a face scrub in your shower to rub on once or twice a week will make a huge difference for your skin. Quickly massaging in an exfoliator will remove dead skin cells, old makeup, and excess oils that cause acne. That said, you'll want to avoid breakout areas when using a scrub - you don't want to "break open" any inflamed areas.
- Clay is your friend - it draws out impurities and can also soothe skin so if you've got a clay mask, pull it out! You can use ours as a proper mask or as an overnight spot treatment - it's magic!
- Clean your makeup brushes- This step is often overlooked and very important! The last thing you want to add to your skin right now is more debris that will cause acne. Wash them weekly with a gentle soap and let air dry. Our Soothing Aloe Cleanser is great for this!
If your acne still isn’t clearing up and your patience for it is running thin, you can always discuss topical treatments with your doctor. Many common topical treatments, such as salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, are considered safe to use even when breastfeeding.
Glycolic Acid is a gentle, acne-fighting acid that can also help treat both melasma and blackheads. Snag yourself a mask or peel with this in it and you’ll be amazed by the glowing results (we use it in our Pumpkin Enzyme Peel)! If you’re new to Alpha Hydroxy Acids, start with applying for 5 minutes and build up to 15 over time and always use an SPF afterwards.
Okay, this is big one, and something I’m currently dealing with myself. I had my son almost 4 months ago and my hair is SHEDDING. Like, really shedding. The poor kid is constantly covered in his mom’s hair and I could cry ever time I wash it and look at the drain. So what’s the cause of this dreaded symptom? You guessed it: hormones.
During pregnancy, your estrogen levels are super high which often leads to the best hair you’ve ever had. It feels thicker, shinier, and barely sheds at all. Fast forward to when you have your baby and those estrogen levels mellow out and your body starts making up for lost time by shedding way more at once than you’re used to. It peaks around month 4, but can happen for up to a year after birth.
Here’s a few steps you can take to keep your hair as healthy as possible during this time:
- Limit styling - this is probably an easy one for you because who has the energy to give themselves a blowout right now anyway? Heat on your hair = stress on your hair. Avoid it when possible, but always use a heat protectant when you must.
- Keep hair-ties loose - super tight ponies and buns will add extra pulling at your roots that can cause hair to break off. I know it’s necessary to pull your hair back right now to avoid those grabby little hands (seriously, how are their grips so strong?!) but try to keep your styles loose and choose a gentle accessory, like a satin/silk scrunchy, to hold it back.
- Eat well - like every other part of your body, your hair needs plenty of water and nutrients to flourish. Try adding in plenty of leafy greens, fish, and eggs!
- Supplements - taking a daily vitamin can help fill in the gaps where your diet is lacking. Biotin, prenatal vitamins, and Zinc are common supplements for treating hair loss, but your doctor is always your best resource if you’re unsure. Organic Olivia's Magic Mane and Agent Nateur (holi)mane have rave testimonials when it comes to holistic ingestibles that support hair growth and are on my list to try.
No matter what you’re experiencing after having a baby, it’s important not to forget about yourself. Having a new baby is an all-consuming experience and, while it comes with so many amazing moments, it’s very easy to forget about your own needs.
Your body just grew an entire human. It’s an amazing vessel that’s capable of some seriously impressive stuff. Treat it like the VIP it is and take a few moments every day for YOU. Take a warm shower, eat three meals, work in a quick skincare routine, and, soon enough, you will start recognizing yourself again. Hang in there!
Disclaimer: For informational and educational purposes only. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration and are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease. If you have a health concern, a medical condition, are pregnant or breastfeeding or are taking any medication please consult your healthcare provider.