The early weeks of pregnancy are fragile—and confusing. Here, the answers to your questions.
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Despite the fabled pregnancy glow, hormone and other changes can bring on a host of dermatological downers. To find out which afflict our readers most, we conducted a poll at www.fitpregnancy.com and discovered the top five offenders: breakouts; stretch marks; dryness and itching; under-eye circles and puffiness; and melasma.
Fortunately, every problem on the list is solvable, though for safety’s sake, the more permanent solutions will have to wait until after you give birth. But even if you can’t unleash the full force of the modern beauty arsenal on each problem right away, you can take interim measures, says South Miami dermatologist Flor Mayoral, M.D. Read on for her advice on preventing, masking and ultimately eradicating whatever ails your skin.
5 beauty gripes
... and our safe, easy solutions
Breakouts Certain acne remedies, such as the vitamin-A derivatives Accutane and Retin A, are unsafe during pregnancy; others, such as glycolic and salicylic-acid-spiked sloughers, remain open to debate. In fact, though salicylic acid now appears in pregnancy-specific acne fighters, some medically conservative doctors remain wary of it. Until your own doctor weighs in, stick to simple drying masks such as Ahava Advanced Mud Masque for Oily Skin.
Stretch marks Only your DNA can prevent stretch marks, but a little makeup (try Dermablend Leg and Body Cover Créme) can mask those that do show up. The right treatment (usually a V-beam laser or Retin-A) can help fade them after you give birth.
Dryness and itching Start showering with the following: lukewarm water (for 10 minutes, tops); a mild cleanser (such as Dove Nutrium Skin Nourishing Bar); and a light body oil (applying Neutrogena’s Body Oil in the shower is one of dermatologist Mayoral’s favorite tricks). Liberal use of body balms (try Mustela 9 Months Ultimate Hydration) can help, too.
Under-eye circles and puffiness “The best way to get rid of bags, which are usually caused by water retention, is by giving birth,” Mayoral says. Until then, use a cooling eye gel (try Bliss The Baggage Handler), a good concealer (Bobbi Brown Creamy Concealer) and an eye-opening mascara (L’Oréal Double Extend Mascara).
Melasma The so-called “mask of pregnancy,” melasma consists of brown facial splotches that are caused by hormone changes and exacerbated by sun exposure. Preventing them isn’t always possible, but minimizing them is: During the day, use a broad-spectrum, SPF 15+ sunblock (try Belli Anti-Chloasma Facial Sunscreen SPF 25) and a bronzer (such as Stila Sun) to even out your complexion. After you deliver, you can use either over-the-counter or prescription bleaching agents to fade remaining marks (check out Philosophy’s 9 Months Later Kit).