Most pregnant women experience a darkening of their moles, genitals, nipples, areolas and abdomen, the latter in the form of a line extending from the chest bone through the navel to the pubic bone known as the linea nigra. Some women also develop melasma or “the mask of pregnancy,” a condition in which the skin darkens on the forehead, cheeks and upper lip.
“This darkening of the skin is thought to be caused by changes in hormone levels during pregnancy that spur increased production of the pigment melanin in the skin,” says Terezakis. “Some pigment problems resolve spontaneously during the year or so after pregnancy, while others may require medication.”
The daily use of sunscreen is vital (no matter what your age) to minimize and help prevent pigment changes, as the sun is believed to worsen the problem, says Terezakis. Check out oil-free Clinique Face Zone Sun Block SPF 30 for your face, and Clarins water-resistant Sun Care Gel, with SPF 15, for your body.
Hormones also may make your skin break out into acne blemishes. Treat the symptoms by washing with mild cleansers, such as Johnson & Johnson’s Clean & Clear, Liquid Neutrogena or Basis’s Comfortably Clean Face Wash. Then, Terezakis suggests, apply a product containing low levels (in concentrations no more than 5 percent) of benzoyl peroxide or salicylic acid.
Neutrogena’s On-the-Spot Acne Treatment contains 2.5 percent benzoyl peroxide, and Origins’ Spot Remover contains salicylic acid and essential plant oils. Cover Girl’s Clarifying Liquid Make-Up, containing .55 percent salicylic acid, treats acne and minimizes blemishes.
While most skin changes during pregnancy resolve shortly after the baby arrives, the one you want to keep — the glow of pregnancy — is likely to stick around. This time, it’s solely the sheer joy of seeing your newborn.