ask the experts
Beauty-wise, pregnancy changes everything: Hair gets thicker. Skin can rebel. Makeup needs rethinking. Here are 10 pointers for looking great the next nine months and beyond.
Now that I’m pregnant, I’m breaking out all over my face. Are acne treatment creams safe during pregnancy?
Some are and some aren’t. But before you start playing hit or miss with drugstore acne remedies, see a dermatologist. Benzoyl peroxide, for example, is a common anti-acne ingredient in many over-the-counter products, but some dermatologists suggest avoiding it while pregnant. Prescription medications such as Accutane and Retin-A are also off-limits now because they may cause birth defects. But topical erythromycin is safe, according to Mary Lupo, M.D., a dermatologist in private practice in New Orleans.
A good dermatologist also can pinpoint skin-care habits, including overzealous cleansing, that may contribute to acne flare-ups. Washing less frequently using a cleanser formulated for sensitive skin.
Are skin-care products that
contain alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) safe during pregnancy?
According to medical experts, it’s safe for pregnant women to use skin-care products that contain alpha-hydroxy acids. “AHAs are mild peeling agents that only affect the skin’s surface,” says Melvin Elson, M.D., director of the Dermatology Center in Nashville, Tenn. “It’s the same idea as using lemon juice, which is a citric acid.” It, too, acts as a mild peeling agent, according to Elson, as does beta-hydroxy acid, lactic acid, malic acid and salicylic acid — all of which are safe during pregnancy.
“Even in animal studies, where these ingredients are ingested, there has been no problem,” says Christann Jackson, M.D. In fact, Jackson says, because AHAs have been successful in treating acne, they’re a good alternative to Retin-A, which many doctors say should not be used at all during pregnancy.
How can I avoid the dark skin patches known as the mask of pregnancy?
Sunscreen can help prevent hormone-related pigment patches. But remember that not all sunscreens are alike. “It’s the UVA rays that cause the mask of pregnancy, but most sunscreens block UVB light,” says Melvin Elson, M.D. To shield skin from damaging UVAs, look for broad-spectrum products, and apply daily.
If you develop dark patches during pregnancy that don’t fade after delivery, doctors can treat them with Retin-A, Renova, bleaches or peels. Don’t try drugstore fade creams. “You risk making the problem worse,” Elson says.
Is there a way to prevent stretch
If your mother had stretch marks, you probably will, too. The best prevention: “Keep fit, eat right and keep your skin supple,” says Melvin Elson, M.D. Moisturizers will probably help your skin feel better, according to Elson. But without scientific data, physicians don’t know for sure how effective these types of products are at diminishing the appearance of stretch marks. After delivery (or weaning), stretch marks can be repaired with Retin-A, but be sure to check with your doctor before using.