Pregnancy acne: why you’re breaking out and how you can manage it


Pregnancy may be a beautiful experience that leads to new life, but for some women, it can also mean swollen feet, bleeding gums and a whole other range of surprising beauty issues.  Some lucky women even score pregnancy acne. Oh yeah, thought you were done with acne? Think again.

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Pregnancy acne is one of those things that no one really tells you about but is actually quite common. Skinstitut Expert, Zoe Devine is helping us get a handle on it…

What causes acne during pregnancy?

Basically, it comes down to your good old hormones. That’s right, those acne-inducing monsters are back to haunt you once again. As Zoe explains, your body’s hormone levels drastically change during pregnancy. Oestrogen and progesterone are the hormones to blame. “For women that are pregnant and experiencing acne flare up’s, it is likely that the higher levels of progesterone are contributing to increases in oil production, which can be a catalyst for acne development,” Zoe says.

But don’t stress, not all women will get acne during pregnancy. “It seems that women with a history of acne or those that often experience a monthly flare-up will be more susceptible to acne throughout their pregnancy,” explains Zoe.

When during pregnancy can you expect to experience acne?

“Generally acne is more common (or most severe) in the first trimester. This is because of the initial surge of progesterone which can have an effect on our sebaceous glands (oil-producing glands),” says Zoe. “This doesn’t mean that everyone’s acne will resolve after the first three months, however, it is believed that the gradual increases of Oestrogen throughout pregnancy can help to offset the effect of progesterone on the sebaceous glands.”

And after you give birth? Zoe says that postpartum acne can be common but is often due to other factors like sleep deprivation, stress, hormonal swings and less time for skin maintenance.

What can pregnant women do to manage their acne and breakouts?

First things first, checking in with a skin therapist, GP or dermatologist is ideal. Zoe also recommends that you avoid a new active skin care regimen because your skin is probably a lot more responsive than it usually is.

“Instead make small and gradual changes instead and opt for nutrient-rich, calming and nourishing skin care products and ingredients,” Zoe says. “If oil production has increased significantly, considering swapping moisturiser for a more targeted treatment product for oily and breakout prone skin.”

What should pregnant women seek out in their skin care routine?

Botanically derived vitamin A

“Utilising a form of botanical vitamin A can be useful for pregnant women experiencing acne. Botanically derived vitamin A is safe to use (unlike retinol or retinoic acid). Botanically derived vitamin A can assist with the natural desquamation process (eliminating dead skin cells) while helping to regulate sebaceous activity,” Zoe explains. Her suggestion? Using the Skinstitut Rejuvenate 15 Serum.

Vitamin B3

“[Vitamin B3] helps to relieve inflammation and redness, balance the sebaceous glands and also strengthen the skin’s immunity,” says Zoe.

beautyheaven loves Ultraderm Absolute B3 Serum and QV Oil Free Moisturiser.

What should pregnant women avoid in their skin care routine?

High-intensity vitamin A

“High-intensity vitamin A should be avoided throughout both pregnancy and breastfeeding; this includes Retinol or any other forms of vitamin A such as retinoic acid. There is insufficient evidence to prove that it is safe to use at this time, so to be cautious you are better off switching to a more gentle low-intensity form of vitamin A, such as botanically derived vitamin A,” Zoe explains.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids

“Alpha Hydroxy Acids should not be used excessively. While you are pregnant your skin will be much more responsive than before, with an increased tendency for sensitivity or irritation. Over-use of AHAs (such as lactic acid or glycolic acid) could cause redness, irritation or dryness,” Zoe says. “If you have been using these ingredients in your skincare prior to becoming pregnant you are safe to continue using these products, simply keep an eye on your skin, if you are noticing increased sensitivity simply slow down your usage of these medium and high-intensity products and opt for Skinstitut’s Gentle Cleanser as an alternative. Avoid using Salicylic acid while pregnant.”

Chemical peels, needling treatments, laser treatments

“When it comes to professional skin treatments, you’re best to keep it gentle,” says Zoe. “Whilst you may want to dive in head first to treat newly arisen acne, at this time the focus should be on calming and nourishing the skin while using gentle forms of exfoliation.”

Did you know pregnancy acne was common? Did you struggle with acne during pregnancy?

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