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Pregnancy & AcneYou’re pregnant. Congratulations! You feel great and can’t wait to meet your little one. But why is your face suddenly a mess?

According to WebMD, about 50% of pregnant women experience acne, especially during the first two trimesters. And it’s probably no surprise that hormones are the culprit!

Pregnancy hormones—in this case, progesterone–increases levels of acne-causing androgens. Androgens cause your oil glands to produce more sebum. This sebum blocks pores and mixes with the bacteria on your skin to cause inflammation and breakouts.

If you’re prone to breakouts at the start of your menstrual cycle, chances are you’ll have pregnancy acne, too.  Fortunately, many of your breakouts will start to calm down a few weeks after you take baby home.

But what can you do in the meantime? 

So many things change when you’re pregnant and your acne treatment plan is one of them.  And while there are some ingredients to stay away from, there are plenty of ways to have clear, glowing skin while you’re waiting for baby!

Here’s a quick cheat sheet on what’s safe to use—and what do avoid—when to comes to treating your skin:

Acne treatments to avoid whilst pregnant:

Accutane and other acne drugs. If you are pregnant and taking skin meds, speak to your dermatologist. Some drugs commonly used to treat acne, like Accutane and Retin-A should never be used while you’re pregnant. Your doctor may also tell you to stop taking tetracycline and similar antibiotics.

Certain OTC acne products are off-limits, too 

Such as this popular ingredient for zapping zits Salicylic acid is found in many acne products and should be avoided during pregnancy and while breastfeeding. The FDA rates it for pregnancy as a Category C, which technically means risk to the fetus cannot be ruled out, especially in concentrations higher than 2% (which are most of the acne products out there!)

Topical Vitamin A and vitamin A derivatives like retinol, retinyl acetate and retinyl palmitate should also be banned from your pregnancy kit.  While vitamin A is important for fetal development, too much (topical) Vitamin A for acne can cause birth defects and liver toxicity.

Get the Vitamin A you and your baby need by eating carrots, spinach, apricots and other foods rich in this essential vitamin. You can also supplement healthy amount of Vitamin A, typically found in a PreNatal, with an acne-safe PreNatal vitamin such as the Clove Hill PreNatal with added Folate. Unlike other brands, this is free of Biotin and B12 which are acne triggering supplements.

Switch your sunscreen. There are two ingredients found in most sunscreens that pregnant women should steer clear of.

The first is oxybenzone, an active ingredient found in many common chemical sunscreens that is a potential hormone disruptor and can also cause allergic reactions. The second is to steer clear of is retinyl palmitate, a form of vitamin A.

What kind of sunscreen should you use instead? Choose one like the Clove Hill SPF 40 which is all-natural zinc oxide based. Zinc oxide has the highest level of sun protectant and is mineral not chemical. The Clove Hill SPF comes in tinted and non-tinted and is water resistant and has no residual sunscreen smell that is left on the skin.

Here’s your safe-for-pregnancy clear skin plan:

Handle your skin with care. Your skin is more sensitive during pregnancy, so use an ultra-gentle cleanser twice a day. Make sure to wash and rinse thoroughly especially around your jawline and chin. That’s where hormonal acne tends to make its appearance.

Don’t scrub the pimples away! Scrubs can irritate delicate pregnancy skin and make your acne worse. Plus, they can strip your skin of natural moisture…which causes your oil glands to produce more oil. More oil leads to more breakouts. And that’s the last thing you need!

If you need to exfoliate, my favorite ingredient is Mandelic acid. It is a cousin to glycolic acid but so much more versatile. In addition to exfoliating, Mandelic is antibacterial, antimicrobial and it also helps to fade red, post-acne marks.

Use a moisturizer. Moisturizing is an important part of your pregnancy skin-care routine. The right moisturizer hydrates and balances your skin while calming down redness and protecting against breakouts.

A great option is Clove Hill Balancing Lotion. It’s natural, lightweight, oil free and safe to use during pregnancy. It also contains anti-inflammatory and antioxidant ingredients that  help calm and nourish acne-prone skin.

Topical acne treatments with benzoyl peroxide are safe to use during pregnancy, as are products that contain witch hazel or willow bark. Willow bark is the natural form of salicylic acid.

A final note: Don’t forget to launder your pillowcases, towels, hats and any other clothing or material that’s close to your skin. Regular washing can keep away dirt and oil that can aggravate your skin. And ditch the fabric softener, since it can trigger acne.

When it comes to pregnancy and your skin, the best defense is a good offense! Luckily, there are plenty of alternatives that are safe to use during pregnancy and are quite effective too. If you’re not sure about which acne treatments are right for your skin, speak to your obstetrician or a dermatologist.

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