How to Care for Your Skin During Pregnancy and Breastfeeding

Keeping it simple is the best approach for maintaining healthy, beautiful skin during your pregnancy. If you’re one of the lucky ones, all that’s necessary is regular cleansing, moisturizing and avoiding excess sun exposure.  Everyone else, read on!

As with all things pregnancy-related, I recommend talking with your doctor first.

How to Deal with Hyperpigmentation

Since hormones are at an all-time high during pregnancy, levels of estrogen and progesterone rise, causing the overproduction of melanin during sun exposure. This can result in skin discoloration and hyperpigmented patches. You may have seen someone with “pregnancy mask” (melasma). It can look like a brown mask on the face. Sometimes there are areas on each side of the face that mirror each other which is also caused by these same hormonal changes. This darkening is not to be considered damage to the skin.

A couple months after the pregnancy, hormones will stop overproducing and the darkness should slowly disappear. In the meantime, you can brighten your skin by using the Brighten Up Bar on your face and body which has natural and safe brighteners.


pregnancySome women develop a thin brown line on the pelvic area which is called linea nigra. This is caused by the production of a melanocyte-stimulating hormone in the placenta. Although this line is not necessarily caused by sunlight, exposing the area to the sun can cause it to darken. Using, at least, an SPF 30 for your body can help to minimize the extent of this hyperpigmentation.


If you want to be on the safe side, a sunscreen containing high amounts of zinc oxide is the best. Avoid using chemical sunscreens using, especially those listing oxybenzone and octinoxate as their active ingredients. These chemicals are readily absorbed by the skin and are potential endocrine disruptors. Unfortunately, it is essentially unknown as to whether or not chemical-sunscreens are harmful to infants or a developing fetus.

Dealing with Oily Skin

Women with oily skin need to exfoliate and are concerned about which ingredients to use. I recommend washing your face at least twice a day using a sudsy cleanser. There are different schools of thought on exfoliating, e.g., manual (scrubs) versus chemical (toners). Try not to let the word “chemical” scare you–fruit acids are chemicals. Using a toner with small amounts of salicylic, glycolic, or azelaic acid is generally considered safe. Spot treatments, toners, and cleansers usually have a low percentage (2-3%), but you should have25% or higher, which would only be in “peel” form.

Quick, Safe Product Guide

Brighten Up Bar – Sudsy and refreshing cleanser.

Arcona’s Cranberry Toner – This toner cleans, tones and hydrates and is full of antioxidants.

LilyAna’s Face Cream – Lightweight hydrating lotion for your face and neck.

Cotz SPF 40 for Sensitive Skin – Soaks in quickly to protect your face, neck and chest.

Cherry-O Lip-savior & Body Balm – Relieves chafed, irritated skin during pregnancy. Use it on your nipple area to keep the area from getting chapped. It’s also wonderful to reduce diaper rash once you’ve had your bundle of joy.

Adios Ingrown Hair & Razor Bump Tonic is safe, even though it contains salicylic acid. The acid content is 3%. Products containing 25% or more salicylic are not safe.

Antibiotics for Acne – Erythromycin (Erygel) and clindamycin (Cleocin T, Clindagel, others) are considered safe.

Glycolic Acid – Exfoliating ingredient.

Azelaic Acid – Decreases swelling and redness from acne.

beautiful skinDue to INCI laws, Shelley Skin Care uses standard words like “Fragrance/Parfum” for the ingredient list. However, the scents I use for my products are derived naturally from plants and flower essences. In addition to having top-notch ingredients, I pride myself on having safe plastic containers which eliminate the risk of leaching harmful hormone-mimicking chemicals (BPA) into the products.

Common Beauty Ingredients to Avoid During Pregnancy

Retinoids (Retin-A, Accutane, and high-dose Vitamin A)

DHA (dihydroxyacetone) – found in spray-on and cream tanning solution

Formaldehyde – found in some nail polish and in keratin hair treatments

Phthlates – found in some nail polish, shampoo and cleansers

Medications ending in “cycline” e.g., doxycycline sometimes used for treating acne

Hydroquinone – used for skin bleaching

Steroid creams – if you use more than 100 to 300 grams (3.5 oz) during the entire pregnancy, your risk of low birth weight is elevated

Phenoxyethanol – This is not good during pregnancy and definitely avoid while breastfeeding

Lavender (Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Oil) and Tea Tree Oil – Avoid in the first trimester due to their possible hormone disrupting effects

Propylene Glycol – It enters the body as an alcohol

As a Wrap

If you’d like more information, I found a handy guide with a complete list of pregnancy categories for various skin care treatments and acne medications. See below.


In 2015, the United States Food & Drug Administration (FDA) began overseeing the phase-out of pregnancy risk categories (A, B, C, D, and X) from prescription drug labeling and began requiring information from available human and animal studies of (1) known or potential maternal or fetal adverse reactions, and (2) dose adjustments needed during pregnancy and the postpartum period. Additional information is available at the FDA website: Pregnancy and Lactation Labeling Final Rule.


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Shelley Skin Care
Your Guide to Good Skin


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