We’re hoping that you’re not feeling too sick, or too tired and that as your pregnancy progresses you will positively bloom!
Whilst you will be expecting certain things, your body shape will certainly change, your visits to the loo are likely to increase and you’ll be the recipient of more advice (wanted or not!) than you’ve ever received before, you may be surprised to learn that pregnancy can affect your skin, your hair and your nails.
In order to look at the changes that can occur both during and after pregnancy and the best way to counteract these changes, we’ve got some fab advice.
Skin, Hair and Nail Changes During Pregnancy
During pregnancy, the hormone changes can play havoc with skin and also affect hair and nails. These changes are perfectly normal and most of them go away after pregnancy.
Some women positively ‘glow’ or ‘bloom’ during pregnancy. This radiance boost can be put down to the extra blood circulating around the body. Skin also retains more moisture during pregnancy, which plumps it up, smoothing out any fine lines and wrinkles. The downside of this effect is that you may look puffy from water retention.
Tip: Remember to drink plenty of water. Your skin will benefit if you keep well hydrated.
While some women ‘glow’, others may suffer from breakouts and oily skin. This is caused by the hormone surges and the fact that your body is retaining more fluids which contain toxins that can lead to spots.
Tip: Drink two litres of water a day to help with the fluid retention. Deal with any breakouts by dabbing on diluted tea tree oil which has antiseptic properties and is also a very good anti-inflammatory.
‘Pregnancy mask’, also known as chloasma, melasma or hyper-pigmentation, is a very common side effect of pregnancy and appears when a steep rise in estrogen levels stimulate excess melanin production. It appears as dark, blotchy, brown patches on the forehead, upper lip and cheeks. Freckles and moles may appear darker too.
Tip: Exposure to sun light only stimulates the melanocytes further to produce more melanin, making the condition appear worse. To help prevent these changes, avoid the sun and apply sunblock daily.
Stretch marks are estimated to affect up to 90 per cent of women during pregnancy and are notoriously hard to treat. Stretch marks are caused by thinning and a loss of elasticity in the deeper layers of the skin. They often start as raised red lines, flattening out and becoming shiny, purplish streaks in time. Pregnant women often develop them on the breasts, lower abdomen and thighs.
Tip: Applying a cream rich in vitamin E twice a day to keep skin supple and help prevent further stretch marks.
Hair & Nails
Pregnancy hormones slow the rate of hair loss and hair appears thicker and coarser. You may also notice changes in your nails during pregnancy. Some women find that their hair and nails both grow faster and are stronger during pregnancy.
Tip: It is best not to have highlights, perms or use any chemicals on the scalp as these can be absorbed through your skin.
Skin & Hair After Pregnancy
‘Pregnancy mask’ can still persist in the months following delivery while the body’s hormone levels are returning to normal. Any dark areas of pigmentation that have appeared during pregnancy usually fade within a few months after delivery, or when breastfeeding stops. This is because the body stops producing excess melanin which can cause these areas of patchy pigmentation.
Tip: After delivery, the surest way to get your normal complexion back is to stay out of the sun so that any remaining splotches don’t get any darker. Always apply a sun block such and reapply regularly to limit any further patches of pigmentation appearing. Or conceal it. Make a good concealer your best friend. Choose a corrective foundation and concealer that are non-comedogenic, hypoallergenic and designed to cover hyperpigmentation.
Stretch marks start out red and then lighten within a year. Whether you get stretch marks depends mainly on genetics and how quickly you gain weight. The earlier you treat them, the better your chances of fading them.
Tip: For persistent stretch marks that are still very visible a year following delivery, you might want to consider an in-clinic skin remodelling treatment which helps reduce their appearance. These kinds of treatments stimulate collagen regeneration which helps to thicken and revitalise the skin to leave it smoother, hydrated and refreshed.
Hair & Nails
Most women lose some hair after delivery. This hair loss can be excessive and quite scary and traumatic. Some women also find that their nails split after delivery. In time, your hair and nails will return to the way they were before your pregnancy.
Tip: Ensure you eat a varied diet and if necessary, take a food supplement that supports skin, hair and nails. In clinics, it is now possible to use light therapy to specifically target the scalp to help improve the microcirculation so that the cells can take advantage of the increased nutritional benefit of the supplements.