Pregnancy Diary: Dealing with Hormonal Breakouts

Pregnancy Diary: Hormonal Acne Pregnancy glow is not a reality for all women . . .

I’m part of the unfortunately group of women whose pregnancy “symptoms” include hormonal breakouts. These breakouts have predominately remained on my the chin (usually cysts, which are classic indicators of hormonal imbalance), but I’ve also had smaller breakouts (not cysts) on my upper lips and forehead.

Dealing with my skin during pregnancy has been a big challenge since I’m hesitant to use some of my regular go-to products because of safety issues, such as some essential oils and anything with willow bark (the natural derivative of salicylic acid should be avoided during pregnancy).

For long term results, all hormonal-related skin issues need to be addressed internally. But, obviously I can’t do that right now since those hormones are keeping my baby safe and sound! All I can do is treat the symptoms as best I can. I’ve outlined my main strategies below.

Hormonal Breakout Treatment Plan: 

1. Wash and moisturize with jojoba oil

When all hell breaks loose on the battle field (aka my face), I go back to the basics and keep my routine as simple as possible. Jojoba oil is a good neutral oil that is tolerated well by most skin types. I normally never recommend only using an oil for a moisturizer (you need to feed your skin with water -soluble ingredients as well!), honestly though this is the first time in my life where my skin has been so oily that I really do not need it. It’s also the middle of summer here in Toronto and humidity levels have been through the roof! To cleanse, I rub a small amount of oil onto damp skin and wipe off using gentle circular motions with a warm wash cloth. I follow up by applying more oil as a moisturizer afterward. I use an organic, cold pressed oil from Leven Rose.

2. Apply Lactic Acid 2-3 x per week

Alpha Hydroxy Acids are perfectly safe to use during pregnancy and are life saviours when it comes to shrinking big ugly cysts, keeping pores clear, and helping to lighten red marks left by old breakouts. My favourite one to use is Pure + Simple’s Lactic Acid.

Alpha Hydroxy Acids for acne during pregnancy | 3. Use Raw Honey Masks 1-2x per week

Raw Honey is naturally antibacterial and anti-inflammatory (two necessary qualities required in an effective treatment against breakouts). 1-2 times per week, I will massage raw honey onto freshly cleansed skin and let it sit for up to 30 minutes. This helps reduce redness and clear pores.

Raw Honey Face Mask for Acne | 4. Stop touching your face!

This can be so difficult to do, but honestly, my skin is the clearest when I’m not constantly at the mirror obsessing over every little spot. Touching and picking only introduces more bacteria onto the skin and increases inflammation.

5. Wear foundation

I’m not always a advocate of wearing a bunch of makeup just to cover up a problem, but since this problem is one that I’m stuck with for the next few months, I need to look and feel my best. You may find that the foundation you always wear is actually making your skin worse. It’s important to find a natural, lightweight foundation that won’t aggravate breakouts, or clog pores. Currently, my skin tolerates Sappho Organics Foundation extremely well. It’s a bit light on the coverage, but does the job (and doesn’t contain coconut oil, like most natural makeup!).

Are you dealing with hormonal breakouts? What have you been using that helps?

Pregnancy Diary: Skin care Ingredients to avoid

Elodie Beauty Pregnancy Diary Pregnant? There’s 101 ingredients you’re told to avoid . . .

It drives me crazy. Ever since I’ve been pregnant, I can’t help but have paranoia of all things – eating certain cheeses, raw unpasteurized foods, under-cooked meat, skincare products, you name it! It’s natural I suppose because I feel solely responsible for this child I’m carrying.

As I write this I’m thinking back in dread to the times I used that oil containing tea tree, or that time I ate feta cheese –100% assuming I must have caused some abnormal birth defect as a result. Chances are, probably not. The internet is full of foods and ingredients lists for pregnant women to avoid and, as usual, things do often get blown out of proportion. Take lavender for example. Should you avoid it? Robert Tisserand, the “father” of aromatherapy states that there are 106,000 hits on Google stating lavender is an emmenagogue (uterine stimulant) . . . and that was from 2011, so I’m sure there are plenty more hits now. He clearly states though (using scientific studies) that lavender is not an uterine stimulant.

“The online references to lavender oil as a uterine stimulant presumably originated from the few books (probably beginning with Valnet in 1964) that describe it as having an emmenagogic action. An assumption was then made that this was due to a uterine stimulant effect, and a further assumption was made that therefore lavender oil could pose a risk of miscarriage in pregnancy. However, there is no evidence that either lavender flowers or lavender oil stimulate menstruation.” – Robert Tisserand

So what skin care ingredients should you actually avoid when pregnant?

* Pregnant or not, I don’t recommend the use of harsh synthetic skincare ingredients, like some of the ones listed above, and think in general they are not good for the health of your skin or yourself long term. That said if you happen to use any of these common harsh ingredients, let me put your mind at ease (with the exception of retinoids and hydroquinone) and direct you to this article published by the US National Library of Medicine.

When in doubt consult a practitioner you trust for advice. For essential oils, consult a licensed aromatherapist, for herbs and supplements consult a naturopathic doctor, for prescription drugs consult a medical doctor or pharmacist.

Wedding Planning: Bridal Beauty Checklist

Cohen wedding Now that February (aka the love month) is over, it’s probably safe to say that some of you ladies were recently asked a very special question . . .

Statistically speaking, most marriage proposals happen sometime between Christmas and Valentine’s day, which means we’ve got a wedding to plan!

I can’t really help you with the nitty gritty wedding plan –I barley managed on my own–but I can certainly help you with planning your beauty routine over the next (statistically speaking) 6-12 months.

6-8 months before

  • Find a makeup and hairstylist that you trust (I highly recommend Maya Goldenberg for makeup. She’s amazing and uses organic, non toxic products) and schedule hair and makeup trails.
  • Consult a skin care therapist to help coach you about products, skin care regime, and to get you on a personalized facial program.
  • Cut out “beauty betrayers” like excess sugar and saturated fats, and add in tons of nutrient dense foods full of vitamins, minerals, and omega fatty acids. The book, “Eat Pretty”, by Jolene Hart is a handy guide to identify those beauty betraying foods!

4-5 months before

  • Brow issues? Now’s the time to get a brow consult and start growing those babies out. For some extra help, try this Full Brow Serum from Province Apothecary
  • Facial (a good time to check in with your skin care therapist and make any tweaks to your skincare regime, if needed).

3 months before

  • Stop experimenting with you skin. By now you’ve found products that are working for you, so stick with them!
  • Start teeth whitening (but don’t use bleach!); rather start a morning routine of oil puling with coconut oil (it’s actually amazing! Your teeth with be whiter, your gums and overall dental hygiene will be stellar, and it can even help clear up your skin!).

2 months before

  • Get a deep cleansing facial
  • Start to moisturize your hands and oil your cuticles nightly in order to get your hands looking hydrated and healthy!

1 month before

  • Get hair trimmed

2 weeks before

1 week before

  • Brows, bikini etc. waxed
  • Final facial (gentle and hydrating)

2-3 days before

  • Deep condition hair (try using a nourishing oil like coconut or argan oil)
  • Manicure and pedicure (my favourite 5-free nail polish to use is Treat! It’s always a good idea to bring your own nail colour for any chips later on).

1 day before

  • Take a bath and relax (add some epsom salts and soothing essential oils like lavender and chamomile)
  • Get plenty of sleep and dream of the day to come!




3 Remedies to Manage Stress

Lemon Balm Tea We can’t stop stress all together, but we can take action to help mange it. I’ve found a few supplements that have truly helped me and I wanted to share.

When was the last time that you felt totally relaxed? I’m talking no inner dialogue playing in your head, no tension in any muscle, no task to do?

The fact is, I don’t think the majority of us can say that we can just *poof* make stress go away.

This is what I’ve been dealing with lately –well actually for the last 3 years. Ever since I made the decision to start my own business . . . while going back to school, managing a full time job, and basically changing the trajectory of  my whole life . . . symptoms of stress have followed me. At times stress shows up as just a nice little nudge to keep me on top of my game, but more regularly it reels its ugly head as a 3lb brick sitting on my chest.

I tell you this because as much as I want to come off as a zen, green juice drinking yogi, who is relaxed as the clients on her bed, I’m not. I certainly work to get there, but it’s a challenge.

“None of us live in a bubble where we can reduce stress 100%, but rather we need to dance with stress and disrupt it [using lifestyle changes].” — Dr. Sara Gottfried

My daily goal to work through the anxiety and stress is to strengthen and support the nervous system (so that it can better withstand the symptoms of stress) –while I do my best to reduce the stresses that I CAN control.

Stress can totally wreak havoc on the entire body. Besides making you fat and cranky, stress can age you prematurely (*ahem wrinkles) and mess with your hormones which can result in the dreaded acne, among other terrible things. For me, stress is most certainly the #1 cause of cystic acne on my chin. I know that once I stumble onto that crazy stress roller coaster and it has its full affect on my body, it’s a heck of a time crawling out of the cystic-acne cycle.

3 supplements to manage stress

(note: always check with your healthcare practitioner before you start anything!)

Natural Calm & NutraSea

  1. NATURAL CALM – a drinkable magnesium supplement (deemed the “anti-stress drink”). It helps my muscles relax, and I do actually feel calmer after I take it!
  2. OMEGA 3s – According to stress and hormone expert, Dr. Sara Gottfried, Omega 3s helps regulate cortisol levels and help your body manage the effects of stress. The best one that I have found that tastes good and gets A+ for purity is NutraSea Omega -3 + Vitamin D.
  3. LEMON BALM TEA – I started drinking this throughout the day in my most stressed periods and it was actually extremely helpful! It’s partly the effect of drinking something warm (that’s not coffee!) and the naturally calming, nerve strengthening effects lemon balm has on the body. I just buy the organic loose leaf herb from The Big Carrot (in Toronto), or you can order it from Mountain Rose Herbs.

Other great resources:

Rosemary Gladstar

Dr. Sara Gottfried is a wealth of knowledge about stress and its affect on hormones. I love this video interview with Dr. Sara Gottfried and Kris Carr. 

My favourite herbal resource is any book by Rosemary Gladstar – she really is the modern ‘mother’ of all herbal medicine. Her books are incredibly helpful and offer many great recipes.

Be well my friends!

xoxo Seanna