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?

Skincare 101: Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)

AHA exfoliators

What are Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)?

I know. You hear the word acid and you immediately think of an evil, acid-wielding villain from Batman.

No fear. Acids, specifically alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), are derived from fruit and dairy, and in my opinion, offer the best way to exfoliate the skin.

They typically come in a mask or serum form, and are sometimes called ‘fruit acids’. Rather than ‘mechanically’ loosening dead skin cells (typical of an exfoliating scrub), AHAs work to shed dead skin cells by dissolving the ‘glue’ that holds them together.

This may sound harsh, but in most cases (such as with lactic acid) AHAs can be fairly gentle and moisturizing. I particularly like them for treating acne since there is no physical abrasion (unlike a scrub) that could potential rupture pimples, spread bacteria, and over stimulate already red and inflamed skin. AHAs are also fantastic for clearing up congestion (black heads and white heads), brightening complexions, and lightening scars and dark spots.

Here are some common types:

Lactic acid: derived from corn or dairy products. This is considered a fairly gentle acid, and is good for most skin types; it’s also a natural humectant (meaning it retains moisture) and is therefore hydrating to the skin. This is my AHA of choice, and I am in LOVE with Pure + Simple’s Lactic Acid. I use it 2-3 times per week either all over my face, or just in spots that are prone to congestion.

Malic acid: most commonly derived from apples. It is less irritating than citric and glycolic acid, and is also a natural humectant.

Citric acid: derived from citrus fruits like lemon, grapefruit, and oranges. Excellent for brightening, and targeting age spots and scars.

Glycolic acid: most commonly derived from sugar cane. It has a small molecular structure that enables it to penetrates deep into the skin. However, it can be highly irritating and drying if used incorrectly, or too regularly.

Home care products will always have a higher pH level (aka less acidic) and contain a lower concentration of acid than professional use, however you should look for something with at least a 5% acid concentration and a pH between 3.5-4 for the product to be effective.

A little tingle is good . . . but a burning sensation is not so good!

VERY IMPORTANT: Always follow product instructions, avoid over use, immediately follow up with a moisturizer, and diligently wear sunscreen; as is the case with any exfoliation!!! If you’ve never used AHA products before, start with 1 application per week to avoid irritation and then gradually increase to 2-3 times per week.

When in doubt, consult a professional skin care therapist, esthetician, or dermatologist.

Have a question? Just ask! Write in the comments section below, or connect with me through Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram.