"The majority of skin-care treatments utilize powerful chemicals—anti-aging, acne-reducing, pigment-reducing—in the process to achieve phenomenal results. This is safe for most individuals, however during pregnancy, a majority of these chemicals cannot be used because even topical application can result in absorption into the bloodstream which can impact the development of the fetus," says Mila Davis, a licensed esthetician in Morristown, New Jersey. You also want to avoid harsh treatments like microdermabrasion and chemical peels, because your skin becomes more sensitive during pregnancy. "These procedures can lead to hypersensitivity, irritation, redness, acne, hyperpigmentation, and even scarring."
In addition to helping you relax, a facial can also help you manage any changes in your skin brought on by pregnancy hormones.
"Hormone fluctuations during pregnancy will usually impact how much oil is produced on the skin. This extra oil may mean more hydrated, glowing skin. However, If you already tend to be on the oilier side, this increase of oil production may cause an exacerbation of acne symptoms or increased breakouts," says Emily Trampetti, a licensed esthetician in Chicago. "The increase of hormones also tends to overstimulate our melanin production in the skin—which is what causes pigmentation or darkening of certain areas of the skin. This is the culprit of melasma or 'pregnancy mask.'"
While the list of ingredients and treatments to avoid while pregnant may seem long, you've still got plenty of options. Learn more about pregnancy-safe facials to get below.
Pregnancy-safe facials to get from a pro
1. Oxygen facial
"An oxygen facial utilizes a specialized machine to deliver pressurized oxygen infused with vitamins, minerals, and essential nutrients directly into the epidermis," says Davis. "Like any facial it includes a gentle cleanse and light exfoliation prior to the delivery of the high pressurized oxygen to the outer layer of the skin. There are several benefits to this non-invasive procedure including improved blood circulation, reduction of fine lines and wrinkles, skin hydrating, and a more even skin tone."
2. Hydrating facial
"A hydrating facial is designed to hydrate and nourish the skin and is recommended for dry and flaky skin types," says Davis. "Don't be surprised if your skin texture changes during pregnancy, which will require different procedures to revitalize your skin. A hydrating facial involves cleansing, a light exfoliation, and application or infusion of hydrating serums into the skin."
Trampetti adds that these facials will use humectants and emollients like hyaluronic acid, mushroom extract, glycerin, shea butter, jojoba oil, almond oil, and aloe vera, to keep the skin hydrated.
3. Deep cleansing facial
"A deep cleansing facial is more appropriate for acne-prone and oily skin during pregnancy," says Davis. "A deep cleansing facial will include exfoliation and extractions to cleanse the pores and the use of pregnancy-safe drying agents such as benzoyl peroxide to eliminate excess oil on the surface of the skin."
Although glycolic acid is off the table, you can get facials with other alpha-hydroxy acids (AHAs) like lactic, malic, and mandelic, along with the beta-hydroxy acid (BHA) salicylic acid, and benzol peroxide in small amounts. (Note that the uber-popular Hydrafacial uses both glycolic and salicylic acid.)
"These are deemed fine to use in small amounts while pregnant according to many medical professionals," says Trampetti. "If you’re nervous, but still want to use these ingredients, just run them by your doctor. Otherwise, I usually have no hesitation when advising my clients to continue using them while pregnant considering their pH." She says to stick to 10 percent or lower for these AHAs and under 2 percent for BHAs. For benzoyl peroxide, make sure it's under 5 percent.
4. Acupressure facial
An acupressure facial involves using acupressure points to stimulate blood flow throughout the body. Just be sure to get your doctor's permission first.
"During pregnancy, unless you are a specialist in knowing exactly what you're doing, certain acupoints can potentially overstimulate or trigger unnecessary energy or blood flow to an already pretty stimulated body," says Trampetti. "I always recommend talking with your doctor or doula before deciding on any treatments that have to do with stimulating lots of energy and blood flow."
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