How My Skin-Care Rituals Help Me Cope With the Stress of Being Pregnant During a Pandemic

Photo: Shani Hillian
Pregnancy for many women can be stressful, so to go through this life-changing experience in the middle of a global pandemic can feel quite overwhelming. I found out I was pregnant in the first week of June. Living in New York City, which was the epicenter of COVID-19, I've felt a lot of fear, stress, and anxiety about the state of the world—but I knew I had to shift my perspective for the sake of my growing child. And so, I turned to a ritual that I know intimately well: skin care.

As an esthetician, skin care is a lifestyle for me. Our skin is the only external organ that we have, which means that it's more susceptible to stress—which is why rituals and self-love are more important now than ever. There's currently little conclusive research on how the virus impacts pregnancy, and the many unknowns—about hospital restrictions, the livelihood of small business owners like myself, and the ever-changing state of the pandemic—can easily spike stress levels. In order to create a sense of normalcy when everything is in flux, I created a relaxing skin-care routine for pregnancy stress and found that it has been my savior in these trying times.

A 2016 study by the Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Process actually found that a ritual is critical for keeping stress in check. As I see my belly growing more each day, I've turned to my beauty cabinet as a relaxing oasis that gives me a few hours of uninterrupted solace. If I had to name one positive thing about being pregnant during the pandemic, it would be the privilege of prioritizing time for myself. I used to rush my skin-care ritual because there was never enough time, but quarantine has forced me to slow down and breathe love into my body and mind. Keep scrolling for the skin-care rituals that keep my stress levels down.

1. On & On Frankincense Hand & Body Wash, $24

Photo: On&On

I've dedicated Sunday as my at-home spa day, where I take the time to show my entire body some TLC. I begin with a homemade body scrub that's a mix of Himalayan salt, almond oil, magnesium, and lavender essential oil. I then take a warm eucalyptus shower using this On and On Frankincense Body Wash, which has an aroma that calms my mind as it cleanses without stripping my skin dry.

Shop now: On & On Frankincense Hand & Body Wash, $24

2. Taïla Muhka Botanical Cleanser, $58

Photo: Taila

Next, I treat myself to a spa-like mini facial. Since becoming pregnant, my skin has started to develop melasma, which are brown patches that tend to appear due to hormonal changes. I begin a double cleanse with this clarifying oil-to-milk cleanser that restores my skin's natural moisture barrier and helps to combat pigmentation with fruit enzymes.

Shop now: Taïla Muhka Botanical Cleanser, $58

3. Microderm Glo Facial Steamer, $50

Photo: Microderm Glo

I cleanse in conjunction with steaming my face with this facial steamer. The water vapor from the steam itself loosens dirt and contaminants that can clog pores, and the heat induces sweating, which helps to further flush out pores.

Shop now: Microderm Glo Facial Steamer, $50

4. Hanahana Beauty Black + Brown Scrub, $18

Photo: Hanahana beauty

Next, I exfoliate using Hanahana Beauty Black and Brown Scrub, which contains all-natural ingredients that are pregnancy-safe and gently slough off dead skin cells while soothing to reveal beautifully vibrant skin.

Shop now: Hanahana Beauty Black + Brown Scrub, $18

5. Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum, $34

Photo: Mad Hippie

I layer on my favorite vitamin C serum by Mad Hippie to safely treat my melasma.

Shop now: Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum, $34

6. June Soothing Facial Serum, $80

Photo: June

After my serum, I like to apply this soothing serum-oil hybrid by June Oils to hydrate and lock in moisture.

Shop now: June Soothing Facial Serum, $80

7. Lanshin Nephrite Jade Gua Sha Tool, $65

Photo: Lanshin

I finish my skin-care routine by massaging my face with my favorite gua sha tool, which is designed to relieve tension in the muscles of the face, boost blood circulation, and encourage lymphatic drainage to fight puffiness. This also gives me time to meditate and redirect any lingering anxious thoughts.

Shop now: Lanshin Nephrite Jade Gua Sha Tool, $65

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