Lots of my friends really struggled with dry skin during pregnancy, not just on their ever expanding tummy but all over – legs, arms, face everywhere! So when I (finally) got pregnant many friends gave me suggestions of what they used to combat the 9-month itch!
Unfortunately many of the products did not live up to my EWG/think dirty stress test.
The stress test involves checking all the ingredients on the think dirty app or EWG database to check their toxicity levels. And in fact a lot of these products that were specifically marketed at pregnant women contained known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors.
I am sure you will agree with me that when people get pregnant there are so many things they are told to change – like cutting down or stopping alcohol, cutting out certain foods, in much of Asia you are not supposed to consume anything cold and I was even told not to wear high heels! But very few people suggested being careful about the cosmetics I was using.
Considering your skin is your biggest organ and absorbs over 60% of what your put onto it…it is pretty important!
So I did a lot of research on what to use that was safe for me and my baby – as with so many things there were products that I thought were great but then they slipped in a couple of ingredients which I had learn’t needed to be avoided like phenoxyethanol and fragrance.
So after all the research, I now have some great suggestions on how to ensure you don’t have itchy, dry skin during pregnancy…keep reading!
1. Before putting anything on your skin – follow these 4 easy cheat codes:
As soon as I was pregnant I was preoccupied with the baby. Everything about the baby…seemed to be all I would talk about with people: how many weeks is the baby? What size is the baby now? What sex is the baby? what are you buying for the baby…which cot, which buggy etc etc.
But what about YOU? You are the one growing the baby – if you are not looking after yourself then by default the baby isn’t getting its best shot.
So a few key thing that I kept reminding myself:
1) Eat well but not for two….!
For me I had been soooo careful about what I was eating when I was trying to get pregnant, that when I was past the first trimester I wanted to completely relax and in a way I could but I still tried to balance my diet. And eating for two is such an old wives tale… think about how small that baby is, they really don’t need you to eat double!
This checklist is super helpful to make sure you are including some of these things in your diet every day:
- Antioxidants: Spinach, blueberries, strawberries, and other fresh fruits and vegetables. These help nourish and protect skin.
- Vitamin E: Nuts, seeds, avocado, broccoli, and collard greens. These all help to protect skin cell membranes
- Vitamin A: Carrots, sweet potatoes, mango, squash, and red bell peppers. These help to repair skin tissues
- Omega 3s: Walnuts, eggs, and fish – better to get wild caught, smaller fish to avoid too much mercury. Omega 3 keeps cell membranes healthy and make your skin glow.
2) Exercise regularly but don’t over do it!
There is so much info out there about exercising while pregnant but basically I felt that the “don’t start anything new that you haven’t done before but make sure you stay active approach” made sense. Walking was something I really enjoyed while I was pregnant, yes you get sweaty and out of breath but getting all that extra blood circulating is definitely good for the endorphins.
3) Drink lots of water
I was sooo thirsty all the time, I did not have any trouble with this one! You will need to pee constantly anyway so might as well have something to pee out 🙂 Try to drink filtered tap water rather than bottled water – better for you and the environment! A lot of bottled water is tap water anyway and some bottled water has additives, just better to have your own filter at home – the counter top ones are easy to install and not expensive.
4) Sleep as much as you can
Everyone tells you to sleep….because you are going to get A LOT less when the baby comes. Also, sleep is of course good for you & the baby – they grow the most when you are asleep. So tear yourself away from the latest Netflix show & go to bed. Believe me there will be time for lots of Netflix when the baby is up all night feeding…!
So those are the basics that I tried to follow and all these things will also help your skin indirectly.
There are a few things you can do to look after your skin directly:
2. Lots of baths – to relax and keep your skin from drying out
Baths are such a luxury, especially after you have children. Having 20 mins to soak in the tub is basically unheard-of these days! So if you are pregnant for the first time I really encourage you to make the most of it and have more baths than you would normally – need to store them up for years to come!
When having a bath it is important that the water is not too hot – keep it around your body temperature. I was always recommended for my baths to be under 39 degrees – just buy that baby bath thermometer a few months earlier if you are not sure…
I know baths are a very personal thing – some people like bath salts, some like bubble bath and some use oils and also everyone has different budgets and time constraints so I have given you a few different options but I have done all the hard work to make sure they are all free from nasty chemicals by looking at EWG & think dirty app.
Do let me know what your think in the comments and if you have any other ones you particularly like
Bath salts – a no fuss option
- Treat yourself: Herbivore Botanicals coconut milk bath soak
This product only has 4 ingredients which is normally a
great sign as they have found a few key things that work and do not need to add lots of other ingredients
Ingredients: Sodium Bicarbonate, Dehydrated Vegan Coconut Milk, Coconut Pulp CO2, Vanilla Planifolia Absolute
EWG Ranking: product is not listed but all ingredients score 1
These come in large packs so you don’t need to worry about running out. Oatmeal and honey are what I have suggested in the DIY recipe – they are good enough to eat and very soothing for the skin.
Ingredients: Pacific Sea Salt, Fragrance, Tocopherol (Vitamin E), Aloe Barbadensis (Aloe Vera) Leaf Juice, Caramel (color)
EWG Ranking: product is not listed but all ingredients score 2 or below
Bubble bath – natural options do exist!
Bubble bath can be pretty controversial because most commercially available bubble baths contain SLS – sodium lauryl sulphate. This is what makes your skin feel dry because the SLS take off the natural oils on your skin that lock in your hydration….not good.
The good news is there are some natural, SLS free, bubble baths that actually work and shouldn’t break the bank:
- Alaffia Everyday Shea butter and yam leaf unscented bubble bath – this is for dry skin & works really well in terms of the bubble effect!
EWG Ranking: This product is not on EWG but on think dirty database it rates as 1. It also has a very short ingredients list of Dioscorea spp. (Yam) Leaf Aqueous Extract, Decyl Glucoside, Lauryl Glucoside, Butyrospermum parkii (Shea) Butter.
Alaffia is a great company and I really want to support them in their mission, to empower communities in Africa to get educated, gain skills and ultimately rise out of poverty. Their products do vary in terms of ingredients used so if you are looking at buying something other than the above I would suggest checking on EWG or think dirty first. Or, of course, check back here to see if I have covered it in another post!
- Another option which is specifically designed for future mum’s in mind is Attitude blooming belly natural bubble bath. Attitude keeps coming up because they have recently received the EWG verification for many of their products making them an easy and trust worthy choice.
EWG Ranking: This product is EWG verified and all ingredients are rated as a 1 except castor oil which is a 2.
Ingredients: Aqua, sodium coco-sulfate, vegetable glycerin, coco-glucoside, decyl glucoside, leuconostoc/radish root ferment filtrate, citric acid, glyceryl oleate, sodium cocoyl glutamate, sodium gluconate, sodium chloride, argania spinosa (argan) leaf extract, maltodextrin, ricinus communis (castor) seed oil, 3-hexenol (green leaves), ethyl acetate natural (sweet pear).
- DIY: Moisturising Honey Bubble Bath
If you feel like making your own then try this recipe with honey and almond oil. Both of these ingredients will moisturise dry or flaky skin but won’t be as bubbly as the options above:
- 1 cup sweet almond oil
- 1/2 cup honey
- 3/4 cup liquid Castile soap
- 30-50 drops essential oils ( You need to watch which oils your use during pregnancy but Lavender works well)
Combine all ingredients together. Drizzle under running water while filling the bath.
3. Why scrubbing off the dead skin is so important
Exfoliating is a great way to help prevent dry skin because we have a layer of dead cells all over our skin. Exfoliating gently removes the layer of dead cells and help the look and feel of the skin. I often exfoliate my face but can forget about the rest of my body. It is very easy to use a home made exfoliant – olive oil and sugar or salt will do the trick. Use a long brush to get those hard to reach places on your back, it really helps circulation which is so important during pregnancy.
4. Moisturise straight after your bath for maximum benefit
Moisturising straight after your bath is probably the most convenient time to do it anyway but it is also the most effective in combating dry skin. When your get out of the bath just pat or blot your skin until its just barely dry…you do not want to be completely dry when you apply moisturiser. As you, want to trap the left over humidity in the surface cells using your moisturiser.
People like different things in a moisturiser – personally I prefer a thick cream to an oil but when I was pregnant I loved using the oil to massage my belly. If you want something that is specifically formulated for dry skin then these are two of my favourites:
Moisturising cream – a rich, luscious solution
- Again the attitude living line especially for expectant mums is a pretty good option – their natural nourishing cream with argan has a lovely but not overpowering scent, rubs in well and is full of antioxidants. It is also hypoallergenic which is very important if you are are already pregnant and trying a new product and it is made from plant-based ingredients only
- DIY – easy & convenient natural moisturiser
- 1/2 cup virgin organic coconut oil
- 1/4 cup raw cocoa butter
- 1 teaspoon of vitamin E oil
- 2 tablespoons of rose hip oil
- 2 tablespoons of almond oil
- 20 drops of Geranium, Lavender essential oil
Just melt the coconut oil and cocoa butter, pour into glass container and allow to cool. Then add in the other oils. This is a good recipe because the other oils will stop the coconut oil and cocoa butter from solidifying so it will be easy and quick to apply!
Natural Oils – must be 100% pure
There are so many types of oils you can use to moisturise your dry skin.
- Pure virgin coconut oil is one of the most versatile products ever but I find it annoying that it solidifies so easily making it a faff to use….I don’t want any more barriers to my regular moisturising!
- Essential oils are a good option but you need to source them from a reputable provider who can guarantee they are pure, otherwise you may have unwanted additives that are not always disclosed on the label. This can also mean that they are quite pricey… Also, some essential oils are not suitable during pregnancy (just some of the most common: rosemary, cinnamon, basil, bitter almond, fennel….) and some that may induce labor like clary sage – good when the time comes though!
Whatever you decide to use you will use A LOT of it. I wanted to moisturise all the time to alleviate the itchy feeling so I would recommend a combination of creams and oils. Use your moisturiser straight after the bath and then put a nice smelling oil on just before bed
5. Your stretch marks need special attention – massage!
Your normal daily moisturising may not be enough to avoid those stretch marks & please don’t wait until your see them appearing to start this routine. Prevention is what we are aiming for!
The areas that are most prone to stretch marks during pregnancy are your tummy..who knew one bit of skin could stretch like that, sides, lower back and thighs as there is extra of strain on these areas as your baby grows. You need to make sure your moisturiser penetrates the skin…..
My advice is to get your partner to massage you daily…
ha ha if they are anything like mine…fat chance, maybe once a week? The rest of the time make sure you spend a few minutes a day massaging yourself, rubbing your lovely natural moisturiser into that gorgeous growing bump!
I don’t think that you need different products for your stretch marks. There are lots of products marketed specifically for stretch marks but most of them contain nasty chemicals that I wouldn’t put anywhere near me normally, let alone with my unborn baby just under the surface.
I think you will all know what I mean when I say pregnancy is such an exciting time but it can also be pretty hard work, from the morning sickness to the swollen ankles, sore back and on top of it all dry skin.
I hope these 5 essential tips are something you can do throughout your pregnancy:
1. Look after yourself first
2. Take lots of baths – not too hot!
3. Exfoliate once per week
4. Moisturise straight after the bath & as often as you can
5. Massage to avoid stretch marks
They will keep your skin silky soft so you can compete with your little baby’s perfect skin when it arrives.
Dry skin during pregnancy is an extra worry you just don’t need.
Please let me know what you think about this post, do you have any products or home recipes you love and want to share?