Pregnancy skin: How your complexion changes when you're expecting a baby

Francesca Specter
Yahoo Style UK deputy editor
Pregnancy can have several effects on your skin. [Photo: Getty]

Grimes, Canadian singer and girlfriend of Elon Musk, has spoken of the effect pregnancy is having on her skin.

“I don’t know if everyone has this but when I got knocked up my skin turned super red and is just constantly covered in … stuff.

“Doing make-up is way harder when you’re pregnant for some reason,” Grimes, 31, explained in a new video for Vogue, which details her pregnancy skincare regime.

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We already know the female body undergoes a number of significant changes during pregnancy and, if Grimes’ account is anything to go by, this includes temporary changes to your complexion.

“Pregnancy can cause hormonal havoc, with stretch marks, rashes, pigmentation, itching and acne,” Dr Anjali Mahto, consultant dermatologist of Skin55, explains.

Pregnancy-related skin conditions

Acne

Acne in pregnancy, caused by increased progesterone, affects almost half of pregnant women – and this usually occurs in the first trimester, says Mahto.

“Those with a previous history of acne, are more likely to be affected but often things improve as pregnancy progresses.”

Melasma

Also known in this context as “pregnancy mask”, this is when brown or greyish patches of pigmentation appear on the face. This is caused by fluctuations in oestrogen and melanocyte [pigment cells], Mahto explains.

Itching

An itchy complexion is also a common complaint during pregnancy.

“Itching without a rash is extremely common and is due to increased oestrogen levels,” Mahto explains.

“Stretching of the skin, particularly in the latter half of pregnancy, can also cause itching.”

PUPPP

Pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy, or PUPPP, as it’s known for short, is a hives-like condition that can occur towards the end of pregnancy.

‘PUPPP usually develops in the third trimester and settles a few weeks after delivery and while the condition is uncomfortable and the exact cause is unknown, it will not harm the baby,” Mahto adds.

Pregnancy skincare

While many of these conditions are sadly unavoidable during pregnancy, Dr Ross Perry of Cosmedics recommends a pared-back, gentle approach to skincare during this time to make sure you look and feel your best.

He advises his pregnant clients to “wear an SPF of 30 plus even in winter as the fluctuating hormones can make your skin far more sensitive to UV light and cause the hyperpigmentation.”

Dr Perry also recommends a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser with natural ingredients, together with a light moisturiser – but avoid oil-based products as they may make hormonal skin more greasy and block pores.

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“Skin can become more dry during pregnancy causing flaky patches so it’s best to avoid having the water too hot or any steam treatments as it strips the body of natural oils,” he adds.

Finally, avoid products containing retinol, which are considered unsafe for use by pregnant women and those planning to fall pregnant.

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