The body goes through all manner of changes during pregnancy and beyond. From growing a baby and releasing hormones, to pumping more blood around the body, such rapid growth can unsurprisingly take its toll on the face, body and skin.
Dr Lubna Khan-Salim, cosmetic doctor and skin wellness clinic owner acknowledges that while pregnancy can be an incredibly exciting time for women, few hormonal fluctuations are as intense as those in pregnancy. “Instead of benefitting from the much-hoped for 'pregnancy glow', many of us experience frustrating flare-ups of hormonal acne and/or hyperpigmentation and melasma, which can cause brown patches on the face,” she explains.
But the face isn’t the only problem area either. “Stretch marks on the body are another skin change,” she explains. “Stretch marks can be genetic, so if your mum got stretch marks during her pregnancy, then you are more than likely to too. The key to tackling stretch marks is to focus on prevention as much as possible, which means: moisturise, moisturise, moisturise! Keeping the skin on the stomach moist helps to keep the moisture lipid barrier intact, causing less injury and trauma to the skin when slowly stretched over the course of nine months. Lipid-rich oils such as borage oil, rosehip seed oil, jojoba oil and even cocoa butter are great for this.”
So, are there any ingredients to avoid when it comes to looking after your skin during pregnancy? “Hormonal surges can cause frustrating skin changes, but many of the ingredients typically used to fight off breakouts or treat discolouration are off-limits during pregnancy because they can be absorbed into the body.” Lubna recommends steering clear of products containing retinol and hydroquinone when pregnant or breastfeeding, but to look out for ingredients such as benzoyl peroxide and azelaic acid, which are both praised for being skin saviours.
Whether it’s stretch marks, hormonal acne, or simply some good old TLC you’re after (you deserve it!) we've tried and tested the best in pregnancy and post-natal skincare for your face, body and skin.
Mama Mio Lucky Legs Cooling Gel
Designed by mums, the Mama Mio range covers everything from stretch mark cream to tummy rub oils and butters, as well as treatments for tender breasts and nipples. It’s also one of the only ranges we came across which offered trimester-specific product bundles. Given its expansive range and specialist wares, it was tricky to pinpoint a top skincare product, but the Lucky Legs Cooling Gel was one of the most effective we tried. Made with aloe vera, shea butter and chamomile to name but a few calming ingredients, it immediately relaxed tired legs – making it ideal for the aches of pains of pregnancy, and for the inevitable sleepless nights once baby arrives. Plant-based and vegan-friendly, you can also rest assured the products are as kind on the environment as they are your skin.
Aveeno Baby Mum & Baby Gift Set
When it comes to baby skincare, Aveeno is one of the leading names on the market, celebrated for creating products that are kind to baby’s sensitive skin – and this affordable gift set is designed to see mum through pregnancy and beyond. It comes with a a daily moisturising body lotion for mum – which contains oatmeal and is designed to target dry skin – a moisturising lotion for baby which is specially-designed for the first few weeks of their life when their skin is most sensitive, and a hair & body wash for bathtimes.The products are generously-sized, ranging from 150ml to 300ml, so while you may find the bottles could be slightly too big for the hospital bag, they should last you for a decent length of time.
Neal’s Yard Mother Organic Collection
Everything about this skincare set says quality, whether it’s the trademark blue glass bottles, the keepsake box, or the aromas and efficacy of the products themselves. The set contains: a Mother’s Balm - made from organic skin-nourishing oils such as coconut oil and apricot oil and beeswax and designed to encourage skin elasticity prevent stretch marks; Mother’s Massage Oil with neroli oil, and Mother’s Bath Oil featuring bergamot and ylang ylang. We found these to be every bit as relaxing as they profess to be – a top-quality treat to indulge yourself in.
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula Stretch Mark Massage Lotion
Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Formula is a household name – and for good reason. Containing collagen, elastin, argan oil and shea butter, this body lotion is designed to reduce the appearance of stretch marks on the skin during pregnancy and after. At under a fiver for 250ml, it’s affordable enough to not hold back when slathering on – exactly what you need when you’re looking to banish pesky stretch marks. We enjoyed the easy-to-use dispenser (ideal if applying one-handed while holding a little one), while the formula is also available in a concentrated massage cream and a tummy butter if you’d like to sample more items in the range.
Jurlique Calendula Redness Rescue Calming Mist
Bao Skincare Nourish Urself Balm
Bao Skincare is handmade in Dorset by Beth Coldrick. Cruelty-free, vegan, certified organic and natural, the range can also be used during pregnancy. Lightly fragranced with shea and frankincense, The Nourish Urself Balm is a must, in our opinion, and happens to be one of the brand’s bestselling products. Not only does it work to reduce facial pigmentation and stretch marks, but is such a universal wonder-product it can equally be used as a lip balm, or applied to the face before bed and used as a sleep mask. It also helps to reduce any dryness, and conveniently can be used on baby’s skin, too.
Skin Sapiens Family Set
Comprising a facial cleansing gel, face cream, lip balm, baby bath gel, baby lotion and baby balm, this is one for the whole family. From the packaging to the relatively few ingredients used in the products themselves, Skin Sapiens’ skincare products are refreshingly minimal and transparent – even the ingredients come with explanations of what they actually are. We love how adaptable this set is, with dad able to get involved with using the products too (if you’re so inclined to share!). The products are lightly fragranced, but feel soft and kind when they’re applied to skin – just what you want if the whole family will be utilising it. The Skin Sapiens lip balm is definitely one to pack in the hospital bag, too.
My Expert Midwife Spritz for Bits
The award-winning My Expert Midwife range is developed by midwives and hero product, Spritz for Bits is praised by mums for helping out down there by providing instant relief for perineal soreness, bruising and swelling following birth. Handily, the spray can easily be dispensed one-handed (or even upside down) onto the affected area, or sprayed onto a tissue, maternity pad or even into the bath. Featuring antibacterial tea tree oil and witch hazel to promote healing, plus lavender oil for soothing, it feels refreshing when applied. You may experience a slight tingling sensation – but at least you know it’s working. The range also includes nipple balm, a peri prep ointment for before birth and ‘Fantastic Skin Elastic’ for dry skin and stretch marks.
Weleda Aknedoron Purifying Lotion
Weleda’s range covers a whole host of natural products for the face, body, feet and more. If you’re experiencing problematic hormonal breakouts, the Aknedoron Purifying Lotion is pregnancy-friendly, made with natural ingredients, and can help tackle problem skincare areas thanks to the healing properties of sage, thyme, lavender, calendula, chamomile witch hazel and echinacea. It can be used on the body as well as the face, and is best applied before sleep. There’s also a Aknedoron Purifying Gel Cleanser for particularly oily or blemished skin.
The Organic Pharmacy Mother & Baby Massage Oil
A restorative massage can aid all manner of aches and pains when pregnant, but finding an oil that’s pregnancy-friendly and also not so heavily scented as to make you feel nauseous can be tricky. This subtly-fragranced soft and comforting cold-pressed massage oil from The Organic Pharmacy ticked all of the boxes for us, and comes with a nifty pump so it can be dispensed one-handed – ideal if you’re planning to also massage your little one when they arrive.
The Mama Mio Lucky Legs Cooling Gel is a must-buy skincare product in our opinion, and we found it just as effective at soothing tired and aching legs post-natally, too. Beyond the Lucky Legs Cooling Gel, Mama Mio has products for every stage of pregnancy, and area of the body, depending on which part you’re looking to target. A special mention also goes to the Skin Sapiens Family Set – soothing and comforting products which can be used by all of the family (if you so wish, you may want to keep them to yourself!).