Recognizing Changes and Nurturing your Skin during Pregnancy
by Jaqulene Harper-Roth
For the most part, pregnancy skin needs to be nurtured, hydrated, and protected. Basic, natural skin care is not difficult. Use as few products as possible, and remember that your skin requires very little handling. Complicated cleansing, exfoliation, and moisturizing rituals are not only time-consuming they’re expensive and more hazardous, than beneficial. A caressing massage is sensual and wonderful, but unnecessary touching, rubbing, squeezing or pH disruption can irritate and inflame the skin and can also induce acne, pimples and other blemishes.
If your skin becomes irritated through the use of a particular skin-care product, or cosmetic, before rushing out to buy another brand, go au natural for a few days, to allow it to calm down and balance itself again. Then carefully introduce another product and watch for reactions. The best type of skin-care during pregnancy is chemical-free (and fetus-safe). That’s no commercial product at all. Making all your own skin-care products is cheap and fun, but if this is just too unrealistic for your lifestyle, do the next best thing and use only the best. Try to find ‘natural products’ with no artificial preservatives, fragrances and, especially important, no artificial dyes. Also, keep in mind that most commercially available skin care products, especially moisturizers, lotions and creams, have a predetermined shelf life, and contain oils, and although they are preserving to the formula, they will also become rancid. To prolong the life of your favorite product, keep them refrigerated.
There is no doubt that sun-protection is the best skin-moisturizer available. The sun is your skin’s number one enemy. Tanned skin is no longer viewed as healthy, or beautiful. But pregnancy skin still does require the sun’s ray spectrum, for the cutaneous synthesis of vitamin D. The sunshine vitamin is also crucial for correct bone formation (for both you and your baby) and for absorbing and utilizing calcium. Fifteen minutes a day before 10am, or after 5pm is the safest time for a health promoting sunshine bath. The vitamin D you can get from taking supplements, or consuming dairy products, and fish, has been shown to impair magnesium absorption, and once absorbed, the liver has to convert it into an active form, before the body can use it.
Beware of chemical formulated sunscreens, which unfortunately lure us all into a false sense of security, believing we can stay in the sun longer, because (after all) we are protected from the damaging rays. As it stands, although today’s sunscreens protect you from UVB rays, the more deeply (and thus more damaging), penetrating UVA rays are unaffected by sunscreen protection. UVA rays can reach deep down into the dermis, attacking the melanocytes, which can become cancerous and lead to malignant melanoma. Also, UVB blocking sunscreens interfere with the body’s production of vitamin D, and since vitamin D has a hormone-like effect in our body, it has been shown to interfere with the growth of tumors.
Apart from the healthy skin-required, ten minutes a day sun bath the best, and safest form of sun protection is to cover-up with fabrics and colors that block all the sun rays and keep you cool, too. Remember, even if it doesn’t feel like you’re burning, it doesn’t mean that you’re not. Beware of cosmetics and skin-care products that contain sunscreen or UV inhibitor ingredients, as they have been found to cause allergic reactions, photosensitivity, and varying degrees of contact dermatitis. The newer sunscreens are even more skin-hazardous then familiar brands, as they include formulations of UVB, UVA and UVC inhibitors, such as benzophenone, titanium dioxide and para-aminobenzoic acid. These chemicals, you may be surprised to learn, are known as some of the world’s most powerful free radicals. Anyone who knows anything about premature skin aging, (especially photo-aging), knows that cross-linking is caused by free radical damage, which in turn leads to the development of wrinkles, or worse, melanoma and other skin cancers.