I’m currently in month 8th of my fourth pregnancy (you can read about my fertility journey here). So I’m well aware of the ups and downs that come alongside those 40 weeks — including acne.
Women often ask me, “will my skin get worse during pregnancy?”
It may. But it may not.
Thanks to your shifting hormones, some women find acne pops up as one of the first signs of pregnancy. It typically hangs out for the first trimester and can taper off as your second trimester begins.
For other women, they can see a complete clearing of their acne throughout their pregnancy.
I’m in the former category and know I’m pregnant before I take a test because pimples start to appear out of nowhere. Luckily, it clears up by week 13 for me.
Unfortunately, we won’t know which pregnancy acne camp you’ll be in until the time comes.
As I mentioned, hormones are to blame for the flare-up of breakouts — specifically your progesterone, cortisol and insulin. Let’s break each one down.
During pregnancy, there is a huge surge of progesterone, which can increase the oil production (aka sebum) in your skin. This increase can clog pores and lead to breakouts.
Known as your stress hormone, cortisol can also be a culprit for the additional pimples popping up in pregnancy. While pregnancy is an exciting time, it can also be stressful for many women. Cortisol can also signal for the skin to overproduce the pore-clogging sebum. Here are my top tips for reducing stress (note: it’s recommended to avoid adaptogens during pregnancy).
Insulin plays a key role in the regulation of your blood glucose. If insulin levels stay high for too long it can increase the production of androgen hormones. Too many of these hormones also increase sebum production. You can learn more about acne and blood sugar here.
Pregnancy is not a time to work on balancing hormones but there are some ways you can help support your body through the breakouts. Focusing on a nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory diet can be a great way to help lessen the inflammatory nature of pregnancy acne. You can also use a few topical products to help lessen the severity and speed up healing. Throughout my pregnancy, I’ve used BeautyCounter for their high standards for ingredients (no hormone-disruptors or carcinogens found here). They also do not use retinol in their products (which isn’t pregnancy safe).
If you need more help with this, check out Glowing Mama. I lay out the exact recommendations I provide to any of our clients who become pregnant while working with us – including pregnancy-focused supplementation, nourishing meal plans/recipes and pregnancy-safe skincare.