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Four Pregnancy Skin-care Myths

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Sanova Dermatology’s Dr. Jennifer Vickers is here to bust some pregnancy skin-care myths.

Photos courtesy of Daniel Crotty Photography

Google might convince you to slather your body in cocoa butter and ditch your skin-care routine as soon as you find out you’re pregnant, but not everything you read online is accurate. Sanova Dermatology’s Dr. Jennifer Vickers is here to bust some pregnancy skin-care myths. As a dermatologist and mother herself, she understands how difficult it can be to navigate the pregnancy skin-care maze. From stretch marks to what products you can keep using, here is her expert advice on what’s real, what’s hype and what’s just plain marketing. 

Myth No. 1: Cocoa butter will help prevent stretch marks. FALSE.

“This is a conversation I often have with my pregnant patients,” Vickers says. “And I have to say, ‘You’re not going to like my answer, but there isn’t much that will prevent stretch marks.’ ” Our bodies either get stretch marks or they don’t, and Vickers notes that every pregnancy is different. She developed plenty of stretch marks during her first pregnancy (despite slathering on the cream) and just a few this second time. 

So, where did this myth come from? Slick marketing and large advertising budget! Vickers notes that while there is no miracle cream to prevent stretch marks, moisturizing (with any thick, bland cream) can help relieve itching that comes from the skin being stretched. 

Vickers also fields many patient questions about post-pregnancy stretch-mark cures. While there are a few options available to help soften the look of post-pregnancy stretch marks, such as laser procedures and microneedling, there is nothing to remove them completely. They usually fade with time over the course of several months. 

She advises patients to be gentle with their self-image. Vickers often reminds patients (and herself) that stretch marks are nothing to be ashamed of and that it’s all in how you frame it: If you think of stretch marks as “victory marks” or “warrior marks” you’re focusing on the powerful journey your body has just taken versus the shame of change. 

Myth No. 2: You can’t color your hair while pregnant. FALSE.

“There’s nothing wrong with getting your hair dyed when pregnant,” Vickers says. “Absorption is limited and not likely to cause problems with an unborn baby. There is no evidence to show that hair dye is harmful in pregnancy.” In fact, dyeing your hair may boost your confidence and brighten your mood. 

Myth No. 3: Hold off on your skin-care regimen while pregnant. FALSE.

Most face washes and serums are safe. And you can and should continue to moisturize your face and body regularly. Vickers advises her patients to avoid skin-care products containing retinols, retinoids and salicylic acid. 

She also encourages her patients to continue to wear sunscreen every day during pregnancy. “The risk of developing skin cancer in Central Texas is greater than the perceived risks of using sunscreen,” she says. Physical or mineral sunscreens with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide are best during pregnancy. Vickers’ favorite sunscreens are by Colorescience, which she uses on her own daughter. 

Myth No. 4: Your skin will get worse (or better!) with pregnancy. IT DEPENDS!

Pregnancy acne depends on the person. There’s no rhyme or reason to how your skin will fare during the 40 weeks you’re pregnant. Vickers recommends stopping all acne medications once you become pregnant until you can consult with your dermatologist or obstetrician. While there are treatments for acne in pregnancy, they are limited to a shortlist of medications.  

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