Grimes, singer and girlfriend of Elon Musk, recently bemoaned 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 makeup is way harder when you’re pregnant for some reason,” Grimes explained in a new video for Vogue, which details her pregnancy skincare regime.
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.
So what can women expect when they’re expecting, skin-wise? Consultant dermatologist Dr Anjali Mahto of Skin55 explains: “Pregnancy can cause hormonal havoc, with stretch marks, rashes, pigmentation, itching and acne.”
Here’s a breakdown of what happens:
Pregnancy-related skin conditions
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.”
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.
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.”
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.
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.” He 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.
“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.