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Skin Deep

Skin Deep: Did you know you're not meant to use these skincare products when you're pregnant?

Because I didn’t!


Welcome to Skin Deep with Louise McSharry, my opportunity to put years of obsessing over beauty products and techniques to good use. I won’t tell you something is good if it’s not. I won’t recommend products I haven’t actually tried. As the magical sitar in Moulin Rouge said, I only speak the truth. 


I’m just over halfway through my second pregnancy, and it’s all getting very real. My bump is getting bumpy, my handbags are filled with antacid, and I’m starting to panic about ‘all the jobs in the house’.

I’m not someone who overly obsesses over pregnancy rules or guildelines. I do what the midwives tell me, but if I accidentally eat some unpasteurised cheese I’m not going to have a meltdown. I guess I feel like women have babies in huts, not to mention the fact that my generation survived pregnancy in the 80s, so if you even pay a bit of attention to what you’re meant to be doing, you’ll probably be ok!

It is perhaps because of this relative casualness that I didn’t learn until this week that there are some skincare products that you should avoid in pregnancy. Whoops. I felt it was only right that I impart my newfound wisdom to you this week, along with some tips for how you can remedy some of the impact pregnancy can have on your skin.

Let’s start with the bad news. If you’re pregnant, experts say you shouldn’t be using Retinol, Salicylic Acid or Glycolic Acid. The reasons why vary. Retinol is a form of Vitamin A, excessive amounts of which can lead to foetal birth defects and liver toxicity. Salicylic Acids taken orally (it is an ingredient in some medicine) can also lead to complications, so for safety’s sake they suggest you shouldn’t use it at all, even topically.

Glycolic can lead to skin photosensitivity, so for your face’s sake, you should probably avoid due to the fact that your skin is already sensitive in pregnancy. It’s important to note here, however, that the likelihood of you using enough of these products to actually cause a problem is almost non-existant. Topical use is almost certainly safe, and It’s only when these things are consumed excessively that they are problematic. As with lots of things in pregnancy, however, the expert advice is to avoid entirely to be on the safe side. Basically, if, like me, you’ve been acid-ing away, don’t be worrying. Just maybe put the Glow Tonic to one side for a few months. 


Speaking of Glow Tonic, as mentioned above, glycolic acids like it can lead to photosensitivity which basically means your skin is extra sensitive to the sun. In pregnancy, this is the case anyway, which often leads to Melasma, which is essentially brown spots or patches on your face. This is due to increased hormone levels (bloody hormones, coming in here, stealing our glow), and while you skin should return to normal after you have your baby, it’s a good idea to protect yourself from the sun while you’re pregnant to avoid it developing in the first place.

What does that mean? SPF of course! I know I’m always on at you, but seriously, lash it on, loads of it, and if you can reapply throughout the day. If you find that your Melasma doesn’t go away after pregnancy, consult an expert. A combination of appropriate peels and a topical hydroquinone cream should help.

Other skin problems which may present themselves during pregnancy include dehydration (make sure you’re drinking lots and lots of water, that baby is sucking you dry!), hormonal acne (try a lactic acid product in lieu of salicylic), and what many feel is the worst one, stretch marks.

Personally, I wish people could give themselves a break when it comes to stretch marks. Very few women don’t have any, we just don’t usually see them because the world of advertising, beauty and fashion edits them out. Stretch marks are a part of life, and a reminder of all the work your body has done to get to you the point you’re at. They are not a failure on your part, or a sign that you’re not beautiful or enough. I’ve had so many for so long that I honestly don’t give them a second thought in pregnancy. However, I know that they are something that lots of women struggle to accept. Unfortunately, it’s very difficult to prevent them. 


Generally, you have a genetic predisposition toward getting them or not getting them, but keeping your skin well-hydrated will help. A healthy diet including lots of Vitamin C, and some Vitamin D and Zinc supplements will also do you no harm. Once they appear, lash on a good oil. Bio-Oil is many people’s favourite for a reason, it includes a combination of vitamins and plant extract which lots have found has a great impact on scars and stretch marks. I’m also a huge fan of Trilogy’s Rosehip Oil, and the brand’s Pure Plant Body Oilwhich includes Rosehip Oil as an ingredient. Rosehip Oil is a bit of a natural wonder ingredient for skin, as it’s nourishing and full of anti-oxidants. If that’s not your thing, Dr. Hauschka’s Blackthorn Toning Body Oil is great as its ingredients both nourish the skin and promote elasticity. It also smells like a luxury spa and has a slightly warming quality which is nice at bedtime.

Most of all, the best thing you can do for yourself in pregnancy is just to be kind to yourself. It can be hard to feel like you’ve lost control over appearance, but know that your body is working hard all the time to keep you and your baby healthy. Take some time to take care of yourself.

New Product


Nars Super Radiant Booster (€32) is a new product which seems to operate along similar lines to Charlotte Tilbury’s Flawless Filter. It’s not a foundation, although you could use it like one, it’s aim is less about perfecting the skin and more about making it glow. It promises to ‘amplify skin’s illumination with a pearlescent glow and lightweight, layerable texture’. It comes in one shade which is apparently ‘universally flattering’. I’ve met very few Nars products I don’t like, so I’m looking forward to giving this a go when it arrives on February 1st. 

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