'SKINCYCLING' in pregnancy: Kavana's Guide to safe, pregnancy specific skincare for each trimester
'SKINCYCLING' FOR PREGNANT WOMEN
Pregnancy can drastically change a woman’s body, thanks in no small part to fluctuating hormones, those chemical messengers that relay information between the brain and major organs of the body, via the bloodstream.
Maintaining a pregnancy is dependant on hormones, those life giving chemicals. If/when hormones are out of balance, serious problems can arise for both mother and baby.
While it’s widely known that what mothers eat, drink and inhale can affect the foetus, it’s less widely acknowledged that what mothers are exposed to, via the environment and the products they use on their skin, hair and nails, can also adversely affect their hormones and thus their developing baby.
Studies done in 2012, found over 200 toxic chemicals, including pesticides, flame retardants, DDT, BPA (bi-sphenol A) and more in the umbilical chord blood of unborn babies (Source). These toxins are potentially fatal, carcinogenic, and precursors to neurological and reproductive diseases. (source)
Moreover, since these toxic chemicals can be bioaccumulative and pass over into breast milk, babies can be affected by them even after they’re born. (source)
Clearly, it's crucial to choose healthy, safe, non-toxic personal-care products that are in harmony with our life-giving hormones. 'Skincycling' or syncing skincare to one's changing bodily hormone cycles, including pregnancy, is an intentional practice that empowers women to live healthier lives.
Read on to harmonize your hormones and your skincare, and protect your baby while you maintain your mama-to-be glow, sans toxic chemicals.
Kavana was created to provide safe, non-toxic, personal care options for women, in harmony with their hormones throughout all stages of life, including pregnancy.
Each trimester of pregnancy comes with it's own unique hormones fluctuations and skincare concerns. The following article includes trimester specific recommendations to choose for safe, non-toxic self-care products, as well as ingredients to refuse, in order to live in harmony with your hormones and your developing baby. Every pregnancy experience is unique, so please listen to your body and let it help guide what you need!
*Please see the disclaimer at the end of this post.
1st TRIMESTER: First Three months of pregnancy
HORMONES & SKIN AT A GLANCE:
Estrogen and progesterone increase dramatically.
- A ‘pregnancy glow’
- Collagen production.
Progesterone can cause:
- More sebum production
- Clogged pores
- Hormonal acne.
- Hot flashes and ‘running hot’.
- Very high progesterone levels, can cause weepiness, low confidence
- Overwhelming exhaustion, as blood volume increases.
HCG: (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin)
- Helps create the placenta
- may increase morning sickness
- may increase nausea and
- may contribute to a heightened sense of smell.
CARE FOR YOURSELF
- EXCESS OIL
- ADULT ACNE
- CLOGGED PORES & BLACKHEADS
- PREMATURE FINE LINES & WRINKLES
CHOOSE: Kavana Foaming Face Polish
- Prevent clogged pores, reduce acne and the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles.
- Remove dead skin cells with naturally occurring AHA’s (Alpha-Hydroxy Acids) that are safe in low levels.
- Get smoother looking skin, by increasing cell renewal/ turnover.
A non-abrasive polishing powder that turns into a creamy foam when activated with water, Kavana Foaming Face Polish is powered by non-toxic ingredients including:
- brightening licorice root
- hydrating maple sugar (AHA)
- whole milk powder (AHA)
- citric acid (AHA)
- purifying Moroccan Rhassoul clay
- clarifying Montmorillionite clay
- refining volcanic pumice
- silky rice powder
- softening colloidal oats
- cleansing Yucca powder.
A cap full is all you need of this ultra-fine, lightweight powder. It works gently and effectively to decongest and reveal smooth, bright, glowing mama-to-be, skin. Use it following your Phyto-5 Calming Cleansing Milk and/ or Phyto-5 Purifying Cream Cleanser.
PRO TIP: Go deluxe! After adding water to foam your face polish up, mix one drop of your Kavana Phyto-5 Nourishing Niaouli Nectar in for an even creamier, at home facial that will leave your skin squeaky clean and ultra-soft and nourished.
REFUSE: High concentration and doses of AHA’s & BHA’s.
AHA’s (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) like Glycolic acid, Azelaic acid and BHA’s (Beta Hydroxy Acids) like Salicylic acid in high doses.
While these are great for fighting acne, high concentration AHA’s may be too strong for a pregnant woman’s sensitive skin during pregnancy, and may make her skin more photo (sun)-sensitive. (source)
- RUNNING HOT (Daytime)
- HOT FLASHES & NIGHT SWEATS
CHOOSE: Kavana’s Rose Glow Mist
Rising progesterone can cause hot flashes and night sweats in early pregnancy and a feeling of ‘running hot’. Rapid hormone fluctuations and an increased metabolic rate, are thought to be the cause of these (source)
Kavana’s Rose Glow Mist will soothe and refresh your skin. It includes:
- 100% pure Rosa Damascena absolute in pure rose hydrosol to soothe your senses and refresh hot skin.
- Natural humectants like vegetable glycerin draw moisture into your skin.
- Softening silk peptides, allantoin and Panthenol (Vit.B5) give skin a long lasting, dewy finish that never feels tight or dry.
Keep this mist in the fridge in summertime, for extra cool skin refreshing, or by your bedside at night for in-bed soothing spritz.
REFUSE: Mineral water mists
Overpriced mineral water spritzes. While feeling hot, you may want to mist constantly but this can dehydrate the skin further. After washing your face, you have about a 60 second window before evaporation starts. As the water evaporates the skin feels tight and dehydrated, the opposite of what you want.
Choose a moisturizing mist with protective humectants and emollients that sink into the skin and moisturize right away, like Kavana's bestselling Rose Glow Mist.
- FEELING HOT AND SWEATY
CHOOSE: Kavana’s Eco Deoderant
Releasing toxins through sweat is one of the body’s natural processes. Sweat helps regulate body temperature that can rise during pregnancy, by cooling the body down, an essential during the first trimester when feeling hot and sweatier than usual, is part of the fun! To prevent unwelcome odour, a swipe of this eco-deoderant bar does the trick.
Kavana’s Eco-Deo contains a powerful trio of moisture fighting powders, including:
- tapioca, arrowroot and Kaolin clay
- unrefined, fair trade cocoa and shea butter. Skin softening superstars.
- Anti-bacterial ti-tri (melaleuca alternifolia) and refreshing lemongrass essential oils, keep you smelling fresh.
- Brazilian Carnauba wax prevents this ergonomic round bar from melting in your hands and gym bag.
PRO TIP: 100% plastic packaging-free, this cute, ergonomic, round eco-deo bar, fits in the palm of your hand and is good for you and for the earth. Keep yours in the chic cotton, mini drawstring tote bag it comes with, when not in use and re-use it.
REFUSE: TOXIC INGREDIENTS
What’s inside is just as important as what’s NOT inside! The jury is still out on the danger/safety of aluminum salts that ‘plug’ sweat pores in traditional anti-perspirants. These help prevent or lessen moisture in the underarm area but also reroute toxins and minerals in the body, that otherwise get detoxified through sweat.
Major studies in cancer institutes in the UK, US and Canada have proven the link between aluminum and breast cancer to be inconclusive (source) but why not veer on the side of caution and let your body do it’s thing anyway?
Other toxic chemicals to avoid in conventional deodorants/anti-perspirants abound and they include:
- Triclosan, an antibacterial linked to antibiotic resistance, skin irritation, allergies and thyroid issues, it is classified as a pesticide by the FDA and a probable carcinogen by the EPA (source).
- Propylene Glycol: The active ingredient in anti-freeze for your armpits? Nah. Metabolized by the liver, studies have shown that it can cause damage to the central nervous system and heart. Avoid! (source).
- ‘Fragrance’: The word ‘fragrance’ or ‘parfum’ usually refers to the scent ingredients of a product but because fragrance is considered a trade secret, companies are not obliged to list these ingredients. ‘Fragrance’ and ‘parfum’ can thus mask hundreds of other toxic chemicals, including endocrine disrupting phthalates like DEP (Diethylpthalate) commonly used as a solvent or fixative in perfumery (source).
- SEARCHING FOR A SOOTHING, NON-TOXIC SCENT.
CHOOSE: Kavana Rose Perfume Poem
The therapeutic and calming scent of 100% pure, rosa damascena essential oil can help calm your parasympathetic nervous system (source) and help refresh your senses when you have bad bouts of morning sickness, nausea or feelings of weepiness overtake you. Blended with Clary sage, Rose geranium, orange and grapefruit, this Rose Perfume Poem will brighten your spirits.
Subtle, therapeutic scents like this one, are recommended for a heightened sense of smell, that can be common during the first trimester, thanks to rising hormones HCG (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin) and progesterone. Simply apply to the inner wrists, sides of neck and inhale.
Choose products without ‘Fragrance’ or ‘Parfum’ listed in the ingredients, as these can mask endocrine disrupting chemicals like DEP (DiEthylPhthalates), commonly used as solvents or fixatives in perfumery. (source).
Go without your signature scent if it’s a synthetic perfume for the duration of your pregnancy and while breast feeding, for your safety and the safety of your child.
2nd trimester: Middle Three Months of Pregnancy
HORMONES & SKIN AT A GLANCE:
Estrogen and Progesterone: continue to rise.
Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone (MSH), stimulated by estrogen and progesterone, is a hormone that triggers your skin’s melanocyte cells to produce melanin, which can cause:
- Melasma & Chloasma: brown or greyish patches on the face (darker skin patches)
- Linea negra: a dark line that goes up the belly
- Darker areolas & nipples
- Pronounced freckles and moles on face and body.
Cortisol: The ‘Stress’ hormone rises during pregnancy.
- Helps regulate metabolism & blood sugar levels.
High levels of cortisol are associated with:
- Bruises and purple stretch marks
- High blood pressure
- Flushed/redness in the face and cheeks. (source)
- helps relax and smooth muscles to help promote the growth of the placenta.
- May cause back pain, soreness
- Relaxes muscles and ‘loose’ feeling joints, may make mothers-to-be more prone to injury in the 2nd and 3rd
HCG: (Human Chorionic Gonadotropin)
- peaks around week 8-11 once placenta is created, then drops.
- As the production of HCG drops off, relief from nausea, morning sickness and sharp sensitivity to smell, occurs.
CARE FOR YOURSELF:
- MELASMA &/ CHLOASMA (darker patches of skin)
- DARKENING FRECKLES AND BEAUTY MARKS
CHOOSE: A broad spectrum, mineral based, non-toxic sunblock with UVA/UVB protection, that’s eco-friendly and reef safe can help prevent dark patches from getting darker and is not impossible to find! Be sure to read the ‘active ingredients’ section of this product carefully-usually on the back of your sunscreen, above the inactive ingredients listed, to check that your active sunblock ingredient is non-toxic.
CHOOSE NON-TOXIC OPTIONS: Look for broad spectrum options with 20% non-nano particle sized dose of micronized minerals Zinc oxide and/ Titanium dioxide.
CLEAN SUNBLOCK BRANDS TO LOOK FOR:
For Mom: Devita Skincare
For Baby: Think Baby Sunblock SPF 50+ (active ingredient is 20% Zinc oxide) which is water-resistant, reef friendly, First to Pass by Whole Foods Premium Care requirements, cruelty free, gluten free and non-oily feeling.
Don’t forget your lips and hair! Protect the delicate skin of your mouth with a lip-safe, mineral sunblock, and keep shiny hair under a hat or umbrella, especially during midday hours.
Read ingredients carefully for other toxic ingredients lurking behind ‘green-washed’ labels claiming their product is a ‘natural’ sunscreen, simply because it’s mineral based. If you’re not sure about ingredients, take time to educate yourself and look them up, or stick to ingredients you recognize.
TOXIC CHEMICALS in SUNSCREEN: Bio- accumulative, potentially carcinogenic and endocrine disrupting active sunscreen chemicals to look out for, include:
- avobenzones, oxybenzones, octinoxates, octisalate, octocrylene, octyl-salycilate, homosalate, octocrylene, alumina, fragrance, parabens, phthalates, petroleum by products.
RETINOIDS & HYDROQUINONE:
Retinoids: This class of fat soluble compounds derived from Vitamin A has been clinically tested in it’s many forms and it’s efficacy (as a chemical exfoliant) has been proven for conditions like acne and signs of aging.
Topical applications of retinoid based formulas can add an extra 25% Vitamin A to our daily intake and this can pose a threat for pregnant women whose recommended daily allowance should not pass the 1.5 mg mark. (source)
While there are different classes of retinoids, trentinoin remains the most controversial, as “there are 4 published case reports of birth defects in the literature, associated with topical trentinoin use, which are consistent with retinoid embryopathy.”
Hydroquinone is used as a topical depigmenting agent for conditions such as chloasma and melasma, as a skin whitening agent. It has been estimated that 35-45% is systematically absorbed following topical use in humans. Though clinical trials on small sample size groups of pregnant women have been done and not shown adverse effects, because the absorption rate is high, it is best to minimize exposure until further studies can confirm safety. (source)
- STRETCH MARKS
CHOOSE: Stretch marks, the most common skin change of pregnancy, are caused by the effects of hormonal changes on the skin’s elasticity and the physical stretching of the skin. They affect up to 90% of women and while they are impossible to prevent or effectively erase, keeping the skin hydrated can help (source)
Kavana’s Stretchy Belly Balm in the Mother’s Little Helpers Skincare Set helps keep skin soft and buttery. A delicate, cocoa scented, sensorial self-care ritual for mother’s to indulge in, it is loaded with safe, non-toxic, all natural, skin-loving ingredients including:
- Sweet Almond oil
- Vitamin E
- Fair trade Cocoa butter
- Unrefined Shea butter
- Cacao absolute
These can potentially reduce the urge to scratch and further inflame the skin. Kavana’s Stretchy Belly Balm was formulated for mother’s stretching bellies but can also be safely used on thighs and around breasts.
Cacao absolute, is great for expecting mothers because:
- It’s loaded with anti oxidants that boost collagen production
- Protects the skin from environmental damage and rapid aging
- Stimulates the tissues and tones and nourishes skin
- Encourages circulation, ensures skin gets nourished and stays vibrant.
- Can help with sluggish circulation and cellulite
- It’s anti inflammatory, anti bacterial and contains more vitamin C than an orange and 20 x more polyphenols than green tea!
- Scent stimulates the nervous system, and evokes a feeling of wellbeing, energy and vitality
- Anandamide, a molecule in cocoa absolute, is useful against feelings of tiredness, sadness and stress.
- Tryptophan, another component of cacao absolute, famously relaxes the nervous system and boosts mood. (source
CONCERN: DRY SKIN:
CHOOSE: Cacao Absolute is also a star ingredient in our Phyto-5 Cacao & Immortelle Face Nectar, which is our lightest texture, highest impact face nectar.
Antioxidant Vitamin C rich Cacao Absolute and Vitamin C packed Rosehip Seed oil, which is found in all of Kavana's plant powered, Phyto-5 Skincare, promotes collagen production. This means it has the potential to thicken the dermis, diminish fine lines, and is essential for firm, youthful skin. (source)
On top of that, vitamin C is an antioxidant, meaning it protects skin cells from damaging free radicals caused by UV exposure. It also inhibits melanin production in the skin, which helps to lighten hyperpigmentation and brown spots, even out skin tone, and enhance skin radiance (source).” Kavana's Nectars are all excellent underneath sunblock, though this one is our choice for expecting women.
Applied to seal moisture after the Kavana Phyto-5 Face Cream, this face oil also contains precious Immortelle (aka Helichrysum italicum) essential oil, which is known for wrinkle prevention. Lines on the face and body beware! Helichrysum also has a strong impact against free-radicals and also significantly stimulates collagen production, microcirculation and skin detoxification. (source)
3rd trimester: Last three months of pregnancy
As baby grows, pressure on internal organs means:
- Frequent urination
- Excessive thirst
- Dehydrated skin, undereye circles or dryness.
- Shortness of breath, heartburn and difficulty sleeping.
Swelling of ankles, fingers and face can occur, as can hemorrhoids, tender breasts, which may leak a watery pre-milk called colostrum and a protruding belly button. The baby dropping or moving lower in the abdomen can also cause contractions which can be a sign of real or false labor.
Hormones at a glance:
Estrogen & Progesterone: peak around week 32.
Estrogen is 6x higher than before pregnancy.
Prolactin: This hormone stimulates the development of breast tissue to prepare for lactation and ramps up in the third trimester. It is 10x higher at the end of pregnancy than at the start.
Oxytocin: This hormone controls contractions of the uterus and helps with milk letdown and the management of 'baby blues', post partum. (source)
CARE FOR YOURSELF
- SLEEP DEPRIVATION
- DRY, PUFFY, TIRED EYES (DARK CIRCLES)
CHOOSE: Kavana’s Phyto-5 Luminous Eye Cream
Sleep deprivation is a big one in the third trimester. Give your tired eyes a bit of love with this luminous, glow-enhancing eye cream formulated for puffiness and dark circles. Apply half a pump to the ring finger or small end of a jade roller or cooling steel-pad applicator, and apply around the eye contour, never on the eyelid or too close to underneath of the eye.
This non-toxic, all natural eye cream contains:
- Caffeine rich coffee: a vaso-dilator which may help with puffiness
- Phyto-5: Kavana’s signature blend of 5 skin loving plants in vitamin E rich Sunflower: Calendula, Comfrey, Echinacea, Plantain and Rosehip Seed oil.
- Royal jelly can increase skin’s moisture by 60%, protect it from dehydration and inflammation
- Brightening Sea buckthorn seed oil
- Propolis, helps stimulate blood flow
- Honey, a natural humectant, draws moisture into the skin, may encourage cell growth and regeneration
- Aloe vera gel, skin tightening and cooling
- Marshmallow root and Meadowfoam seed oil: Ultra hydrating and give the look of a plumped glow without being heavy
- Panthenol: Vitamin B5 softens
- Naturally occurring banana yellow colour from the Sea buckthorn, helps reduce the appearance of dark circles
- Lilac mica imparts a soft focus highlight, illuminating around the eye area
CONCERN: DRY SKIN, TIRED LEGS.
CHOOSE: Phyto-5 Afterglow Body Oil
The invigorating and stimulating essential oils of geranium and rosemary, amongst others that are present at less than 1% in each 100ml bottle of Kavana’s Afterglow Body Oil, are the stars of this lightweight, moisturizing body oil.
Infused in Kavana’s signature Phyto-5 base of 5 skin-loving plants including calendula, comfrey, echinacea, rosehips and plantain which are macerated in linoleic-acid rich sunflower and rice bran oils, these essential oils work wonders for massaging tired legs.
The aromatic inhalation of Geranium essential oil has been clinically proven to effectively reduce anxiety during childbirth (source) and this relaxing oil also helps with stretch marks, acne, fluid retention and cellulite.
Rosemary, a more stimulating essential oil, may improve circulation, reduce lymphatic congestion, relieve fluid retention, cellulite and varicose veins. (source) Best used on the legs after balneotherapy- a relaxing bath with Kavana Sensual Salt Soak.
REFUSE: Petroleum by-product based body oils, lotions, body washes and soaps, hand sanitizers, and synthetically coloured and scented bath products.
Your body is a temple, don’t contaminate it with toxins like:
- petrolatum a.k.a mineral oil
- liquid paraffin
- synthetic and toxic preservatives
- synthetic fragrances and phthalates
- synthetic dyes and colourants
- unethically harvested palm oil or isopropyl palmitate (from palmitic acid and isorpropyl alcohol)
- Synthetic scented and coloured soaps, body washes and hand sanitizers.
CONCERN HEMORRHOIDS (Piles): A common occurrence in pregnancy, the collection of swollen tissues and veins that surround the anus can be painful for many mothers to- be. Kavana’s Baby Bum Balm also found in the Mother’s Little Helper Set along with the Stretchy Baby Belly Balm, was created as an all natural, non-toxic alternative to conventional, drug-store diaper rash creams.
Using Zinc Oxide as an active ingredient that forms a protective barrier, to keep baby’s bums dry and calm topical inflammation. This ointment can also be used to help effectively soothe the itching, pain and swelling caused by hemorrhoids during pregnancy.
POST PARTUM: A new chapter
Superwoman! You did it! Congratulations! Now the waiting game begins anew, as it can take up to a year (or more) for hormones to 'balance-out' again and for steady sleep, metabolism and energy to return to a new 'normal'.
Self-care *may* take a backseat in this stage of life, though all the Kavana products recommended as safe in this pregnancy blog post, may still be of service as part to a mother's holistic self-care ritual, after baby is born.
Kavana's Nursing Mom Nipple Balm is a specially formulated non-toxic, protective, fragrance-free, baby-friendly ointment, to soothe tender, painful, chapped, cracked skin on the breasts of nursing mothers. With Phyto-5, marshmallow root, Vitamin E, olive oil, mahua and chia seed butters, this balm is velvety soft.
Kavana's Eczema Balm is created for mothers wounds, NOT for babies, though it might be gentle enough for them, it contains essential oils of Basil and Yarrow as well as Neem, a strong scented, highly antifungal oil, which are contraindicated and not-recommended or suitable for children under 12 years of age.
Aside from Kavana's signature blend of Phyto-5, this eczema balm includes mucilaginous marshmallow root, African Baobab and Moringa seed oils, fair trade and unrefined Shea Butter, Evening Primrose Oil, Sea Buckthorn seed oil, Avocado and Vitamin E (Tocopherols). It is created with inflamed and sensitive skin in mind.
Read more and shop all our product catalogue here.
I spend a lot of time reading and researching about women's hormones and skin. Please don't just steal this information and post it like it's your own. Kindly share and credit it intentionally / with Kavana, so that we can continue to help support and empower all women to know more about their bodies and make well-informed choices.
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for our next installment of 'Skincycling' in Perimenopause.