When you're pregnant, there are a lot of things that you're told you "shouldn't do". But when it comes to determining which beauty products are safe for you to use at every stage, the waters are murky. It’s surprisingly difficult to find solid pregnancy skincare advice online. There is, however, one thing that is certain: your skin will go through significant changes throughout pregnancy.
If you ever had any doubt of the power of hormones can have on your skin, you won't be when you're expecting. Pregnancy is usually associated with a gorgeous glow but there is a slate of other skin issues you might have to deal with - adult acne, heightened sensitivity and a 'pregnancy mask' of pigmentation. Not to mention the stretch marks and sore nipples.
To help you navigate the beauty minefield that pregnancy presents you with, we sat down with Dr Hayley Dickinson BSc (Hons), PhD, a leading Australian research scientist, who was instrumental in developing Endotoa's new nurture range for mother and baby.
Endotoa's nurture lineup feature six products - each being certified organic and as pure and natural as possible - designed to specifically protect the delicate ph balance of newborn skin. Additionally, there are two offerings just for you; Moisture Rich Belly Butter and Nourishing Nipple Balm.
Here, we ask Dr Hayley explains everything you need to know about pregnancy and newborn skin care.
mc: During pregnancy which skin care ingredients should we avoid?
Dr Hayley: It's about simplifying things. Like, retinol, for example, that’s really common in cosmetics and is recommended to be avoided during pregnancy. You know, the risks are low but they are there. And its one of these situations where the consequences are pretty great – the risk is low but consequences are quite serious. Pregnancy can be one of these situations were there’s a lot of things you can’t do: you can’t drink, you can’t smoke, you can’t eat soft cheese, you can’t eat sprouts, and if we look at it like that as this list of things we can’t do it can be pretty depressing.
And you want to do everything you can. So in terms of the products, we’ve gone back to basics, everything is organic, natural – that natural word can mean all sorts of things but from this perspective, the products are naturally derived from nature.
There are none of those SLS; no mineral oil, paraben oil, just oil school ingredients that have kind of been around forever. Pregnancy is not a time for actives, its not a time to try fancy new things. Just get back to basics."
mc: What's the best way to treat stretch marks?
Dr Hayley: "We’re not making promises about preventing or reducing stretch marks, given that stretch marks are caused by that distension as the skin is growing because of course, that uterus gets really big. And it’s an interaction between the stretching skin and the increased cortisol across pregnancy that really leads to a sort of reorganisation of the collagen and the elastin fibres.
"This process is happening deep within our skin and it's not something that a topical product can do anything about. So really this product is about keeping that skin hydrated so that as it is stretching we can sort of help to minimise some of the itching and the redness that can come from those stretch marks."
mc: Sore and cracked nipples are another concern for mums...
"So obviously as mums and bubs are learning to breastfeed, because it's certainly something that everyone needs to learn, you know, nobody wakes up just magically knowing how to do that, there can be some pain and some discomfort and so the nipple skin can become quite dry and painful. So, that balm is really just useful for applying after a feed to help all that skin to heal and provide a barrier to help reduce infections and pain and discomfort and things like that. So they’re our two mum products but the beautiful thing about the nibble balm is that the women can also use it as a lip balm, so it’s a nice multipurpose product, you know its good for dry elbows or cracked knees or heels or all those sorts of things."
mc: What's the most important thing to know about newborn skin care?
Dr Hayley: "Firstly, their PH level is higher, they have a PH level of about 7 when they’re born. But very, very, quickly, you know as little as within one or two days, it comes down to our PH range. One of the most important things in the early phase – that establishment of the acid mantle for babies. And so, these products don’t get in the way. The vernix that some babies – not all babies – can have a still visible vernix when they’re born but those that do, that’s really important in the transition from the wet womb environment to the dry extrauterine environment. And its importance in establishing that acid mantle to bring that PH down because up at that higher PH, we’re vulnerable to other bacteria."
mc: what's an optimal skin care routine for babies?
Dr Hayley: "Babies’ skin knows what it's doing. Mother nature has got our back with things like that. But of course, the environment we’ve created, we need to provide support, I suppose. So from the perspective of Nurture, what we really wanted to do was not get in the way of those normal events and just be supportive.
"And obviously we need to clean skin, saliva and the mess in the nappy – urine and poop – can be really irritating to the skin. But we want to be careful not to strip away the natural oils. So, gentle cleansers, like what we’ve used in the gentle bath and body wash – really gentle surfactants to remove those things and hydrating at the same time. And then as I said, I read in the literature we underestimate the dryness of babies’ skin so babies tend to be quite dry and then our skin is dry, that barrier can be quite, is more vulnerable to break down. It's about the connection, about forming the bonds and connections between mother and baby or dad and baby."