A Dermatologist Shares Postpartum Skin Care Tips All New Moms Need to Hear
If you’re wondering if the celebrated pregnancy glow is real, it is. According to Mayo Clinic, increased blood volume and increased production of the hormone HCG (human chorionic gonadotropin) during pregnancy work together to create that proverbial pregnancy glow, or skin that looks slightly flushed and plump. Hormones HCG and progesterone can also help make skin look smoother and slightly shinier while pregnant. It sounds glorious—that is, until it’s gone.
Postpartum skin woes are not uncommon. After giving birth, new moms may notice more pronounced under-eye bags, lingering side effects of melasma, discoloration, dullness, or skin that’s covered in zits thanks to factors which may include fluctuating hormones, stress, sleep deprivation, and a neglected skin care routine. But don’t fret—we sat down with board-certified dermatologist, and Skincare.com consultant, Dr. Dendy Engelman for tips on how to reclaim your once-glowing complexion. Here are her best postpartum skin care tips and tricks.
TIP #1: CLEANSE YOUR SKIN
Ease your way back into a structured skin care regimen by cleansing your skin twice per day with a mild and soothing cleanser. Vichy Pureté Thermale 3-in-1 One Step Solution uses gentle micellar technology to remove impurities, dissolve makeup, and soothe skin all at once. It’s the perfect multitasking product for moms with less time in the day to devote to their skin. Skin is left feeling hydrated, soft, and refreshed. Plus, you don’t even have to rinse! If post-delivery acne is your concern, reach for Vichy Normaderm Gel Cleanser. Formulated with salicylic acid, glycolic acid, and micro-exfoliating LHA to purify pores, remove excess oil, and help prevent new skin imperfections. If you are nursing, talk to your dermatologist before introducing new skin care products into your routine.
TIP #2: WEAR BROAD-SPECTRUM SPF
Some women complain of brown spots or hyperpigmentation post-pregnancy. While melasma—a form of skin discoloration that’s prevalent amongst pregnant women—typically fades on its own after giving birth, it may take a bit of time. Sun exposure can exacerbate dark spots, so it’s important to lather on broad-spectrum SPF every day—like SkinCeuticals Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50—while paying close attention to the areas of the face most exposed to sunlight, like the cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, and upper lip. In tandem with broad-spectrum SPF, Dr. Engelman recommends a daily antioxidant serum, like SkinCeuticals C E Ferulic. “Just five drops in the morning really helps with free radical damage, hyperpigmentation and anti-aging,” she says.
Forgot your sunscreen at home? Here’s a useful hack. “If you have diaper paste, which is based in zinc, it can protect your skin while you’re out,” Dr. Engelman says. “It’s a physical blocker, but that’s one that we always have in the diaper bag, so it can double as sunscreen.”
TIP #3: MOISTURIZE DAILY
Dry, rough skin always tends to rear its ugly head at the absolute worst times, doesn’t it? Keep dry skin at bay with a no-nonsense hydrator applied twice per day. Dr. Engelman recommends SkinCeuticals A.G.E. Interrupter. “Often with hormonal changes, we’re getting more prone to dryness,” she says. “[A.G.E. Interrupter] helps to combat signs of aging caused by advanced glycation end-products.” If your skin is prone to redness or irritation, Dr. Engelman recommends the SkinCeuticals Phyto Corrective Masque. “Just sitting in the bath and having a mask on, it really like forces you to really give some time to yourself,” she says. Lastly, to avoid dehydration inside and out, make sure to drink a healthy amount of water throughout the course of the day.
TIP #4: TARGET BLEMISHES
Skyrocketing hormones and intense fluctuations can lead to increased sebum production, which when mixed with dirt and dead skin cells on the skin’s surface can clog pores and cause breakouts. Use products formulated with acne-fighting ingredients, like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, to penetrate clogged pores and lift impurities. “Retinoids and retinols are off the table if you’re pregnant or nursing, but if you’re not and you’re a new mom, you can certainly introduce that back into the routine because that really helps,” Dr. Engelman says. “Not only to help prevent acne, but also for overall skin quality and texture.”
Editor’s note: Keep in mind that retinoids can increase skin sensitivity to sunlight. Limit your use to the evening and pair with broad-spectrum sunscreen during daytime hours. Heed additional sun protection measures such as seeking shade and wearing protective clothing.
TIP #5: GET SOME REST
Caring for a newborn (hello, late night feedings) may have you getting too few hours of shut-eye per night. Sleep deprivation is a major cause of dull, tired-looking skin since it is during deep sleep that skin undergoes self-repair. In addition, not catching enough zzz’s can make your eyes appear puffy, and make dark circles look more pronounced. Get as much rest as you can, and elevate your head with two pillows to help combat some of these negative side effects. Applying under-eye concealer can also help mask the bags, as well.
In addition to getting some rest, find a quiet moment to enjoy some “me” time where possible. “Whether it’s just something that brings you joy—going to get a pedicure or taking an extra 10 minutes in the bath to do a sheet mask—you need to take care of yourself first and foremost and you will be a better mother because of it,” Dr. Engelman says. “There’s so much guilt that comes into being a new mom, it’s a real reality. And so, the last thing we feel like we are allowed to do is take care of ourselves. But I really implore with all my patients, this is the best thing you can do—not only for yourself—but for your family.”
Whether it’s just something that brings you joy—going to get a pedicure or taking an extra 10 minutes in the bath to do a sheet mask—you need to take care of yourself first and foremost and you will be a better mother because of it.
Strapped for time? We asked Dr. Engelman to recap what steps are most important to make time for. “We have to cleanse properly, we need to make sure we have a daily antioxidant and broad-spectrum sunscreen on in the morning, and then, if you can tolerate, a retinol and a good emollient at night,” she says. “That’s the bare bones. Most new moms don’t have time for 20 steps. But as long as you can get those in, then I think you will see that you will start to look like your old self.”