Ever wish you were pregnant again? Don’t worry, there’s easier ways to get your pre-baby glow back
As if the influx of hormones, and sheer exhaustion of motherhood aren’t bad enough for your energy and sanity levels, they’re likely to have a huge impact on your skin, too. Think spots, angry dry patches and fast-appearing lines.
‘Looking after a young child is a huge stress on your body,’ says cosmetic dermatologist Dr Sam Bunting. ‘Sleep deprivation and coping with a crying baby is on a par with a highly-pressured job.’ The stress of this releases the hormone cortisol into the body, weakening the skin and causing issues, such as loss of radiance and dryness. Add to this the skin-sapping effects of breastfeeding and surviving on energy props (hello, sugar and caffeine), and your looks are bound to suffer. But take heart: there is hope.
1 Puffy Eyes
Puffiness, dark circles, fine lines – your eyes are the first place to show the effects of dehydration and late nights. ‘The skin here is much thinner than anywhere else, so any changes in your routine can send the ageing process into fast-forward,’ says Sam.
If you’re breastfeeding, drink at least two litres of water per day and look for an eye product containing antioxidants and vitamin C to protect collagen in the skin. We like SkinCeuticals AOX Gel (£66.50, effortlessskin.com). If the skin around your eyes feels dehydrated, try This Works No Wrinkles Tired Eyes (£42, thisworks.com), a rich cream containing cooling menthol to soothe sleepy lids. And banish puffiness with Soap & Glory You Won’t Believe Your Eyes (£10.50, soapandglory.com). The rollerball applicator helps drain away toxins and makes eyes feel awake.
2 Dry And Irritated Skin
‘Ongoing fatigue can worsen dermatitis,’ says Imedeen’s Dr Lars Lindmark. Letting your healthy pregnancy diet slide, plus reaching for quick sugary fixes to get you through the day, can affect your complexion.
Letting your healthy pregnancy diet slide, plus reaching for quick sugary fixes to get you through the day, can affect your complexion
‘Remove dead cells, but not to the point of damaging the skin barrier – avoid cleansers containing strong sulphate detergents and mineral oils, which can also clog pores,’ says plastic surgeon Dr Marko Lens. Try Avéne Extremely Gentle Cleanser (£8, boots.com). A moisturiser rich in hyaluronic acid and phytosterols, such as Zelens Z Matrix Energy & Moisture Infusion (£85, zelens.com), will help repair the skin’s barrier function, and up your intake of complexion-friendly flaxseed oil and oily fish, such as salmon. If you still need extra nourishment, layer a facial oil, such as Aroma Actives Omega Rich Face Oil (£16, sainsburys.co.uk) under your moisturiser.
Pigmentation, or melasma, isn’t just a pregnancy side-effect – your hormones are still unstable for around six months after breastfeeding. ‘Wait until you stop, then see a dermatologist who can prescribe a course of action,’ says Sam. There are over-the-counter products to help brighten dark spots, too.
Acid-based toners help slough off dark cells. ‘Lactic and citric acid, in combination with salicylic acid, are great for skin resurfacing,’ says Marko. Try Zelens PHA Bio-Peel Resurfacing Facial Pads (£65, zelens.com), which exfoliates without irritation. Lancôme DreamTone (£69, lancome.co.uk) also improves tone and discolouration. Sunscreen is an absolute must to prevent the dark spots worsening – try La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Dry Touch Gel-Cream SPF 50+ (£14.99, boots.com).
4 Lines And Wrinkles
Raging hormones play havoc with collagen in the skin. ‘Exhaustion also reduces the release of the human growth hormone, which is very important for skin thickness and cell turnover,’ says Marko. If you’ve let your skincare routine slide, this can also start to show on your face.
‘Niacinamide is a great anti-ageing ingredient – it boosts barrier function and combats the effects of stress,’ says Sam, who recommends Olay Regenerist 3-Point Super Serum (£19.99, boots.com). Look out for ground-breaking ‘telomere technology’ in skincare, too. When teamed with plant stem cells, it rebuilds, plumps lines and protects from further damage – try Aromatherapy Associates Rose Infinity Moisturiser (£95, aromatherapyassociates.com). Neal’s Yard Frankincense Intense (£55, nealsyardremedies.com) also uses plant stem cells, along with peptides, to promote collagen production.
5 Loss Of Radiance
When glow-giving pregnancy hormones disappear, your face can suddenly look like you’ve spent a weekend partying. ‘Most people experience dull, sallow skin when they have a young baby, due to stress and tiredness,’ says Debbie Thomas, Advanced Skincare Therapist.
When glow-giving pregnancy hormones disappear, your face can suddenly look like you’ve spent a weekend partying
Think about investing in a cleansing brush, such as the cult Clarisonic (from £99, clarisonic.co.uk), which uses sonic frequency to get blood pumping again. It takes just 60 seconds and you can use it in the shower. Introduce an exfoliator to remove dead skin cells, or replace your morning cleanser with a gentle daily scrub – try Aveeno Daily Exfoliating Cleanser (£5.99, boots.com). And, if you need instant results, Olay Total Effects CC Cream (£14.99, boots.com) gives skin a natural glow, sheer coverage and the skincare benefits of niacinamide.
Higher levels of cortisol create an increase in oil production, which can lead to breakouts. Post-pregnancy, your self-esteem can take a hit anyway, but adding spots into the mix can make you feel like hibernating. ‘I often see women who’ve previously had great skin suffering post-birth,’ says Sam.
Spending an extra couple of minutes cleansing can make a huge difference, as can switching to a soap-free formula, so try Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser (£8.99, cetaphil.com). Steer clear of facial oils or rich moisturisers, as these can cause congestion – Dr Nick Lowe Oil-Control Day Cream (£15.49, drnicklowe.com) is a light hydrator for oily skin. For breakouts, look for topical treatments containing benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Medik8 Betagel Serum (£30, effortlessskin.com) is safe to use while breastfeeding.
Do you have any top skincare tips? Comment below!