I realized I was pregnant with W after throwing up Thai food and a pride-themed birthday cake that I baked for a colleague using a Pinterest recipe…at a gay marriage fundraiser while Mary Bonuto was speaking…in someone’s kitchen…on my hands and knees near the dog’s dish that someone tried to get me to puke into…until someone else thought a mixing bowl was a better idea…then to be ushered out the back door by a stranger in attendance…who turned out to be a nurse that lived across the street…who nonchelantly toted and disposed of my puke bucket…and got me a glass of water while I lay on her couch.
It was absolutely one of the weirdest things that’s happened to me.
And turns out, one of the best things, too.
But, recalling that lovely mix of colorful regurgitation really hammered home the fact that I could no longer neglect my body. Coffee for lunch? Nope, not going to cut it. That probably meant cake for breakfast wasn’t the best choice either. The moment that stick brandishes two pink lines, we’ve been programmed to think about what we eat, drink and ingest: “No alcohol! No unpasteurized cheese! No deli meats! Not too much tuna!” (all of which my doctor said was pretty much OK – but that’s a post for another time…)
But, I hadn’t given much thought to what my largest organ – my skin – was ingesting.
I was most definitely nervous to dive and see what would have to go. And, welp. Let’s just say that what you slop on by the container matters. It matters now, it matters down the line and it especially matters when you’re growing un bebe. So, I started to check out my products on the Environmental Working Group’s “Skin Deep” consumer guide and read just how terrible some products were (things are rated on a scale of 0-10…10 being the worst for you…and things in the 0-3 range being relatively safe. AKA “in the green,” as I like to call it). It was major motivation to add more healthy choices into my skin-care regimen, too.
The twist? Acne.
Yeah, the raging hormones gave me acne and (ugh) back-ne that (in my possibly over-exaggerated state of mind) could rival a 13 year-old boy. And per my (ahem) condition, the usual go-to treatments of salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide were suddenly on the no-no list.
So I went to my favorite lab-tech-chemist-turned-esthatician at Nirvana and asked.
The long and the short of it was that most of what I was experiencing was hormonal, so there wasn’t a ton I could do about it topically. Add in the fact that my skin’s main job was to keep things out of my body meant that I was, well, shit out of luck for the most part. Except for time. Oh, and some manual and chemical (sugars, lactic acid found in milk, etc.) exfoliation might would help a bit. Rapidly reproducing skin cells + increased oil production = a pileup of dead skin = clogged pores. And you know what that means? Breakouts. And the more dry and flaky my over-multiplying skin was…the more oil it produced and the more clogged my pores got.
Can a girl get a break!? Yeah, unlikely for the next, oh, 30+ years…but I digress. The temporary solution for the pregnant lady who couldn’t use the heavy-duty-bad-for-you-stuff? Pretty simple…
1. Keep my skin clean. My skin was super dry and flaky, so I needed a cleanser that wasn’t too harsh. As contradictory as it seemed, I absolutely loved using jojoba oil or a mixture of coconut oil and baking soda to cleanse my skin. Keeping it clean also meant no picking. So much harder than I thought it would be. I also used coconut oil as a moisturizer since I was prone to using so much lotion. So. Much. Both jojoba oil and coconut oil are a 0 on the EWG scale – not harmful at all! I also really loved The Honest Company’s shampoo + body wash for keeping the rest of me clean. The sweet orange vanilla scent was so subtle but delicious! Added bonus? Also only a 2 on the EWG scale…so still in the green.
2. Keep my skin super hydrated. I loved the lightweight but uber moisturizing effects of this moisturizer with hyaluronic acid but it is a level 4 (out of 10) on the EWG’s scale…so I used a small amount mixed with a few drops of jojoba oil and sometimes just jojoba oil. Fun fact: Did you know hyaluronic acid can hold something like 1,000 times it’s weight in water!? Or that jojoba oil is actually a wax that’s liquid at room temperature and most closely mirrors your body’s own sebum? Yeah, amazing, I know. And, for body lotion, I opted for Lubriderm Sensitive – incredibly hydrating but without any perfumes or dyes. I especially loved this once baby W had arrived (since he was
often always snuggled up against my skin and I knew that fragrances and yucky stuff weren’t good for him!) Once the little bundle did arrive, we started using coconut oil or BabyGanics Eczema Care for his dry winter skin – and a combination of the two was even more hydrating!
3. Keep my skin baby-butt smooth with regular, gentle exfoliation. I made my own scrubs with natural ingredients – whatever I had in the fridge or pantry! I never follow a recipe too closely, but I threw together baking soda, oatmeal and or granulated sugar, mixed with natural sources of extra-skin-cell-disolving glycolic acid (like strawberries) or lactic acid (milk, yogurt) and some type of moisturizers (coconut oil, olive oil, avocado, honey). Throw in some antimicrobial treatments (local honey) and I was on my way to feeling a bit better about my baby acne.
Thankfully, I’m almost 2 years postpartum and I’ve been enjoying relatively clear skin almost immediately after giving birth and my hormones leveled out a bit. But, since we’re still nursing I’m much more cautious about my lotions, face creams, etc. I absolutely swear by jojoba oil and coconut oil for absolutely everything imaginable. Everything.
So just because you choose to be more cautious in your skin-care regimen doesn’t mean you have miss out on fabulous products and skin!