If you’re a mother-to-be, you’re already well aware of the changes that pregnancy brings including but not limited to stretch marks, discoloration, and even breakouts. But that’s not to say that all changes to your skin when you’re expecting are necessarily negative. One perk that many pregnant women talk about experiencing is a radiant flush to their skin, also known as “pregnancy glow.” To learn more about pregnancy glow, we turned to medical esthetician, SkinCeuticals ambassador, and Skincare.com consultant, Jennifer Oakley. Keep reading to find out if pregnancy glow is actually real or just another skin myth!
WHAT IS PREGNANCY GLOW & WHAT CAUSES IT?
Is pregnancy glow a myth? The short answer? Not in the slightest. Pregnant women may notice flushed cheeks and a visible glow while expecting, and this can be due to a combination of factors. “Pregnancy glow is believed to be caused by the increase in blood production and flow, giving skin that fullness and soft appearance,” Oakley says. “It also can be caused by an increase in oil production, which can impart a shiny glow to the face.”
This glow can appear all over your face, but is most commonly seen on the cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin. While that’s certainly something to enjoy over the course of nine months, not all pregnant women will have the same experience. “Pregnancy glow is definitely a real thing,” says Oakley. “But not everyone experiences the “glowing” beautiful skin the same way.”
It’s also important to keep in mind that the factors that contribute to your pregnancy glow can, in some cases, work against you. The fluctuating hormone levels—an increase in androgen hormones specifically—and revved up oil production can make your skin look too shiny, as well as make it more prone to breakouts. The good news is that there are plenty of products on the market that can help you address acne flares and an overly-shiny complexion. Talk to your dermatologist and ob-gyn about the best ways to help address your acne while pregnant.
MELASMA: THE “MASK OF PREGNANCY”
As mentioned, the combination of fluctuating hormones and increased sebum on the skin’s surface can clog pores and welcome unwanted breakouts. But pimples aren’t the only thing you may experience while pregnant. Melasma, often referred to as the “mask of pregnancy,” can also appear.
Due to an increase in hormones, melasma is a common skin concern amongst pregnant women. It’s characterized by brown darkening of facial skin, often in the form of spots or patches, that usually appears on areas most exposed to sunlight. This can include the cheeks, forehead, nose, chin, and upper lip, though melasma is not solely limited to these areas.
While you can’t do much to change the fluctuation of hormones experienced during pregnancy, you can help limit your sun exposure, which is another factor related to melasma. Protect your skin from harmful UV rays with a broad-spectrum sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher and be sure to reapply at least every two hours. When outdoors for prolonged periods of time, seek shade where possible, wear protective clothing like wide-brimmed hats and long sleeves, and avoid peak sun hours—between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.—when rays are strongest.
If melasma has already made a home on your complexion, don’t stress! Often times melasma fades on its own after pregnancy. By that point, your pregnancy glow likely will as well. Keep in mind that melasma can reappear if you’re not diligent with your sun protection measures. That’s right—non-pregnant women (and men too!) can experience melasma or changes in skin pigmentation so be sure to always wear broad-spectrum sunscreen day in and day out—even when it’s cloudy!