Top Pregnancy Beauty Issues, Solved
Pregnancy brings with it a host of changes -- most welcome, some not, but almost all temporary. While most of your pregnancy's transformations will leave you feeling like the radiant goddess that you are, some are a bit harder to face. For those, we offer you a few simple solutions. Here they are, your top pregnancy beauty issues solved.
Stretch marks continually top the list of pregnancy beauty issues. While there are countless creams, oils and lotions claiming to reduce the stretch marks typically found on the belly, buttocks, thighs, hips, and/or breasts of pregnant women, there's no evidence that they will make any difference. Your best bet is to maintain a gradual weight gain, stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet. For most women the marks tend to fade (but not vanish) 6 to 12 months after delivery. If they don't -- and you find them bothersome -- there are a variety of treatment options you can discuss with a dermatologist.
Do you suddenly notice bulging, blue veins creeping up your legs? Varicose veins can be both painful and unsightly. To help prevent or minimize them, be sure to exercise regularly, maintain a healthy pregnancy weight, and avoid sitting or standing for long periods. If varicose veins are already present, try compression stockings to improve blood flow. If you're looking for ways to hide your veins while remaining cool and comfortable in hot weather, try maxi dresses, which can accommodate your growing belly and provide extra coverage for your legs. Alternatively, try a slightly longer cropped or flowy palazzo pant with a snug fitting tank. The good news? Varicose veins typically improve within a few months after delivery. If yours don't and you see them as a problem, talk to your doctor about potential treatment options.
Mask of Pregnancy
Mask of pregnancy -- also known as chloasma or melasma -- refers to areas of darkened skin, which sometimes appear in the shape of a mask (hence the name). But despite the moniker, mask of pregnancy can also be found on other areas of the body. While changes in skin pigmentation usually disappear on their own within a few months of delivery, there are a few preventative steps you can take. Throughout your pregnancy be sure to use a broad-spectrum sunblock (SPF 30 or higher) every day, cover up when you're in the sun, and avoid spending long periods of time outside during peak sun hours (typically 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.).
Is pregnancy-induced acne getting in the way of your promised pregnancy glow? While there's no way to prevent the acne that can creep up as a result of your shifting hormones (and increased oil production), there are some simple things you can do to help. Wash your face (and/or other affected areas) daily with a mild cleanser, pat your skin (rather than rub it) dry, use oil-free moisturizers, and buy make-up and other products that are noncomedogenic (won't block pores).
Dry, Itchy Skin
With all the hormonal changes -- not to mention the stretching and pulling -- dry, itchy and even flaky skin is a common complaint among pregnant women. What's more, if you already suffer from skin conditions like eczema you may find that they worsen during pregnancy. Regular use of a hydrating moisturizer can offer some much-needed relief.
Spider veins, varicose veins' smaller cousins, often appear during pregnancy in sunburst- or spider-like patterns. While spider veins typically disappear after delivery -- and don't cause discomfort -- some women choose to cover them with specialized leg make-up or waterproof concealers. Before using any kind of masking product, however, please check to make sure it is safe to use during pregnancy.
During pregnancy, many women experience a darkening of the line that runs from the belly button to the pubic bone. While the line is always present (although often undetectable), during pregnancy it can darken significantly due to an increased production of melanin (pigment). If the darker line bothers you, all you have to do is wait. The line typically fades back to its natural color post-delivery.
Finding hair in all the wrong places? An increase in body hair during pregnancy is completely normal and usually temporary. To rid yourself of the extra fuzz, you can safely wax, tweeze and/or shave during pregnancy. For bleaches, depilatories or more permanent treatments, hold off until your baby is born and you've finished breastfeeding -- or wait to see if the hair leaves on its own post-delivery.
New Clothes Cravings
As any mom will tell you, by the time you reach months eight and nine of your pregnancy, you'd rather take a torch to your (typically limited) maternity wardrobe than put on the same black sweater you've been wearing for the past five months. Wearing the same thing over and over again can get pretty old, but who wants to spend tons of cash on clothes you'll only be able to wear for another month or two? The solution? Accessorize. A pair of funky shoes, a bright scarf or a fun necklace can add some zip and variety to your maternity wardrobe. What's more, you can continue to use the accessories post-pregnancy.
Hair and Nails
Before becoming pregnant you heard tales of luscious locks and nails with super human strength. So why are your nails brittle and your hair dull? While some women's pregnancies are marked by great hair and nails, others find their hair's texture changed and their nails split and torn. For your hair -- whether you're vexed with oily, dry, or suddenly curly hair -- use good quality shampoos, conditioners and styling products. For your nails, use a good moisturizer and protect them during heavy-duty chores.
Katherine West Slevin is a public health consultant and freelance writer. She lives in Washington, DC, with her husband and daughter.
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