Happy pregnant woman

Clean Beauty Helped Me Transition Into Motherhood

Clean Beauty Helped Me Transition Into Motherhood

Happy pregnant woman

Flawless skin, hair, and nails had become my secret style weapon. Then I got pregnant and had to switch up my entire beauty regime. Although I was over the moon to realize my dream of motherhood, I knew I’d be saying goodbye to a part of myself that spent a small fortune on laser facials, eyelash extensions, and gel manis. I spent a lot of effort and money on impeccable grooming meant to look artificially natural. However, between doctor appointments and prepping a nursery and my psyche for motherhood, I no longer had the time nor the budget for such indulgences. Plus, many skincare products used to treat acne, fine lines, and discoloration are off limits to expecting women, at a time when pregnancy hormones can wreak havoc on even the most cooperative complexions.

Before you condemn me as frivolously vain, consider that for many women, beauty rituals are a vital part of self-care. These simple rituals often come with instant gratification and offer a sense of personal control in a chaotic world, especially when navigating the profound experiences women face daily. Although my pregnancy led me to clean beauty, I overhauled more than my skincare routine. Here’s how clean beauty helped me reevaluate my relationship with self-care and transitioned me into motherhood.

Many Conventional Beauty Products Are Not Safe for Pregnant Women

As a beauty editor, I had access to all types of products and services. Spring had just sprung in New York, and my bump was beginning to spring, too. But that wasn’t the only thing breaking out. Tiny pimples had erupted on my forehead, making me feel more like a teenager than a mom-to-be. These bumps weren’t crazy noticeable, but I noticed them, and felt super self-conscious, especially attending events as a so-called beauty expert. Because I was pregnant, I couldn’t turn to my go-to acne remedies, namely retinoids.

“The literature says oral retinoids, like Accutane, can cause birth defects,” says Dr. Sejal Shah, a medical and cosmetic dermatologist in Manhattan. “So out of precaution, we advise pregnant women to avoid topical retinoids as well.” These include Differin, my retinoid of choice, which I’d relied on for years to control oil, keep pores clear, and prevent fine lines.

Dr. Shah also urges pregnant women to steer clear from any topical with salicylic acid, beta hydroxy acid, or benzoyl peroxide. Plus, fragrance, parabens, and preservatives like formaldehyde or formaldehyde-releasing preservatives can be “endocrine disruptors,” says Dr. Shah. She explains, “Fragrance, parabens, and preservatives can affect the different glands, including the ovaries, thyroid, and pituitary.” To safeguard a developing fetus, it’s best to limit these types of interferences.

I’d been intrigued by clean beauty for some time, but part of me remained skeptical. How effective could botanicals really be?

Making the Switch to Clean Beauty Products

Rather than fighting my skin, I decided to take a new approach: I wanted to nourish it, telling myself that the bumps were a temporary symptom of a skin imbalance I was determined to fix. Armed with a new mindset, not to mention doctor’s orders, I stopped using abrasive formulas meant to remove oil. It turns out, my skin was dehydrated from years of retinoids and acids. Dehydrated skin tends to overproduce oil, plus, “When you’re pregnant, skin changes due to hormones. It often becomes more dry,” says Dr. Shah.

Within a few weeks, I’d used a clean beauty regime to balance my skin. The bumps had vanished and my skin was no longer an oil slick. My pores appeared tighter and my complexion was radiant. As I got hooked on botanical skincare, I realized I didn’t miss my false eyelashes and nail extensions. It sounds sappy, but the more I was able to harness internal synergy, the less I craved artifice.

Making the switch to clean products not only saved my skin, but the process also helped me rethink my approach to self-care. Instant gratification is fabulous, but treating the symptom rather than the root is bound to catch up with you sooner or later. My no-fuss style mantra of keeping it simple was actually pretty in sync with clean beauty, which places the integrity of ingredients over gimmicks. Finding balance in my beauty routine helped me slow down my self-care regime, which is just what I needed to ground me as I entered a new phase of life.

Here are all the clean beauty products I used during pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum.

My Favorite Clean Beauty Products During Pregnancy

Naturopathica Manuka Honey Cleansing Balm

I love the antibacterial properties of Manuka honey, which worked great for my acne-prone skin. Smells amazing and the texture is an indulgent way to begin my skincare routine. I’d look forward to taking off the day’s grime and beginning my wind-down with this cleanser.

Tammy Fender Epi Peel

I did this scrub for five minutes twice a week to help with skin turnover and increase circulation before applying a night balm.

May Lindstrom The Blue Cocoon

This stuff is a splurge but worth every cent. I love how it provides moisture without leaving a sticky or greasy residue. It’s really nice on the neck and chest because it melts into the skin with gentle massage.

Hannes Dottir Mineral Mist

I’d spritz this after applying the Blue Cocoon to help all the nutrients absorb into my skin and add even more moisture. I also used this during labor for a little pick-me-up.

Mount Lai Gua Sha Tool

Super helpful for relaxing and de-puffing my pregnant face. Using a downward motion, I’d give myself a mini facial massage. Breathing deeply, I’d remind myself to be grateful for the present.

KINDri Orange Smoothie Day Cream

I’m a huge fan of small-batch artisanal products from the Los Angeles-based brand, KINDri, which incorporate skin balancing cactus oil. The citrus scent of this SPF-fortified day cream helped energize me as I’d start my daily routine all over again.

Tammy Fender Epi Peel

Epi Peel

Tammy Fender

Blue Cocoon

May Lindstrom

Hannes Dottir Mineral Mist

Mineral Mist

Hannes Dottir

Products I Loved During Labor

Sangre De Fruta Essential Oil Blend Perfume

During labor, I used a ton of essential oils (peppermint, eucalyptus, and lavender) when I took breaks from pushing to recharge. I had my doula rub the Jasmine De Nuit Essential Oil Blend Perfume under my nose because the scent is so calming. The nurses said my room smelled like a spa.

Ilia Tinted Lip Conditioner

During pushing, my lips got super dry. I wanted to hydrate with a clean lip tint, because the color helped me feel picture ready.

Herbivore Coco Rose Body Polish

My first shower postpartum was—no joke—20 minutes long. I cried my way through it, and this body polish helped me shed my old skin.

My Postpartum Picks

Rahua Voluminous Dry Shampoo

As a new mom, I discovered the appeal of the topknot. After that first shower, I don’t think I took another for five days. This dry shampoo helped keep my hair manageable.

May 11 Hair Oil

Postpartum shedding is real, and breakage is an unfortunate side effect of pregnancy hormones. May 11 Hair Oil is a natural hair sealant, keeping oils in to mitigate some of the damage. The scent of this oil is beyond.

Graydon Germs Away Mist

I’m such a fan of Graydon, the small-batch Canadian clean beauty line. I keep the Germs Away Mist on me at all times, because #momlife.

Jill Di Donato is a lifestyle writer and editor living in Los Angeles and New York.

Jill DiDonato | May 10, 2019

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