pregnancy-beauty-routine

What You Should Change About Your Beauty Routine If You’re Pregnant

Most women know that certain foods become off limits once you’re pregnant. Soft cheeses, lunch meats, and sprouts are all on the “do not eat” list, largely due to the risk of food poisoning.

But many women don’t realize that their beauty routines may be rocked, too. Not only do pregnant women have to look out for a number of ingredients in popular cosmetic products, but they also have to deal with a host of brand-new skin issues.

I spazzed during my first pregnancy when I discovered three months in that salicylic acid face wash is on the “no go” list—and promptly tossed the wash I’d been using since I was a teen in favor of an all-natural scrub.

To keep other expectant moms from having the same freak-outs, we’re breaking down the products you may want to stop using when you’re with child, as well as ones you may want to consider adding in order to deal with the many body changes that hit.

Take A Closer Look At Your Face Wash

“Most women that are pregnant may think that they need to avoid certain foods, and don’t realize that topical products can be absorbed and cause harm to their growing baby,” says Susan G. Murrmann, M.D., F.A.C.O.G., co-founder of the McDonald Murrmann Women’s Clinic.

Common acne-fighting ingredients like tetracycline, salicylic acid, and any retinoid product should be avoided because they may be associated with birth defects, she says. Instead, opt for washes that contain alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs), glycolic acid, and lactic acid, which are considered safe alternatives.

Related: This Reviva Glycolic Acid Facial Cleanser is soap and oil-free.  

Rethink Your Mani/Pedi

Manicures and pedicures can feel amazing—especially when you’re pregnant and have crazy-sore feet—but Murrmann urges caution. Many nail polish formulas include a chemical known as TPHP, which is commonly used as a flame retardant, that can be absorbed into the body through the nail, according to a study published in Environmental International

That doesn’t mean you need to avoid nail polish altogether—just look for polishes labeled “all natural” or “TPHP-free.”

“I felt lousy during the first two trimesters of my pregnancy, and getting a monthly pedicure really helped me feel pampered,” says Amy L. “The salon near me didn’t have nail polishes I felt good about, so I just brought my own.”

Related: Mineral Fusion’s nail polishes are 100 percent vegan.

Combat Skin Changes

Skin discoloration, or melasma, a common condition in which people get dark patches on their skin, can occur during pregnancy and is triggered both by hormonal changes and sun exposure. That’s why Tsippora Shainhouse, M.D., F.A.A.D., board-certified dermatologist and clinical instructor at the University of Southern California, says it’s especially important to wear sunscreen when you’re pregnant.

If you do develop melasma patches and they bother you, talk to your dermatologist. Kojic acid and soy are two ingredients that can lighten the patches and are considered safe to use during pregnancy, Shainhouse says, but there are other treatments that can be used after your pregnancy and when you’re done breastfeeding.

Related: Try Reviva’s Brown Spot Night Gel

Have A Razor Handy

When Laura P. was pregnant, she noticed something unusual with her body hair: “I suddenly had to shave my legs every day. I used to shave every two days.”

That’s not uncommon, Shainhouse says. “Pregnancy hormones can make hair darker and boost both its thickness and speed of growth,” she says. “This can occur not only in the pubic area, but on your legs, underarms, face, abdomen, and legs.” Laser hair removal isn’t FDA-approved during pregnancy, she says, so you’ll have to stick to shaving or waxing.

Up Your Moisturizer Game

Pregnant women often suffer from dry, itchy skin, which is why Murrmann recommends increasing your water intake during pregnancy. This can be due to either hormones or dehydration—pregnant women are drinking for two, after all. (According to the Mayo Clinic, women who are pregnant should aim to drink 10 cups of water a day.)

Since expectant moms are also at a risk for stretch marks, Murrmann recommends hopping on the cocoa butter train as early as possible. That, and gaining weight at a slow, steady pace, can help keep stretch marks at bay. Some marks may be unavoidable, but regularly spreading cocoa butter across your belly, hips, and thighs can help to minimize the stretches.

Related: 15 Parents Name The Products That Saved Them When Their Children Were Newborns

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10 Ways You’re Drying Out Your Skin Without Even Realizing It

You’re not the only one going through moisturizer by the gallon throughout the winter months. And while you have no control over dry air or the drop in temps, little things you do (or don’t do) every day could actually be drying out your skin even more.

Look out for these 10 skin-sabotaging habits, and consider making a few tiny changes to relieve your itchy outer layer.

  1. Your Showers Are Hot, Hot, Hot

A steamy shower after a long day can help you relax—it’s just not so great for your skin. “We may like how long, hot showers feel, but they wreak havoc on our skin,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research in Dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital. “Hot water can strip oil from the skin’s surface and disrupt the skin barrier. This is made even worse when you have a long exposure.

Your shower temp should be warm but comfortable, says Zeichner. You should be able to walk right into the shower without having to react or adjust to the water temperature.

Woman drinking a glass of water.
photo credit: iStock
  1. You Don’t Drink Enough H2O

Inadequate agua equals sad skin. “Not drinking enough water or fluids can lead to crepey-looking skin,” says Michelle Dudash, R.D.N., dietitian and author of Clean Eating for Busy Families. Your skin cells, like all cells, are made up largely of water, and need that water to function properly, according to the University of Wisconsin.

Make sure you’re well-hydrated throughout the day by taking a good look at the color of your pee. “A pale lemonade color is the goal, says Dudash. “Dark yellow means you’re dehydrated.” If you feel thirsty at any point, that’s a sign that you’re already mildly dehydrated and need to drink up.

If you’re not a fan of plain ol’ water, try tea or high-water content foods like watermelon, cucumbers, grapes, or oranges. (Soup counts, too!)

Related: What The Color Of Your Pee Says About Your Health

  1. You Skimp On Lotion

Some of us slather on lotion every single day without fail, while others just can’t commit. The surprising truth is that not everyone truly needs moisturizer, says Zeichner. “If your skin is visibly dry, peeling, or itchy, though, your skin may need extra attention,” he says.

Zeichner recommends looking for one or more of the following buzz-worthy ingredients the next time you’re hunting for a new bottle of lotion:  petroleum jelly (which creates a seal over the skin to prevent water loss, called an ‘occlusive’), humectants like hyaluronic acid (which help draw water to the skin surface from its deeper layers), and emollients like oils (which smooth the cracks between cells on the skin surface). Ceramides (a type of ingredient which help to repair the skin barrier) are also becoming increasingly popular in moisturizer formulas.

Related: Shop a wide variety of skin-care products, from face wash to moisturizer.

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photo credit: iStock
  1. You Use Body Lotion On Your Face—Or Vice Versa

We get it, desperate times call for desperate measures. But the words ‘face lotion’ or ‘body lotion’ are on that bottle for a reason: because products for the face and body are typically formulated differently. “Facial products tend to have a lighter consistency and may be specially designed as not to break you out in pimples,” Zeichner explains. Sure, you could slather your face cream all over your body, but since facial products are designed to target specific facial concerns—and are more expensive—your wallet won’t thank you. Meanwhile, body lotions are more easily spread over large areas without losing effectiveness.

To get the most bang for your buck, follow those labels and use the right products on the right parts.

Related: Douse yourself in one of these body lotions.

  1. Your Diet Is Lame

Not getting enough vitamin C or omega-3 fatty acids may leave you with drier skin. “Omega-3 fatty acids support the health of cell membranes, which provides moisture to and protects the skin cells,” explains Dudash. Meanwhile, vitamin C plays a role in the production of collagen, a protein involved in skin cell structure, which is also important for maintaining moisture, Dudash says.

Omega-3-rich foods include salmon, cod, walnuts, flaxseed, and chia seeds. For vitamin C, turn to fruits and vegetables like grapefruit, kiwi, and bell pepper—a serving of each packs a full daily dose of the must-have antioxidant, says Dudash.

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photo credit: iStock
  1. Your Soap Is Too Harsh

That old school bar soap isn’t doing your skin any favors. Traditional soaps often contain harsh ingredients known as alkaline surfactants, says Zeichner. “These substances can disrupt the pH of the skin and affect its moisture barrier,” he adds.

Look for bar soaps and body washes with moisturizing formulas that don’t contain any harsh ingredients, such as sodium laurel sulfate (SLS), suggests Zeichner. To avoid scanning the ingredient list for complicated chemical names, go for products labeled “gentle skin cleanser,” “hydrating skin cleanser” or “soap free.”

  1. You Go Too Heavy On The Booze

Who knew that throwing back a drink or two could take a toll on your skin? “Alcohol is a diuretic, causing you to lose more water,” Dudash says. As you now know, dehydration is no bueno for your skin.

Consider your complexion yet another reason to alternate drinks with water when you’re out on the town.

Related: Your All-Natural Guide To Surviving A Hangover With A Smile

feet warming and tea time
photo credit: iStock
  1. You Crank Up The Heat At Home

Don’t worry, we’re not suggesting you sit around shivering during the nightly news. Take note, though, that the dry air from your heater can put additional stress on your skin barrier and even further the loss of hydration and dryness, says Zeichner.

The fix here is simple: Power up your humidifier and put it in your bedroom to pump some moisture back into the air.

  1. You Don’t Get Enough Shuteye

Night cream or not, sleep is an important part of maintaining healthy skin. “Don’t underestimate the power of sleep,” Dudash says. “It’s your body’s time to repair and rejuvenate, which can directly affect your skin.”

We know it’s easier said than done, but shoot for seven to nine hours of shut-eye a night.

Woman cleaning her face with scrub in bathroom.
photo credit: iStock
  1. You Exfoliate Too Often

When you notice peeling or flaking, it’s natural to want to reach for a scrub. But hold up. “Instead of exfoliating, first try to recognize that your skin is lacking hydration,” says Zeichner. Exfoliating may actually further irritation and dryness. “Rather than exfoliating, which can dry out your skin layer and lead to small cracks and further loss of hydration, apply extra moisturizer to address the dryness,” he says. More often than not, that peeling or flakiness will improve and you won’t even need to exfoliate.

To avoid unnecessary irritation, limit exfoliation to no more than twice a week.

Related: For your two weekly exfoliations, try one of these scrubs.

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15 Natural Ways To Hang On To That Youthful Glow

Our skin says a lot about us—it can reflect everything from our heritage to our diet to how old we are. Confession: We’re not always too happy about that last one.

“As we age, skin cell turnover slows down, moisture is lost, and the outer layer of skin (epidermis) becomes thinner and frailer,” says Paula Simpson, holistic nutrition and beauty expert, and co-founder of ZSS Skincare. Hence the dull, dry skin we all try desperately to avoid.

Before you start researching Botox in a moment of panic, check out these all-natural, needle-free ways to keep your skin looking as youthful as possible. Hello, plump and glow!

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photo credit: iStock
  1. Olive Oil

Pass the Greek food, please. Look at the people who live in the Mediterranean, and you’ll notice that their skin ages really well, says Gabrielle Francis, naturopathic doctor and author of The Rockstar Remedy. Their graceful aging may just have something to do with the olive oil in their diets. “Extra-virgin olive oil contains antioxidants, which help control oxidative stress in your cells, a factor that may contribute to skin aging,” says Simpson.

Consider ditching your store-bought salad dressing for a quick and easy combo of EVOO and vinegar—or toss veggies in olive oil before roasting.

  1. Omega-3 Fatty Acids

You’ve heard of taking omega-3s to promote heart health, but how about for skin health? Omega-3 fatty acids may help reduce puffiness and redness in your skin, says Brooke Alpert, R.D., founder of B-Nutritious Dietetics and Nutrition.

Salmon and walnuts are both good sources of omega-3s.

Oil for skin and beauty
photo: iStock
  1. Argan Oil

This oil is an all-star in the beauty world for good reason. Often referred to as ‘liquid gold,’ argan oil contains fatty acids and antioxidants that help nourish the connective tissue of the skin, says Francis.

While almost every skin product out there seems to be infused with argan oil right now, Francis suggests to sticking with the pure oil because it absorbs into the skin more effectively.

  1. Vitamin C

Just in case you don’t already bow down to the power-antioxidant that is vitamin C, it may help your skin ward off environmental damage. “Vitamin C also encourages collagen production, which helps keep the skin looking healthy and youthful,” says Alpert.

Vitamin C is found in tons of fruits and veggies, like blueberries, broccoli, oranges, and sweet potatoes.

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photo credit: iStock
  1. Paprika

This spice does more than kick up the flavor in your famous barbecue rub. According to Simpson, paprika contains antioxidants, including vitamin C and zeaxanthin. “Zeaxanthin is of particular interest for skin health because it’s readily absorbed into the skin tissue,” she explains. You may even experience a boost in skin radiance.

If you’re unsure how to use paprika, Simpson recommends sprinkling it on popcorn, into soups, and even on salads for an extra punch of flavor.

  1. Leafy Greens

There’s a reason why Mom and Dad always encouraged you to eat your greens. Leafy green veggies, like spinach and kale, are a great source of fiber and vitamin K, says Alpert. Vitamin K supports the production of a protein called MGP (Matrix-GLA protein), which helps to prevent the calcification of skin elastic fibers, according to Oregon State University.

If you’re not consuming leafy greens on the daily, try adding them to smoothies, serving burgers on a bed of salad instead of a bun, or scrambling them into your eggs.

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photo credit: iStock
  1. Magnesium

The greatest favor magnesium can do for your skin is potentially help you snooze. “The body repairs itself and recovers from the day’s damage while you sleep,” says Alpert. The mineral acts as a natural relaxant, and may help you manage stress and score more solid shuteye, she says.

Related: Browse a large selection of supplements that promote a good night’s sleep.

If you get hungry after dinner, try snacking on magnesium-rich foods like nuts and dark chocolate. (Yum!)

  1. Collagen

“Located below the outermost layer of our skin, collagen is the foundation of the connective tissue that supports our skin’s structure,” says Simpson. “As we age, the natural weakening in cellular activity and exposure to environmental stressors can break down this structural framework, resulting in skin that looks and feels frail, thin, and loose.”

Adding protein-rich foods like bone broth, meat, and eggs to your diet promotes a healthy rate of collagen renewal, and may help protect your skin from premature aging, Simpson says. Since collagen itself is difficult to get from foods, you might also consider a supplement, like Reserveage Collagen Replenish Powder.

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photo credit: iStock
  1. Turmeric

The bright yellow spice is trendy because of its antioxidant compound, curcumin. When you sprinkle it on eggs or roasted cauliflower, or add it to soup, turmeric’s antioxidants can help to combat free radicals in the body, says Simpson. You can also use it topically on the skin in DIY face masks and scrubs.

Related: We Tried 5 DIY Scrubs—Here’s What Happened

  1. Phytoceramides

Ceramides are a type of lipid that help to form the barrier property of the skin. These lipids help to lock in moisture and promote a dewy complexion, but decrease as we age, says Simpson.

You can add phytoceramides (plant-based ceramides) to your diet via whole grains, like brown rice and wheat germ, or a supplement.

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photo credit: iStock
  1. Gotu Kola Seed

Gotu kola has been used in Eastern medicines for thousands of years to support the skin, according to the University of Maryland Medical Center.

This seed contains a substance called asiaticoside that may promote dermal blood flow and the delivery of oxygen and nutrients throughout the skin tissue, says Simpson. Chemicals called triterpenoids have also been found to strengthen the skin in lab and animal studies, says the UMMC.

You can find gotu kola seed in capsule form.

  1. Chlorella

Here’s another green superfood to add to your list. Green micro-algae are rich in proteins, which help support the strength and structure of the skin, says Simpson.

Try chlorella in capsule form, or by adding a powder supplement to your next smoothie.

Brown flax seed and linseed oil
photo credit: iStock
  1. Flax Oil

Adding flax oil to your diet may just be a game-changer for your skin. The omega-3s in this oil can help your skin to maintain moisture, says Francis. Added bonus—They also support healthy hair, so don’t be surprised if you notice an extra-shiny mane, too.

Just a head’s up: According to Francis, flax oil doesn’t have the most pleasant of tastes, so try adding it to a smoothie or using it in salad dressing.

  1. Water

Water keeps us hydrated and helps our bodily systems—including our heart, brain, and muscles—run smoothly. That goes for our skin, too.

If you’re dealing with a dull, dry complexion, making sure you drink eight to ten glasses of water per day should improve your skin, Francis says.

Sunrise over Adam's peak, Sri Lanka
photo credit: iStock
  1. Vitamin D

Vitamin D helps to regulate a process in which the cells that make up layers of the skin turn over and replenish, according to Oregon State University.

The easiest way to get your fill of vitamin D is to spend 20 to 30 minutes outside sans sunscreen. That may sound counter-intuitive considering we’re always told to slather ourselves with sunscreen before heading outdoors, but when you wear sunscreen you actually block the vitamin D from entering your skin, says Francis. Just make sure not to linger for too long—sunburns are not a good look.

Related: Fill your vanity with natural skin-care products for every need.

 

Pin this handy graphic to keep your skincare game going strong:

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Why Has Manuka Honey Become So Popular–And What Do You Actually Do With It?

Back in the day, I assumed Winnie the Pooh’s obsession with honey was a symptom of his love of snacking, but now, the beauty writer in me wonders if Pooh was more interested in having impeccable skin.

You see, the amino acids, vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and antioxidants in honey can offer big benefits to your complexion, according to a review published in the Journal of Cosmetic Dermatology. And while regular honey works fine, Manuka honey is the real heavy hitter.

Manuka honey comes from bees that pollinate the Manuka bush in New Zealand. This variety of honey contains higher amounts of a compound called methylglyoxal (MGO)—which may support a clear complexion—than many conventional honeys, found a study published in Molecular Nutrition and Food Research.

Honey is also a natural humectant, meaning it’s very moisturizing for the skin, says Alexis Wolfer, natural beauty expert, author of The Recipe for Radiance, and founder of The Beauty Bean. You could even mix a little into your go-to night cream for an extra boost of moisture, she says.

And that’s not all: “Honey contains antioxidants and can help promote healthy collagen,” says dermatologist Mona Gohara, M.D. This is good news, since the protein collagen helps support the structures that make up your skin and promotes skin cell turnover.

Related: Pamper yourself with a number of natural beauty and skin-care products.  

With all of these buzz-worthy properties, it’s no wonder Manuka honey is trending in the DIY beauty world. So, of course, I had to put it to the test to really see if it’s really, well, the bee’s knees. I tried two skin-care recipes for myself:

face-mask-ingredients
photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Face Mask

Ingredients:
2 Tbsp Manuka honey
2 Tbsp plain Greek yogurt
Juice of half a lemon

Instructions:
Mix ingredients in a small bowl then apply it all over your face and neck, avoiding the eye area. Leave on for 20 minutes, then rinse.

Quick beauty PSA: Honey is messy. Be prepared for a sticky (but fun!) situation when applying this face mask. If you’re a lazy DIY-er, the three-ingredient treatment takes less than two minutes to whip up, so that’s a huge plus. The mask has a pretty, light color and a strong but sweet aroma.

While the results weren’t quite noticeable enough for a Snapchat face mask selfie, after 20 minutes I rinsed it off to reveal a soft, slightly more glow-y complexion. My only complaint is that it was a little runny.

face-scrub-mixed
photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Face Scrub

Ingredients:
2/3 cup Manuka honey
2 Tbsp white sugar

Instructions:
Stir sugar into honey one tablespoon at a time until well-mixed. Apply the mixture to skin, rubbing in circular motions to exfoliate. Lightly massage for a few minutes before rinsing it off.

I’m a big fan of DIY scrubs—and this one was easy to make and worked well. After stirring the sugar and honey together, I hit the shower, mixture in hand. Even though I should’ve assumed it’d be very syrupy to apply (its entire base is honey, after all), it was *super* goopy. Once I got over the texture and stickiness-factor, I enjoyed how it felt on my skin. Unlike some exfoliators, this treatment really coated my skin without easily rinsing off, giving me enough time to really work it in.

maddy-face-scrub
photo credit: Maddy Zollo Rusbosin

Post-scrub my complexion felt—and looked—smoother and a tad firmer. Not to mention, the usual red flush my skin tends to have after cleansing seemed to not be as intense, which in my mind is always a win.

 

Pin this handy graphic for the next time you feel like DIY-ing your skin-care routine:

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14 Practical (And Unexpected) Uses For Apple Cider Vinegar

Most of us store apple cider vinegar in the kitchen, but it can be used for much more than salad dressing. MUCH more.

Known across the interwebs as ‘ACV,’ apple cider vinegar contains vitamins and minerals (like B vitamins, calcium, and potassium), and antioxidants called polyphenols. Studies have shown that the pungent liquid can support heart health, the immune system, and even blood sugar levels.

Have we got your attention yet? Here are more than a dozen unexpected ways to use your new favorite variety of vinegar:

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I Washed My Face With Indian Healing Clay—Here’s How That Went

I’m not much of a beauty buff, but when a bout of severe acne hit me out of the blue in college, you better believe I tried every natural remedy and DIY treatment the internet had to offer.

Years later, my skin is in much better shape, but I still get the occasional bumps and blemishes. You’ll find a trusty jar of coconut oil in my well-stocked bathroom cabinet and I’ve experimented with slathering everything from honey to apple cider vinegar all over my face. Which is why, when I found out that a bentonite clay powder with a cult following called Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay was flying off The Vitamin Shoppe shelves, I immediately hunted down a jar.

Bentonite clay comes from volcanic ash, and is known for its absorptive qualities, according to the Industrial Minerals Association of North America. It’s even used in the food industry to remove impurities from oils and clarify water and honey. In the beauty world, bentonite clay claims to be the ‘world’s most powerful facial’ for deep pore cleansing.

Well, we were about to find out.

After getting home from the gym—and with particularly grubby pores—I hit the bathroom with my jar of Aztec Secret’s Indian Healing Clay, my trusty bottle of apple cider vinegar, a bowl, and a spoon. (Note: The clay jar says to use a non-metal bowl and spoon and I play by the rules, so I used plastic.)

I mixed equal parts of the powdery clay and ACV, as guided by the instructions, and watched some serious chemistry happen. There was much bubbling and fizzling as I stirred. The end result was a thick grayish paste that looked a bit like wet concrete.

clay-mixture

I spread a solid coat across my face, avoiding my nose ring, which gets angry easily. I paced around the house for the 15 minutes recommended. (My friend laughed a quick ‘what the…’ at me as I passed him in the kitchen.)

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The mask tightened as it dried—brushing my teeth those last five minutes was an absolute fail. When the clay was totally dry and started to crack, I rinsed it off with warm water. My face was a little red (which the jar says is normal) and felt tingly.

I stuck my face right up against the vanity mirror to check out the state of my pores, and the usually problematic dots on my nose looked all but nonexistent. Seriously, I was impressed.

I slathered on my usual vitamin C serum and coconut oil and hit the hay. When I woke up the next morning, my face seemed brighter and clearer than usual. Consider me a believer.

Related: Check out The Vitamin Shoppe’s full selection of natural skin-care products.