Why does it look like a crimson, white-capped mountain range has sprung up on my face?

Excerpt from Asking for a Pregnant Friend: 101 Answers to Questions Women Are Too Embarrassed to Ask about Pregnancy, Childbirth, and Motherhood

Throughout my pregnancy, topographical maps of the Sierra Nevadas would pop up along my jaw and the edge of my nose. Everest even made an appearance once. I felt like a prepubescent boy. And I’m not alone. Many of the mamas I work with come into childbirth prep classes horrified that the clear, dewy skin they’d worked so hard to maintain had reverted to red, bumpy chaos. The main reason for this is…wait for it… wait for it…you guessed it! Hormones! Increases in the hormone andro- gen can incite acne, as it causes oil glands to become overeager producers.

The good news is that for most women this condition will resolve after childbirth, when androgen levels drop. And hey, girl, throughout it all, remember that you are a gorgeous-baby-making goddess, regardless of what your skin is up to.

What to do

Combat that acne with the following:

  • Be hypervigilant about skin care. Wash with an organic facial cleanser — made specifically for acne — every morning and evening, and after heavy sweating.

  • Avoid washing too often, as this can actually cause more oil to develop.

  • After washing your face, use an organic antiacne toner. You can also make toner with one part raw, unfiltered apple cider vinegar and three parts distilled water. Follow this with an organic moisturizer that doesn’t contain retinol. Some effective moisturizers made specifically for acne include ingredients like raw shea butter, aloe vera, and manuka honey.

  • Wash your hair regularly, and keep it out of your face. Oily hair rubbing on your face could exacerbate acne.

  • Use the speaker feature, or headphones, when talking on your phone, as the screen is often covered in oil and dirt. Cell phones are way grodier than they look.

  • Staying on the theme of keeping gross stuff off your face, wash your pillowcase once or twice a week. On a side note, experts (aka, my grandmother) believe silk pillowcases reduce the development of wrinkles.

  • If the acne is out of control and it’s stressing you out, ask your care provider for a dermatologist referral.

  • While it’s tempting to use medication or chemical-laden treatments, these often aren’t advisable for pregnant women. Many experts also advise against topical treatments containing salicylic acid.

  • Wear makeup only when you feel it’s absolutely necessary. And make sure you’re using oil-free products.

  • Drink plenty of water, and avoid refined sugar and processed foods.

  • And here’s the one that is near impossible for me — do not pop those suckers. While it’s one of the most satisfying feelings in the world, it could leave scars.

Why are there dark spots all over my face?

You have what’s called melasma (aka “the pregnancy mask”), which is caused by an elevation in progesterone that prompts pigmentation levels to increase. This results in dark, discolored patches on the skin, and it’s incredibly common in pregnant women. The good news is, it isn’t accompanied by other symptoms and isn’t dangerous for you or baby. It should fade after childbirth, when progesterone levels drop.

What to do

Check in with your care provider to confirm the patches aren’t a sign of another skin condition. After melasma is diagnosed, apply organic zinc oxide sunscreen every morning, and reapply as needed, as sun exposure can darken the patches. You can also avoid excess sun by becoming a hat lady and using your melasma as an excuse to skip that hike in favor of a cozy book-reading sesh in bed.

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