Pregnancy Skin Solutions: Direct from the Trenches

My college roomie-turned-sister-in-law and I have a running joke about our fated skin. First, we suffered from adolescent acne (8th-10th grades, you still haunt me). We combatted that and later found ourselves college freshman with anxiety-induced acne. This was followed by the glorious exercise acne of our early twenties, and we knew inevitably it’d one day become gestational… heaven help me if geriatric is a thing, too. You combat the crazy, you glow for about 18 months, and then — bam! — life hits you with another skin nightmare you’ve got to work around.

My face and I have coexisted quite nicely for the past five years or so. In fact, my husband, who I met when I was 24, describes me to others as having perfect skin (ha!). What he didn’t know all along was that there was a delicate little dance going on behind the scenes, of well-timed exfoliating facials, nightly applications of Clean & Clear, and daily use of the Wonder Foundation for all those with blemish-prone visages — Clinique Acne Solutions liquid makeup.


My skin was so clear at our wedding just 11 months ago — I miss this blissful feeling!

Enter the baby.

Before I even took the pregnancy test, my skin got so clogged, so quickly, my heart skipped a beat — “maybe I’m pregnant!” Sure enough, by the week 6 confirmation at my OB/Gyn’s office I was already erupting like a 13-year-old the night before the arrival of her period. I kept up my usual routine of frequent scrubs, nightly application of Clean & Clear, and now twice-daily use of the Wonder Foundation, only to find out at my next appointment that benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid (the only two things I’ve ever found to work on my acne) are no-no’s for preggos. Oh. My. God. What now??

As deep, painful pimples started to sprout up out of every corner of my face, it became clear that I needed a multifaceted system. Deep cleansing to keep oil at bay, great exfoliation and/or pore clarifying for a once-weekly sweep, and a daily foundation that will cover the marks I do have without making me look cakey or making the problem worse. Hippie mama who embraces the blemishes? Good for you. I am not her. Read on:


A quick swing by the Kiehl’s counter revealed that keeping it simple is best. While your hormones rage on, don’t try to counter them, but just keep things as calm as possible. Also, since so many ingredients these days are considered less than ideal in pregnancy, I was advised to go with the purest possible system. I opted for the Ultra Facial Oil-Free cleanser, used morning and night ($19.50). Step two is the toner from the same collection ($16), to tighten pores after cleansing for a smooth finish. And finally, I apply the associated lotion ($26.50). Once a week, I use the Rare Earth Deep Pore cleansing masque ($23) — leave it on until completely dry and then wash off with warm water. After this, your skin will feel tight, fresh, and amazing.

DSC_0411And then about covering up what you’ve got! Whenever you’re struggling with an ongoing acne-prone event like pregnancy, especially if you can’t really treat it, you’re bound to have some marks on your skin no matter what you’re using to clean and moisturize. On a break from my beloved Clinique, I decided to give Lancome a whirl, and the advisor at the counter showed me powerful, full coverage foundation that feels light. I also bought the brush she used to apply it, because it goes on more evenly that way, and the less you touch your face with your fingers, the better.

teintmiracle 2

Lancome Teint Miracle lit-from-within makeup, $42.50.

I know you’re tempted to wash your face constantly, but overdoing it can actually dry out your skin to the point that it automatically produces more oil. You do not want that! Instead, wash post-workout or late-afternoon sweat away with warm water, following with your toner. And the best thing you can do, I’ve learned, is to grin and bear it. Once my chicken hatches, I can return to my usual routine. But who knows, maybe this approach will end up working well enough that I can ditch the chemicals. Let us know how your preggo skin journey unfolds!


No retouching or filter required when you have a skincare and makeup army behind you — it’s also wonderful not feeling guilty about what effects my products could have on my little girl!

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About Jenny

Jenny Studenroth is a cosmetics junkie and bridal blogger from New York City. After graduating from Middlebury College in 2007 with a creative writing degree, she went on to the beauty departments at Elle and the Wall Street Journal magazines, before becoming a freelance writer. Her wedding blog is Jenny and her husband Josh split their time between Brooklyn and Washington, DC along with their cat Dolce and pup Harry. The family is expecting their first human baby in the fall.