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Glowing Skin During Pregnancy: What Causes It and How to Care For It

by Vannessa Rhoades 27 Feb 2023
Glowing Skin During Pregnancy: What Causes It and How to Care For It

If you’re pregnant, you may be complimented frequently by both friends and strangers that “you’re glowing!” Though the fatigue, morning sickness, and swelling of pregnancy may have you feeling anything but luminous, the “pregnancy glow” radiated by some people is an actual scientific phenomenon with a medical explanation. 

Glowing skin during pregnancy can look different on different people. Some individuals have acne or inflammation they haven’t previously experienced, while others have more flushing and dewiness to their complexion. Whether you love the extra color or are desperately searching for home remedies for glowing skin during pregnancy, here’s what you need to know about the glow and what you should and shouldn’t do about it.

What does glowing skin mean during pregnancy?  

According to old wives’ tales about skin glowing during pregnancy, your newfound radiance is either a marker of your overwhelming happiness or a predictor of the baby’s sex. While some people may notice an anecdotal correlation, there’s no scientific evidence to back up either of these claims. There are, however, medical reasons for skin glowing during pregnancy. Several factors can trigger your glow:

  • Hormonal changes. Rising levels of estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin can cause the skin to appear reddened, giving you a more radiant appearance. 
  • More blood volume and flow. When you’re expecting, your body makes more blood to sustain your reproductive organs and growing infant. This increase in blood production also widens your blood vessels, making your skin appear flushed.
  • More skin oil. Hormonal changes and increased blood flow also cause increased sebum gland activity for some people, resulting in increased oil production. People who already have combination or oily skin types may be particularly predisposed.
  • Heat rash. Fluctuating hormones along with carrying additional weight make many people feel hotter than usual during pregnancy. Hot flashes or a heat rash can also give you that glow.
  • Stretching skin. Your steadily expanding skin is under stress and can create a glowing effect.
  • Exacerbating existing skin issues. If you’re already dealing with rosacea, psoriasis, eczema, or other skin conditions, you may be more prone to experiencing increased noticeable redness.

Glowing skin during pregnancy doesn’t begin or end during a specific time frame, although you may notice it more during the peak of bodily changes, usually around the second trimester. The glow and everything that triggered it will disappear after delivery and doesn’t cause any permanent changes to your skin.


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Other Skin Conditions You May Experience During Pregnancy

Unfortunately, not all people experience a luminous glow in response to hormonal fluctuations. In fact, these shifts can lead to skin issues on the rest of the body as well. In some people, these hormonal changes can cause discoloration around the face, breasts, nipples, and thighs because of the extra melanin, a natural substance that gives color to the skin and hair. These dark patches are called melasma or "the mask of pregnancy." Pregnancy acne can be another side effect. Fortunately, the dark spots tend to fade after childbirth, and acne can be handled by either over-the-counter products or prescriptions. If you’re worried about pregnancy acne, melasma, or other skin issues, consult your OB-GYN or a dermatologist. Besides, anytime you see newly emerged skin patterns that didn’t exist before, it's always a good idea to check in with a professional.

How to Have Glowing Skin During Pregnancy

The safest way to enhance and care for your blooming radiance during pregnancy is to keep it simple. Moisturize every day and gently exfoliate your skin once or twice weekly to keep it smooth and luminous. During pregnancy, it’s especially critical to protect your skin from the sun's harmful rays by using sunscreen on your face and all exposed body parts whenever you're outdoors. 


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Using Skincare Products That Are Safe for Pregnancy

Pregnant people should be particularly cautious of unnecessary chemical exposure as it can adversely impact both mom and baby in numerous ways, like increasing the risk of birth defects or certain cancers. Selecting safe skincare products is of critical importance.

Be sure to read the labels of any medication you’re considering taking. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has categorized medications based on their safety during pregnancy (giving medications A, B, C, D, and X ratings, with category A medications being the safest and category D and X being unsafe). The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) suggests pregnant people not use the following prescription skin treatments:

  • Hormonal therapy, due to the risk of birth defects.
  • Isotretinoin, a form of vitamin A that may cause severe birth defects.
  • Oral tetracyclines, an antibiotic that can cause discoloration of your baby’s teeth and affect bone growth.
  • Topical retinoids, a form of vitamin A.

American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) says over-the-counter (OTC) products containing the following ingredients are safe for use during pregnancy:

  • Topical benzoyl peroxide
  • Azelaic acid
  • Topical salicylic acid
  • Glycolic acid

The Bottom Line

Pregnancy glow is simply one of the many changes a person may experience while expecting a baby. There are medical reasons for it – primarily a shift in blood flow and hormones – though some people experience these fluctuations with more noticeable results than others. This glow may occur at any time during pregnancy and will fade away after your baby is born. Be sure to check the safety of any skincare products you use while pregnant. It’s always best to consult your healthcare provider regarding any concerns about bodily changes you’re experiencing during pregnancy.



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