Welcome back, my friend! Pregnancy is a time of wonderful change and upheaval, and of course your skin expresses these changes too. Extra blood, and a lot more hormones – they all contribute to the pregnancy glow we hear so much about. Yet stretch marks are inevitable for most mums-to-be, along with discomfort and hyperpigmentation. What can you expect? This article will guide you in which ways your skin changes during pregnancy.

Read on the find out more.

How your skin changes during pregnancy

Hyperpigmentation and melasma

Most women find that the pigmented areas of their skin e.g. moles, freckles, and nipples darken during pregnancy. Does this help the baby engage in the nipple crawl? It’s an interesting idea. Many women develop a darkened line down their belly called linea nigra. This is completely normal, and your skin should return to its previous colour a few months after pregnancy.

The dark line down the belly - linea nigra

Some women develop melasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy, on their face. This is caused by hyperpigmentation – extra melatonin in the skin due to female pregnancy hormones oestrogen and progesterone. It’s more common in darker skinned people.

The key is to protect yourself from the sun. The most natural way to protect yourself is to stay out of the sun and cover up with clothing and a large hat.

Opt for a broad spectrum mineral sunscreen with at least SPF 30 and reapply it frequently. Mineral sunscreens are a safer choice than chemical sunscreens during pregnancy. This is because chemical sunscreens can contain endocrine disrupting chemicals such as oxybenzone. Studies have shown oxybenzone can pass through the placenta and cause problems with the developing baby.

To stay on the safe side, avoid the chemical filters avobenzone, homosalate, octinoxate, octisalate, octocrylene, and oxybenzone in sunscreens. To learn more, read the EWGs guide to safer sunscreens.


Stretching of the skin is inevitable during pregnancy, and many women develop stretch marks on their skin. At first, the stretch marks are red or purple, but they eventually fade to a silver, skin-toned hue.

Stretch marks on pregnant belly
Image by jcomp on Freepik

There is nothing that can be done to prevent stretch marks, however you can use skin care products to ensure your skin is well hydrated and moisturised. It’s best to choose dedicated stretch mark body oils and butters that are designed for use during pregnancy.

I like Weleda Mum range – their Stretch Mark Body Butter and Stretch Mark Body Oil are perfect to maintain your skin’s elasticity during pregnancy.

Itchiness and discomfort

Itching is very common in pregnancy and is caused by your growing bump and by hormonal changes throughout the body.

Developing a gentle skincare routine during pregnancy can really help

Palmar erythema is a condition in which the palms and sides of the hands become red and itchy. It’s usually harmless and down to hormones and increased blood flow.

In all cases, itching can be a symptom of a liver condition called obstetric cholestasis, so it’s best to see a doctor straight away to get this ruled out.

Developing a gentle and regular pregnancy skin care routine at this time can really help. Use only unscented personal care products like shower gel or creme, and avoid harsh soaps and hot baths. Use a fragrance free moisturiser all over your body every day.

Varicose veins

Ah, varicose veins. For me personally, these are one of the hardest pregnancy symptoms to come to terms with. They are hot, itchy, achy, and unsightly. I miss my smooth pre-pregnancy legs.

So what can be done about varicose veins during pregnancy? Not much. Treatment is only really necessary if the varicose veins are causing pain or discomfort once the baby is born. Some people opt to have them removed privately for cosmetic reasons.

Relief at home includes elevating the legs, compression stockings, and cool compresses. You should also avoid standing for long periods.

Natural remedies include creams and tinctures containing horse chestnut, bilberry, cypress essential oil, and witch hazel. You should definitely check with your midwife or doctor before trying any herbal remedies, however.


Stretching skin and extra hormones can contribute to a feeling of increased skin sensitivity during pregnancy. And now that you’re pregnant, you might find that your eczema and psoriasis has got worse – leading to greater sensitivity.

Psoriasis can worsen during pregnancy

Perhaps your favourite perfume and scented skincare items are now way too strong and cause your skin to feel uncomfortable. In this case, try using unscented versions of your favourite skincare products.

Loose clothing in natural fibres and a clean detergent for your clothing might also help. Using a gentle fragrance free moisturiser every day and taking cool baths can also be very soothing.

Many women report extra sensitivity to cleaning products – myself included. Wearing protective gloves during washing up and cleaning is definitely recommended.

Rest assured that this too will pass!


Some women find that acne worsens during pregnancy – perhaps down to an increase in oil production for these women. For others, no period means less hormonal acne before and during menstruation.

Keep a simple and gentle routine with no harsh cleansers or toners. Try a gentle BHA toner (salicylic acid is fine once per day). Stick to non comedogenic oils and moisturisers – since your skin still needs moisture and TLC. Topical retinoids during pregnancy are a controversial topic and it’s probably best to avoid them during pregnancy, especially in the first trimester.

Final thoughts on skin changes during pregnancy

I hope this article sheds light on why and how your skin changes in pregnancy. Hopefully, most of the changes you’ll experience during pregnancy – aside from those pesky stretch marks – are only temporary, and within a year your skin will be back to normal.

How is your skin changing during pregnancy? Let me know in the comments – I’d love to hear from you!

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Until next time!


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