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How Pregnancy (and Parenthood) Ruined My Skin

pigtails pregnancy ruined my skin summer day indigo+canary

Hi guys. Remember me? The girl who used to have a little natural beauty blog? We had a pretty good thing going for a while, right? Well … surprise! I’m wading back into the water, and it’s feeling pretty great.

I have missed you all desperately, but it turns out that parenting a tiny human + working a pretty demanding full-time job + busting a move with a freelance side hustle + serving as a board member on a (fantastic) nonprofit organization called Circle de Luz has pushed Indigo + Canary down a few notches on the priority list. (PS: You must, must, must watch the video on the Circle de Luz site. I’m serious. In addition to featuring the story of one of Circle’s adorable participants, it also won an Emmy Award!)

However, a few of those things have changed: My tiny human is a little less tiny (although still pretty darn cute, I must say), I’m rotating off the nonprofit board now that my three-year term is complete (although I am still a volunteer and contributor — they can’t get rid of me!), and so I’ve got a little bit of hustle left. And Indigo + Canary is where I want to put it! Because, as it turns out, becoming a parent didn’t change a thing about my raging addiction to clean/natural/organic beauty products.

Just how did parenthood and pregnancy ruin my skin, exactly?

Sigh. Here’s my sad-but-true tale of skin woes, in chronological order:

  • Before pregnancy: A condition I have — polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS) — made my skin pretty awful sometimes. People with PCOS often have out-of-control hormones, and I was no exception. It took a pretty regimented system to keep my skin from being a mess, but a combination of medications + thoughtful skincare products helped a lot. Unfortunately, I still had to deal with regular cystic acne, usually during my period. (Cystic acne is no joke.)
  • During pregnancy: My skin was perfect. My skin was flawless. My skin was freaking amazing. Pregnancy sort of “cures” PCOS, temporarily, and that was my experience. Some women experience terrible breakouts, discoloration, and other terrible things during pregnancy, but not me! (I did have other pregnancy complications, however, so I would not say I enjoyed being pregnant.)
  • After pregnancy: All was fine for a few months, but as more time went by, I started to notice my breakouts were getting more severe and more frequent.
  • Post-breastfeeding: By this point, forget about it. My skin was a mess. It was inflamed. I woke up to new blemishes every single day, and almost always had at least one or two cystic acne blemishes to deal with. It got so bad I would re-apply makeup several times throughout the day, and by the end of a workday, I would want to sob when I looked at my face in the mirror.
  • Now: Fast-forward to this morning, and I can see that I’ve made progress, but I’m still completely frustrated by what’s happening with my skin. I frequently have breakouts across my cheeks, which was never a problem area pre-pregnancy. Plus, I have the normal hormonal breakouts near my mouth and chin — with awful flare-ups right around my period.

What am I doing about my awful post-pregnancy/parenthood complexion?

Well: Trial and error. I can tell that I’ve made some improvement. I’m taking baby steps to get back to my original pre-pregnancy regimen of medication + topical treatments (because my old frenemy PCOS is back with a vengeance), but I’m still not comfortable with my skin, and it’s a daily frustration. Lately, however, I’ve tried a few products that seem to be helping a lot.

So if you’re in the same boat, first off: I feel you, girl! It super duper sucks. But maybe these products will help give you some relief too.

Fig + Yarrow Foaming Cleanser, $19.99: I love that this foaming cleanser is at Target, because I already make a weekly pilgrimage to the big red bullseye for pull-ups, wipes, and toddler snacks. It has activated charcoal, which has antibacterial and detoxification properties, making it a pretty powerful acne-fighter.

Osmia Organics Detox Exfoliationg Mask, $50: My Osmia fandom knows no bounds. This exfoliating facial mask has activated bamboo charcoal and manuka honey for a great balance of detox/cleansing/moisturizing properties. If you like facial masks, this is a must-try. I use this or the Acure Organics scrub about once a week.

Shea Moisture Natural African Black Soap, $3.59: Another Target find, this one is supremely affordable and leaves my skin feeling clean but not overly dry. It has oats to help soothe and calm my skin, but it’s also moisturizing in all the right ways. I use this one in the shower and the Fig + Yarrow at the sink.

Acure Organics Brightening Facial Scrub, $9.99: I love this scrub (and Acure products in general), but a word of caution: when you have regular breakouts, you have to be careful about scrubs, which can further irritate already angry skin. If you use a scrub mid-breakout, it can very well make your breakout worse. I use this scrub very sparingly, and only when my skin is in not-great-but-not-horrific shape. I love how smooth my skin feels (and how my makeup just glides right on my skin) afterwards. Hint: I also make sure to give some attention to my neck and decollete, because those are two spots that often show early signs of aging.

Did your skin freak out after (or during) pregnancy? What are your go-to products? Please share! I’d love to know your secrets.

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4 Pregnancy Lessons from the First Trimester

Day 66 - 25 weeks

Disclaimer: This is not my belly!

I’m at the 20-week point of my pregnancy. Officially halfway! It hasn’t exactly been a breeze this far, but I’m grateful to be feeling (mostly) well and that I haven’t had any major complications. I have, however, learned a few things about this whole pregnancy thing that I think are worth sharing with my fellow soon-to-be mamas. —Aleigh

Sunburns. Ouch. My skin is much more sensitive to skin exposure right now, which I have proven on two all-day boat excursions. No amount of sunscreen and frequency of reapplying seems to keep me from getting burned, which means hats and light layers of clothing are a must when I know I’ll be spending the day in the sun. But that doesn’t mean I neglect sunscreen, of course! The next one I’m planning to try: Coola Organic Suncare Baby SPF 50 Unscented Moisturizer.

Body oil. Moisturization is so, so important for a growing, stretching, changing pregnant body. I’m more dedicated than ever to my daily body oil routine: I keep a bottle or two of body oil in the shower, and generously smooth it on once I turn off the water. Then I lightly pat dry. This technique seems to do the best job of keeping my skin smooth and soft all day long.

Letting it go. It’s all about mindset. People will inevitably say the wrong thing to you. My favorite from the past few months: “You don’t look pregnant AT ALL!” Let me tell you, when you’re three months along and you feel bloated and uncomfortable—and you’re definitely sporting a baby bump—this comment just makes you think, “Wait, you think I look like this ALL THE TIME?!” It’s not easy to smile and walk away without responding with a biting comment, but it’s worth the effort (most of the time).

Pregnancy anger. Someone should’ve warned me (and probably my husband!) that this was a thing. One bonus? I’m practicing my yoga breathing a LOT. And thanks to prenatal yoga classes, I’m practicing actual yoga, too—which is a huge help.

(Image via Michael Sharman

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6 ingredients to avoid during pregnancy

Now that we’ve all had a squeal-fest about Beyonce and her adorable pregnancy, I thought it would be a good time to share a few thoughts on preggo products. (And also one of the cutest maternity videos of all time. You’re welcome.)

Let’s start with the basics. Your OB will probably tell you to stay away from tuna fish, unpasteurized cheese, lunchmeat, sushi, caffeine, alcohol…the list goes on. But he or she probably won’t encourage you to stop washing your hair or putting on lotion just because you’ve got a bun in the oven–and you aren’t going to hear that from me, either.

There are more than enough things to worry about when you’re preggo, but one thing you can easily do for peace of mind is re-evaluate your cosmetics. After all, anything your body absorbs could potentially be absorbed by your little one, too.

Here are the top six ingredients to stay away from:

  • Mercury. It’s been discovered by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) in quite a few cosmetics…if you can’t eat tuna or raw fish out of concerns about exposure to mercury, you definitely don’t want to be absorbing them through your cosmetics. Sometimes it’s listed as the preservative thimerosal.
  • Lead. In 2007, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics tested 33 popular brands of lipstick and found lead in 61 percent of them. The FDA has verified these findings but hasn’t taken action. Here’s a quote from the story: “Pregnant women and young children are particularly vulnerable to lead exposure, because lead easily crosses the placenta and enters the fetal brain where it can interfere with normal development,” said Dr. Sean Palfrey, a professor of pediatrics and public health at Boston University and the medical director of Boston’s Lead Poisoning Prevention Program.

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