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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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Beauty Obsession: Shea Moisture

Back in August, I’d read about Vanessa Gualy’s skincare routine on No More Dirty Looks–she’d mentioned that she applies natural oil to wet skin just after showering. Maybe it’s just because I was paying closer attention, but after reading that post it seemed like body oil as a replacement for body lotion kept popping up all over the place. Then I read this post, again on No More Dirty Looks. I figured when I came across a body oil I thought I’d like, I’d give it a try.

A few weeks later, I was cruising through Target, checking out the latest new products that had been added to the natural beauty section (which I am happy to report is slowly growing…), and I stumbled across this Shea Moisture Organic Lavender and Wild Orchid Body Oil. I checked out the ingredients, liked what I saw, thought the price seemed fair (around $10, I believe) and decided to give it a try.

Well. As it turns out, this body oil thing? It’s pretty great. Read on for my review!

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Natural Beauty Faves: November 2011

I’m so happy November is here! I’m already planning my Thanksgiving Day menu (have I mentioned that I love to cook?) and all of the leftover inventions that go along with a massive holiday meal. Yum. November, I love you! And speaking of love, there’s a new batch of favorite products on my sidebar that I’m excited to share with you:

    • Una Biologicals Luxe Face Cream. I’ve written about this magical little face cream before, but I can’t say enough about it. The ingredients are really pure, it’s super emollient and just a little dab will keep your whole face moisturized and smooth. It’s too heavy for me in the summer (except in the undereye area, where I’ve used this with great results), but in the wintertime, my skin just drinks this stuff up. My husband pointed out a few days ago that after I apply this stuff, I always make a really big happy sigh. Simply put? It feels good.
    • Shea Moisture Lavender and Wild Orchid Body Oil. I’ve stopped using body lotion entirely in favor of body oil—and this stuff, which I discovered at my local Target, is my latest favorite. It’s not expensive, it has lovely ingredients and it keeps my legs and feet and elbows from getting dry. (I’m planning to write a Beauty Obsession post about this lovely little oil and how I use it instead of body lotion. Stay tuned.)
    • Dr. Hauschka Hand Cream. I can’t believe this hand cream hasn’t made my list until now—it was one of the first natural products I tried, and I was amazed. It’s perfect for anyone who works at a computer all day, because it doesn’t leave your hands feeling greasy or slippery, so you can use a dab (a pea-sized amount is all you need), rub it into your hands, and then get right back to tapping away on your keyboard. It’s on the pricier side at $24.95, but it lasts a really long time, and it’s on sale right now for $19.96. I’m definitely going to snap up a new bottle…
    • Mommy-to-be Milk Bath. OK, so…I’m not a mommy or a mommy-to-be, but I do love my big jacuzzi tub—and I also love a good milk bath. This USDA certified organic milk bath comes in a powder with essential oils of lavender, lemon and sandalwood that dissolves in warm water…ahhhh.

What products are you loving this month? I’d love to hear about your favorites! —Aleigh

Want to check out my previous monthly favorites? Find them all here.

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