(Note: this is not a paid endorsement, I buy these products regularly and will let you know if something is ever “gratis.” Additional disclaimer: much of this post was written one-handed as I pumped or patted a 3 month old)
Coffee wasn’t the only thing to go…
When I found-out I was pregnant this past August I made a bee-line to the bathroom and immediately did a “natural” vs “naughty” once-over of all my MANY products. From toner to toothpaste, nothing was safe. All added fragrances or even fruit acids came under intense Google-based scrutiny. Needless to say, my devotion to retinoids and cosmeceuticals needed a rewrite. In addition to throwing-out anything obviously toxic (ahem, self-tanner… it’s been nice, but), I also quickly navigated to the Environmental Working Group’s handy database and let their exhaustive, impartial research be my guide.
Here are some helpful factoids I picked-up along the way from a variety of sources for nervous (I like to think responsible!) soon-to-be moms:
- Unlike BHA, AHA is a safe ingredient to look-for in an exfoliant
- Ditch the parabens & phthalates… you should probably do this postpartum anyway!
- Official low-down on what types of cosmetics ARE & AREN’T monitored by the FDA
- Now may NOT be the best time to indulge in fragrance-based products:
- Your nose will possibly be more sensitive (another reason to “love” pregnancy in NYC!)
- Your little nursling will be more attuned to your scent postpartum without them
How I developed a bump-based battle-plan….
Enter my FAVORITE “sister” (I am not sure if the two wonderful owners are actually related?) team of pharmacists at Northside Pharmacy here in Brooklyn (more an apothecary that happens to also be a drugstore & HELLO, WOMAN OWNED!) and the Keys skincare line. The Northside team assured me that I could basically “eat these products” if I wanted to and I was sufficiently reassured that I may have found a one-stop line for future toxin-free trimesters. A Herculean task when the nerves of early pregnancy are on high alert.
Further adding to a sense of trust, is Keys’ oddly effective, clinical packaging and clearly stated “therapeutic” ingredients/benefits. As a long-term natural skincare adherent and curious at-home chemist, the line seemed like a great fit. I came for the natural formulas and still use the line for the great results pre & postnatal for my hormonally stressed and sleep deprived skin.
Pre/postnatal skincare I swear by…
Listed below is the low-down on what I consider to be a relatively low-maintenance sensitive/dry/combination (yes, my skin is all of these things!) skincare routine largely dominated by the Keys line.
Warm weather washing/toning:
- Island RX Foaming Cleanser: A nice rich lather to get off the city grime while respecting your skin’s delicate PH. Survival note: If my little rabbit is in my arms I will skip water dependent cleansers and either use Cetaphil and a tissue to remove the day or for the really desperate moments, a baby wipe.
- Thayers Aloe-based witch hazel on a cotton pad – this is why the decades old toner has such a curiously ominous name! I switch to their cucumber filled, alcohol-free version in the colder months.
Chose one of the following moisturizers to wear solo or layer Reflex serum underneath:
- Tortuga: I know this is technically for the hands & face, but I improvise & use it as a thicker cold weather face & neck cream.
- Solar RX: Love this day moisturizer (never figured-out what “clear foundation” means exactly) for its effectiveness and high sheen moisturizing properties (yet, not greasy). Also, it provides a great base under foundation. Don’t forget to spread this on the top area of your décolletage (mind the breastfeeding zone!) and on your hands and lower extremities, you may be tired now, but, be sure to take this time to invest in your later skin health!
- Reflex ProBiome Anti-aging Serum: There are hundreds of facial oils on the market (argan, rose etc…) & this one with fermented fruits and flowers is a top-rate contender from an efficacy standpoint. The only caveat in my book is the smell. A bit intense for a pregnant nose and closely resembling a woody citrus of some sort… so skip this one until you are comfortably postpartum & breastfeeding has been well established, because as I mentioned above, nurslings are especially attuned to your scent in the early days.
- Eye Butter: This is the only eye cream I have found that is ultra moisturizing, fragrance free and yet easily absorbed. (Oh, & effective at softening fine lines!) Just be sure to gently pat eye creams along the outer perimeter of your under eye area using your weakest fingers (not your pointer) and just under your brow bone. A common mistake is to apply eye cream too close to the eye, thereby irritating the eye tissue and causing inflammation which further exacerbates fine lines (not “wrinkles,” think “fine” wine!). Instead, pat your eye cream in a bit further afield and let it melt in towards your eye area as it settles into your skin. Now you know.
Body-care for bump & beyond (even the unmentionables!):
- Shea-based soap + washcloth (shea butter based soaps do double-duty as a fairly great shaving solution as well!)
- Slather a generous amount of olive oil (I buy it in bulk from Costco – does double-duty for great vinaigrettes) on your skin post shower or bath while you are still a bit moist and the oil will work to seal it in. Throw-on a bathrobe to allow the oil to fully sink-in and take a second to relax (really, even a nanosecond helps!)
- Immediately postpartum, I discovered the joys of adding a tad of the classic yellow Johnson’s baby shamp to my peri bottle (if you haven’t had a baby yet, you might not know what this is) for gentle back-end cleaning – stick to water only for your lady bits!
- This same yellow classic formula works really well as a tired mama body wash and surprisingly well on dry hair (must be the low-lather & oddly soothing “baby” scent)! I then followed this with coconut oil on the ends of my extremely dry curly/straight hair and was amazed that it seemed to outperform MUCH more expensive, highly fragranced haircare!
- Speaking of unspeakable care… the aforementioned Cetaphil works really well, when you are ready to step-up your front-end cleansing postpartum as well!
What is your favorite bump-friendly line? Any time/sanity-saving tips & tricks for the community?
XO Mama Kate