Welcome to your 30’s, where it’s possible to have both pimples and wrinkles at the same time. And don’t even get me started on what pregnancy hormones do when thrown into the mix.
You know what that means, though? Living a healthy lifestyle isn’t just limited to what you put into your body (nutrition) or how you keep it in shape (exercise); it’s also about developing a strategy for keeping its largest, most protective organ — aka our skin — in tip-top shape.
So I’ll let you in on a little secret: I’m a total junkie when it comes to beauty products. Maybe it was watching my mom do Miracle Whip facials and mayonnaise hair conditioning treatments when I was a kid, but you name it, and I’ll try it on the quest for smoother skin, shinier hair or a dewier glow.
And while I typically don’t discriminate against ingredients (I know, I know…but I have yet to find a natural deodorant or shampoo/conditioner that actually works), I’ve done a 180 with Baby H on board these past few months.
The last thing I want to do is expose him/her to harmful chemicals, regardless of how small the amounts may be, so I’ve been on the hunt for the best all-natural (or as close as possible) alternatives. Here are the current favorites on heavy rotation in my routine:
Step 1: Remove Makeup
At 99.1% natural, Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Towelettes ($6) supposedly remove makeup, cleanse and tone in one easy step, leaving skin clean without the need for rinsing. But I prefer to use them as a first line of defense in removing even the most stubborn makeup without irritating skin.
Step 2: Cleanse
Made with 100% Certified Fair Trade ingredients, I first spotted Alaffia EveryDay Coconut Cleansing Face Wash ($13) while shopping at Whole Foods and decided to give it a whirl. Because it’s all-natural, it isn’t quite powerful enough to remove heavy-duty makeup or waterproof mascara on its own, but works well in conjunction with the Burt’s Bees towelettes.
My friend Corey also shared some Arbonne Calm ($123 for the full-sized set) samples with me because the line is not only free from the usual chemical suspects, but it’s also made up of naturally-derived and food-grade ingredients that do not contain fragrance or color. I’ve been using these mostly while traveling a) because they’re travel-sized and b) because dry airplane air can wreak havoc on skin, but the products have lived up to their name.
Step 3: Tone
After years of using harsh toners that would leave my skin feeling stripped and tight, I’ve learned my lesson and now take a gentler approach with Scientific Organics Spirulina Toner ($30), which adjusts pH, removes dead skin cells and prepares skin for better product absorption. Best of all, it’s made of pure, potent botanicals instead of chemicals and has a minimum of 70% organic ingredients.
Step 4: Treat
Because some of the best anti-agers (retinols) are a no-no during pregnancy, I’ve adopted Mad Hippie Vitamin C Serum ($34) as my new treatment of choice. It’s got eight “actives” or ingredients with known antioxidant and skin rejuvenating properties and none of the bad stuff, so I can help reduce the effects of photoaging and not feel guilty in the process.
And when I want to have a “spa moment” but don’t have extra time or cash for a facial, I turn to BioRepublic Eco-Friendly Sheet Masks ($5 each) which is are ultra-soothing facial masks infused with natural cucumber extract, plant collagen and vitamin E. I’ll pop one on during an evening TV show, and in 20 minutes stressed out skin feels soothed and rejuvenated.
Step 5: Moisturize
I’m been a big fan of Acure Organics Night Cream ($18), which I found at the local Pharmaca and used for about four months with great results (they don’t call it “nature’s nocturnal miracle” for nothin’). However, the scent became a little too much thanks to the association with the first trimester queasies, so I’ve been looking for something new that would still do the trick for tired skin.
Enter Farmaesthetics Nourishing Lavender Milk ($38), which is my new multitasking best friend at bedtime; not only is it made of 100% natural ingredients that are certified organic (as indicated), but the lavender smell helps me relax as I drift off to sleep. Plus, it’s got one of the all-time best skincare ingredients — Calendula — which is an ancient remedy for healing wounds (as well as a diaper rash treatment that my sister swears by).
Step 6: Remember the Body
I’d be remiss if I didn’t also include some skincare items for the benefit of your body, as well (because hello, pregnancy bacne)…
Case in point: Pura Naturals Peppermint Volcano Soap-Infused Active Slice Sponges ($9 for a 3-pack), which are awesome, patent-pending soap infusion sponges that will cut your shower time in half. They’re infused with ground pumice and a bunch of rich extracts and oils — all great, yes — but what makes them really cool is that they’re created from renewable plant materials and the manufacturing process actually removes carbon from the atmosphere, so every purchase is akin to buying a personal carbon offset.
And, finally, no skincare post that references pregnancy would be complete without mention of something to keep the dreaded itchy belly at bay. My two favorites are Booda Butter ($14) and The Spoiled Mama Tummy Butter ($34), both of which smell like cocoa and immediately give me a chocolate chip cookie craving each time I apply them. But they’re also smooth without being greasy and mild enough scent-wise to be used all throughout pregnancy.