Online Exclusives

Nine Months of Beauty

By Christine Esposito, Associate Editor | June 9, 2011

Made just for pregnant women-and not just for their growing bellies-specialized skin care promises to pamper moms to be.

Once a woman gets pregnant, many questions run through her mind. Will my baby be healthy? Is sushi safe? What’s a doula? Should I really have another donut?

And somewhere between choosing the baby’s name and picking a potential pediatrician, she’s also concerned about her beauty routine. She’s seeing changes in her body (a growing belly and other areas) and in her skin’s appearance too, maybe going from dry to oily or more breakouts.

“As hormones change significantly during pregnancy, there are many potential skin concerns that can arise,” noted Dr. Tess Mauricio, a dermatologist, author and physician educator who has appeared on popular daytime televsion shows such as “Rachael Ray” and “The Doctors.”“Some women can have issues with acne, melasma, new skin growths, itchy skin and even full blown skin rashes like PUPP, or Pruritic Urticarial Papules and Plaques of Pregnancy, an uncomfortable skin rash that is seen in women in their third trimester and may be severe enough to require oral steroids.”

A quick search for “skin care” on, a popular pregnancy website, reveals just how concerned moms-to-be are about these conditions as well as ingredients in personal care products that she relied on before the stork came calling.This behavior should come as no surprise; she’s become über inquisitive about what she puts in her body, and that would naturally trickle down to what she puts on her body too.

For example, Mauricio called retinol “a big no-no during pregnancy because it may be linked to birth defects.”

Stretch marks are just one skin care concern of pregnant women.
With heightened consumer concern about some ingredients, several companies are now targeting pregnant women directly with pregnancy compatible skin care products. It’s niche market for sure—there are approximately 6 million pregnancies every year in the U.S., according to the American Pregnancy Association—but they have skin care concerns that differ from non-pregnant counterparts and warrant specific products, according to these marketers.

Mother of Invention

In a true case of necessity being the “mother” of invention, there’s Belli Skin care, a company founded by Annette Rubin, when she found herself in a family way.

“While pregnant with my first son Jackson, I recognized a gap in the beauty industry—there were no medically sound products that specifically addressed the unique skin care concerns of pregnancy,” Rubin told Happi.

One of those concerns was chloasma, also known as the mask of pregnancy, a condition that can afflict as much as 70% of pregnant moms, according to Rubin, who counts herself in that statistic.

“I was one of its victims—let’s face it it’s not attractive to have dark brown splotches on your face when you should be enjoying the infamous pregnancy glow,” she said.

Looking to find the safest and most effective ways to keep skin tone even while protecting against UVA and UVB rays, Belli offer an Anti-Chloasma Facial Sunscreen SPF-25 formulated with zinc oxide and titanium dioxide.

In order to source the safest possible ingredients, she sought advice of a doctor, specifically her husband who was a family practitioner. He reviewed published medical literature looking for which ingredients were safest for the growing baby, according to Rubin.

“Together, we combined our knowledge into luxurious products that not only pamper and comfort the expectant mom but are free of harmful ingredients,” she said.

In fact, Belli bills itself as the only skin care line in the world to perform ongoing teratology screening of each ingredient. According to Rubin, her husband, Jason Rubin, works with Medline, Toxline, DART, Teris, Toxnet and C.A.R.E. Northwest (Counseling and Advice on Reproductive Exposures) to exclude ingredients even remotely linked to birth defects in the published medical literature, at any dose, from any method of exposure.

Stretch it Out

Another hot spot on every pregnant woman’s radar screen is stretch marks, the telltale sign of weight gain that comes with pregnancy—and unfortunately, remains on the belly and elsewhere well after delivery. Women have been searching for treatments for years.

“There really is no magic cure to prevent stretch marks. They are more likely to form if there is quick weight gain so gradual smaller weight gain during pregnancy is better,” noted Maurico, who said that treatment of stretch marks include topical retinols, IPL, laser and radiofrequency treatments. She said the dermaroller microneedling technique also has been shown to be effective.

In addition, there are also plenty of OTC products that are designed to fight stretch marks.

Pregnancy skin care expert Mustela offers its own two-pronged attack: its new Stretch Marks Survival Set. The set contains two products—Stretch Marks Intensive Action and Ultimate Hydration. The former is a localized treatment clinically proven to help reduce the size, depth and color of stretch marks and helps remodel skin support fibers (collagen and elastin) that have been affected by tissue distension. It actively stimulates skin cells with alpha-hydroxy acid and silicium and helps tissue regeneration with the repairing properties of vitamin B5, according to Mustela. The partner product, Ultimate Hydration, is an intensive moisturizing body lotion that soothes and nourishes dry and irritated skin during pregnancy by sealing in water with glycerin and reinforcing the cohesion of the skin’s outer layers with plant ceramides that prevent water loss.

The Mustela Stretch Marks Survival kit.
Many a new parent becomes a disciple of Dr. William (Bill) Sears, a pediatric doctor and prolific author and TV personality with a frequently visited website (—and he’s got a new “prescription” for stretch marks. This month marks the debut of the Dr. Sears Family Essentials, a new line of baby care products that also includes a stretch mark treatment for mom. The new cream is said to enhance the skin's natural beauty and elasticity via an all-natural blend of pure, high-quality ingredients such as plant-based oils and butters derived from sunflower, jojoba and shea.

At Mama Mio Skincare, the focus is on omega-rich ingredients.

“Every woman wants glowing, healthy skin at any age and every stage, including pregnancy…We have found that products rich in Omega 3, 6 and 9 are the best protection against stretch marks during pregnancy and are both safe and effective,” said Mara Stern, U.S. marketing director for Mama Mio, which sells Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Butter and Tummy Rub Stretch Mark Oil, products designed to be used twice a day over the entire torso.

Both products are formulated with very high levels of omega-rich oils that offer the best stretch mark protection, according to Mama Mio officials. In addition, the formulations adhere to the company’s “No Nasties” policy, and are free of paraben, petrolatum, sodium laureth and sodium laurel sulphate, xenoestroge,phtalates, colorants and synthetic fragrance.

“We use our special Gravida fragrance, a blend of pregnancy safe essential oils that offer physical and psychological benefits and was created with sensitive noses in mind,” Stern added.

A pregnant woman’s olfactory system is also on the minds of formulators at companies like Earth Mama Angel Baby, which offers Natural Non-Scents Hand to Toe Wash, a product made with unscented pure castile Calendula soap. According to founder Melinda Olson, the wash is perfect for a pregnant woman who can’t tolerate any scent as it is as close to really scent-free that a product can naturally get; it is formulated with naturally calming, naturally germ fighting organic lavender and vanilla pure essential oils.

Spa Day before Birth Day

Just like the “babymoons” that have become popular with parents to be (that last getaway before the pair becomes a trio), there’s been growing interest in prenatal spa treatments too. Products designed for this specific population must be gentle as women’s skin can be much more sensitive when pregnant.

“The pregnancy spa market is certainly a growing one. There is a real need for proper pre-natal training and pregnancy-safe ‘professional’ products, both of which are a part of Mama Mio's Mama's Touch Spa program,” said Stern.

Mama Mio’s Mama's Touch includes as series treatments for the pregnant such Yummy Tummy, an omega-rich facial for the belly combined with massage; Lighten Up, a mineral-rich foot soak, exfoliation and massage for lower legs; and Mellow Mama, fully body massage.

Jurlique’s Signature Pregnancy Facial is tailored to the needs of the client, such i.e. comfort of laying down, allergies, contraindications and sensitivities, scent and skin irritation. The firm uses products that are rich in natural oils, acting as a drink for thirsty skin—as hormonal changes induced in pregnancy can curtail hydration.

Reaching Out to Moms-To-Be

Based on the modern woman’s penchant to turn to the internet information and opinions on all matters (especially when she is pregnant), a savvy online presence is critical. Along those lines, Belli Skincare has launched the Belli Beautiful Contest, an online viral campaign that encourages moms to celebrate the best of their bellies, tummies and abs. Contestants are asked to submit a photo or video of the baby bump or even their post-pregnancy body to win prizes, including one grand prize package valued at $10,000.

That size prize will be joyously received by any parent—especially considering the cost of raising kids these days. According to U.S. Department of Agriculture's Expenditures on Children by Families report released last year, it costs more than $222,000 for middle-income parents to raise one child from birth to 17, excluding college tuition.

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