Skincare for New Moms
The incredible journey throughout pregnancy causes a woman to experience a lot of physical changes. With hormonal fluctuations, carrying around extra weight for months, sharing vitamin and mineral stores with a growing baby, and the physical and emotional stress of giving birth, there’s a lot going on. After giving birth, a new mom can be left feeling like she’s in a totally different body compared to nine months before. Stretch marks, dry or non-elastic skin, and puffy eyes are all examples of the wear and tear that pregnancy can have on the body.
Thankfully, there are some quick and easy holistic remedies that can help improve these conditions and support a new mom as she focuses on nurturing herself and her baby.
Appearance: Long striations of darker, lighter, and/or depressed (indented) skin most commonly found on the breasts, abdomen, butt, and thigh area.
Vitamin E oil: supports new skin cell growth. Vitamin E is an antioxidant that combats oxidative stress on the skin (which can make skin appear to have aged). Massage stretch marks with this oil for 5-10 minutes daily.
Raw shea butter: very high in vitamins A and E. It’s best applied throughout pregnancy, but is just as efficient postpartum. Make sure to wear old clothes once applied as raw shea butter can leave marks on your clothes as it is not absorbed by the skin quickly. Massage into the skin as needed.
Oatmeal: a delicate and natural exfoliant that is gentle enough for even baby skin. Exfoliating is necessary for skin cell turnover and regeneration, as it removes the dull layer of top skin to uncover more plump skin cells. Combine ½ cup ground oatmeal with ½ cup brown sugar and ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, and apply in a circular motion to wet skin. Rinse off.
Dry skin brushing: promotes lymphatic drainage, which helps move and break up deposited tissue. Using a natural fiber brush, brush the skin starting from the feet in circular motions. Always brush in an upward direction toward the heart.
Drink a cup of warm water first thing in the morning: this stimulates the lymphatic system (plus all your digestive organs) and gives the body a good start to the day. On an empty stomach, boil yourself some hot water and drink it slowly. If you like, you can add a bit of lemon for better taste.
*Note: Exercise is an under-utilized stretch mark treatment. Resistance training can help to tone the muscles underneath the skin and tighten the area, reducing the appearance of stretch marks.
Appearance: Skin that is scaling, itching, or cracking and lacks brightness.
Dry skin brushing: promotes lymphatic drainage, which helps move and break up deposited tissue. As above, using a natural fiber brush, brush the skin starting from the feet in circular motions. Always brush in an upward direction toward the heart.
Jojoba seed oil: light, moisturizing oil that absorbs well into the skin. Massage into damp skin after showering for easy application and absorption.
Eliminate chemical-laden, fragranced face products: these chemicals can severely dry out the skin. Look at the EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database or download the Think Dirty app on your phone as they are great resources for people wanting to reduce chemical exposure via their self-care and beauty products.
Drink Plenty of water: this will help with breast-milk production as well.
Appearance: Dry, blistering, and/or cracked areola and nipple area.
Calendula: this herb is the go-to for anything skin-related. Calendula cream or ointment is found in most nipple creams as it soothes and heals damaged skin, including sore and cracked nipples. A combination tincture of St. John’s Wort and calendula has been shown to heal cracked nipples quickly.
Chamomile: highly soothing for inflamed red skin. You can brew a cup of hot water and once cool, use the tea bag and tea to apply to the affected area.
Extra virgin olive oil: protective and regenerative. Massage nipples daily with this oil. *Note, you can infuse olive oil with calendula and chamomile for the healing properties of all three in one oil.
Breast milk: contains lysosome and other healing proteins which help heal cracked nipples. Nature at work!
Appearance: Dark circles and/or under eye bags.
Collagen: improves skin elasticity. Try drinking bone broth to obtain this essential nutrient or find a grass-fed powdered option to add to your routine. Make sure the bone broth is made from a high-quality source, or when buying a supplement, ensure it comes from a clean organic source.
Cucumber: cooling. Helps to reduce water retention below the eyes, reducing puffiness. Place two slices of cucumbers on your eyes and take some time to relax.
Black tea bags: tannins in tea reduce water retention. Place two steeped and cooled tea bags over eyes for five minutes.
Postpartum Hormonal Acne
Appearance: Acne that typically arises in the lower area of the face and the neck.
Bitters (internal): bitters stimulate the liver which clears out excess hormones that may be causing acne. Speak to a herbalist to give you bitters appropriate for you (especially if you’re breastfeeding).
Oil cleansing: cleansing with oil can reduce the amount of sebum that the skin produces. Take a quarter size of extra virgin olive or face oil and massage it into a dry face. Take a hot and wrung out washcloth and place it over the face to allow for the removal of any impurities. Wipe away any excess oil with the washcloth when finished.
Tea tree oil: a highly antiseptic essential oil that can be used as a spot treatment for pesky pimples. Use with a carrier oil (rather than applying it directly) as tea tree oil can be very drying to the skin.
Movement: try to go for a walk daily with your baby. Light exercise is a great way to stabilize your hormones and help treat hormone-related acne.
Appearance: Dark or light patches of skin on the face.
Turmeric: contains pigments that over time can help to lighten the skin. Combine with equal parts yogurt (lactic acid) to make a lightening face mask.
Lactic acid: a type of alpha hydroxy acid which helps to peel off the outermost surface layer of skin to make way for new, healthy cells. Try making the turmeric and yogurt face mask above.
Triphala: high in antioxidants which help to sweep away old dead skin cells. Take in a supplement form and follow the dosage on bottle.