Pickles, Ice Cream, and… Sensitive Skin? Pregnant Skin: What to Do to Get and Keep That “Glow”

By Joseph Rucker, M.D., F.A.C.S.

During pregnancy, an ever-expanding “baby bump” is not the only physical change you will experience.  That “glow” everyone talks about can quickly become a waxy sheen due to increased oil production in the skin. Without a focused effort toward taming raging hormones–rashes, acne and other related skin conditions can quickly get out of control. Here are some quick and simple skin care tips aimed at avoiding excessive skin oil production and reducing skin inflammation:

Best Practices for your Face:

Cleanse: Adopt a strict facial cleansing routine every morning and night.  Milder, natural-based facial cleansers containing plant extracts can help unplug the oily pores, especially during the first trimester.  Use an astringent to remove any remaining oil and a natural, non-inflammatory toner.

Exfoliate: Use a product formulated with gentle ingredients 3-4 times weekly on moist skin after cleansing.  Work in a circular motion using fingertips.  Products containing natural rice bran to absorb oil and papain (papaya enzyme) to exfoliate work well on oily/sensitive skin.

Moisturize: Apply a mild, oil-free moisturizer.

Cosmetics: Use water based products, but sparingly.


  • Abrasive scrubs or exfoliants. Pregnant skin is much too sensitive.
  • Stay away from any acne medicated astringents. In addition to causing more inflammation, their use is discouraged during pregnancy.
  • Heavy, cream-based moisturizers.
  • Excessive use of cosmetics. Some can cause increased oil production in the skin during a period when oil is already a problem. Clogged pores lead to oily cysts beneath the skin, leading to further inflammation.

What to Eat:

While dietary changes aren’t known to “cure” oily skin or its complications, emphasizing certain foods in your diet may help prevent or minimize your symptoms and contribute to your overall health.

Foods can be categorized by their rank on a glycemic index (GI) which measures their impact on your blood sugar.  For instance, enriched breads, cereals, pasta and baked good digest less efficiently and have a higher glycemic index than whole grains. Research indicates a positive link between a low glycemic diet and reduced instances of acne and skin inflammation.

Based on a scale between 0 and 100, take a look at where your favorite foods lie:

  • High-GI foods (70 or higher): white rice, white bread, pretzels, white bagels, white baked potatoes, crackers, sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Medium-GI foods (56-69): bananas, grapes, watermelon, spaghetti, ice cream, raisins, corn on the cob
  • Low-GI foods (55 and under): oatmeal, peanuts, peas, carrots, kidney beans, hummus, skim milk, most fruits (except those listed above)

Always seek specific guidance from your physician, dietician or dermatologist before making any sweeping changes in your diet.

Pregnancy is a journey of great expectations. It also makes incredible demands on your body. Take care of your skin and diet and find that inner and outer glow to look and feel your best during this special time. A detailed list of our recommended skin care products and their formulation can be viewed on our Pregnant Skin Profile.


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