How I’m Avoiding Pregnancy Stretchmarks- Understanding your Skin
I’ve been running an experiment on myself to see if I could make it through my pregnancy without getting stretchmarks, due to my devoted application of natural moisturisers, every day without fail. I’m now at 34 weeks pregnant and am happy to document that so far my belly is still stretchmark free. If you read my last blog, I explained that my Mum suffered massively from severe pregnancy stretchmarks, and I wondered if this would genetically affect me too. For 15 years I have been a devoted user of only plant extracts in my skincare routine and hoped that my skin has been in peak condition because of this, but I wondered if this would be enough to protect it during the biggest kind of stretching it will receive- during my pregnancy!
Is it possible for you to do this too?
Optimum skin condition is no magic trick. If you read my last blog, I explained that I have worked as a product developer and skincare educator within the natural skincare industry for 15 years. To really understand how you could get the most from your skincare products, I wanted to share a brief education of how your skin works. By understanding these elements, I hope it will begin to make sense to you that there are certain ingredients you should apply to your skin during pregnancy (and always!) in order to keep it in peak condition and help prevent stretch-marks from occurring.
The simplest way to explain this is to first describe what your skin is made from! It’s something that we rarely think about yet we’re happy to apply all sorts of products to it which, when you read the label, may contain a myriad of man-made ingredients that we don’t really know or understand.
A. Your skin is an organ.
What is the job of your skin? To act as a shield which protects your body from infection, which has many tasks- to keep your body temperature constant, to protect you from the elements and pollution (free radical attack), to protect from infection and disease, to keep water out yet also retain water within the body. In order to do these things and be an effective shield, it needs to be able to stretch with your movements without splitting or cracking (which would allow infection to enter) and also to live as long as you do!
FACT: Your skin is actually mostly made from 3 simple ingredients- lipids (fats) keratin (proteins) and water. So it makes absolute sense to use skincare products that contain these same ingredients that will provide it with good nutrition, such as extracts from other natural sources. If you read the ingredients list on a man-made body lotion that you’re using on your pregnant belly, could you recognise many nutritional ingredients amongst that list?
FACT: Seed and nut extracts are made from proteins and fats too. In order to maintain flexibility, the cells within your skin need to be constantly fed with this which will help the skin reinforce its elastin and collagen fibres and regenerate new cells.
B. Your skin needs nutrition, like any organ would.
I am always surprised that we are still not educated to consider the skin as an organ that needs maintaining with nutrition the same as any other organ in the body. Especially as our skin is exposed to so many more aggressors than other organs. When you think about it, we are told that we should eat garlic as it’s good for our heart, or fish because it’s good for our brain, so why are we not told to use Avocado oil as it’s good for our skin? Persuasive marketing by big brands has convinced us that natural ingredients are old fashioned or traditional and not as effective as something more man-made. Well the opposite of this is true! Natural extracts are actually extremely complex- much more so than anything man could make in a laboratory.
To be truly effective and in peak condition, our skin needs to be given nutrition in the best possible way.
When and why does your skin begin to show stretch-marks?
If your skin’s cells are not receiving the extra help they need in protecting their elastin and collagen fibres, then as your baby grows, your skin is pushed to its limit. Simply put, without extra help, your cells run out of any more stretch, break and perish- resulting in a mark or scar.
FACT: Petroleum, petrolatum and mineral oil (petrochemicals) are barrier molecules derived from crude oil. They form a layer on the surface of skin to prevent moisture loss, but due to a very large molecular structure, they cannot penetrate the skin or deliver nutrition to the dermis.
Using petrochemicals in your stretch-mark products will not give your skin what it needs to prevent stretching, they will simply form a layer to help stop your skin becoming drier- which can help cellular moisture loss (if you are very lucky this may be all you need to avoid stretch-marks) but is not nearly the amount of help that most women’s skin needs at this point.
FACT: Being from living origin, plant oils are made of a much smaller molecular structure and are able to achieve full skin penetration, delivering their lipids into the dermis, re-enforcing and boosting elastin and collagen fibres and giving your skin flexibility and protection.
Giving my skin effective cellular moisturisation
What I have been using?I use Natalia Anti Stretch Butter which has been especially formulated with some of the most nutritious natural extracts to help prevent skin stretching which I have listed below (alternatively you can use them separately if you would prefer). I have dry skin and find a butter works best for me, but you can use this formula as an oil too.
Vital Touch Shea butter
A very fatty nut extract, which helps bind water molecules into my skin, keeping it hydrated.
Vital Touch Avocado oil
High in Omega oils (EFA’s) which help repair and reduce inflammation of the skins cells.
Known as Indian Pennywort, traditionally used in Ayervedic medicine for healing broken skin and reducing inflammation of the skins cells.
Known as Tocopherol, an essential cellular moisturiser and also for boosting cellular repair.
Vital Touch Rosehip seed oil
High in EFA’s and also able to achieve very deep skin penetration into the dermis to help re-inforce elastin cells.
Regardless of which ingredients you use to moisturise, I hope that this brief education on how the skin is made, and what it needs to feed it has helped a little in your understanding of skincare and the ingredients within it.
In a nutshell, ALWAYS moisturise effectively with REAL ingredients, every day! I promise it will really, really help nutrify your skin and help it live a long, healthy, hopefully more flexible life!
Good luck, and keep in touch!