Pregnancy mask is the common term for chloasma—dark, speckled, or blotchy patches of skin. These patches typically appear on the cheeks, above the upper lip, and on the forehead.
If you are experiencing chloasma there is good news:
- You aren’t the only one! When we feel like something is wrong with us, we also tend to believe that we are the only one. But 50-75% of pregnant woman experience some form of chloasma.
- Chloasma tends to be temporary and will usually disappear on its own after delivery or breastfeeding.
What causes chloasma?
The short answer is hormones. When you are pregnant, your body is flooded with hormones. Estrogen, in particular, rises dramatically and this causes excess melanin production or hyperpigmentation.
This excess melanin production is also why some women notice their areolas getting darker in appearance or a dark line appearing down the center of their stomach (called a linea nigra). Still, other women just experience a darkening of their moles or freckles, but this too is a form of chloasma.
How to naturally treat chloasma
Since chloasma is called by hormones, it is important to strive to keep your hormones as balanced as possible during pregnancy.
Here are some ways to try and rebalance your hormones:
Balance your omega fatty acids. If you eat out a lot or eat your fair share of packaged foods, then chances are you have too many omega-6 fatty acids in your diet. Make sure to eat plenty of homemade, real food meals cooked in healthy fats such as coconut oil, avocado oil, or extra virgin olive oil. Eat pregnancy safe seafood twice a week (for more information on which types of seafood are safe, see here), and make sure that you take a cod liver oil or cod liver oil/butter oil supplement. The ones linked are the exact brand that I personally took and benefited from.
Eat a real food diet. Like mentioned above, it is important to be eating real, unprocessed foods. You’ll want to eat plenty of grass-fed and organic meats, healthy fats (including nuts and seeds), eggs, and fruits and vegetables. Dark leafy greens are especially good for treating chloasma as they contain folic acid which has been shown to reduce hyperpigmentation. (Also, make sure that you are taking a prenatal vitamin every day that contains folate).
If you are new to cooking real foods or don’t have the time to shop and prepare all of your meals, now would be a great time to sign up for a meal delivery service like Green Chef. Currently, they are the only recipe delivery service that guarantees every single food item to be organic. Our family loves it, and they deliver right to your door. Try it once to see if it works for you and get $30 off your order.
Protect yourself. Wear a sunscreen with an SPF of 30 or higher on your face all day, every single day, even if you’re not going outside. The sun’s rays will only make your chloasma worse, and the sun is capable of penetrating our skin through ordinary clothes and windows. Use your pregnancy as an awesome justification for buying cute hats and scarves to further protect yourself from the sun. There are even scarves and hats that are made out of UVA/UVB protective fabric. For example, PrioriTec Sundriven 7-Way Wrap provides UPF 50+ sun protection, can be worn multiple ways, and comes in a variety of crazy cute colors.
Avoid toxic home and personal care products. Many of the chemicals in our traditional household cleaners, beauty products and cosmetics are endocrine disrupters, meaning that they tell our body to stop producing its own hormones. They have also been linked to cancer. Switch your household cleaners with more natural ones or make your own. Try natural or “better for you” beauty products instead (you can see a list of my favorite ones here).
Get lots of rest. Seriously. One of the greatest tools we have for rebalancing our hormones is plain and simple rest. Try to get a full 8 hours of sleep a night. Spend time unwinding each evening before going to bed. One of my favorite ways is to turn off the tv. The blue light of electronic devices such as cell phones, tvs, and tablets affects our body’s ability to produce melatonin. You can read more about it here. Once, I have unplugged for the night, I read, take a soothing bubble bath (just make sure you have tepid, not crazy hot water), or do both at the same time:)
What not to do
Just as there are natural remedies you can try to reduce your chloasma, there are also certain treatments you should avoid as a pregnant or breastfeeding woman.
- Do not use chemical exfoliants that have not been found to be pregnancy or breastfeeding safe. These include retinoids (prescription Retin-A, Accutane, and retinol), hydroquinone (found in many skin lightening creams), salicylic acid (also known as beta hydroxy acid or BHA), and benzoyl peroxide.
- Do not have laser treatments or chemical peels while pregnant or breastfeeding.
Last but not least
In all likelihood, your chloasma is just temporary, but if it’s not, work on embracing it. I did not have a pregnancy mask while I was expecting, but I did get stretch marks. I will be completely honest; at first, I was devastated, but then I realized that they were part of my body’s process of creating a beautiful new life. Eventually, I learned to accept them.
Here is a pic of my very beautiful best friend Melissa. Her freckles got darker when she was expecting which is common when you have chloasma.
I know what you are going to say. What chloasma? And that is my point exactly. It was extremely noticeable to her, but not to others. Everyone else looks at her and sees one gorgeous mama. That is how people see you too.
And now I want to hear from you! Are you experiencing chloasma? What natural treatments have you tried?
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