Holistic Acne Management During Pregnancy, One Mom’s Success Story

Pregnancy Blog Picture

Written by Ginger Hodulik, MS, CNS and Tracey Coleman, BS, LE

I consider myself very fortunate to practice in the nutrition and skincare field.  As a clinical nutritionist, I help people live their healthiest lives by understanding their individual nutritional needs and developing a lifestyle program individually tailored for them.  As co-owner and VP of R&D for DermaMed Solutions, I create products and treatments that help our customers reveal healthy, glowing skin for their clients, in a safe, yet efficacious way.  In both areas I get to live out my personal life mission to help others, and also our company mission to “uncover the brilliance that comes from comfort in your own skin”.   So, when my dear friend Jennifer came to me with her concerns about becoming pregnant and managing her lifelong battle with cystic acne, I felt compelled and excited to help.   Our staff aesthetician, Tracey Coleman was also eager to help Jen achieve her goal, and her expertise, experience, and treatment techniques were invaluable as we began this journey together.

Jen is one of the healthiest people I know! At 40 years old she is a seasoned yoga instructor, business woman, animal rescue volunteer, nature lover, and consumer of wholesome food.   She radiates positivity and a desire to help make the world a better place.  Preparing to have your first baby at age 40 can be a little scary, as the incidence of a whole range of health conditions and complications increase dramatically at that age.  To top it off, Jen had been taking strong acne medications along with the birth control pill to manage her cystic acne, and knew that she had to get off these medications and clean her system before becoming pregnant.  As a mother of three sons myself, I was elated for my friend to be joining the world of Motherhood and offered to work with her on both her nutrition and with Tracey’s help,  skincare as she prepared for pregnancy.

We began six months prior to attempting to get pregnant. After Jen went off her medications, I felt the most important thing was to cleanse her body of the toxic chemicals it had been exposed to in the meds she was taking.  Our secondary goal was to use food to regulate her own hormone production so she could return to a regular cycle quickly.  Our detox plan involved an organic diet composed of high quantities of vegetables, lean and clean protein sources and plenty of clean water.   Some foods especially helpful for detoxification are: green leafy vegetables; high fiber plant foods like chia seeds; lemon water; cruciferous vegetables like broccoli and cabbages; and allium vegetables like garlic and onions.  In addition, I asked Jen to drink Green Vibrance, a powdered green drink which contains several types of beneficial greens, adaptogen and liver supporting herbs, antioxidants, and probiotics.  It also provides a nice dose of vitamin D, which is critical to increase during pregnancy.  Daily, Jen took a clean prenatal vitamin, and high quality fish oil supplement to ensure her EPA and DHA were at a high level to support brain development in the fetus.

To help Jen’s body get back on track with its own hormone production after being altered by the birth control pill for so long, I suggested a supplement that aids with pushing your estrogen down a beneficial pathway to help with this process. She took DIM, a compound that is an isolate of the beneficial hormone regulating compounds found in cruciferous vegetables.  Additional nutritional support for Jen’s acne included the elimination of dairy products, addition of omega 3 supplements and a concentrated effort to eat those allium vegetables.  Jen drank lemon water – either mineral water or filtered tap and avoided eating and drinking from plastics.  This plan was easy for someone like Jen who actually likes eating well!  

On the skincare side, we started a regimen of bi-weekly facials and Mega Peel™ microdermabrasion at our treatment room here at DermaMed, plus an at-home dmSkincare routine using dmSkincare™ professional products.  As with all treatment regimens, we started out moderately and made observations and adjustments along the way. We used our dmSkincare professional and retail products. We consider our line to be clean and clinical.  For us that means not using potentially harmful chemicals, which are too many to list here, but to simplify,  the big no-no’s in our line are parabens, phthalates, sulfates, petroleum, and artificial colors and fragrances. After conception we discontinued the use of some products, as it is recommended that certain topical ingredients not be applied during pregnancy, such as:  retinoids, salicylic acid, azeleic acid and essential oil blends.  We removed these products from Jen’s regimen once she saw those double pink lines on the pregnancy test stick.

The basic philosophy of the skincare regimen was to gently manage oil production and bacterial overgrowth while encouraging healthy cell turnover via exfoliation.   We kept Jen’s pores clean and supported her skin cells with essential moisture and antioxidants.  The facial protocols closely followed our Rosacea Treatment Protocol, working very cautiously with her delicate skin, often with lowered vacuum pressures for the microderm, or diamond instead of crystal, to the client’s comfort level.

Bi-weekly facial:

Apply peel prep, after 3 minutes buff off with wide weave gauze then rinse with water.

Apply glycolic acid 30%, after 3 minutes neutralize and dry skin completely.

Microdermabrasion treatment on full face

Apply layer of derma renewal gel™ followed by a generous layer of hydra-repair mask™, for 5-7 minutes.

This mask is both calming/moisturizing with the aloe, squalane and jojoba, and helps draw impurities out of the skin with kaolin.  The dermal renewal gel contains soothing botanicals, calendula, arnica and chamomile in addition to aloe and honey for moisture. This blend provided needed moisture and inflammation relief without clogging pores.

After 8-10 mins remove with hot towel and perform extractions

Hand massage with calm and balance essential oil blend (discontinued during pregnancy) to relieve stress and induce relaxation.  The base for this massage/daily moisture oil is jojoba, coconut oil and peach kernel, all absorbed well by the skin. The essential oil component is designed to provide aromatic relaxation therapy with key ingredients frankincense, lavender, mandarin and neroli.  The relaxation component of the treatment protocol is designed to help manage stress hormones, which can flare acne.

Apply thin layer of derma renewal gel™, green tea vita-E moisturizer™, eye radiance K’reme™ under eyes and daily eclipse™ SPF 30 mineral sunscreen to finish.  The green tea vita-E moisturizer™ provides moisture and antioxidant support with a soothing touch from cucumber and calendula.  We chose eye radiance K’reme™ because this multi-faceted eye cream contains peptides and botanical ingredients to support dark circles, puffiness and redness around the eye area – a concern for most busy women.  Finally, UVA/UVB protection is essential in every skincare routine.  We used daily eclipse™ SPF 30 mineral sunscreen, a sunscreen which offers full spectrum protection, without inflaming. Chemical sunscreens cause inflammation in the skin, plus many of the chemicals used are suspected carcinogens – certainly not part of our treatment plan for a Mom-to-be, or anyone for that matter.

Jen’s home care regimen was fairly simple: 

Morning

  1. Cleanse with repair bar™, a natural lecithin, glycerin and coconut oil bar ideal for acneic skin.
  2. Swipe with green tea toner, a witch hazel based toner infused with antioxidants from green tea, grape seed and vitamin C to cleanse and nourish without stripping.
  3. Apply a thin layer of dermal renewal gel™ for soothing moisturization.
  4. Finish with daily eclipse SPF 30 mineral sunscreen.

Evening

  1. Cleanse with repair bar™.
  2. Swipe with green tea toner.
  3. Apply a thin layer of AHA salicylic acid (discontinued during pregnancy), a poly-AHA combo product to encourage skin cell turnover.
  4. Apply thin layer of C-difference™, a vitamin C infused moisture lotion which features an extract of rosemary, Endothelyol™, to support capillary function and inflammation in delicate skin types.
  5. Apply eye radiance K’reme, A small drop is all that is needed.

As needed:  for breakouts or inflamed days, apply derma renewal gel™ followed by a paste made from repair bar to spot treat blemishes.  Follow with hydra-repair mask for soothing moisture.   

The end results far exceeding everyone’s expectations!  Jen’s skin was nearly perfect during her pregnancy.  She had a few minor blemishes, but never experienced the cystic acne that plagued her during the years prior.  Jen and Frank welcomed their son Charlie into this world, a perfectly healthy, happy, and beautiful baby boy.  We are all so thankful to have contributed in a small way to this joyful outcome and hope to raise awareness about the potential dangers that personal care products can pose to our babies.  The truth is that you don’t have to sacrifice vanity for safety, and that with a thoughtful, holistic treatment approach which considers all of the inputs to healthy skin (nutrition, stress and sleep management, topical products and mechanical treatments)  you can achieve great results.

*Note: The nutritional and skincare advice offered to Jen was personalized for her and was monitored in a partnership with her doctor and nutritionist.  Anyone wishing to take nutritional supplements should work with a professional and always consult their doctors.



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