The 10 commandments for keeping our skin healthy, young, and vibrant during and after your pregnancy
Our skin is the largest organ of our body, and it is built out of a number of layers and
protects our internal organs, muscles, tendons, and ligaments, and functions as a tissue that communicates with the outer world.
Let's explore how we can keep our skin looking beautiful, even during pregnancy and postpartum.
What's our skin's job anyway?
Protect the body from foreign substances such as bacteria and chemicals.
Our skin is part of our immune system.
Opens the pores- to cool the body down when needed and for a proper detoxification process; It does so through sweating. ·
Closes the pores- when we need to keep our bodies warm to keep the fluids from evaporating, mainly sweat.
Absorption- the skin absorbs nutritional substances such as vitamin D and those from topical creams.
Sensitivity- to touch and temperature.
Storage- the skin stores nutrients, water, and salts essential for our body's proper function.
Skin's firmness- is dependent not only on the skin tissue but also on the connective tissue that tightens the skin to the muscles.
The 10 bad influences on the skin according to Traditional Chinese Medicine?
1. Cold- Closes the pores during the winter and weakens the body's "Qi" (energy).
2. Pathogenic heat- Inflammation.
3. Dryness- Lack of fluids and a fat-free diet may cause the skin to look dry and to form wrinkles.
4. Excessive humidity- Certain foods can create excessive internal humidity that may cause acne and other skin diseases.
5. Wind- Certain chemicals can irritate the skin and cause rashes and itchiness.
6. Excessive sun exposure- This may cause the skin to become dry and hyperpigmented and may lead to early aging conditions such as wrinkles, liver spots, and even tumors on the skin.
7. Extremely hot showers- Hot showers may cause the skin to dry out, especially in winter months, leading to dry and brittle skin
8. Poor skin hygiene- Skin that is not clean and the overuse of makeup blocks the skin's pores, prevents the skin from breathing properly, damages the skin, and leads to early aging, causing dry and wrinkly skin.
9. Blood deficiency- Blood provides the skin with oxygen and nutrients. According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, blood deficiency means a lack of 'fuel' to the skin. Blood deficiency may cause the skin to be thin and more prone to diseases such as acne, seborrhea, and more. Moreover, the skin may look pale and lifeless, loose and wrinkly.
10. Poor nutrition- According to Traditional Chinese medicine, proper nutrition is at the heart of many of our abilities to build a properly functioning body from the inside and out. Thus, it is essential to make sure that we keep a healthy & clean lifestyle.
So, what can we do for our skin?
Nutrition rich in fibers and vitamins such as A, B, C, E, and minerals can help eliminate free radicals, protect from sun damage, and allows the skin to look vibrant, smooth, and wrinkle-free. Those are found in green and orange fruits and vegetables, herbs we use to spice our foods, nuts, and almonds. Here are a few examples:
White and green tea - High levels of anti-oxidants and anti-inflammatory ingredients are found in white and green tea. Drinking white tea (especially) and green contributes to protecting the body from the free radicals that injure the skin tissue and protect the skin from the sun's damage. The free radicals prevent oxygen from the cells, thus the break-up of protein, collagen, elastin, and the skin's cells, which leaves us with skin that looks tired, saggy, wrinkly, and less vibrant.
Add green tea to your daily drink consumption!
Avocado, beans, and legumes -These are an excellent source of biotin and assist in preventing the breakage of hair, nails, and skin by keeping them in good moisture.
Add Avocados and legumes to your weekly menu!
Fish – Mainly Salmon, Tuna, and Cod, are rich in omega 3 and antioxidants that keep the skin protected from the sun's possible damage and make the skin feel soft and smooth. You can eat fish during your pregnancy. The FDA recommends eating 8-12 oz. of lower in mercury seafood per week.
Add fish to your weekly lifestyle!
Berries - Blueberries, blackberries, cherries, strawberries, and cranberries are rich in vitamins and antioxidants that protect the body from free radicals that can damage the skin cells, strengthen the blood and make the skin look young and vibrant.
Eat a handful of berries every day! Click here to try this delicious shake
Nuts- Nuts are a great snack during both pregnancy and postpartum due to their high content of extremely important minerals such as iron, magnesium, manganese, selenium, potassium, calcium, and zinc. In addition to their excellent properties being a great baby-developing food, brain food, and more, nuts help us to feel more energized throughout the day and support our blood formation, thus helping our skin to look beautiful.
Enjoy a handful of nuts every day! Click here for a fun recipe.
Greens- Green leaves are rich in vitamins and minerals that are useful in preventing and healing many illnesses. They are abundant with fibers and help the body with its detoxification process. Fibers are great for reducing high levels of LDL (bad cholesterol) and high blood pressure and help balance sugar levels. They are abundant with water that moistens the skin and hair, slowing the aging process.
Greens contain vitamins C & E that assist the body with the production of collagen that gives the skin its young look and restores its volume.
Add greens to every meal or smoothie!
2. Drink more water
Drinking enough water daily and throughout the day is essential for the proper functioning of every single organ in our body. It assists us with digestion and detoxification, adequate circulation, and the absorption of important nutrients.
As mentioned previously, the skin is the largest organ in our body. It, too, needs fluids so t
hat it will be able to build its cells properly. Lack of sufficient water intake will present the skin as dry, scaly, and wrinkly and will be more easily exposed to weather damage and influence.
Lack of sufficient amounts of water may cause dryness in the bowls, which can cause constipation, thus will slow down the excretion of toxins from our body. These toxins will accumulate under the skin as well as in other areas of the body.
Skin that gets enough water will appear to be smooth, soft to the touch, firmer, and radiant!
Drink at least 8-10 cups of water throughout the day and eat foods that contain water. This will also help you feel more energized throughout the day!
3. Protect yourself from overexposure to the sun
Exposure to the sun for short periods is essential to absorb vitamin D and even uplift our mood. However, prolonged sun exposure is a major cause of wrinkles, spots, dry skin, and malignant tumors since it dries the skin and accelerates the aging of cells.
In addition, solar radiation may injure the elastin fibers, which become brittle over time and cause the skin to look saggy, tired, and more fragile. Its healing ability is slower than usual. This aging process takes years, which is why we don't notice minor changes when we are younger. It usually starts to show after we reach 35 years old, and later, so much more challenging to turn the clock back then.
Use sunscreen daily (yes! Even in the winter). I would advise consulting your dermatologist about which kind is suitable for your type of skin.
A cigarette contains more than 4000 different types of chemicals, many of which damage the structures of the elastane and collagen, resulting in saggy skin and deep wrinkles. The following information is about facial skin and the appearance of sagging arms and breasts!
Smoking for many years deprives the skin cells of oxygen and nutrients, thereby causing the skin to look pale and wrinkled, with spots (hyper-pigmentation), bags under the eyes, yellow-like teeth and hair loss, skin diseases such as psoriasis, and more.
Quitting smoking will assist a better blood circulation throughout the body, nourishing the internal organs and the skin with oxygen and nutrients. This will allow a better and healthier appearance, tobacco-stained fingers clear up, and even the teeth will be whitened.
Stay away from smoking and from being in smoky rooms! Smoking will harm not only your own body but the precious baby you're carrying.
5. Physical exercise
Physical exercise is one of the primary keys to healthy and vibrant-looking skin!
When we engage in physical activity regularly, blood circulation is good and balanced, allowing the blood to nourish the skin with oxygen and nutrients. As a result, even skin conditions such as acne, rosacea, and psoriasis may improve and clear up faster.
When blood flow is improved, the body's ability to eliminate toxins and waste improves. See it as an internal cleansing of the skin, if you will.
Exercising daily is a great way to reduce stress; thus, the results will show on the surface. When we feel stressed, our muscles become tense, which can cause the formation of wrinkles. Another positive side effect of exercising is that it helps us feel more energized throughout the day.
Enjoy pre or postnatal yoga or just a 20-minute walk around the block daily.
** If exercising outdoors, ensure you do it when the sun is not too strong to avoid unnecessary harmful radiation between 10:00 am - 4 pm, and remember to apply sunscreen!
6. Avoid long hot showers
As you may know, the skin is composed of three main layers. The Epidermis is the outer layer of skin, and its cells contain a protein called- Keratin (the same structural material that comprises our nails and hair).
These cells not only protect us from the external environment but also assist us in keeping the skin nice and moist. In order to retain moisture and protection, our body secretes fats to the Epidermis.
Hot water softens these oils, and the soap then washes them off from the skin, thus remaining exposed to dryness and irritations.
Although it is essential for us to wash these oils (because they trap contaminants and dirt), we still need protection. Taking your time in a hot and long shower may cause your skin to be dehydrated and tingly.
An excellent way to retain the moisture would be drying our skin with a towel, preferably by patting motions and then applying a moisturizer immediately after the shower.
7. Facial cleansing- Hygiene
Makeup and similar products block the skin's pores and make it harder for the skin to do its job.
In addition, during puberty, hormonal changes such as pregnancy and postpartum make the sebaceous glands secrete more oils that clog the pores and thus create infections and pustules (acne) on the skin's surface.
Lack of a proper hygiene regime may cause the formation of scars and open pores.
Keeping the skin clean regularly is very important, especially during bedtime, to prevent dirt we have collected during the day from sticking to the pillow and continuing to contaminate the face and replace your pillowcase every few days.
8. Good night Sleep
Many studies conducted in recent years have examined the connection between insufficient sleep and premature skin aging.
Results were unambiguous - sleep deprivation not only causes premature skin aging (sagging skin, wrinkles, spots, and hyperpigmentation) but also a loss of moisture and decreased ability of the skin to recover from damages that occurred throughout the day.
During sleep, our body begins renovating and restoring skin tissue from the previous damage that day.
According to Traditional Chinese medicine, it is recommended that we sleep no later than 11 pm to help our bodies properly detox.
9. Relax your face
Did you know that wrinkles can form not only from dryness but also from tight facial muscles?
Some studies indicate a direct link between the cortisol released in our bodies when stress and nervousness are present and the sebaceous glands (they lubricate and waterproof the skin to protect it). Since cortisol makes them secret more oil, the result may be acne.
In my practice, I typically notice this phenomenon in young professionals between the ages of 25-40.
Take a few deep breaths and relax your facial muscles to prevent wrinkles and slow premature skin aging.
Take at least 5-10 minutes daily to treat yourself to a soothing facial massage before you start the race of everyday life.
Facial massage is not only soothing but essential to improve blood flow to the surface, which will nourish both the skin and the sensory organs (eyes, nose, ears), thus will assist their functioning.
Most soaps and cosmetics sold today contain many synthetic chemicals that are toxic to our bodies and the environment.
Some of those chemicals and synthetic agents cause the skin to be dry and itchy.
Natural soaps, although often more expensive than many other commercial soaps, can be more effective in maintaining skin moisture and reducing damage to the planet.
Hi, my name is Dr. Esther Levy-Bremer, DACM, L.Ac.
As a practitioner and teacher of Chinese medicine and cosmetic acupuncture for skin rejuvenation, of nearly two decades of clinical experience that helped me develop my own treatment methods to serve my wonderful customers.
In my practice, I treat my patients with acupuncture for women's health & skin rejuvenation from a Chinese medical point of view. I know that it can be challenging to take all of the steps suggested in this article. However, when we take the time to take care of ourselves as much as we can and do whatever we can, we feel better, stronger & more balanced. We can then help others we love, including our little treasures, which are our children.
Now, I'd love to hear from you- How do you maintain a balanced lifestyle? Let us know in the comments below, so we can all learn about more ways how to improve our lifestyle, and feel free to share these tips with a woman in need.
Disclaimer: All that is mentioned in this guide is general information. Make sure to advise your doctor/ health care provider how much water you should be drinking and which foods are right for you according to your weight and medical condition.
Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2021, December 8). Pregnancy and fish: What's safe to eat? Mayo Clinic. Retrieved February 6, 2023, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/pregnancy-week-by-week/in-depth/pregnancy-and-fish/art-20044185#:~:text=The%20Food%20and%20Drug%20Administration,about%20two%20to%20three%20servings.
Ryosuke O, Yoshie S, Hiromi A. The association between activity levels and skin moisturising function in adults. Dermatol Reports. 2021 Mar 17;13(1):8811. doi: 10.4081/dr.2021.8811. PMID: 33824705; PMCID: PMC8018252.
Oyetakin-White P, Suggs A, Koo B, Matsui MS, Yarosh D, Cooper KD, Baron ED. Does poor sleep quality affect skin ageing? Clin Exp Dermatol. 2015 Jan;40(1):17-22. doi: 10.1111/ced.12455. Epub 2014 Sep 30. PMID: 25266053.
Kurth, F., Cherbuin, N., & Luders, E. (2016). Promising Links between Meditation and Reduced (Brain) Aging: An Attempt to Bridge Some Gaps between the Alleged Fountain of Youth and the Youth of the Field. Frontiers in Psychology, 8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyg.2017.00860
Ven Sumedh Thero, H B Kataria and Aditya Suman (2022). Meditation for Skin Aging, Reduces Wrinkles and Change Your Appearance?. International Journal of Clinical & Experimental Dermatology, 7(1), 12-16.