Beauty + Skincare

The Beauty Products That Cleared My Post-Pregnancy Skin

For six glorious months, thanks to the pregnancy-approved Versine serum, my skin was clear and gorgeous.  Frankly, it was the best my skin had looked in 10-years (thanks, hormones).  But then, Sloane was born, and did that go to hell in a hand basket.

Suddenly, I was fighting wrinkles, cystic acne, melasma and blackheads in a multi-front war.  And the trouble with a hormonal change is that the best thing you can do for your skin is to just leave it alone and ride it out — product free– for 28-days to let skin regenerate.  But who has that kind of patience?

Not me.  And likely not you.

When my skin goes out of control, I cut way back on my skincare routine.  As I mentioned above, it’s best to do as little as possible, even though I’ve never mastered doing nothing.

First, I switch to a gentle, sulfate-free cleanser.  You want a cleanser with nothing in it — no AHA, no hyaluronic acid, no niacinamide, nothing.  And the best cleanser for that is still Cetaphil.

Second, I needed something to treat the acne and the huge pores.  But what?

I decided to let the breakout percolate for seven days without touching it.  That critical first week, I did not want to irritate my skin and make this worse, so I just washed it and moved on.

When a large blemish looked like it was coming to the surface, I threw on a hydrocolloid bandage as a spot treatment.  Luckily, I’d just birthed a child, so no one expected to see me in my Mad Madam Mim spotted glory.

Also, full disclosure, I am not breast-feeding, so I didn’t need to worry about the ingredients in my skincare. (I intended to breastfeed until my maternity leave ended, but the emergency D&C on day 7 killed my supply, and I decided not to stress myself out over it.)  If you are breast feeding, you may want to consult your OB before starting a new skincare regimen.

Alright, back to the product talk.  So I know my skin.  I’ve been to the dermatologist.  I’ve tested serums and creams and lotions aplenty.  So I knew when I saw this particular breakout with its under-the-skin cysts and it’s pores swollen to the size of man-hole covers that I needed an exfoliating treatment.

A scrub would just tear my skin to bits, but an acid treatment would sweep away dead skin and refine pores.  I needed Glossier’s Solution.

Solution treats redness, enlarged and clogged pores, and blemishes.  Over time, its acid blend also sloughs away dark spots and improves texture.

You apply Solution at night, add an eye cream if you need it, and walk away,  No other lotions or creams necessary.  To apply, you use a cotton round and dab it on.  Do.not.rub.  (Want an eco-friendly cotton round? Go compostable or buy reusable ones.)

Also, if your skin starts to get dry, do not slather on lotion.  Instead, skip a night or two to let your skin catch up.  I recommend starting the treatment on a Wednesday before a slow weekend.  This way, if your skin gets dry, it’ll have the weekend to adjust.

After four days, my pores were looking less swollen and the acne was on the path to healing.  By week two, my skin was looking smoother and more refined.  And by the end of month one, the two spots of melasma on my cheek were almost gone.  Yes, I was dry for a little while that first 10-days, but after that, it was smooth sailing.

Now, two months later, I’m back to my usual skincare routine with a gentler serum.  I could have kept using Solution, but I really love the Versine serum, so I wanted to return to that once things were rebalanced post-pregnancy.

Had a baby or just struggle with hormonal skin changes?  Leave your best tips in the comments.

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  1. Alexi says:

    I had terrible hormonal acne growing up and especially when I was pregnant with my daughter, but now, three years in, I have an occasional whitehead but rarely any cystic acne. I bought a Foreo Luna many years ago, and I use that a few times a week which helps keep my skin smooth. To help reduce scarring and pigmentation I use First Snow and Shark Sauce from Holy Snails (women/minority owned U.S. company).

    I never anticipated having a baby would “fix” my hormonal acne – my little sister is hoping the same will happen to her once she settles down to start a family!

    December 6, 2022/Reply
  2. Sarah says:

    Pregnancy and postpartum hormones really took a toll on my skin. Products that previously prevented breakouts stopped working. My chin and jawline were broken out from early in my pregnancy with my second child until 2 years later when I started using Paula’s Choice BHA (in the gray bottle that every dermatologist recommends). I still use it every morning after cleansing (I have very oily skin so I need to wash my face in the morning) and before I apply my moisturizer with sunscreen.

    December 6, 2022/Reply
  3. Elyse says:

    Other end of the spectrum here, but in perimenopause, everything thats old is now new again. Welcome to hormonal acne that reminds me of my days going through puberty. With that comes breaking out the tried-and-true, low percentage, benzyl peroxide, and Retin-A. I can’t believe I’m back here. My skin doesn’t know if it should wrinkle or breakout, so it’s just us both.

    December 6, 2022/Reply
    • Peri-M SUFFERer says:

      @Elyse – just came here to say “same!” I feel this. After fours years of periM quiescence, I’m bleeding heavy again, cramping like a mofo and have all the acne. Le sigh.

      December 6, 2022/Reply
  4. Bette says:

    Thank you for the Aphorism recommendation all those years ago – I absolutely loved their Night is Young oil. But it seems like the company just disappeared overnight and my skin has been sad ever since. Have you ever found anything comparable?

    December 7, 2022/Reply
  5. S says:

    For a cystic zit, get yourself straight to the dermatologist for a cortisone injection. It will flatten the sucker in 24 hours and speed up the healing process!

    December 8, 2022/Reply
  6. Nel says:

    I went from cystic acne and melasma to gorgeous skin for the first time in my life with the following regimen (I was just using moisturizer before, that’s it).

    Cool water wash (no cleanser)
    Dr Gross universal daily peel (use 3x a week)
    Ordinary niacimide serum
    Cheap sheet mask (3-4x a week)
    Slather on Vanicream Light moisturizer (dermatology recommended)

    Transformational for me. I also use my gua sha in the morning, not because it’s a miracle product, it just feels good and I’m less puffy.

    I wish I could upload before and after photos! I think the biggest thing is the dr Gross peels. The are just amazing at clearing things up.

    December 8, 2022/Reply