Prometheus News


6 beauty things no one ever tells you when you’re pregnant

Dec 11, 2019 by William Lewis.

Patchy tans and one-handed make-up – beauty journalist and mum of two, Samantha Silver, on the tips and products to know about when you’re pregnant.

I first discovered I was pregnant in September 2014, one day before my best friend’s wedding, 48 hours before I flew to NYC for Fashion Week and five days before my 30th birthday. After worrying about how to fake drinking for the next few months (gin and tonic with a slice of lime, hold the gin), I remembered that, due to the triple-pronged celebratory events on my agenda, I had a tanning appointment booked the next morning. Convinced I’d read something somewhere that said spray tans weren’t advised during pregnancy, I panicked. Fake tan and I have had a long relationship. In fact, I’ve known my spray tanner longer than I’ve known my husband – would I have to give it up? I turned to Google, but it offered nothing up-to-date or relevant. Could I? Should I? Was it too late to cancel?

Two children and several baby-related beauty revelations later, I’ve put together my need-to-know for the modern mama.


When it came down to it, it turns out that all of those scare stories were as fake as my tan. Celebrity spray tanner James Harknett explains: “DHA (the tanning agent that reacts with the amino acids on your skin, turning it a golden-brown shade) does not enter the bloodstream. It temporarily dyes the dead skin cells on the surface layer of your body, making it perfectly safe for all trimesters of pregnancy.” Furthermore, the Cosmetic Toiletry and Perfumery Association confirms it is safe to use spray-tanning and self-tanning products during pregnancy and breastfeeding. So, off I went, thinking what an excellent way to disguise a pale, clammy, secretly pregnant complexion. Except everything was not as it should have been. As my tan developed, it didn’t “take” in parts, leaving me looking patchy. “Due to hormone-level changes when pregnant, the amino acid count on the skin is uneven, so the final result can be different to usual,” explains Jules Von Hep, founder of Isle of Paradise. To help limit patches, make sure your skin is exfoliated and moisturised, and try switching to hand-applied formulations, such as Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Mousse, £19.95.

Isle of Paradise Self-Tanning Mousse, £19.95


Two-thirds of pregnant women will experience a change in sense of smell. According to fragrance expert Michael Donovan, owner of independent perfumery Roullier White, your olfactory response can be increased due to excess blood flow to the brain. I’ve heard tales from friends who physically gagged when their partners walked into the room, because they could no longer stomach the smell of them. I sympathise. Before my first pregnancy, I wore deep, dark, figgy scents, like Le Labo Santal 33 and Armani/Privé Figuier , but as soon as I fell pregnant, I couldn’t stomach them. My sense of smell remained altered post-birth; I felt like anything too heavy would mask my baby’s newborn scent. I’m now drawn to fresh, crisp scents, such as Jo Malone London Earl Grey & Cucumber.

Jo Malone Earl Grey & Cucumber, from £47 for 50ml


Raised oestrogen levels prolong the growth phase of your hair, and you retain more of them (usually we shed 50-100 hairs a day, but this stops through pregnancy), hence it may feel thicker. This isn’t restricted to the hair on the head. You may see a significant increase in the growth of your body and facial hair, and although your hair won’t necessarily be thicker and darker, it might seem like it is, as more grows in a shorter period of time. Thinking about laser treatment? This can’t be done while pregnant, as thanks to those pesky hormones, any hair zapped pre-pregnancy may grow back.


A positive point! Your skin retains more moisture during pregnancy, meaning it looks plumper and smoother. As celebrity facialist Sarah Chapman explains: “The radiant, pinkish glow exuded by pregnant women is caused by the extra blood circulating around your body.” But while some women may look radiant, it’s not the same for all. Many hormonal results include acne, eczema, excess oil and pigmentation. “Elevated levels of oestrogen and progesterone trigger melanocytes, causing dark spots to appear on the skin,” adds Chapman. The need to apply a daily SPF has never been more important than throughout pregnancy. La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50+ offers brilliant protection that sits well under make-up and is far more affordable than its contemporaries.

La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL Ultra Light Fluid SPF 50+, £16.50


The unknown is a theme that runs throughout pregnancy beauty, yet as facialist Michaella Bolder tells us: “Evidence has shown that topical products are just that, topical. They cannot and do not penetrate the skin’s layers.” However, it is advisable to avoid salicylic acid (aspirin, avoided in pregnancy, is a derivative), retinol (high doses of vitamin A can be harmful to the foetus) and essential oils. “Hormones can cause increased skin sensitivity, so I would also stay away from fragrance, sulphates and ammonia,” adds biochemist and skincare specialist Nausheen Qureshi. I’ve just discovered the new Honest x Tiba + Marl skincare range, which is specifically developed to nourish and calm pregnancy skin.

Tiba + Marl X Honest Skincare All Purpose Balm, £12


In the years BC (Before Children), I had a 30-minute hair and make-up morning routine. Now, I’m lucky to get three minutes with one hand, while holding a baby with the other. Queen of cosmetics and mum-of-two Charlotte Tilbury created her products with this woman in mind. She says: “For a smokey eye in seconds, swipe Colour Chameleon eyeshadow pencils over lids and blend with fingers – even my five-year-old could do it.” Tilbury’s latest launch is the new mum’s holy grail. Magic Away concealer comes in a sleek, sponge-tipped wand, meaning you can apply and blend using just the one hand; the formula blurs telltale signs of sleep deprivation. When it comes to removal, gone are the days of double-cleansing. I’m so desperate to crawl into bed and get my head on to that pillow a few minutes faster that I’ve become wedded to This Works In Transit No Traces super-soft pads saturated in gentle rosewater; just one removes an entire face of make-up. Keep them by your bedside for those evenings when even brushing your teeth seems like too much hassle.

Charlotte Tilbury Colour Chameleon Eyeshadow Pencil, £19

Charlotte Tilbury Magic Away Concealer, £24