Best natural oils for keeping your skin healthy during pregnancy
Pregnancy is a time when your skin goes through a lot of changes. If you're like most moms-to-be, you've been warned about the itchy skin and dreaded stretch marks that often come with pregnancy. For some women, dealing with itchiness and new body lines can be really challenging. While there's no magic cure for either issue, using a good natural oil can help to soothe your skin and keep it healthy. Here are five of the Best prenatal skin-care oils for relieving itchiness and stretch-marks.
Should I choose refined or unrefined oils?
The main difference between refined vs. unrefined oils is the amount of processing they undergo. Unrefined oils are pressed once and undergo no further process or are heated at low-temperature conditions. Refined oils are just the opposite. They undergo further processing and are exposed to extensive heat. Solvent treatments are also used to remove the undesired odor of the oil and bleaching to fade its color. Refined oils lose a lot of nutrients when high heat is applied for their extraction. The chemicals used for the deodorizing and bleaching processes also reduce the nutrition value of refined oils. Unrefined oils retain most of their natural nutrients at the end of the extraction process. Refined oils are much cheaper, but if you want the type of oil that will provide you maximum nutrient benefits without harmful chemicals, always choose unrefined.
Should I choose Organic oils?
Yes. For an oil to be Certified Organic, the oil must be certified by a third party to be free of conventional pesticides and other byproducts. This implies that the farmers who grew the plants for the oil didn’t use pesticides or artificial agents. USDA certified Organic oil doesn't contain skin damaging chemicals like parabens and preservatives.
1. Almond Oil
Almond oil is a skin saver. It is full of vitamin E, and it’s a great source of magnesium and phosphorus. The antioxidant-rich oil is known for its free radical fighting abilities. It’s also anti-inflammatory and boosts immunity. Almond oil has been used for centuries to soothe the skin and treat minor wounds and cuts. It has been used in ancient Chinese and Ayurvedic practices to treat skin conditions like eczema and psoriasis.
More than soothing dry skin, almond oil can improve complexion and skin tone. It’s highly emollient, which means it helps to balance the absorption of moisture and water loss. Its natural concentration of vitamin E can also help to heal sun damage, reduce the appearance of stretch marks and fade scars. Almond oil soaks in quickly and is a powerful moisturizer, so it can be used on the face or body. You can apply it straight, or mix it with essential oils to get its benefits. Almond oil has incredible softening properties, so when it is applied to areas where stretch marks typically occur on your body, it works to soften that skin and allow for it to stretch without exacerbating the marks. Beyond moisturizing your skin, almond oil is a great massage oil or skin treatment. You can also use almond oil as a cleanser or to gently remove makeup as well.
2. Shea Oil
Pure shea oil contains vitamins A, E, and F. It has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and evens your skin tone. It can be used to moisturize every member of the family's skin including babies. It will leave your skin with a healthy glow with all-day hydration. It is occlusive. This means it blocks water loss from the outer layer of your skin. It has the most significant effect when applied to moist or damp skin. It is also an emollient. These are long-chain saturated fatty acids (stearic, linoleic, oleic fatty acids) which are commonly used in cosmetic formulations or topical applications. When incorporated into moisturizers, it helps to soften the skin through the filling of spaces between the skin cells. Moreover, it can act as a barrier to water loss when applied to the skin. The vitamin E component in Shea oil will fade skin scars, acne scarring, and stretch marks gradually over time and will even your skin tone. This will give you a smooth monotone complexion. If that’s not enough, Shea oil also contains a high amount of oleic fatty acid. This is the moisturizing component of natural oils meaning it is more moisturizing and absorbent than both Argan and Coconut oil. This means it will not leave you with greasy skin but feel tight and dry underneath.
3. Avocado Oil
One of the qualities that make avocado oil stand out from the other oils is the level of oleic acid it contains. Oleic acid is a fatty acid that is known for its enhancement of skin permeability. Oleic acid is what helps our skin open up the gates to welcome in the nutrients and while most oils hover around 15% oleic acid composition, avocado is comprised of a whopping 63% of the fatty acid!
Because of the high levels of oleic acid, avocado oil is a well - known ‘carrier oil’. This means that you can combine avocado oil with other essential oils so that the nutrients from those oils can be delivered to the skin and be absorbed more effectively.
Another interesting fact about avocado oil is it acts as a humectant, which retains and preserves the moisture in your skin. Humectants work by drawing water molecules to the skin either from humidity in the air or it bonds with the water molecules already in your skin, increasing and enhancing your body’s natural water content. Avocados are also extremely rich in fatty acids and vitamin E, which translates to insane levels of skin moisture!
4. Rosehip Oil
Rosehip oil contains naturally occurring antioxidants and vitamins as well as omega 3 and omega 6. This pregnancy super oil helps stimulate metabolic changes in the skin. It helps accelerate cell growth and keeps the skin young looking, it boosts levels of collagen and can naturally aid cell regeneration. It is also great for helping repair the skin after sun damage and for easing the signs of premature ageing including stretch marks. Plus it’s a great natural treatment for existing scars.
Expecting moms who need some extra skin support during pregnancy have found that Rosehip Oil reduces the appearance of hyper-pigmentation stretch marks and eases skin dryness and sensitivity. Rosehip Oil is rich in vitamin A (trans-retinoic acid) and research shows that trans-retinoic acid is easily absorbed by the skin when applied topically. Vitamin A stimulates the production of new skin cells, therefore reducing dryness, and improving elasticity.
5. Natural Vitamin E Oil
Used commonly in sunscreens and sunburn relievers, vitamin E is proven to ease dryness and bolster skin’s UV defense. It is also said to even skin tone and soften skin. Using vitamin E will add moisture and elasticity to your skin and help you prevent or diminish stretch marks. Adding it to your skincare regimen can also help to fight pregnancy-related acne and eczema.
Aside from keeping stretch marks at bay by keeping skin supple and moisturized, vitamin E can also help prepare you for vaginal birth and reduce the chances of an episiotomy. Starting around 34 weeks, perineal massages can help stretch the skin between your vagina and anus, and greatly reduce the chance of tearing during delivery. Experts recommend choosing a toxin-free massage oil with vitamin E to help increase the skin's elasticity in this delicate region.
Be aware that vitamin E comes in natural and synthetic forms. Both natural and synthetic vitamin E may be derived from natural sources, but one is its complete, true form, while the other has been produced in a lab. Natural vitamin E contains the full range of tocopherols, which are antioxidants, but synthetic vitamin E offers only one tocopherol, usually a nonnatural form of alpha-tocopherol. To know exactly which type is in a supplement, look at the ingredients panel. Natural vitamin E is listed as d-alpha-tocopherol; synthetic appears as dl-alpha-tocopherol or dl-alpha-tocopheryl. We strongly recommend a natural vitamin E over synthetic for use in pregnancy.
The best prenatal skin-care oils for relieving itchiness and stretch-marks are almond oil, avocado oil, rosehip oil, shea oil and natural vitamin E. These oils provide the necessary fatty acids and antioxidants to keep your skin healthy during pregnancy. Make sure you consult with your doctor before using any new products during pregnancy. For an extra loving way to apply your oil, consider the ancient ayurvedic self-care ritual of Abhyanga – modified for pregnancy. Read all about it in our blog post: How to Practice Abhyanga (self oil massage) During Pregnancy.