What it is: Elevated progesterone levels produced by the body to maintain a healthy uterine lining during pregnancy can cause increased secretion from oil glands, sebum buildup, and clogged pores.
An aesthetician renowned for treating acne and irritated skin with her line of plant-based products, Sonya Dakar is considered Hollywood's "Fairy Skin Mother" by A-list mamas like Gwyneth Paltrow, Debra Messing, and Marcia Gay Harden. "To treat the common skin problems of pregnancy -- like acne and hypersensitivity -- women must use calming products with plant-based ingredients such as chamomile and lavender," Dakar says. She also offers a pore-clearing facial called the Triple Peel, which involves three separate exfoliating treatments: a pumpkin-based enzyme peel to slough off dead cells, a customized green tea peel to break up bacteria and brighten the skin, and a diamond peel, which is a resurfacing treatment ($555).
Mild facial cleansers are an effective tool for treating acne in women who have sensitive skin or are still breastfeeding. Therapy Systems Balancing Gel Cleanser ($28.50) is a formula that safely balances the skin's natural oils while deep-cleaning pores. Look for products that include sulfur, a natural ingredient that has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory qualities to promote healing. The sulfur, aloe vera, and eucalyptus oil in the DDF Sulfur Therapeutic Mask ($28) work synergistically to purify the skin.
Once moms are done nursing, they can use more potent ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide to fight acne. At-home peels and topical ointments can take care of stubborn pimples and remaining scars. Crabtree & Evelyn's new skincare line includes a Blemish Control Acne Treatment Gel ($22) that not only heals breakouts but prevents new ones from popping up. It packs a punch with its 2% salicylic acid content and also contains soothing green tea, echinacea, and willowherb to calm the skin naturally. To accelerate healing of acne flare-ups and erase scars, try an at-home peel like L'OrZal Acne Response Intensive Adult Acne Peel kit ($25). This three-step peel uses salicylic acid to penetrate clogged pores and to extract impurities.