I had cute summer freckles as a kid and deep summer tans as a teenage lifeguard. In my late twenties, during my first pregnancy, all of the evidence appeared on my face at once as splotchy sun damage. The hormonal changes that cause melasma caused my sun damage to darken all at once during my second trimester, like I had gone to sleep with an even skin tone and woke up spotty. As if pregnancy isn’t tough enough!
One of the best weapons in the skincare arsenal for general skin aging, including discoloration, is the retinoid family of (mostly prescription) products. Unfortunately, isotretinoin and the other retinoids are linked to birth defects, miscarriage and prematurity. They’re a total no-no during pregnancy, and many doctors want you to discontinue them before even considering trying to get pregnant. The same is true of hydroquinone, a melanin inhibitor, which has been proven to cause birth defects in animal studies. As much as I wanted to treat the spots on my face, anything that would be a threat to my baby was off the table.
This is how I got started dermarolling! Because I could not use a retinoid, or hydroquinone, or get a BHA chemical peel, or get a Fraxel laser treatment, or try IPL, or anything else that I read about in magazines for anti-aging and skin tone, I went looking for something I could do.
Dermarolling doesn’t involve a product or active ingredient that can be passed to your baby; all you’re doing when you use a dermaroller or dermastamp is creating a bunch of tiny injuries that your body heals with healthy new tissue that’s full of collagen. It’s part of your natural healing response. In order to soothe your skin after dermarolling, you can use any products you’ve already determined to be safe for your pregnancy, or, if you don’t already have a skincare routine, you can apply a simple hyaluronic acid serum* or one with hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C*, if you have sunspots or melasma. Serums can be used either by themselves or topped with a silicone sheet mask* (which is often easier than reading the ingredients list of every single sheet mask in a store).
For me, pregnancy is over, but I’m still nursing my youngest, so retinoids are still not in the cards for me for a while! Because dermarolling has offered me a baby-safe way to reduce the discoloration that appeared during my pregnancy, I’m able to focus on feeding my baby and feeling good about my skin, risk-free.
Interested in beating melasma? I wrote about treating melasma with a dermaroller here.