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Created for Greatist by the experts at Healthline. Read more
Pregnancy comes with a long list of undesirable effects: morning sickness, aches and pains, and ballooning feet. But one upside is glowing skin seemingly sent from an angel.
No, it’s not a myth or an illusion — there are legit medical reasons your skin appears more luminous during each trimester.
Whether you have “pregnancy glow” or just wish you did, here are the deets on this very real phenomenon.
Legend has it that pregnancy glow is caused by overwhelming happiness, but let’s be real: Skin changes are the result of hormonal fluctuations and changes in blood flow. There are a few other potential causes too:
Extra hormones and blood volume during pregnancy often lead to a spike in oil production, creating a natural dewiness. Peeps with oily or combination skin are more likely to notice this increase, but it can happen to anyone.
Mo’ oil, mo’ problems — like acne. When zits strike, consider upgrading your cleanser to something a little more potent, like Mederma AG Hydrating Facial Cleanser. Once you get Krakatoa under control, you’ll be able to embrace that added shine.
Blood of my blood…
Since your uterus and vital organs require extra blood flow for bébé, your heart goes into overdrive, pumping out extra blood. This results in dilated blood vessels and cheeks the color of NARS Orgasm blush. Embrace that natural flush!
All the feels…
A surge in the hormones estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) might make you feel a little funny — but it can also brighten your skin.
This girl is on fire: Heat rash edition
Surging hormones and added baby padding often lead to a higher body temperature and sweating. Heat rash and hot flashes don’t sound like beauty boosters, but the added rosiness in your cheeks can make your skin look healthier and more radiant.
The home stretch
Becoming a real-life is much like getting a full-body facelift: Your skin looks more taut, youthful, and luminous. What a deal.
Hello eczema, my old friend…
Preexisting skin conditions like eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis can worsen during pregnancy due to increased blood flow and hormonal changes. While a flare-up might irk you, look on the bright side: A little extra redness might be mistaken for pregnancy glow.
So, you’re preggo and wondering when you’ll be #blessed by that supernatural Charlotte Tilbury highlighter.
There aren’t exact stats on how many people experience a pregnancy glow-up, but it’s definitely not a sure thing. If it doesn’t happen for you, don’t worry — it’s not a rite of passage, and there’s nothing wrong with you or your precious cargo.
The glow can strike any time in the 9-month period, but you’re most likely to shimmer during your second trimester, when your body experiences the most striking hormonal changes.
Sadly, like most good things (“Freaks and Geeks,” 3D Doritos, Brad and Jen…), the glow doesn’t last — your skin will go back to its old self soon after you give birth.
Also called melasma, this (completely harmless) hyperpigmentation happens to some people due to increased melanin production during pregnancy.
If you have this condition, slather on the sunscreen. UV rays will only make the blotches worse. After pregnancy, the dark patches should fade away gradually.
Some folks say luminous skin means you’ve got a baby boy on board, while others swear it’s a girl. But as with most pre-birth lore around this topic — fetal position, type of food cravings, severity of morning sickness — there’s no evidence to suggest glowing skin is linked to baby’s sex.
If you really want to know, skip the myths and head to your OB when you reach 16 weeks.
- People aren’t just trying to get on your good side — pregnancy really can make your skin glow. Hormone fluctuations and increased blood flow are the most common causes.
- Oilier skin, a warmer body temp, skin stretching, and skin flare-ups can also play a role.
- Notice some new brown splotches on your skin? It’s called “pregnancy mask,” and it’s the result of increased melanin production.
- Pregnancy glow doesn’t happen to everyone. If it happens, it’s most common in the second trimester, when hormone fluctuations reach their peak.
- Stunning skin does not mean you’re having a girl (or a boy…).