There are books upon books about the things you should and shouldn’t do while you’re pregnant. It’s a lot of information, we know. Which is why, at least when it comes to your skin-care regimen, we wanted to simplify things. We checked in with Jennifer MacGregor, M.D., at Union Square Laser Dermatology in New York City (and a new mother herself) for five simple things you can do for your skin while you’re pregnant.

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prenatal vitamins

Take Your Prenatal Vitamins

Even if you’re eating a well-balanced diet (and, um, everything under the sun), it’s hard to get all of the nutrients you and your baby need. So not only are prenatal vitamins sort of a necessity, but they also have the added bonus of being good for your skin and hair (hi, shampoo commercial ponytail flip).

Moisturize...a Lot

While genetics and other factors outside of your control determine whether or not you’ll get stretch marks, slathering your skin in moisturizer can help minimize their appearance. Not to mention, it offers immediate relief for any itchiness and discomfort. Look for formulas with natural oils like coconut, jojoba or vitamin E. Cocoa and shea butters are safe options as well.

spf protection

Up Your Sunscreen Use

Thanks to fluctuating hormones, your skin produces more melanin than usual and is thus prone to hyperpigmentation (especially around the forehead and cheeks). Protect yourself with a mineral sunscreen containing zinc, titanium or both—and add protective clothing and hats to further reduce sun exposure whenever you’re outside.

And Get Thee Some Vitamin C

The best thing you can do for your skin while you’re pregnant (other than bathe yourself in sunscreen) is to use a vitamin C serum says MacGregor. Not only does it help with the production of collagen (the protein in your skin that gives it firmness and elasticity), but it also further protects cells from free radical and UV damage.

ingredients to avoid

But Be Wary of Other Ingredients

Keep in mind that anything you apply to your skin can be absorbed into the blood stream and affect the baby, even at the earliest stages of pregnancy says MacGregor. Some common ingredients to watch out for include retinol in all of its various forms (retin-A and retinyl palmitate), benzoyl peroxide (check your acne treatments), formaldehyde (stick to five-free nail polishes) and aluminum (bring on the natural deodorant). Panicked about not being able to treat adolescent-like acne? Talk to your doctor about safe options like glycolic (or lactic) acid and sulfur. 

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