Versine expert advisor and OBGYN Dr. Patricia Lo explains what makes the brand so effective, and debunks those maternity beauty myths your friends won’t stop talking about.
By Kayla Greaves
It goes without saying that pregnancy marks a time of change; especially for the person carrying. Changes to your body, your hormones, and your life are all par for the course—but what about all the other things you don’t expect while you’re expecting?
Having a consistent beauty routine feels good. To know that you’ve cracked the code on your skin’s specific needs is a serious accomplishment; not one to be overlooked. But from the moment you become pregnant until after you give birth, that trusted regimen—maybe even one you’ve sworn by for years—has to be revamped. And that’s not always the easiest thing to do.
“Topical retinoids like retin-A are generally not recommended across the board due to concern for birth defects,” Dr. Patricia Lo, an OBGYN and advisor to skincare brand Versine, shares. “Acne treatments may include certain antibiotics, which are contraindicated in pregnancy, for example doxycycline. And hydroquinone, a popular ingredient used for treating hyperpigmentation, [is known for] substantial absorption, so it is generally recommended that pregnant patients avoid it.”
“Pregnancy-safe skincare should offer pregnant people peace of mind not only during their pregnancy, but also in the preconception and postpartum period.”
Thankfully, Dr. Lo teamed up with Jennie Gao, founder of Versine Skincare, to create a simple, no-fuss collection (seriously, they only have two products), tailored to both acne-prone and dry, sensitive skin. The result is not only formulations that are pregnancy-safe, but ones that are actually effective.
“One thing Versine does really well is combine clinically-proven ingredients in effective percentages [to create] a formula that helps address multiple skin issues without it being harsh,” says Dr. Lo.
We spoke with the OBGYN to find out more about the brand, what makes it stand out from the rest, and everything else you need to know about pregnancy-safe skin care.
How would you define "pregnancy-safe skin care"?
Pregnancy-safe skin care should offer pregnant people peace of mind not only during their pregnancy, but also in the preconception and postpartum period. There are numerous studies highlighting endocrine disrupting chemicals such as phthalates in the environment that can make it harder for women to get pregnant. There are also toxic chemicals that may cause harmful effects on the fetus. Pregnancy is such an important time of a person's life and most individuals want to look and feel their best without needing to worry about their pregnancy.
Why is it important for people to be educated on skin care while pregnant?Everyday in my practice, I have people who have stopped using all their skin care products early on in pregnancy and subsequently suffer from acne and unwanted skin changes. Education prior to pregnancy is key. Schedule a preconception visit with your OBGYN to go over your current routine which can help with the transition before you are pregnant. There are also a lot of misconceptions and myths about what is safe and what is not safe to use. Evidence-based information is necessary.
What makes Versine distinct from other products on the market?
I love its multi-tasking nature! You have something to help with hyperpigmentation, hydration, fine lines, oiliness, acne (with the azelaic acid formula), and general skin health without having to use multiple products. I used it during my last pregnancy while also being busy with a toddler and it made my routine so easy and effective. Versine also vets not only the active ingredients, but also the ancillary ingredients for safety during pregnancy. For example, it does not use parabens, phthalates, and fragrances, which often contain hidden phthalates. There is increasing evidence these ingredients may cause future health issues in individuals.
Why should some ingredients be avoided while pregnant?
Although the safety data of topical agents on use in pregnancy is often limited, there are some ingredients that are generally not recommended by most OBGYNs or dermatologists. This information is derived from animal studies or extrapolation from similar medications.
Retinol is one of those products nearly everyone uses nightly, but it’s said to be unsafe to use while pregnant. What effects can it have on a pregnancy? Oral retinoids like isotretinoin (Accutane) are known teratogenic agents, which means they can be associated with birth defects. The safety of topical retinoids have limited data in pregnancy and the concern is mostly extrapolated from studies on oral retinoids. Most OBGYNs advise against using them until after giving birth.
What skin care ingredients are safe to use?
Fortunately, there are more than a few! To help treat acne, azelaic acid, and glycolic acid in lower dose formulations are safe to use during pregnancy. Not only does azelaic acid help acne prevention, it is also helpful for treating hyperpigmentation! Niacinamide and vitamin C are also safe options for women looking to treat hyperpigmentation during pregnancy.
Versine offers two serums: Acne-Prone, Dry/Sensitive, as well as a Day-to-Night bundle, which includes both products. Why did those categories make sense for the brand?
Many women deal with breakouts during pregnancy, so if you create a pregnancy-friendly brand, it really is essential you have a product that addresses that. That being said, azelaic acid, though well-tolerated compared to salicylic acid and retinoids, can be a bit spicy; so if you don't have breakouts and excessive oiliness but still want a treatment to address hyperpigmentation, hydration, skin barrier health, then you can use the product for dry and sensitive skin. The bundle is for people who want an easy, no-thought routine.
What are some pregnancy skin care myths you think need to be debunked?
A lot of pregnant people are looking for that lovely pregnancy glow but instead, changes in hormones lead to more breakouts and skin pigment changes. During pregnancy, there is an increased amount of androgens and blood flow to the skin which can cause more oil production. Using a gentle cleanser and making sure to avoid picking at the skin are helpful tools to prevent scarring. Another common myth would be using cocoa butter to prevent stretch marks. Unfortunately, stretch marks are genetically-driven. In terms of topical creams, the aisles of stretch mark creams on the market are overwhelming. Overall there is no evidence that any of the over-the-counter topical creams are effective in preventing stretch marks. In research studies, neither almond oil, cocoa butter, olive oil, nor vitamin E prevented stretch marks. Slow and steady weight gain, however, can be helpful in preventing stretch marks. The reassuring thing is stretch marks generally do improve in appearance with time.