my pregnancy skincare tell-all
what i do for my skin in these trying times.
Aniella Matejovsky, Mom & Designer
“Growing up I witnessed a myriad of self-care routines from my mother, grandmas and aunts. It is no secret that in Venezuelan culture taking care of one’s image is a sacred pillar of womanhood. Being around to watch my aunt’s weekly nail salon visits, my grandma’s dedication to her hair and my memories of mother/daughter trips to the mall in the search of the latest skin concoction, is without a doubt the seed of my fascination with skincare.
I remember with certain annoyance my great-aunt reminding me with manic vehemence to wear sunscreen every time I saw her, and to make sure to cover my hands and neck while I was it because that’s the skin that gives you away—as in: it shows your age—while she proceeded to rub me with her latest anti-wrinkle potion. Dermatology visits were more prominent than dentist checkups after turning 15. I didn’t have much going on aside from your run-of-the-mill chin hormonal acne, but I have come to deeply appreciate these little lessons on self-care that were gifted to me.
New painful skin woes came knocking with the arrival of adulthood and birth control. My 20s were a parade of monthly cystic acne bumps that arrived front and center on my face as a proud flag indicating my period was two days away. Thankfully, a couple of years into this ordeal I finally found a solution for them by dabbing Paula’s Choice Clear Anti-redness solution. It wasn’t instantaneous, but the painful bump would be gone after 2 days. This is what I use to this day if I ever see any indication of a pink lump on my chin. I haven’t seen one those bumps since I stopped the dreaded pill after my 30th birthday in preparation for pregnancy, and because frankly—I had had enough of those hormones.
As soon as I got pregnant a couple of years later I realized my skin was up for another big change. Hormones had been the root of all my skin issues and pregnancy summoned the motherload of hormones. So I geared up for it with the One A Day Prenatals and a new-found desire to update what had been working for my skin thus far. Soon after I realized the pregnancy glow was most likely just regular a-good-skin-day on a pregnant person, so I dove right into researching what were the best ingredients to fend off stretch marks and which ones to avoid for the safety of my baby. I checked the content list on the back of my top shelf products, and replaced some with safer alternatives. I tried my best not to be overly neurotic and mainly look for brands I know produce clean options. No retinol, no salicylic acid, no benzoyl peroxide—meaning goodbye Paula’s Choice for my cystic acne, which came back in the first trimester. Fun.
In the morning I mainly just hit my face with water since I keep the heavy duty stuff for the nighttime routine. If I must cleanse because my skin feels pasty, I use this Lesse Refining Cleanser. It smells amazing and makes me feel refreshed every time I use it. Then I let my face air dry and apply this Bioessence Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, which gives my skin a boost and locks in moisture. After this I top it off with SPF, I love this one by Superoop!, even though it’s a chemical sunscreen, it does not contain Oxybenzone so it’s pregnancy safe. I love its texture, it’s super light and I can’t feel it after I put it on.
In the evenings, I start off by using the popular Korean Clean It Zero cleansing balm for sensitive skin. It becomes milky after you add water to wash it off. If I have not been wearing makeup I skip the balm and reach straight for my Fresh Soy Cleanser. Then I use Good Genes by Sunday Riley, which I live by. It’s a lactic acid treatment that really brightens your skin. It’s expensive, but nothing has improved my skin more. Then I layer some drops of Joanna Vargas Rescue Serum and lock it all in with Doctor Babor Moisture Glow Cream. For the eyes I use Drunk Elephant Shaba Complex Eye Serum or these energizing undereye masks when the mom exhaustion hits hard. It’s a simple little addition to my night routine that makes me feel extra pampered. I also use Laniege Lip Mask religiously, since moving to the north has really done a dry number on my lips.
Once a week, usually Wednesdays, I also use a gentle enzyme exfoliant by Dr. Barbara Sturm. And on weekends I do face masks layered in between my serums and moisturizer. I really love this one by Lesse, which smells like a luxurious spa day, or these ones by Joanna Vargas if I need some heavy lifting or have somewhere nice to go and need to prep my face for makeup.
Lately I’ve been keeping it quite simple. Time is precious with a toddler and I would rather focus on my skincare routine. I’ve been loving Laura Marcier Tinted Moisturizer. It’s light, has SPF and the coverage pay off is great. Talk about multitasking! If I’m looking for more of an airbrushed finish and want to look like I’ve actually slept I reach for Armani Beauty Luminous Silk. Next up is blush. I’m a believer that rosy cheeks can really brighten up your face. My go-to is Glossier Cloud Paint in Dusk, which is a pinky-apricot gel-cream that makes me look super youthful. Isn’t that all we want after only 4 hours of sleep? I put it on the apples of my cheeks and work it downwards with my fingers. Then I dab V_FR Baume Shine on top of my cheekbones, nose and cupid’s bow. This gives me a very natural highlight, which I prefer.
I curl my lashes and use mascara every day, but I’m not really married to any brand. I don’t like them to look clumpy, but I do want them to show up, so lately I’ve been using Too Faced Better Than Sex mascara. After that I do natural looking lipstick. These options by Violette_FR are great. The shade Bêtise looks like a nude on my lips. It’s not dry and it makes my pout look more even. Otherwise, I’m a balm person. This KNC Beauty Supa Balm is very, very hydrating, but some chapstick will also do.
I get my brows done by Joey Healy every once in a blue moon. He has helped them grow and shaped them to my liking. I use his brow gel to keep them in place, plus Urban Decay Brow Blade to fill them in when I’m looking to create a feathery moment.
I have very dry hair, so finding the right products is a never-ending labor of love. I probably wash it once or twice a week, depending on how it feels. I use Ceremonia Aceite de Moska on my scalp before I wash it with Kerastase Chronologiste Shampoo and finish it off with a hair mask from the same line, I leave it on for five minutes in the shower and then rinse. It’s super hydrating. After the shower, I usually rub in some Guava Leave-In Conditioner and let my hair air dry, but if I’m going to style it I’ll use this heat protectant.
BODY + NAILS
My body skin doesn’t break out, but it does tend to dry out easily especially during pregnancy. After having my first daughter and discovering that baby products are way more gentle on the skin I have switched my shower gel to use one of hers, so right now I’m on my second bottle of Honest Lavender Body Wash. Every other day I use Ouai Scalp & Body Scrub, but never on the belly or places where my body is already stretching since that could produce more stretch marks. It smells so good, and I love how soft my skin feels after I use it. I then use this Mutha Body Butter plus some drops of their Body Oil. I also apply Evereden Nourishing Stretch Mark Cream on my breasts, belly and tights, and layer on their amazing belly serum when I wake up, after the shower and before bed. Every now and then I indulge in using a Hatch Belly Mask, especially during those third trimester hot flashes. I have also switched to a more natural deodorant since pregnancy, so I now use Megababe Rosy Pits.
I love to go out for manicures and pedicures, but the fumes are not the best when you are pregnant, so lately I’ve been keeping my nails natural or with a pretty color from Côte. When I have an even to go to I resolve to ManiMe stickers and my nails look just like new—even if for just a couple of days.
One of the main things that differs pregnancy from regular girl life is that everything hurts. Your back, hips, legs are all trying to find a new normal within your body. This pregnancy my belly has gotten larger overall, which means my body has taken a beating and something new aches every day. I’ve been using Icy Hot Patches for stubborn pain points in my back and they have really helped. As I approach my final weeks of pregnancy I’ve implemented more baths into my routine. These help my belly float, easing the pressure on my joints. I love adding Lord Jones High CBD Bath Salts to them, they help me melt into the water with ease. I also love sprinkling this Mallow Blossom Bubble Bath for the ultimate spa feel. I’m a sucker for bubbles, and these ones smell like a million dollars. There’s also these Prima CBD Bath Gems my friend gifted me and they are heaven-sent. Pregnancy might not be the easiest, but I’m grateful there’s plenty of ways to keep a mama sane. A bath feels especially luxurious when you have a toddler, and some purposeful acts of self-care help to make me feel like a special, pampered adult even if there’s a 1-year-old ruling the household on any given day.”
—as told to Maybe This, Baby That
Aniella Matejovsky photographed by Gaia in Brooklyn on November 16, 2021