In quarantine I have been capitalizing on every little exciting thing that is happening, making it something big to look forward to. Well this week I don’t have to create my own hype because the excitement for the Sephora Insider Sale is REAL. For VIB member is starts on Tuesday, April 21st and I am ready.
Swapping out your regular beauty routine for pregnancy safe products can be expensive so this is a great time for mamas to be to stock up. Just digging through the crazy advice on the internet to decide what you are comfortable with ingredient wise is a hassle enough, at least when actually buying the products you decide on you deserve a break.
I’ve went through my fair share of products as I’ve experimented through these first 18 weeks of pregnancy so I want to share with you all what has ended up actually working for me. Unfortunately not only have I had to make the usual pregnancy product swaps, but I also was blessed with some crazy pregnancy skin. I had the “pregnancy glow” for maybe two weeks until it turned into hormonal acne and stretch marks, so don’t worry, I have products for those too.
I know going through a list of all of these products can feel overwhelming, but remember I am a product junkie so I love trying new stuff and budget each month for it. Don’t feel like you need everything at once. Try a few that feel most relevant to what you need and go from there. This is by no means a list of things you MUST have, just a list of things that have worked for me. I also am not a medical professional so always check with your doctor if you are unsure about a product or ingredient. These are the products I have choose to use based on my research and conversations with my doctor. There are enough crazy mommy blogs out there shaming you into spending $500 on a new beauty routine so you don’t “harm your baby” (and most of those are bullshit in my opinion). After almost falling victim to that myself thanks to all of the guilt I started feel, I have made an effort to be super careful about how I word these posts. I want the takeaway to be, “here is what worked for me, hope this helps” because none of us are experts and even the actual experts have conflicting advice! The best we can do is make informed decisions based on our research, so I hope my trial and error can help you narrow down what you may want to purchase, and keep you from wasting money on products that don’t get the job done. I also have to say, a lot of these products I was using even before I was pregnant and based on what ingredients I am okay with, they passed the test to be used during pregnancy as well. I didn't decide, oh I'm pregnant, lets buy new everything. That is totally unrealistic, so I urge you all to take a look at the products you already have and see what you can make work. I'll say this again for the people in the back, these are just recommendations for the swaps you do want to make or when you are out of a product and looking to restock!
As I am super excited for the Sephora Sale, not every product I love can be found at Sephora, so I have included links to those too. Most are not super expensive so won’t break the bank even without a sale ticket price. A lot of these products can also be purchased in mini sizes so if you want to try them out before you invest, these are prefect. I find out about most of my favorite products through sample sizes and purchasing the mini versions. This is also a great way to stick to your budget if you want to try a few things at once instead of splurge on one big item.
This Tula Purifying Face Cleanser Is a product I used before I found out I was pregnant and luckily could continue to use into my pregnancy. I love Tula products because they are formulated by a gastroenterologist and the line focuses around probiotics. This cleanser is gentle but gets the job done so it is perfect for everyday use.
In pregnancy I have limited my chemical exfoliants big time so I started to notice more build up on my skin. Especially as I started to break out more, I also noticed these tiny bumps on my face, neck, and chest that could only be remedying with some good, old fashioned, physical exfoliant. The JuJu Exfoliating Bar from Drunk Elephant has become my 'go to' because I feel like I can really feel it making a difference. It leaves my skin feeling noticeably smoother but not irritated. I use it on my face and down to my chest.
Moisturizers are where I will spend the big(ger) bucks. I am a true believer that the right moisturizer is a game changer. After trying so many, these three have really stood out as hero products since I've been pregnant. The Protini Polypeptide Cream from Drunk Elephant is my usual night time moisturizer. I will layer the Virgin Marula Oil from Drunk Elephant under it when I need a little more love in the hydration department. My favorite daytime moisturizer is The Water Cream from Tatcha. It is so light weight and soothing, plus it really makes a difference on how makeup lays on your skin. For a while I was wondering if Tatcha was worth all of the hype and the price but after trying a sample size and falling in love, I have to admit, it is worth every penny.
Drunk Elephant's Makeup-Melting Butter Cleanser is the easiest way to remove makeup. With a little bit of this stuff, your makeup will just slide off of your face. No pulling or scrubbing and it works really well on stubborn mascara too. I first discovered this product in one of Drunk Elephant's mini sets. I love these because you get to try multiple products for less than $30 and decide which ones you like. In this case, I ended up also falling in love with the moisturizer that came with it. The Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer is one of my favorite moisturizers, so you can try out two of my favorites for only $22. I am always surprised with how long these tiny products last for too. Tip: Even if I end up purchasing the full size product, I save the tiny containers so I can refill them for traveling.
These Josie Maran Bear Naked Wipes are so soothing and are prefect for lazy nights when you can't imagine leaving your comfortable bed to get up and wash your face. I leave these in my nightstand for convenience. These wipes are my favorite because they slide smoothly over your skin so you aren't pulling or rubbing to wash the day off.
Pregnancy fatigue is NO JOKE. I looked in the mirror when I was about 8 weeks pregnant and it looked like I hadn't slept in three months. Well I know I'm only going to get MORE tired once baby gets here so I'm locking this in as a long term staple in my skincare routine. While mamas to be may have to limit their caffeine intake, that doesn't mean we can't use a little on our skin. The Rose Glow & Get It Eye Balm from Tula is a savior. It is cooling, brightening, and moisturizing. With a mixture of caffeine, hyaluronic acid, and rosehip oil (nature's retinol) this eye balm helps to treat your tired eyes while making them immediately look better.
Even though I have been more acne prone during my pregnancy, I still also have issues with hydration. I love the Jet Lag Mask from Summer Fridays because it is hydrating without making your skin feel oily. This is a must for me to have whenever I fly and during the cold winter months. This is another product I used prior to being pregnant so I was thrilled I would be able to continue using it through my pregnancy.
Another hydrating favorite from Summer Fridays is their new Lip Butter Balm. Hydrating, not sticky, pregnancy safe, pretty self explanatory.
No chemical sunscreen was the first pregnancy skincare rule that I learned. Basically every product I had for daytime, whether makeup or skincare, had chemical sunscreen in it. I would say the chemical SPF was the number one reason for many of the makeup products I had to swap out. I am big on sun protection so I needed to find an alternative quickly, especially since in my first trimester I was vacationing in Hawaii for two weeks. The Physical Defense Protection from Drunk Elephant is the best physical sunscreen product I have found so far. I put a little on in the morning mixed with my moisturizer for everyday use. For serious sun exposure I use this on my entire body. It is light weight and didn't make me break out, which is always a big concern for me when it comes to sunscreen. There was a bit of a learning curve when applying it because it is a lot thicker than my usual formula. A little goes a long way with this stuff!
I know there are mixed reviews when it comes to getting spray tans during pregnancy. I decided against it based on the conversations I had with my doctor. As someone who religiously was getting sprayed, I was desperately searching for a comparable option. My search for these products was also escalated due to my first trimester trip to Hawaii. Both of these products have exceeded my expectations in delivering a bronze glow. I usually add the D-Bronzi Sunshine Drops from Drunk Elephant into my moisturizer to use on my face and neck. I use the Isle of Paradise Self Tanning Drops in Dark for the rest of my body. I mix these in with my daily body moisturizer for easy application. I've also used the Isle of Paradise drops on my face which worked out perfectly fine as well. The Isle of Paradise drops pack more of a punch in delivering an immediate and darker tan, so I used these on my face while we were in Hawaii and will probably start to do so more in the summer. The color lasts about a week so you really only have to apply once a week which is super convenient. The D-Bronzi Drops are better for daily use in my opinion since they have more of a subtle, buildable color.
The Acne Trifecta
Pregnancy acne is NO JOKE. At first I thought a few little patches of hormonal acne would be no big deal. I was used to some weird break outs that corresponded with my Crohn's flares so I thought I was prepared. Well, I wasn't. I realized that the heavy hitters I was using to knock out my breakouts before were not safe to use in pregnancy. This lead me on quite a journey to identify what the heck I could actually use and what worked. I finally feel like I have things under control and I have seen a big improvement.
First off I had to bring in a bit of a heavier exfoliant to use every other day. The Deep Cleanse by Tatcha has really helped with the tiny bumps I have been getting and has been especially useful along my jawline. All of my usual peels were off the table, as were my spot treatments so I had to really get creative here. My doctor recommended trying to stick with benzoyl peroxide products for acne treatment but BP always does a number on my sensitive skin so that was not going to be good for me. Instead I use the Volition Apple Cider Vinegar Peel Resurfacing Pads once per week, specifically concentrated around where my hormonal acnes is occurring. Every other night I use Belli's Acne Control Spot Treatment. Belli is skincare specifically formulated for pregnancy and this specific product uses sulfur as the acne fighting ingredient. This spot treatment works great, but can be a bit drying, hence why I am using it every other night. The other nights I make sure I am focusing on hydration and usually layering my Murula Oil under my Protini Polypeptide Moisturizer.
So far Palmer's Coconut Oil Body Lotion has been my 'go to' for hydrating and trying to fend off stretch marks. I know they are pretty inevitable which was proven as over the past three weeks, despite my struggle to gain weight during my pregnancy, new stretch marks have made themselves at home on my sides. I am on the hunt for another product to add into my routine in conjunction with this body lotion, but nothing can replace this tried and true staple. This is also great to mix your tan drops in with and it smells like a vacation.
I've really paired down my everyday makeup routine thanks to never having to leave the house. This has made making my routine pregnancy safe a lot easier since I've eliminated a lot of steps. These products are the ones I have been wearing when I do wear makeup. This is all you will see me wearing on Instagram these days as well. As much as I love getting glam, I am holding off until I have somewhere to be.
Nail Polish (What I Have Been Using in Quarantine)
Last, but not least -- nails. I won't lie to you all and say I was going to stop getting my SNS Dip manicures while I was pregnant. I stopped getting them because I am in quarantine and can't leave my house. If you know me, you know my nail tech, Tracy, is an angel of a woman and has been doing beautiful things to my nails since 2017. I have consistently seen her every 3-4 weeks since July 2017, until now. I am a little lost and on my own since it has been a while since I've painted my own nails (first world problem, I KNOW). I remembered that one of the brands I loved when I was DIYing my nails was Deborah Lippmann. Well, not much has changed and the products are still great. As a plus they are also a lot safer when it comes to ingredients and they don't require UV exposure. I also am very horrible at painting my own nails and I can actually make them look decent with this kit. I recommend the Deborah Lippmann Gel Lab Pro base and top coat as your initial investment. You can purchase full size Deborah Lippmann polishes from Sephora, but I really like the set of mini polishes since I rarely ever use a whole bottle anyway. These have been the six colors I have had on rotation since the beginning of quarantine.
I know this was a long one, but I hope it helps! I have really been so excited to share these products with you all because I know how challenging it can be to find advice on what to use during pregnancy. The Sephora Sale was just the icing on the cake to make this post that much sweeter since that makes a lot of these amazing products more affordable.
I am also working on a post detailing new items that I want to try and purchase from the Sephora Insider Sale and a post breaking down the best combination of products to get on a budget.
As always, let me know if you have any questions and I can't wait to hear what you all buy from the sale this week!
I hope everyone is getting through quarantine alright. If you saw my post on Instagram, you know that unfortunately I had to relocate to my parents' house to quarantine for the safety of me and Baby P. You can catch up on the whole story here but the overall gist is that my husband is a nurse and on the front lines helping Covid-19 patient. I am so incredibly proud of him, but heartbroken that we will be living apart until things settle down.
Although it feels like this pandemic is the only thing going on in the world, life is still moving along, and mamas are still pregnant! Today I wanted to talk about something on the lighter side and share the 'must have' items for pregnancy so far. I've pulled together items that have helped me through my first trimester, most of which I still use now 17 weeks in. Whether you are currently baking a little one or are hoping to soon, take a look through my list and rest assured you can safely order all of these online without leaving your quarantine.
My Favorite Pregnancy Tests
Up until I was frantically trying to decipher a positive vs negative results, I didn't realize there was such a thing as a favorite pregnancy test. I also didn't realize why there are so many different ones out there until I started really getting familiar with the whole testing process.
First Response Early Result, in my experience, was best when you were testing before your missed period. They are very sensitive and help decrease that nerve wrecking time you have to wait between ovulation and when you can accurately test. What I didn't realize was that if you are testing very early on, the second pink line may be faint. Even a faint line can mean a big fat positive and it darkens as the pregnancy hormones increase in your body.
If you are a crazy person like me and know you are going to take a ton of pregnancy tests at every moment you can to see if there are any changes in 'your line', I highly recommend stocking up on some more cost effective options like the Accumed Pregnancy Test Strips. There are 25 tests in a box for only $8. They aren't as fancy as the pricier options but they get the job done.
Once I got some promising pink line tests, I confirmed with Clearblue. At first when First Response was picking up a positive, the Clearblue digital tests weren't since it was still early. Once I was technically supposed to have missed my period, the Clearblue tests starting reading positive and gave a very clear 'PREGNANT'. These are very straight forward and there is really no way to misinterpret these, so they are a great way to really confirm you are, in fact, pregnant.
My 'Go-To' Prenatal
I started taking prenatal vitamins before I actually found out I was pregnant since we were trying to conceive. I already took Ritual multivitamins so I easily switched my subscription for the prenatal. The Ritual prenatal doesn't make me nauseous and it easily packs everything I need into two pills. I also love, especially now that I can't go to the store, that they come via subscription so I never have to worry about running out. With pregnancy brain in full force, this is definitely helpful.
So In the first trimester you may not even start to actually show but you will feel bloated and uncomfortable in basically anything you own besides sweatpants. About 6 weeks in, my bloating was out of control so I needed to invest in some basics that would make me feel more comfortable. These maternity tank tops are great because they are longer than usual tanks so they accommodate your growing belly and can cover things up if you need to start unbuttoning those jeans more often. Underwear was also something that just felt entirely uncomfortable to me. On a whim, I ordered these 'under the bump' underwear that were a total game changer for me. They are SO comfortable and don't feel restrictive at all. I can't recommend these enough, even if you don't think you need them, you do.
I debated waiting until I got bigger to buy a pregnancy pillow but I am very happy I got one early on. As someone who always sleeps on their stomach, this helped me get used to side sleeping. It also is great for getting comfy when lounging on the sofa, which you will be doing a lot of in your first trimester. Later on in my pregnancy I may upgrade to one with more support but this is perfect for beginning stages and under $40.
My Everyday Savior
Staying hydrated is so important when you are pregnant but it was certainly not one of my top skills. I literally need to have cold water accessible via a straw to me at all times to enforce hydration. That is exactly what I made happen. I love these Simply Modern tumblers so I ordered the blush pink/baby blue one along with some reusable straws the I ONLY use for water. With my senses (taste + smell) going wild, I needed a cup that would be free of any other smells or flavors. Water only please. This cup keeps my water cold, travels well, and is a fraction of the price of other ones on the market.
That is my roundup of the what you need in your first trimester! I will continue to update with more of my favorites as my pregnancy progresses. If you have any favorite products that mamas to be should check out, feel free to drop them below!
So, if you follow along on Instagram, you know 2020 has been a big year for the Pickens so far. It is weird to be going through one of the most exciting times of our lives while simultaneously the world feels crazier than it has ever been. We announced very exciting news that we are expecting, about a week before social distancing got serious here in Maryland. We had the first 12 weeks to share all of our emotions just with each other and close family and friends. We had been trying to get pregnant so this news was not a shock to us, but the timing kind of was.
I had a visit with my primary care doctor about a cough/cold that wouldn’t go away back in December and during my visit she expressed serious concern about my thyroid being enlarged. She told me to put a hard stop on trying to get pregnant since a lot of issues I was having, lead her to believe that something was wrong. Matt and I were so upset when we heard this news and I started scheduling my follow up appointments and tests immediately so that we could figure things out and get back to baby making ASAP. After already having Crohn’s that played into my fertility and pregnancy concerns, I was terrified of having another hurdle to jump.
Well, I had my imaging done and as I was waiting for my appointment with my endocrinologist we had a little surprise. One weekend after a few glasses of wine at dinner with our friends, I started feeling horrible. I was in bed all weekend feeling exhausted and like I had the worst hangover of my life. I didn’t worry about our boozy dinner out because, well, we had put trying on hold per doctor’s orders. It isn’t uncommon for me to feel like total trash for a few days thanks to my Crohn’s, so there was nothing super alarming about this. What really tipped Matt and me off, was our dog Rhaegar. Usually Charleston is attached to me 24/7 and Rhaegar is a daddy’s boy through and through. Up until this point I was his peasant who cleaned up after him and fed him, but he’s so freaking cute I dealt with his obvious disinterest in me. Well all of a sudden, he wouldn’t leave me alone. He had to be touching me at all times and spent most of our time together just laying directly on top of me. At night he migrated to my side of the bed and just laid on my tummy. At this point I told Matt that I was either dying or I was pregnant because this was so out of character for Rhaegar.
Thanks to his strange behavior I took a test. Well, I took a lot of tests and it was still very early so I had basically a lab set up in my powder room comparing test strips and how dark the two lines were. At first the second line was very light and I thought maybe I was going crazy. I kept taking tests like a crazy person everyday and made Matt go out to get different kinds of pregnancy tests to be sure. Well the ones he got, I read on a mommy blog that they were not the best, so while he was sleeping I ordered 40 more on Amazon. I am not kidding… I ordered 40 more pregnancy tests. So as Matt considered revoking my Amazon priveleges, the new tests arrived and of course, the first one out of the 40 was a BIG FAT UNDENIABLE POSITIVE. I took a few more just to be 100% sure. Now, I didn’t do a whole ‘reveal’ for Matt. He was with me every step of the way, examining my pee sticks, so romantic. But it was for real… we were having a baby!
I made my initial appointments, all the while freaking out because of course this happened the month we were NOT supposed to get pregnant. I was so worried something was wrong with me or the baby. Everything checked out with the OBGYN and my endocrinologist said to put everything with exploring my thyroid on hold until after giving birth. She said to be thankful and enjoy that I was on track with a healthy pregnancy and if there were issues, as long as they weren’t affecting the baby, we were fine. This still really freaked me out, but I understood once she explained if there was something seriously wrong, I wouldn’t have been able to get pregnant in the first place.
It took me a little to get that this was actually real and accept the beautiful fact that we were on track with a healthy pregnancy. With so much anxiety due to my health throughout our whole journey of trying to conceive, it seemed so unreal that this was actually happening.
Our anxiety continued as we would wait from appointment to appointment to make sure our little gummy bear was on track and doing well. It has eased up with milestones like hearing the heartbeat, seeing the baby move, and making it out of the first trimester. Of course, the anxiety still is with us (especially me) but I am learning to cope better and better.
While the first trimester was full of anxiety, it was also full of enjoying our little secret together and even escaping to relax in Hawaii for a couple weeks. I couldn’t wait to share the news with everyone in our lives and especially you all who have been here with me through everything in the past few years.
I’ve had a ton of things I have wanted to share about this journey and I have been taking notes all along the way. I wanted to start sharing all of the details and behind the scenes as soon as we made the news public, but with Covid-19 wreaking such havoc on our world, it took the backseat. After a few weeks in quarantine, realizing this is the new normal, I decided I need to start sharing. It feels uncomfortable talking about anything but the pandemic right now, but I know I have value to share in my experiences and now more than ever us pregnant mamas have to lean on each other.
This is the first post of many and I am going to be completely candid and vulnerable throughout this whole journey just as I am with pretty much everything here. I am beyond thankful to be able to share this story of bringing baby Pickens into the world. If I get too much into it I’m going to start to cry (love those pregnancy hormones) so I’ll put a pin in that for now. Thank you to everyone who has supported us so far in this journey and continues to do so. Your kind words and love mean so much to us.
Blonde babe. Maryland native. Crohn's crushing puppy mother to two sweet rescues.
Welcome to my unfiltered commentary on crushing chronic illness in your 20's and everything that goes along with that.