I admit it. I’m vain. So the many unglamorous aspects of my first pregnancy threw me for a loop. I could deal with the burgeoning belly, the indescribable fatigue. I even made peace with the forced exchange of my chic hobo bag for a schlepper tote — a preggo’s must-have accessory to transport the loads of nausea-quelling carbs. But nothing prepared me for the hormonally induced atrocities that cropped up on my once-radiant complexion.

At five weeks, angry red welts appeared below my right eye and next to my mouth. At seven weeks, barely-there freckles darkened and expanded into what can only be described as septuagenarian-style liver spots. By the end of my first trimester, itchy, ugly, concealer-defying red patches began crisscrossing my forehead, chin, and chest. I was confused. Where was my pregnancy glow? After conferring with other fecund females, I was convinced that the glow — that mommy-to-be incandescence portrayed in glossy magazines — must be the result of serious airbrushing or a genetic blessing that had obviously passed me over.

Thanks to skyrocketing hormones, more than 50% of pregnant women develop a “pregnancy mask,” the darkening of pigmentation around the mouth, cheeks, and forehead also known as melasma or hyperpigmentation, and many also develop acne. Exhaustion and water retention may lead to under-eye pouches, while increased blood flow can cause spider veins across the face of about two-thirds of pregnant women. Determined to acquire a soupcon of Heidi Klum’s luminosity, I decided to investigate in-office medical treatments as well as over-the-counter products geared to common post-pregnancy skin conditions. Keep in mind that women should not have any cosmetic procedures done while pregnant or breastfeeding, says Leslie Baumann, M.D., a Miami dermatologist and author of The Skin Type Solution, and be sure to consult a dermatologist before pursuing any of the treatments listed here.

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