pregnancy glow

Is Pregnancy Glow Real?

There’s a lot of beauty trends out there that people are always trying to get in on. One of the most popular is the “pregnancy glow.” If you’re pregnant, do you know if it’s real? 

It turns out that pregnancy glow can be attributed to different things like hormones or just feeling good about your body at this time. 

Some experts have also said that it could be due to increased blood flow, which gives skin an overall healthy appearance. 

Many physiological changes and common concerns come with pregnancy, such as nausea, fatigue, or swelling. 

However, the pregnancy glow is one of the physiological changes many women look forward to while pregnant. 

The pregnancy glow is one of the skin changes caused by the changes and increase of hormones during pregnancy. So if you are experiencing the pregnancy glow, count yourself blessed and enjoy it while you can.

What Causes The Pregnancy Glow?

The specific cause for the pregnancy glow is not concrete. Still, there are solid educated explanations that suggest it is related to a couple of physiological changes during pregnancy. 

As noted above, many of the skin changes are attributed to the influx of hormones. These hormones cause your glands to produce more oil, which makes your face shinier.

Another contributing factor is the increase in blood flow. During pregnancy, your body increases the production of blood by approximately 50%. 

The proposed theory is that this increase in blood flow and circulation leads your face to be brighter or more fuller.

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How Can You Manage The Pregnancy Glow?

As noted above, the pregnancy glow is a natural part of pregnancy. Most women appreciate the lustre or shine that is revealed in their faces. Many people call this physiological change one of the blessings of pregnancy. 

However, the increase in oil can make your skin too oily and sometimes trigger acne, also known as pregnancy acne. If this proves to be the case, you are welcome to use an oil-free cleanser to clean your face and reduce the amount of oil on your skin.

Hopefully, you will be able to display your pregnancy glow and avoid the mask of pregnancy. But, unfortunately, one of the physiological changes during pregnancy is the change in pigmentation of the skin. 

This “mask of pregnancy” involves brownish spots or patches that develop around the neck and face. Many women find these to be less desirable than the pregnancy glow.

The good news is the mask of pregnancy usually disappears after giving birth. The bad news is, so does the pregnancy glow.  

Ultimately, the most important thing you can do is have good skincare practices regularly, whether you are pregnant or not.

What Accounts For The Pregnancy Glow, Medically Speaking?

These changes arise because of increased blood supply, oestrogen and progesterone, which occur in the mother during pregnancy – leading to fundamental changes in the body which can alter the appearance of the lips, skin, hair, and nails.

pregnancy glow

Thank You, Increased Blood Flow

The skin may ‘glow’ because of increased blood flow to the skin, causing cells to turn over and hence old skin cells to be shed, leaving brighter, plumper and more radiant looking skin as a result.

Mucous membranes in the body also swell, looking plumper and fuller. So this can affect the gums and eyes, but also the lips.

Some lucky women who may have always battled with skin conditions might find themselves experiencing a period of relief from symptoms.

Some skin conditions can improve in pregnancy because of a slight suppression of the immune system. 

The body is housing something different and foreign and, as such, doesn’t want to reject it. This state of mild immune suppression means that immune-mediated conditions like eczema and psoriasis may improve, resulting in an improved appearance of the skin.

Thicker, Shinier, Glossier Hair

Hormones can also be thanked (or blamed) for having several good hair days during pregnancy.

It may appear thicker and shinier because pregnancy hormones suspend the hair follicles in the anagen or active growth phase.

This means that less hair falls and more grows, giving a healthier appearance to the hair. 

Progesterone increases the sebaceous secretions from the scalp, further making the hair look more moisturised and shiny.

Nails are affected similarly to the hair and, as such, may appear longer and feel much more vital.

And Now For The Bad News … 

(Or the good news if your typically lovely hair, skin and nails have taken a dive bomb during pregnancy.)

We knew it was coming.

A bit like in the story of Cinderella who returns to her’ everyday life’ when the clock strikes midnight, once the baby arrives, everything kind of goes back to normal.

Because these changes are indeed occurring under the influence of pregnancy hormones and physiology and as such, after childbirth, the body can start to restore to its pre-pregnant state as soon as four to six weeks postnatal.”

Other Beauty Benefits Of Being Pregnant

Your Skin May Glow And Appear Healthier.

The idea that pregnant women experience a “pregnancy glow” is real. The glow comes from an increase in blood volume, estrogen, and progesterone. 

More blood flow to the skin gives a ‘rosy’ appearance and makes a face appear fuller as well.

In addition, there is increased skin cell turnover, which allows newer cells to come to the surface and dry, older cells to be sloughed off.

What’s left behind are fat cells that increase the radiance and smoothness of the skin.

Your Lips May Look Fuller.

That increased blood volume can also make your lips look plumper. “The mucous membranes throughout the body, especially in the face, enlarge and fill with high blood and fluids. As a result, lips appear fuller and redder in colour as a result of these hormonal changes, but they’re not the only part of the face to swell—it’s also common for your gums and eyes to look puffy, too.

You May Notice An Improvement In Certain Skin Conditions.

Thanks to the fluctuation in pregnancy hormones, you may experience a few breakouts during pregnancy (typically during the third trimester), which is a bummer. 

But if you’re someone who suffers from psoriasis or eczema, you may notice that they clear up during pregnancy

Pregnancy induces a state of slight immunosuppression since your body is hosting a foreign object (aka, your baby) and doesn’t want to consider it a threat. Because of this, inflammatory skin conditions tend to go into remission or at least manage to be less active during pregnancy.

You May Have Thicker And Shinier Hair.

Your hormones have a lot to do with hair growth, which helps explain why your hair is often more voluminous during those nine months. 

Thanks to your pregnancy hormones, your hair follicles stay in the anagen, or active, stage of the hair cycle for longer, resulting in a fuller hair head because there is much less shedding.

Pregnancy hormones, specifically progesterone, can also cause an increase in sebaceous gland activity, leading to a slightly more oily scalp. This makes the hair look thicker and shinier throughout the pregnancy. 

This phase is genetically determined, so some might not have this experience. Also worth noting: This hair growth isn’t restricted to the kind on your head—it can take place all over your body.

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You May Have Longer, Stronger Nails.

For the same reasons your hair grows thicker and stronger during pregnancy, you can expect your nails to do the same. 

Estrogen is likely the hormone responsible for this change, but it is not a universal phenomenon for all women. Good nutrition and prenatal vitamins can also help grow strong nails during pregnancy.

Your Breasts May Increase In Size.

OK, this is only a perk for some, but your breasts can double in size during pregnancy. This change is triggered by increased pregnancy hormones like estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin (HCG). 

These hormones work on the breast tissue to initiate the early changes of lactogenesis. Lactogenesis is the process that allows breasts to start making milk. The difference in size will vary, but on average, a woman may expect an increase of about two cup sizes. 

In addition to fuller breasts, moms-to-be may notice their nipples becoming darker and more pronounced.

Reality check: All of these visible differences subside once the baby is born.

When the pregnancy hormones decrease, so will a lot of these positive side effects. 

Your breasts will continue to change size if you’re breastfeeding or pumping, but the majority of the hormonal changes will reverse within four to six weeks of birth. 

Your hair will return to its average growth rate and volume (which can cause much hair to shed).

Blood volume also returns to normal so that you can kiss your full lips and glowing skin goodbye—not to mention you’re probably not getting much sleep, which doesn’t help in the skin department. But you’ll be too wrapped up in your new addition to worrying about all the postpartum changes.

When does Do Skin changes During Pregnancy Start?

It depends. Many women experience the varied collection of skin peculiarities that crop up during pregnancy — including rashes, redness, acne, discolourations and other delightful (not!) eruptions — as early as the first trimester. In contrast, others don’t notice skin changes until the second or third trimester. 

But they’re so common that it would be unusual if you didn’t experience one of them at any time during your pregnancy.

And yep, your skin may look worse for the wear as your pregnancy progresses. Fortunately, whether it’s a flashback to your baby days (with heat rash) or your junior high days (with pimples and a greasy shine), just about all your skin symptoms will be a thing of the past within weeks of delivery. So be patient!

What Causes Skin Changes During Pregnancy?

It’s essentially those pregnancy hormones at work yet again, causing your pores to secrete excess oil, making you vulnerable to heat rash and visiting discolourations on your face, legs, palms and soles. 

Add to that your suppressed immunity (to protect your baby) and stretched blood vessels, and you have a recipe for surface inflammation.

Some skin changes you might notice during pregnancy include:

  • Pregnancy acne
  • Hormones are primarily responsible for a particularly unpleasant kind of skin eruption known as PUPPP (pruritic urticarial papules and plaques of pregnancy) or bumpy skin lesions that can resemble skin-coloured to pink or dark bumps.
  • Skin tags, or minor, raised growths on the skin, are common during pregnancy, too, particularly under your arms.
  • Dry skin
  • Oily skin
  • Red palms (called palmar erythema)
  • Spider veins
  • Skin discolouration

Glowing Skin During Pregnancy: Why It Happens

pregnancy glow

Are You Glowing?  

During pregnancy, you may get compliments that you’re “glowing.” This refers to a phenomenon that’s often visible on the face during pregnancy.

This can be a genuine part of pregnancy, and it may occur for various reasons. Although, at the same time, the term itself sounds like a myth, “pregnancy glow” actually has several medical explanations. Let’s demystify exactly what pregnancy glow means and whether there’s anything more to it.

What Causes It?  

According to stories going back centuries, pregnancy glow is caused by happiness. Some believe the sex of your baby may even cause it.

While you might be happy and excited during your pregnancy, the glow has numerous possible medical causes. 

These are primarily related to fluctuations in hormones and blood flow, but the glow can also be attributed to other changes you’re going through.

Hormone Fluctuations

The increased hormones released during pregnancy can make your skin look flushed, giving you a tell-tale glowing look. Such hormones include estrogen, progesterone, and human chorionic gonadotropin.

Increased Blood Flow

During pregnancy, your body produces more blood. This is because your uterus and vital organs need more blood to support your growing baby. Unfortunately, such increased blood volume also dilates your blood vessels, making your skin look flushed.

Increased Oil In Your Skin

Some women experience more oil production from their sebum glands, thanks to hormone fluctuations. Also, more blood volume can increase the secretion of oil. You may be especially prone if you already have oily or combination skin.

This can have some unwanted side effects, such as acne. But along with acne, increased oils can also make your face look like it’s glowing.

Skin Stretching

Combined with increased blood flow and hormonal changes, skin stretching can also make your skin glow during pregnancy.

Heat Rashes

It’s not uncommon to feel hotter than usual during pregnancy. This is because not only are you dealing with hormones, but the extra weight you’re carrying to support your baby can also increase your body temperature. This can cause heat rashes or hot flashes, both of which can create a “glowing” effect on your skin.

Worsening Of Preexisting Skin Conditions

If you have certain preexisting skin conditions, your symptoms may be worse during pregnancy. Such conditions include eczema, rosacea, and psoriasis. In addition, due to increased blood flow and hormones, the affected skin may redden further and look more noticeable. Sometimes this is mistaken for signs of pregnancy glow.

When Does It Start And How Long Does It Last? 

There’s no set time frame for experiencing pregnancy glow. However, you may be more likely to experience this glow during the height of changes in your body, especially during the second trimester.

The glow of pregnancy — as well as its underlying causes — go away soon after you give birth. However, this isn’t a permanent change to your skin.

Does It Happen To Everyone? 

While every woman experiences hormone fluctuations naturally from pregnancy, this doesn’t mean everyone will experience a pregnancy glow. If you don’t, it doesn’t mean there’s anything wrong. Instead, this could indicate that your skin reacts differently to what’s going on with the rest of your body.

Other Skin Effects You Might Experience Instead

As already mentioned, pregnancy acne occurs when your oil glands produce more sebum than usual. Not only can it make your skin look shiny, but it can lead to blemishes, too.

It would help if you continued washing your face twice a day as usual, but you may need to switch to oily skin products for the duration of your pregnancy. Talk with your doctor about safe products for use during pregnancy.

“Pregnancy mask” is another pregnancy-related skin condition that may affect some women and not others. 

This condition refers to brown spots on your skin caused by hyperpigmentation from increased melanin production in your skin. These blotches go away after pregnancy when your hormone levels drop, but sun exposure can make them worse. Wear sunscreen every day to help prevent this.

What Does Pregnancy Glow Reveal About Your Baby’s Sex?  

While you’re waiting to learn your baby’s sex, it can be fun to guess. For example, you’ve likely heard that specific food cravings or aversions can reveal whether you’re having a boy or a girl, as well as the way you “carry” your baby throughout pregnancy.

Some people also say that pregnancy glow can indicate whether you’re having a boy or a girl. However, there’s no scientific evidence that backs up these claims. 

Anecdotal evidence online reveals a combination of people who state correlations of pregnancy glow between both girls and boys.

If you want to know your baby’s gender before birth, it’s best to wait until the 16-week mark when your doctor may be able to tell you on an ultrasound. You may happen to have a pregnancy glow at this point too, but it’s unlikely there’s any connection.


Pregnancy glow is just one of the many changes you might experience during pregnancy. Other changes can include stronger nails, thicker hair, and reduced dry skin. There are many reasons these things happen, so it’s safe to say pregnancy glow isn’t a myth — though you shouldn’t be concerned if you don’t have it.

Always talk to your doctor if you have concerns about any changes in your body during pregnancy.

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