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Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreens

Updated: Aug 7, 2023


Guidance for wearing sunscreen to reduce the risk of skin cancer holds true during pregnancy as well, but there are other reasons to keep sunscreen as a part of your pregnancy skincare routine and things to consider when it comes to choosing a safe option. Hormones from pregnancy can increase the risk of pigmentation of the skin known as melasma. Read more...

 

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pregnancy safe sunscreen

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Aside from the obvious, why is it so important to wear sunscreen, especially during pregnancy?



Guidance for wearing sunscreen to reduce the risk of skin cancer holds true during pregnancy as well, but there are other reasons to keep sunscreen as a part of your pregnancy skincare routine. Hormones from pregnancy can increase the risk of pigmentation of the skin known as melasma. The interaction between hormones and light sources such as UV and blue light can trigger pigmentation in exposed areas. Although we have treatments aimed at addressing this pigment once it is present, more often than not it is preventable through adequate photoprotection measures.


The other thing to remember is that severe sunburns and even sun poisoning can lead to a systemic or whole-body response to excess UV. This can result in fluid shifts and imbalances that have a potential impact on the baby as well.



When looking for a pregnancy-safe sunscreen, what should you look for in terms of types of products?



Sunscreen sticks tend to use mineral sunscreens which are ideal. Lotions can vary widely so shopping by ingredient label is important. It is rare but possible to find a sunscreen spray that uses mineral sunscreen ingredients. This is for the simple reason that mineral sunscreens tend to be thicker resulting in blockage of the nozzle.



Are water-resistant sunscreens good to use during pregnancy?



To create water resistance in sunscreen, ingredients are added to help the product stay adherent to the skin such as acrylates, silicone, and polymers. These should have a minimal to low risk of absorption. However, during pregnancy, it is ideal to limit overall exposure to unnecessary ingredients if alternatives can be found.



What should pregnant patients with sensitive skin look for in their sunscreen?



Skin sensitivities to sunscreen are usually a result of the active ingredients, the preservatives, and/or any fragrances added. From an active ingredient perspective, limiting to physical sunscreen ingredients such as zinc and/or titanium can help reduce irritation. Choosing sunscreens that are fragrance-free is also helpful.



Is sunscreen safe to use during pregnancy?



During pregnancy, it is best to rely on a combination of various sun-protective behaviors to reduce the need for excess sunscreen use. Using sun-protective clothing, hats, sunglasses, umbrellas, shade, and avoidance of peak sun hours can allow for limited usage of sunscreen products. Chemical sunscreens have been shown to be absorbed into the bloodstream with unclear risk to health. Using physical sunscreens such as zinc and/or titanium tends to be favored for this reason.



Why is chemical sunscreen not safe during pregnancy?



There have been associations made between chemical sunscreens and the possibility of endocrine disruption. During pregnancy, it is probably best to limit your exposure to these products given their unclear health impact.



When should a pregnant person apply sunscreen during pregnancy?



Ideally applying sunscreen at the beginning of the day for a “layer of protection” followed by reapplication is best.



Lastly, are there any pregnancy-safe sunscreens that you'd recommend? Can you share why for each?


I personally tend to recommend sunscreens that have the word “babies” on the label. The reason why is that a study done in my research group a few years ago demonstrated that the use of the word “babies” on the label showed a higher likelihood of the product using zinc and/or titanium as its active ingredients. This can help take some of the guesswork out of product safety.



pregnancy safe sunscreen

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