Are you pregnant and wondering whether it’s safe to use sunscreen?
You’re not the first woman to worry about whether the cream she’s slathering on her skin may affect her baby. While you certainly want to protect yourself from the sun, we know you also want to protect your baby from any potential harm, too.
So here’s what you need to know to do right by your baby. We’ve rounded up all the info on how sunscreens work, whether they affect your baby, and which ones offer the best and safest sun protection for your pregnancy-sensitive skin.
- No harmful chemicals
- High rating by the EWG
- Offers immediate protection
- Easy to apply
- No oxybenzone
- Broad-spectrum protection
- Calm redness & inflammation
- Combats premature aging
- Contains no oil
- Clinically tested for irritation
- Dermatologist tested
Should I Use Sunscreen During Pregnancy?
When you’re pregnant, your skin is even more susceptible to sun exposure, so it’s extra important to protect yourself (1). You don’t necessarily need a sunburn to cause skin damage or increase your cancer risk. Simply exposing your skin can be harmful, even if it doesn’t turn red.
Using sunscreen while pregnant is the best way to protect your extra-sensitive skin from these harmful UV rays. But you need to choose a sunscreen that is labeled broad-spectrum because not all products are created equal.
The Best Types of Sunscreens to Use During Pregnancy
When choosing a sunscreen, look for the following:
Broad-spectrum sunscreens protect you from both UVA and UVB rays. Sunscreens that are not marked broad-spectrum may only offer protection from one spectrum of ultraviolet light.
Check the ingredient list and avoid sunscreens that contain the active ingredient oxybenzone (2).
Choose a sunscreen that is a minimum of SPF 30. These offer great protection from the sun. While higher numbers may provide a little more protection, remember that it’s not incremental and frequent reapplication is still necessary, especially when you’re in the water.
Physical or mineral sunscreens create a barrier between your skin and the sun by using either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. This barrier reflects the sun’s rays, preventing it from being absorbed into your skin at all. They are hypoallergenic which makes them a good option for pregnant women with sensitive skin.
The Best Pregnancy Safe Sunscreens of 2020
Here are five safe and effective sunscreens that can help protect your skin during pregnancy.
1. ThinkBaby Safe Sunscreen
Mineral sunscreens are a great option when you’re pregnant because they protect you by creating a physical barrier between your skin and the sun. Chemicals are not absorbed into your skin, so you can be sure you’re not introducing potentially harmful substances into your baby’s sensitive system.
You know that sunscreen formulated for babies is designed to be extra gentle and extra effective — so why wouldn’t you want to use it, too? This mineral sunscreen contains none of the harmful UV-absorbing chemicals, and the zinc oxide is non-nano, meaning the particles are not small enough to be absorbed into your skin.
It was rated a “1” by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), considered to be the authority on evaluating the chemical safety of various products. It contains no parabens, phthalates, or PABA which can irritate the skin and cause endocrine disruption.
It also offers broad-spectrum UV protection, and has the maximum SPF and water resistance permitted by the FDA.
This product is considered safe for use on sensitive skin, but they still recommend testing a small patch if you’re ultra-sensitive to ensure no adverse reactions, as no product can be 100 percent guaranteed not to cause a reaction in everyone.
- It does not contain harmful chemicals.
- It has a high rating by the EWG.
- It offers protection immediately — it does not need to soak in.
- It may separate in the container.
- It may leave a white residue.
- It needs to be reapplied frequently for maximum effectiveness.
2. Sun Bum Continuous Spray Sunscreen
Sunscreen sprays are convenient to apply, but most of them are conventional sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, which is generally not recommended when you’re pregnant. If you use a sunscreen spray, remember that simply spraying it is usually not sufficient and you need to rub it into your skin to get adequate protection. And be extra cautious if you’re using it around babies -- they can easily inhale the particles into their lungs.
Is there really a non-mineral sunscreen that actually sprays well and doesn’t contain oxybenzone? Yes!
This Sun Bum formula offers broad-spectrum protection at a level of SPF 50 and will not clog pores or cause an allergic reaction. It contains no oxybenzone, parabens, PABA, oils, or gluten. It is also made with vegan ingredients and is cruelty-free.
It is water-resistant for up to 80 minutes and even contains Vitamin E to help moisturize the skin. This is particularly helpful for pregnant women because Vitamin E has been shown to help with stretch marks.
This sunscreen is easy to apply thanks to the spray design, and is effective at preventing sunburns.
Sun Bum’s sunscreens have also been tested and approved by the Skin Cancer Foundation (SCF) for effectiveness.
- It is easy to apply.
- It contains no oxybenzone.
- It is water-resistant.
- It is not a barrier sunscreen.
- You should be careful when using it around babies.
- The bottle does not last very long.
3. SuperGoop! Skin Soothing Mineral Sunscreen
This broad-spectrum barrier sunscreen provides SPF 40 protection from harmful UV rays. It is gentle enough to be used on your face, and even contains added ingredients that help to calm inflammation.
When you’re pregnant, you may experience increased inflammation and redness, so the olive oil polyphenols, along with the omega-3 and omega-6 fatty acids can help to combat that redness.
This sunscreen is lightweight so it won’t feel heavy and greasy on your skin, and is hypoallergenic so it won’t cause a reaction if you have sensitive skin.
It helps to combat premature aging due to sun exposure, and though it’s not considered an organic sunscreen, you don’t need to worry about it since it’s not absorbed into your skin. You do need to be careful if you intend to swim, however, as it’s not labeled as water-resistant.
- It offers broad-spectrum protection.
- It helps to calm redness and inflammation.
- It helps combat premature aging.
- It is an expensive option.
- It is not organic.
- It is not water-resistant.
4. CeraVe SPF 50 Sunscreen
You may want a different sunscreen for your face than the rest of your body as it may be more sensitive and prone to breakouts. And since it’s never covered by clothing, you may want to use it every day to prevent sun damage and premature aging. Pick a sunscreen that’s easy on your sensitive facial skin and that’s hypoallergenic and noncomedogenic, so it won’t clog your pores.
This mineral sunscreen offers a barrier between your skin and the sun so you can avoid sunburn, sun damage, and premature aging. Its lightweight formula rubs completely into the skin without leaving the hallmark white residue that’s common amongst barrier sunscreens.
It offers broad-spectrum protection to a level of SPF 50, and will work well as a daily sunscreen under your regular moisturizer or makeup. It can also stand up to excessive sweating or water play, as it’s water-resistant for up to 80 minutes.
It also contains no oil so it won’t clog your pores when you put it on your face.
This sunscreen has a low toxicity rating by the Environmental Working Group (EWG) so you can feel good about putting it on your skin, and contains additional conditioners to nourish your skin.
- It is water-resistant.
- It contains no oil.
- It is expensive.
- You will likely need a separate product for your body.
5. Earth Mama Mineral Sunscreen Lotion
You want the best for your baby, so it’s no wonder you want a natural sunscreen to avoid introducing harmful chemicals in your body. Just remember, not all-natural sunscreens are created equal -- make sure you choose one that provides broad-spectrum protection for maximum UV blockage and does not contain oxybenzone.
Sometimes baby products are the best — good thing Eath Mama has crafted a sunscreen for expecting mommy. This barrier sunscreen from the trusted brand is made with organic red raspberry and argan oil and is considered safe for pregnancy. That means it doesn’t contain ingredients that are known to cause allergic reactions.
It is free of oxybenzone, parabens, octinoxate, or artificial fragrance. It offers a sun protection factor of 40 and is water-resistant for up to 40 minutes. It provides broad-spectrum protection, so you are protected from both UVA and UVB rays.
- Dermatologist tested.
- Water resistant.
- Clinically tested for irritation.
- It is only SPF 40 — many sunscreens offer more protection.
- It is only water-resistant for 40 minutes.
Other Ways to Protect Your Skin While Pregnant
It’s important to remember that sunscreen in and of itself is not full protection from the sun. Especially since your skin is extra sensitive, you may want to take the following measures to protect your skin from the sun, even if you’re applying SPF 100+ sunscreen.
- Wear SPF protective clothing.
- Wear a hat when you’re out in the sun.
- Try to sit in the shade whenever possible.
- Choose a minimum of SPF 30.
- Reapply your sunscreen, regardless of SPF, every two hours.
- Reapply your sunscreen every hour if you’re swimming or in the water.
- Stay out of the peak hours of the daylight hours.
The Bottom Line
Our top pick for the best pregnancy safe sunscreen is the Thinkbaby Safe Sunscreen. Not only is it an easy-to-apply sunscreen rated highly by the EWG, but it also offers a high level of broad-spectrum coverage and is water-resistant. It’s also safe for sensitive skin and you can breathe easy knowing it has one of the lowest toxicities compared to other products on this list.
Did you find you needed to switch sunscreens when pregnant? What brand did you love? Let us know down in the comments below!