These Highly Rated Sunscreens Are Safe To Use While Pregnant & Beyond

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by Lisa Fogarty
Originally Published: 

When you’re pregnant, there’s a good chance you’ll be a little more aware of what you’re putting in your body — and on your body, too. Pregnant or not, wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays is an absolute must. The best sunscreens for pregnant women won’t just block the sun’s rays from reaching your skin, but they’ll do it with ingredients that are considered to be very safe, like zinc and titanium oxide.

Despite conflicting information out there about chemical sunscreens versus physical sunscreens, most formulas are safer than you think, according to Dr. Joshua Zeichner, director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mount Sinai Hospital.

"Sunscreens are considered over the counter drugs by the FDA, and their ingredients are heavily regulated here in the United States," Dr. Zeichner says.

Nonetheless, with so many sunscreen options available, Zeichner says there's no shortage of choices. "If [someone] is not comfortable using a chemical block sunscreen, for whatever reason, mineral sunscreen exists as well. [It uses] zinc oxide alone or in combination with titanium dioxide to physically block UV light from penetrating into the skin."

It's also worth noting that the FDA published a study in 2020 showing that ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate are absorbed systemically, and while it hasn’t been determined that they’re necessarily harmful, studies have shown them to be hormone disruptors. Just to play it safe, all the sunscreens on this list are formulated with minerals like zinc oxide and titanium oxide, both of which have an excellent score from the Environmental Working Group and which are great choices for SPF during pregnancy and beyond. Choose one, apply it every two hours (or after sweating or swimming), and you're good to go.


The Overall Best Sunscreen For Pregnant Women

Free of fragrance and parabens, Neutrogena's Sheer Zinc formula is perfect for sensitive skin and is one of Dr. Zeichner's top choices. "This sunscreen offers high quality protection using a zinc only formula," he says. It absorbs easily, leaving you cool and dry, and provides a sizable SPF of 50.

According to a reviewer: “This sunscreen was a game-changer.It goes on smoothly and rubs in easily [...] it doesn’t sweat off and run down my face in these high summer temperatures (and I sweat a LOT), and the fragrance is really benign. Also, it doesn’t irritate my sensitive skin or make me break out- which a lot of sunscreens can do.”


The Best Formula For Sensitive Skin

Blue Lizards' Australian Sunscreen is formulated with an SPF of 30, 10% zinc oxide, and 5% titanium dioxide. Translation: You won't find any questionable, skin-irritating chemicals here. It's fragrance-free, water-resistant up to 40 minutes, and the Environmental Working Group called it a quality option with ingredients that pose a low health concern. The one downside? It's thick and may leave more white residue behind than sprays or sheer formulas.

According to a reviewer: “This sunscreen was recommended by our allergist for sensitive, eczema prone skin. It works well, does not cause any flare ups, and provides great sun protection.”


A Sweat-Resistant Formula That's Great For Exercise

The fact that this sunscreen from Badger — which has an SPF of 35 — is water- and sweat-resistant for 80 minutes makes it a great sports formula. It has just six ingredients — including zinc oxide for sun protection and shea butter for hydration — and zero oxybenzone, octinoxate, BPAs, or pthalates. This formula is 97% organic, and the convenient stick formula makes it easy to swipe on before you hit the beach or begin your workout. One thing to note: Reviewers say it can leave a slight white cast behind.

According to a reviewer: “The face stick is amazing. It was a smooth glide on the face. [...] Even through sun and sweat, the Badger SPF sunscreen stayed put. The sweat did not remove the zinc, and the product continued to work consistently.”


The Best Spray Sunscreen That's Also The Most Convenient To Use

This spray sunscreen from Sun Bum has an SPF of 30 and is made with reef-friendly and vegan ingredients. The water-resistant formula utilizes a single mineral ingredient — zinc oxide — and it just so happens to be another one of Dr. Zeichner’s favorite picks. "Spray sunscreens offer convenience of easy application over large surface areas," he says. "This product is unique in that it gives protection using mineral only blockers."


An Antioxidant-Packed Formula That Protects Skin Even More

Also favored by Dr. Zeichner, MDSolarSciences' SPF 50 formula has added ingredients that serve as extra insurance against sun damage. He tells us, "Besides mineral-only blockers, this sunscreen contains antioxidants that help protect skin against free radical damage." Using zinc oxide and titanium oxide as its active ingredients, it's free of oils and fragrance, water-resistant up to 80 minutes, and loaded with skin-feeding extras like vitamin C, green tea, and pomegranate extract.


A Travel Sunscreen Stick That Doesn’t Leave A White Cast Behind

Supergoop!'s stick sunscreen is hydrating and ideal for dry, sensitive skin. Its nourishing, fragrance-free formula contains antioxidant-rich olive oil and chia seed oil, which means your skin will be even more protected from the elements. Thanks to its portable packaging, this is also a great travel option. It goes on smoothly, isn't greasy, and absorbs without leaving a white residue behind.

According to a reviewer: “Unlike other zinc sticks this does not leave a white residue and does not feel thick on my face. I have melasma so zinc and mineral sunscreen is a must for me.”

Studies referenced: Matta, M.K., Florian, J., Zusterzeel, R., (2020, January 21). Effect of Sunscreen Application on Plasma Concentration of Sunscreen Active Ingredients.

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