When you are pregnant, every product that touches your skin also touches your baby, which can be a nerve-racking thought. At the same time, wearing sunscreen to protect your skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays is an absolute must. The best sunscreens for pregnant women are formulas with a high enough SPF to prove effective at preventing sunburn and blocking cancer-causing UV rays.
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. "All the UV blocking ingredients currently used in sunscreens are safe and effective. Despite questionable lab and animal reports, there is no data proving that sunscreens are harmful to your health. In fact, the potential to develop skin cancer from not wearing sunscreen outweighs the perceived risk of using it."
Picking A Sunscreen
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."
The Environmental Working Group keeps a running tab on the best sunscreens that are deemed safest for your skin and health, but it's worth noting that, while some studies on ingredients like oxybenzone and octinoxate show them to be hormone disruptors, results aren't entirely conclusive.
Just to play it safe, all the sunscreens on this list are free of questionable chemicals and are excellent 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.
1. The Overall Best Sunscreen For Pregnant Women
Free of fragrances, parabens, and chemicals, 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.
2. The Best Formula For Sensitive Skin
Blue Lizards' Australian Sunscreen is formulated with an SPF of 30, 10 percent zinc oxide, and 5 percent 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.
3. 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 five ingredients — including zinc oxide for sun protection — and zero oxybenzone, octinoxate, BPAs, or pthalates. This sunscreen was not tested on animals and has non-nano zinc, meaning its larger particles are less likely to be absorbed into the skin. It scores extra points for its nourishing sunflower oil base, but since it goes on thick, it doesn’t absorb as well as sheer formulas and might leave a white cast.
4. The Best Spray Sunscreen That's Also The Most Convenient To Use
Tested, approved, and recommended by the Skin Cancer Foundation, this spray sunscreen from Sun Bum has a high SPF of 50 and is made with reef-friendly and vegan ingredients. The water-resistant formula is free of oxybenzone, octinoxate, parabens, gluten, PABA, and oil — 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."
5. An Antioxidant-Packed Formula That Protects Skin Even Further
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." 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.
6. The Best Stick Sunscreen That's Ideal For Travel
With a 1 rating from the Environmental Working Group, Supergoop!'s stick sunscreen is hydrating and ideal for dry, sensitive skin. Its nourishing, fragrance-free formula contains avocado oil, shea butter, cocoa butter, and jojoba oil. Thanks to its portable packaging, this is also a great travel option. It goes on smoothly, isn't greasy, and absorbs without a white residue.
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