Skin-care demands change during pregnancy, and ingredients that might be regulars in your non-pregnant life, like retinol and salicylic acid, suddenly become no-nos (here’s a full list of skincare ingredients to avoid during pregnancy in case you’re curious). Furthermore, sun protection, which is always important, becomes even more crucial for pregnant people. “Sunscreen is a vital part of the toolbox to prevent skin cancer,” says dermatologist Ranella Hirsch, MD. “In addition, since pregnancy is a time when pigmentary issues such as melasma occur, sunscreen is a key component of its management.”
When pregnant, it’s a good idea to follow some of the standard practices of sunscreen use. “I generally recommend making sunscreen a daily habit, and looking for sunscreens that are at least SPF30 and say ‘broad spectrum,’ meaning they cover both UVA and UVB rays,” says Courtney Rubin, MD, board certified dermatologist and co-founder of Fig.1. “Reapplication is important, especially if you are going to be outside for extended periods of time, sweating or in and out of water.”
Dr. Rubin also recommends a little more label reading when pregnant, and paying particular attention to the ingredient list. “I generally recommend that my pregnant patients look for sunscreens that are mineral, meaning that they contain the active ingredients zinc oxide and/or titanium dioxide. These active ingredients are less likely to cause skin sensitivities and rashes, and are less irritating to the eyes,” she says. “For those pregnant patients who are especially susceptible to melasma, I usually recommend seeking sunscreens with SPF 50 that are tinted (meaning they are formulated with iron oxide pigments). The iron oxide pigments in tinted sunscreens block visible light, which is also involved in the development of melasma.”
That said, don’t throw out your chemical sunscreens just yet. Many people with darker skin tones find that mineral sunscreens never quite blend in well enough to not be noticeable, and as Dr. Hirsch says the best sunscreen is “the one you like and will use.”
With all that information in mind — as well as the advice to avoid the ingredients oxybenzone and benzophenone-3 — I went on a sunscreen deep-dive. And surfaced with some recommendations that will hopefully take you through all three trimesters and beyond. As always, confer with your doctor if you have any questions about specific brands and specific ingredients.
The Best Preganancy Safe Sunscreens
Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen for Full Body
Pros: Blends in easily, goes on smoothly, great for sensitive skin.
Cons: On the pricier side.
Supergoop! is a sunscreen brand we love and their 100% mineral line is a cut above the rest. The only active ingredient is zinc oxide, and quite honestly that’s what we love to see. The sunscreen itself is also easy to apply and rubs in easily (especially for a mineral sunscreen which can feel thicker).
Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen for the Face
Pros: Great under makeup or on its own.
Cons: Once again, the price.
TIZO’s AM Replenish is great for sensitive skin, ultra hydrating, and contains vitamins C and E so it’s actually improving your skin in addition to protecting it. It sits nicely under makeup too so is a great option for whatever your day may bring.
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Best Pregnancy-Safe Drugstore Sunscreen
Pros: Affordable and easy to find.
Cons: Some say it leaves a white cast.
If you’re looking for affordability, Neutrogena is top of the heap. It’s also rated as the #1 most popular mineral sunscreen brand, which is nothing to sneeze at (and probably has a lot to do with its price point). This sunscreen is super sensitive, sweat and water resistant, and prides itself on being non-irritating, even for skin with issues like eczema.
Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen for Oily Skin
Pros: Great at protecting while preventing breakouts.
Cons: Hard to rub in.
A great everyday sunscreen for the face. Some people liken the texture to a makeup primer, and most say it is a great option for all stages of your skin’s life. With ingredients that also work to brighten, MDSolarSciences Mineral Creme is hard at work enhancing your skin while it protects. The line was also started by a dermatologic oncologist which makes it doctor approved from the get go.
Best All Natural Pregnancy Safe Sunscreen
Pros: Good price point and clean ingredients.
Cons: Can be hard to get out of the tube; super thick.
Earth Mama’s products are beloved by parents, and this sunscreen is no exception. Marketed for babies, the product of course works for people of all ages. The ingredient list is exciting as everything is recognizable to most consumers — coconut oil, beeswax, pomegranate. This sunscreen also gets a coveted high rating from the EWG.
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Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen Stick
Pros: Easy to use, the perfect purse item.
Cons: Obviously too small to be a solution for the whole body.
Stick sunscreens are great for the face and for spot application throughout the day. This one glides on smoothly, is invisible, and leaves almost no noticeable texture on the skin. It’s the perfect throw-in-your-makeup-kit item and has vitamin E in it for extra hydration too.
Best Pregnancy-Safe Lip Balm with SPF
Pros: Super affordable and very soothing.
Cons: Some out there don’t like the taste.
While many of us are diligent about sun protection we still forget about protecting our lips. Sun Bum’s lip balm (which also comes in tinted options) is an excellent option, and is also loaded with some ultra soothing ingredients including shea butter and Vitamin E.
Best Pregnancy Safe Sunscreen for Dry Skin
Pros: Great for sensitive skin and ultra hydrating.
Cons: Some say it leaves a white cast.
EltaMD has a cult-like following and it’s easy to understand why. It leaves skin feeling smooth and hydrated, while also doing an excellent job of sun protection. Not all EltaMD products are as clean as this one though so make sure to check out ingredient lists. The only active ingredients in this particular EltaMD product are zinc oxide and titanium dioxide, which is exactly what we love to see.
Best Tinted Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen
Pros: Great under makeup.
Cons: Not water resistant.
Drunk Elephant is another line with a huge following and the goods to back that following up. Their tinted Physical Daily Defense has a subtle tint that actually works as well as some makeup. While protecting from the sun, nourishing ingredients (like raspberry seed) and antioxidants help to reduce redness. It’s a great option for every day.
Best Sheer Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen
Pros: Actually very sheer!
Cons: Not water resistant; higher price point.
This luxurious sunscreen (best for the face!) really is as sheer as it purports to be. Plus the squalane in it is an emollient which moisturizes without clogging pores. We love this option for both under makeup or makeup free days, though since it’s not water resistant it’s definitely not the best option for outings that will involve water.
Best Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen for the Whole Family
Pros: Great for babies and adults alike.
Cons: Leaves a cast, especially on darker skin.
This sunscreen is thick and rich and does a great job at skin protection — especially on days when you’ll be out and about. The sunscreen is not water resistant, which is important to keep in mind, but it’s gentle enough for babies — which definitely means it’s gentle enough for the whole family.
Best Pregnancy-Safe Spray Sunscreen
Pros: Easy to apply and available at drugs.
Cons: Can be hard to rub in.
Sun Bum made this list twice, and that’s because they use great ingredients, have an affordable price point, and are readily available at places many of us shop. Plus, sometimes spray sunscreen is the easiest option — especially when you’re pregnant and doing things like rubbing lotion into your legs sounds impossible. This spray is smooth and dries quickly, which are big wins in our book.
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