Moms’ Guide to Sunscreen in Pregnancy

It’s summertime, and that means sun protection is a top priority for most people. Pregnancy often brings about additional worries about the safety of using sunscreen during pregnancy. Is it safe to use sunscreen when pregnant? This post will answer some common questions you might have around this topic, as well as provide tips on how to safely use sunscreen plus get other tips for protecting yourself and your baby in the sun!

sunscreen when pregnant

Is It Ok To Wear Sunscreen When Pregnant?

General consensus on sunscreens is that yes, they are absolutely safe to wear during pregnancy, provided that you keep in mind a few things when choosing the actual sunscreen. As anything nowadays, sunscreens are full of chemicals, and while most of them are well studied and proven to be effective and safe, others may be relatively new, and more research needs to be conducted before we can say that they are safe for people in general, let alone pregnant women and infants. 

It is important to note that dermatologists strongly recommend wearing sunscreen when pregnant as a way to protect one’s skin, prevent premature aging, sunburns, and various types of skin cancer. On top of that, pregnant women are particularly encouraged to wear sunscreen to stop brown spots, called melasma,  from developing on the skin. 

So while sunscreens are recommended for use even during pregnancy, one has to take care to choose a proper one with the least amount of risk.

Sunscreen Ingredients To Avoid While Pregnant

As mentioned above, many sunscreen ingredients are downright dangerous and the risk of using sunscreen with those ingredients far outweigh the benefits. These should therefore be avoided. 

Besides messing with our own bodies, these harmful chemicals are thought to affect sea life and coral reefs in the oceans, contributing to the ongoing disastrous destruction of marine life.

Is Octinoxate Safe For Pregnancy?

Oxybenzone and octinoxate are currently under scrupulous investigation from a few health regulatory agencies, as they have been shown to cause unnecessary and perhaps irreversible side effects. One of those, octinoxate, is actually shown to mess with our endocrine system (the system responsible for hormones in our body) and therefore is highly risky to use during pregnancy. 

Oxybenzone is also a highly dangerous chemical that can cause all sorts of problems during pregnancy, not the least of which is altered bright weight. It can also interfere with the hormonal production and levels in our bodies.

Besides messing with our own bodies, these harmful chemicals are thought to affect sea life and coral reefs in the oceans, contributing to the ongoing disastrous destruction of marine life.

Can Sunscreen Cause Birth Defects?

Versus the mineral or physical sunscreen, sunscreens relying on chemicals do block the rays emitted from the sun pose a greater risk to our bodies. These harmful chemicals, once applied to the skin, can enter the body through the skin and small blood vessels called capillaries that are in abundance and relatively close to the skin surface. Upon entering the bloodstream, these chemicals can wreak havoc on our endocrine system. Needless to say, the chemicals that adversely affect adults, will also negatively impact babies developing in the wombs as they rely on mommy for their blood supply. This will cause a lot of birth defects to occur, on top of a host of issues in the body of the mother. 

Oxybenzone, discussed earlier, can cause hormonal imbalances and Hirschsprung’s Disease. These are equally as dangerous during breastfeeding and when they are applied to children under five.

What Sunscreen Is Not Safe During Pregnancy?

Best sunscreens to use during pregnancy are those that are based on mineral ingredients that physically block sun rays. Sunscreens based on chemicals should not be used during pregnancy, breastfeeding, and in young children. As much as possible, they also should not be used at all. 

While there is a very wide choice of sunscreen brands,  it is the type of sunscreen and its ingredients that matter the most, not the company that makes it.  So choose based on ingredients first, the brand name later!

What Beauty Products Should You Avoid When Pregnant?

As one can imagine, it is difficult to conduct studies of potentially harmful products on pregnant people, from an ethical standpoint. How do we deliberately give one substance or the other to a pregnant woman knowing that there is a risk to the baby as well? Unfortunately, the only way to investigate a substance is to observe and compile evidence over a long period of time and make conclusions. As such, not a lot is known about specific chemicals in regards to pregnancy safety, especially if they have just been introduced. 

With that in mind, some chemicals found in beauty products, such as nail polishes, are currently known to cause problems during pregnancies. These chemicals are listed below.


Retinol is a chemical produced in the body upon uptake of crucial vitamin A through the skin. It is widely used in anti-aging and pregnancy acne treatment, often as a subtype called retinoid. This chemical exists in low dosage in over-the-counter treatments but can be higher volume in prescribed acne treatment and anti-aging products. The higher levels of this chemical are known to cause birth defects, including cognitive congenital defects, but lower doses are also under suspicion. As a result, any use of this chemical is advised to be avoided. 


A known carcinogen, formaldehyde was widely used in all sorts of products, from embalming fluid to disinfectants. Thankfully, dangerous side effects of this product are now widely recognized and it is hard to find it in our daily products. Nonetheless, if you see it on the label, it would be wise to avoid it. Other types of aldehydes should be avoided, as some of them can also be carcinogenic. 

Salicylic Acid:

Another acne treatment ingredient is commonly prescribed due to its anti-inflammatory properties, similar to aspirin (acetyl-salicylic acid). However, some concerns have been raised in the use of it during pregnancy, particularly related to peels and oral medications.


Wear sunscreen when pregnant. It’s important to protect your skin and unborn baby from the harmful effects of sun exposure, but it can be tricky choosing a safe option for pregnancy. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that pregnant women wear a high-SPF (at least SPF 30) with broad-spectrum protection every day — even on cloudy days when they are not expecting much sun exposure. We hope this guide about sunscreen when pregnant has helped you make an informed decision about which type is right for you!

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