How to Pick a Pregnancy-Safe Sunscreen

When it comes to choosing a sunscreen for pregnancy, you’ll want to read the ingredients label. Here’s what to look for, and which sunscreens experts recommend.
ByLiz Callahan Schnabolk
August 6, 2020
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Sun’s out, bump’s out! Just don’t forget to lather up that belly with good ol’ SPF. If you’re wondering whether sunscreen is safe during pregnancy, the short answer is yes, absolutely. But like most things during these nine+ months, you should be careful about which ones you use. Here’s what you need to know about sunscreen for pregnancy, plus a list of the best pregnancy-safe sunscreens, straight from the experts.

Is Sunscreen Safe During Pregnancy?

One more time for the people in the back: YES! There are plenty of pregnancy-safe sunscreens to choose from. You’re not necessarily more sensitive to the sun now that you’re expecting, and while uncomfortable, a sunburn won’t pose any harm to your developing baby—but like any other time in life, it’s important to shield yourself from harmful rays to protect your skin and help prevent skin cancer, says Neil Sadick, MD, founder and president of Sadick Dermatology in New York City.

When it comes to using sunscreen during pregnancy, though, you’ll want to be mindful of which type you choose. As Nava Greenfield, MD, a dermatologist at Schweiger Dermatology Group in Brooklyn, New York, explains, the best sunscreen for pregnancy uses a physical blocker instead of a chemical one. “Chemical blockers absorb the sun rays, while physical ones bounce the sun rays off the skin,” she explains. Physical blockers are active mineral ingredients that sit on top of your skin, and have the added benefit of being all-natural. “I don’t know of any evidence that the ingredients in chemical sunscreens can impact your baby, but I would use caution, based on the theoretical possibility that baby can be exposed to chemicals that haven’t been tested. That’s why I recommend the physical sunscreens.”

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For the best protection, go for SPF 30 or higher and make sure to reapply every two hours (or more often if you’re swimming or getting your sweat on!).

Best Sunscreen for Pregnancy

Physical blockers make for excellent pregnancy-safe sunscreen, so look for ingredients like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide on the label rather than chemicals like oxybenzone, avobenzone or octinoxate, Greenfield advises. Beyond that, she recommends choosing a fragrance-free option. Need some specific recommendations? Here’s a list of safe sunscreens during pregnancy. Every option here has been given the highest safety and efficacy rating (a score of 1) from the Environmental Working Group, which each year evaluates over 1,000 sunscreens on the market.

Image: Courtesy Earth Mama

Earth Mama Organics Mineral Sunscreen Lotion SPF 40

A great pick for sensitive skin, this pregnancy-safe sunscreen is free from both chemicals and nano-particles that have been shown to damage coral reefs. It’s also water resistant, fragrance-free and made with organic ingredients. Plus, it gets an extra boost from ultra-moisturizing argan oil—and we all know our skin can use some of that in the middle of a beach vacation.

Buy it: $15,

Image: Courtesy Blue Lizard

Blue Lizard Sensitive Mineral Sunscreen SPF 30

Blue Lizard is a beloved brand that hails from Down Under—and you can trust the Aussies know a thing or two about sun protection. This option is reef-safe, paraben- and fragrance-free, water-resistant for 40 minutes and mineral based, making it an ideal sunscreen for pregnancy. Over 1,000 reviewers on Amazon have given it a near-5 star rating.

Buy it: $13,

Image: Courtesy Elta MD

EltaMD UV Elements Broad-Spectrum SPF 44

Dye-free, fragrance-free, gluten-free, oil-free, paraben-free—the list goes on! If you’ve got sensitive skin, consider this cream among the best sunscreens for pregnancy. It uses all-natural zinc oxide and titanium dioxide to keep your skin safe in the sun. Plus, it’s subtly tinted for that perfect flawless beach look.

Buy it: $35,

Image: Courtesy Coola

Coola Mineral Body Sunscreen Lotion SPF 30 Fragrance-Free

This one is like an elusive sunscreen unicorn: A body sunscreen that’s so gentle, you’ll gladly slather it on your face too (and not pay for that later). The lightweight mineral formula leaves no (we mean ZERO!) white residue behind and is even water resistant up to 80 minutes. It’s super-hydrating to boot, making this an awesome sunscreen for pregnancy.

Buy it: $36,

Image: Courtesy Bare Republic

Bare Republic Mineral SPF 50 Sport Sunscreen Stick

Another “top choice” for pregnancy-safe sunscreen by the EWG, this mineral-based stick (no active chemicals here) offers sheer, lightweight and all around excellent UVA protection anytime, anywhere. It fits easily into your bag or pocket and glides on effortlessly. It’ll be your go-to accessory for when you’re outside in the blazing sun, thanks to its (non-greasy) 80-minute, sweat- and water-resistant coverage.

Buy it: $10,

Image: Courtesy Neutrogena

Neutrogena Sheer Zinc Face Dry-Touch Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 50

Neutrogena has long been a go-to sunscreen brand—so rejoice, mamas-to-be: they make pregnancy-safe sunscreen too! This zinc formula is still sheer and dry to the touch, but also free of fragrance, parabens, phthalates, dyes and irritating chemicals.

Buy it: $13,

Image: Courtesy Thinksport

Thinksport Safe Sunscreen SPF 50+

You’ll love slathering this on because it absorbs easily and doesn’t make you feel greasy. (Winning!) But, most importantly, it’s free from avobenzone, oxybenzone, parabens, phthalates, and UV Chemical absorbers, making it a solid pregnancy-safe sunscreen pick.

Buy it: $10,

Image: Courtesy La Roche-Posay

La Roche-Posay Anthelios Mineral Zinc Oxide Sunscreen SPF 50

Let it flow: This fluid mineral sunscreen goes on super-smooth, and its matte finish works great under your makeup—a serious selling point, since we all know we really should be wearing sunscreen every day. Bonus points: The UVA/UVB protection in this pregnancy-safe sunscreen is paired with powerful antioxidants to help your skin rejuvenate.

Buy it: $34,

Image: Courtesy Aveeno

Aveeno Positively Mineral Sensitive Skin Sunscreen SPF 50

The hesitation some people have about mineral sunscreen is that it’s sticky to apply and leaves your skin looking white. Not this one. It earns its place on our list of best sunscreen for pregnancy because it goes on smoothly, absorbs quickly and dries clear. Women with sensitive skin rave about the gentle, non-irritating formulation of this 100 percent zinc sunscreen.

Buy it: $8,

Image: Courtesy Babo Botanicals

Babo Botanicals Clear Zinc Sunscreen SPF 30

We’re all about multi-use products—so why not go in for a pregnancy-safe sunscreen that you can use for the whole family after baby arrives? This 100 percent zinc oxide, reef-safe, hypoallergenic option is fast-absorbing, non-whitening, lightweight and sweat- and water-resistant for 80 minutes. And it’s gentle enough for babies and kids too.

Buy it: $13,

Image: Courtesy Sun Bum

Sun Bum Mineral SPF 50 Sunscreen Lotion

This lightweight, silky, zinc-based sunscreen is a favorite among moms-to-be. It rubs on like lotion and leaves a matte (read: non-greasy) finish. It will give your skin a faint white tint, but there’s some satisfaction in knowing your sensitive pregnancy skin is fully covered. And if you enjoy the subtle scent of coconut, you’ll revel in this lightly fragranced sunscreen.

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