How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

How it works:

  • Share your skin goals and snap selfies

  • Your dermatology provider prescribes your formula

  • Apply nightly for happy, healthy skin

Sunscreen for pregnancy: Which one should you use?

Take some of the guesswork out of using sunscreen while you’re expecting.

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Curology Team
Jul 22, 2022 · 6 min read

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Sun shape created from sunscreen lotion on big belly.
We’re here to share what we know — but don’t take it as medical advice. Talk to your medical provider if you have questions.
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Before we talk about what to expect when you’re expecting, Curology is a medical practice, so we want to remind you to be particularly aware of your skincare products while trying to conceive, pregnant, or breastfeeding. If you’re a current Curology member, let your provider know if you decide to try to conceive, learn that you’re pregnant, or are nursing. Meanwhile, stop using your Curology Custom Formula until you speak with your medical provider—not all skincare ingredients are confirmed to be safe for use during pregnancy or breastfeeding, so it’s best to stay on the safe side (and so worth it). And finally, make sure to review all prescriptions and other skin products with your OB for approval to use when you are pregnant.

When you have a baby on the way, you might have to pause the use of some of your favorite products—which may lead you to wonder if there’s a safe sunscreen for pregnancy. And the answer is yes! You still need to protect your skin from sun damage even though it changes when you're pregnant.  

Should you wear sunscreen during pregnancy?

Yes, yes, yes—absolutely, yes! It might feel like your body goes on a nine-month hiatus while you're pregnant, a time when food combinations like broccoli with ice cream or mustard on watermelon sound mouth-watering while your once favorite meals sound grossly unappetizing thanks to nausea or morning sickness. Your skincare routine may need to shift while you're with your child, but you still need to protect yourself from sun exposure and the risk of sunburn or skin cancer.

So what sunscreen is safe for pregnancy? And what sunscreens work well if you have melanin-rich skin

There are two main types of sunscreens: mineral (aka physical) sunscreen and chemical sunscreen. Mineral formulas offer physical protection with ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide that bounce harmful UV rays away from your skin. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV rays like a sponge before they can reach your skin.

Five tips for choosing sunscreen during pregnancy

When choosing a sunblock to use while you‘re pregnant or breastfeeding, make sure you select one that will protect you and that you’ll use every day. As far as the sunscreen’s functionality goes, the same rules apply whether you’re pregnant or not, but understanding how sunscreen works is only half of it. If you’re pregnant, you likely want to be careful when choosing suncare products for two.

Here are some quick tips for choosing a sunscreen that’s generally considered safe to use when you’re pregnant: 

  • Choose broad-spectrum protection. Sunscreens are labeled broad-spectrum protection against both UVA rays and UVB rays. 

  • Choose an adequate SPF. Dermatology providers recommend at least SPF 30. Just remember, you have to use the sunscreen as directed to fully benefit from its SPF. That means applying about one ounce of sunscreen to your body every two hours or after swimming, sweating, or toweling off.

  • Pick a sunscreen that goes on white. Sunscreen that goes on white and dries clear can help you see that you’re completely covered and that you didn’t leave any areas untouched. 

  • Check the expiration date. Reaching for years-old sunscreen in the bottom of your beach bag may not be a good idea—and that goes for anyone, pregnant or not. Sunscreens have a shelf life that may be lessened when exposed to heat and direct sunlight.  

  • Choose water-resistant and fragrance-free. Water-resistant sunscreen offers added protection while you’re swimming or playing in the waves. The label will tell you how long the water resistance lasts, usually 40 or 80 minutes.. Fragrance-free sunscreen is less likely to contain non-essential ingredients that could possibly irritate your skin (especially if you have sensitive skin). 

9 sunscreens for pregnancy

If you’re looking for help choosing a sunscreen that’s likely safe for both you and your baby, look no further. Here’s a list of some of the best sunscreens that we recommend. (Just a friendly reminder to check with your OBGYN before starting a new product!)

  1. Neutrogena® Pure & Free® Baby Sunscreen Lotion SPF 50

  2. Neutrogena Sensitive Skin Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 60+ 

  3. Neutrogena Healthy Defense Daily Face Moisturizer SPF 50

  4. MDSolarSciences Mineral Tinted Creme SPF 30 (light tint)

  5. Supergoop! Smooth and Poreless 100% Mineral Matte Screen SPF 40

  6. Drunk Elephant Umbra™ Sheer Physical Daily Defense Broad Spectrum Sunscreen SPF 30

  7. CoTZ flawless complexion SPF 50

  8. Tarte Tarteguard 30 Sunscreen Lotion Broad Spectrum SPF 30

  9. The sunscreen by Curology (Ours is a non-greasy, non-clogging SPF 30 mineral sunscreen, developed and tested by dermatologists for skin that’s prone to breakouts. It’s reef-safe, too!)

(Sidenote on a question we often receive: Is Sun Bum mineral sunscreen safe for pregnancy? Probably, but it’s best to check with your OBGYN.)

Do you need to avoid any sunscreen ingredients during pregnancy?

At this time, the American Academy of Dermatology does not have official recommendations for sunscreen for those who are pregnant. If you’re concerned or have questions about any ingredient in your sunscreen—or any skincare product—ask your OBGYN. Nevertheless, it’s important to know the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen.

  • Chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the sun’s UV rays. Chemical sunscreens are tend to absorb more easily into the skin and not leave a white cast. They include one or more of the following active ingredients: oxybenzone, avobenzone, octisalate, octocrylene, homosalate, and octinoxate.¹  

  • Physical sunscreen, also called mineral sunscreen, provides a physical shield that reflects UV rays. Physical sunscreens use titanium dioxide or zinc oxide as their active ingredient. They can feel thicker and some can leave a white cast on your skin. 

A 2020 study that found some active ingredients in sunscreen may be absorbed through the skin. The FDA reported that, “the fact that an ingredient is absorbed through the skin and into the body does not mean that the ingredient is unsafe, nor does the FDA seeking further information indicate such”.² That said, some people may prefer to stick with physical SPF protection while pregnant.  

Are spray sunscreens safe for pregnancy?

Probably! Check with your OB-GYN if you’re not sure. If you decide to use a spray, whether it’s chemical or physical, make sure you apply the correct amount. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying spray sunscreen until your skin glistens.³ The same rules apply when using a sunscreen stick.

What about breastfeeding?

Once your little one is out in the world and breastfeeding, you may still want to be mindful about the ingredients in your sunscreen. Just like during pregnancy, the American Academy of Dermatology does not have official recommendations for sunscreen for those who are nursing. Talk to your doctor or your child’s pediatrician if you have questions or concerns. 

Young happy pregnant woman in a swimsuit and hat in the sand

Take the guesswork out of skincare

Curology’s licensed dermatology providers can help guide your skincare journey and provide a customized routine that’s generally safe to use during pregnancy, including sun protection. 

Get your personalized skincare routine with Curology

Subject to consultation. 30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in S&H.
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curology bottle

Sign up for a 30-day trial, and you can get our Custom Formula, cleanser, and moisturizer—plus, you can add the sunscreen to your order for free.* With Curology, you’re paired with a licensed dermatology provider to create personalized skincare designed for your specific skin concerns. Just take a quick skin quiz and snap a few selfies, and one of our licensed medical providers will evaluate your skin. 

When you’re expecting, your OBGYN should always approve your skincare routine. We can give info on what’s generally safe during pregnancy, but your OBGYN always has the final say!

Subject to consultation. 30-day trial. Just cover $4.95 in S&H. Cancel anytime.

FAQs

Should you wear sunscreen during pregnancy?

Yes! It might feel like your body goes on a nine-month hiatus while you're pregnant but Your skincare routine may need to shift while you're with a child, but you still need to protect yourself from sun exposure and the risk of sunburn or skin cancer. There are two main types of sunscreens: mineral (aka physical) sunscreen and chemical sunscreen.

Do you need to avoid any sunscreen ingredients during pregnancy?

At this time, the American Academy of Dermatology does not have official recommendations for sunscreen for those who are pregnant. Nevertheless, it’s important to know the difference between chemical and physical sunscreen. Chemical sunscreen works by absorbing the sun’s UV rays. Physical sunscreen provides a physical shield that reflects UV rays. That said, some people may prefer to stick with physical SPF protection while pregnant.

Are spray sunscreens safe for pregnancy?

Probably! Check with your OB-GYN. If you decide to use a spray, make sure you apply the correct amount. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends applying spray sunscreen until your skin glistens.

What about breastfeeding?

Once your little one is out in the world and breastfeeding, you may still want to be mindful of the ingredients in your sunscreen. Talk to your doctor if you have questions or concerns.

• • •

P.S. We did the homework so you don’t have to:

  1. American Academy of Dermatology. Sunscreen FAQs. (n.d.).

  2. Food and Drug Administration. FDA In Brief: FDA Announces Results from Second Sunscreen Absorption Study. (2020, January 21).

  3. American Academy of Dermatology. How to Use Stick and Spray Sunscreens. (n.d.).

* Subject to consultation. Subscription is required. Trial is 30 days + $4.95 shipping and handling.

• • •
Our medical review process:We’re here to tell you what we know. That’s why our information is evidence-based and fact-checked by medical experts. Still, everyone’s skin is unique—the best way to get advice is to talk to your healthcare provider.
Our policy on product links:Empowering you with knowledge is our top priority. Our reviews of other brands’ products in this post are not paid endorsements—but they do meet our medically fact-checked standards for ingredients (at the time of publication).
Curology Team Avatar

Curology Team

Nicole Hangsterfer Avatar

Nicole Hangsterfer, PA-C

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