Your skin becomes very sensitive in response to the hormonal changes in your body during pregnancy. The unpredictable highs and lows in the production of the different hormones in the woman’s body and affect a number of systemic functions. These hormones include the human chorionic gonadotropin hormone (HCG), estrogen, and progesterone. A dramatic surge in the levels of these hormones triggers pregnancy-related symptoms, such as nausea, vomiting, skin pigmentation, rashes, oily or dry skin, the appearance of stretch marks, and so on.
During pregnancy, the skin is observed to be one of the most affected. Many expectant mothers would complain of having pimples, whiteheads, and other skin imperfections during this period. The skin becomes more vulnerable to the rays of the sun as well. As the first line of defense against the undesirable effects of exposure to the sun, doctors recommend sunscreen for pregnancy.
As commercial skin care products normally contain chemicals that may be just as harmful to the skin as the UV rays, many think twice before they use a sunscreen product. But you still need the sun primarily to help the body manufacture its much-needed vitamin D. Exposure to our levels of serotonin and tryptamine, neurotransmitters that keep our moods and sleep/wake cycles in order.
Well, you can actually ditch the sunscreen. Instead wear traditional sun protection like a hat, a sundress or any dress that will cover the skin. You may even bring an umbrella and just opt to stay in the shade throughout the day. That would just be too impractical. It will also make moving about a bit problematic, especially if you need to do any activity that will really require you to expose your skin to the sun, like when on the beach.
Fortunately, there are safer sunscreen options. To help you in maximizing the benefits of the sunscreen product that you choose, consider the following suggestions.
Sunscreen Rules For Pregnancy
- Choose a sunscreen product that provides full protection.
Most would choose a sunscreen product just based on the SPF indicated on the label of the product, without actually knowing what SPF really means. SPF, in fact, just measures the UVB (short-wave) rays. It does not totally tell how much protection against UVA rays (long-wave) a particular sunscreen product provides.
Most sunscreen offers protection against UVB rays only. Although UVB rays can cause sunburn, it cannot actually penetrate the skin, unlike the UVA rays. Too much exposure to UVB rays can cause aging and skin pigmentation, which we all don’t want to happen.
There is this type of sunscreen products that are labeled as broad-spectrum. They are taken to be effective in shielding the skin from both UVB and UVA rays. However, what most do not know, UVA rays are further classified into UVA I and UVA II. Those labeled as providing broad-spectrum protection, may not actually be providing UVA II coverage.
In addition to this, a sunscreen labeled as SPF 15 is not half as effective as one labeled as SPF30. In reality, “SPF 15 filters about 93% of UV-B rays; SPF 30 filters about 97% of UV-B rays; and SPF 50 filters about 98% of UV-B rays,” says Dr. Roopal Kundu, one of the researchers and author of the results of a study conducted at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in 2014. In this study, the researchers indicated that SPF30 actually means it will take about 30 times longer before you can get a sunburn on your skin than you would be had you been out without applying sunscreen.
When choosing a sunscreen, check for any indication that the product is offering full protection.
- You need about a shot glass worth of sunscreen to apply on unexposed areas of the skin.
- Watch out for vitamin A on your sunscreen brand.
A form of vitamin A called Retinyl palmitate (also indicated on product labels as retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, and retinol) is added in skin care and beauty products (i.e., lip products, moisturizers, sunscreens). This antioxidant is said to cause skin tumors and lesions when applied on the skin when under the sun.
- Opt for a European brand of sunscreen over a US brand.
The Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) 12th Annual Guide to Sunscreens report that a large majority of sunscreen products from the US still contain harmful chemicals or do not offer sufficient protection against ultraviolet rays. EWG tested 831 sunscreens and found that 84 percent of these did not pass health and environmental requirements.
The good thing is, companies manufacturing these products started formulating better sunscreen brands, including the brands listed here as the best sunscreen products of 2018. So, if you are still on the lookout for a good quality and effective sunscreen brand, you can check out the link and choose one that you think is the best option.
- Look for an oil-free sunscreen. In most expectant moms, oily skin is a usual concern. When you already have an oily skin, you wouldn’t want to clump more of that into your pores. Doing so can only trigger other skin problems like acne, pimples, and so on.
- Opt for sunscreens that are made with naturally soothing ingredients and have natural moisturizers as this will keep your skin from flaking and pre-mature aging.
- If you want to avoid sunscreen and the sun, take vitamin D supplements instead.
Vitamin D is vital in strengthening the bones and the immune system. It also lessens the risks of certain cancers like breast cancer, colon cancer, as well as kidney and ovarian cancers. If you would rather stay out of the sun’s rays, you should regularly check with your primary care provider if you need to be checked for vitamin deficiency. You may also ask your doctor for any prenatal vitamins that will fill the lack of any vitamin and nutrient in your body.
Regularly applying sunscreen may also lessen your skin’s capability of manufacturing vitamin D. If you think you need more of this essential vitamin, consult your doctor to discuss your options.
- Re-apply sunscreen every two hours.
Even if you applied a water-repellent sunscreen, it is still best that you apply the product after every couple of hours.