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October 12, 2023
As exciting as it can be, pregnancy is often an overwhelming and confusing time — especially when it comes to working out what to put on your skin.
More and more of us are becoming aware of the issues surrounding chemicals in cosmetics generally, and ingredient lists can take on even more significance when you’re having a baby. The idea of passing on unwanted chemicals to your bub in utero is a pretty scary thought.
Meanwhile, our skin is more sensitive during pregnancy and therefore more susceptible to burning or pigmentation, so it’s super important to keep using sunscreen when outdoors.
Fear not! We’re here to help break down sunscreen use during pregnancy and why you might want to think about using natural, mineral-based sunscreen.
As the name suggests, mineral sunscreens employ minerals as their active (sun-repelling) ingredients — for example zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. These ingredients have not been found to penetrate the skin: instead, they sit atop your skin like a barrier and screen it from the sun’s UV rays.
Chemical sunscreens, meanwhile, use chemicals such as oxybenzone and avobenzone to protect your skin from the sun. Sunscreen chemicals have been found to penetrate the skin and wind up in our blood and tissues.
Research also suggests some sunscreen chemicals are endocrine disruptors, and studies have found sunscreen ingredients in breast milk, semen and amniotic fluid.* Yikes!
The endocrine system includes our endocrine glands: the thyroid, parathyroid, pituitary, pineal and adrenal glands, as well as our sex organs. An endocrine disruptor is a chemical that’s able to cross cell membranes and interrupt our natural hormone production. There are plenty of endocrine disruptors found in many household items, including shampoos, conditioners, sunscreens and cleaning products.
Naturally, we don’t want to disrupt our hormone production during pregnancy, and endocrine disruptors can also wreak havoc on our health when trying to conceive — or even if we’re not pregnant or trying to conceive. The endocrine system underpins several other systems in our body, and its health and harmony encourages overall wellbeing.
Some of the ingredients commonly found in chemical sunscreens include oxybenzone, octinoxate, homosalate, octisalate, octocrylene and avobenzone. According to the Environmental Working Group (EWG)’s Sunscreen Report, all of these chemicals have been found to penetrate the skin and cause hormone disruption.
Oxybenzone in particular has a reputation for being problematic — and with good reason. When it comes to pregnancy, studies show that oxybenzone can increase the birth weight of male babies, decrease the birth weight of female babies and lower the gestational age for boys.*
Oxybenzone is also thought to be connected to Hirchsprung’s Disease, a condition that affects babies’ colons and sometimes requires surgery. And a 2022 study found that exposure to low doses of oxybenzone during pregnancy can change the mammary glands in female mice.*
It’s not just female bodies that can be affected, either: in a 2015 study, chemical UV filters were shown to lower a male partner’s chance of conceiving each menstrual cycle by 30 percent — possibly because the presence of these chemicals affects semen quality.*
As well as penetrating our skin, sunscreen chemicals can wind up on our lips and be ingested, while spray sunscreens can be inhaled.
To protect your skin from sun damage while minimising chemical exposure during pregnancy, natural mineral sunscreen is the way to go. Look for sunscreens with non-nanosized zinc oxide as the active ingredient, and steer clear of products that contain artificial fragrances. The best thing is that natural mineral-based sunscreens are gentle enough to use on your new bub when they arrive, too. And, as an added bonus, you won’t be polluting our oceans and waterways.
1. Gentle and Hypoallergenic
2. Broad Spectrum Protection
3. No Harmful Chemicals
4. Long-Lasting Coverage
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