If spring’s new fashions have you longing for a sun-kissed glow, brace yourself: Tanning might prove more difficult now that you’re pregnant. During pregnancy, your skin is more sensitive and vulnerable to the sun’s harsh rays. For this reason, sun exposure can result in uncharacteristic sunburns, hives and rashes. And, thanks to an increase in estrogen, you might notice signs of hyper-pigmentation and chloasma, also known as “the mask of pregnancy.”
Though hyper-pigmentation and chloasma are considered aesthetic concerns, they’re undeniably frustrating and astoundingly common. In all cases, the experts agree: Sun protection is the key to preventing and minimizing these unwanted effects. Here’s what you need to know about caring for your skin safely—and aesthetically—throughout your pregnancy.
Our Six Cardinal Rules
1. Wear sunscreen. Generously apply a broad-spectrum, water-resistant sunscreen with an SPF of at least 30 about 20 minutes before you go outside, and re-apply every two hours that you are in the sun. All sunscreens, including those with ingredients that penetrate the skin, are considered safe. In fact, physical sun blockers—those containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxide—are all the rage among dermatologists caring for expectant moms. Why? They’re powerful and they don’t penetrate the skin.
2. Avoid over exposure. If you’re out and about, be sun-smart. The sun’s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and
4 p.m. Exercise additional caution when near water, snow or sand; these elements reflect the sun’s rays and increase your chance of a sunburn. A helpful hint: If your shadow is shorter than you are, seek shade.
3. Wear protective clothing. If you plan to spend extended time in the sun, wear protective clothing. A brimmed hat is the most important tool in your arsenal. A hat with a 4-inch brim protects the face and can prevent or minimize the appearance of chloasma and hyper-pigmentation. Consider investing in long-sleeved shirts, pants and a pair of sun shades. When all else fails, an umbrella is an unbeatable shield.