Safe sun protection for mothers and mothers-to-be (Mothers Day Special)

Pregnant woman applying People4Ocean natural SPF50 sunscreen

Mothers Day is coming up, and as it turns out, we have a mother to be in our team! So to all the mums and mums-to-be out there, we wanted to share our must-know when it comes to safe and natural sun protection for yourself and your family.

Have you ever asked your dermatologist if your sunscreen is safe to use on your toddlers or while you are pregnant or breastfeeding? During pregnancy, your baby relies on your whole body to be a chemical-free and safe nest. So from the moment you are pregnant and after birth, it is important that you treat anything you put on your skin as you would the food you eat. When your baby is born, its little body is not ready to be exposed to chemicals most adults subject themselves to on a day-to-day basis (using chemical-based cleaning products and cosmetics).


Mother applies People4Ocean SPF30 sunscreen to child at the beach

Sunscreen Chemicals enter our bodies

Several chemicals present in common sunscreens have shown to mimic the actions of hormones that naturally occur in the human body [1]. This is called endocrine disruption. Because of their high absorption rates into the body, chemicals contained in most sunscreens must meet concentrations thresholds authorised by government bodies such as the FDA (USA) and the TGA (Australia). These concentrations are determined for adult-size bodies, not for infants and toddlers [for which the ration surface to volume is much smaller]. In the case of sunscreens there are concerns about the effects of chemicals on foetuses, infants and children because their endocrine systems and other organ systems are rapidly growing and developing. 

In 2008, the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP) declared not advisable to apply chemical sunscreens [oxybenzone, avobenzone] before the age of 2. 

A few years later, several chemical UV-filters were detected in 85% of Swiss breast milk samples [2]. From then, it was not recommended to wear chemical sunscreen while breastfeeding either. That same study, detected oxybenzone in 96% of urine samples in the US within 30 minutes of application to the skin. This revealed the direct pathway of sunscreen chemicals in our bodies via our skin and into the bloodstream. 

In 2019 and 2020, the FDA published two studies showing that the ingredients Oxybenzone, Octinoxate, Octisalate, Octocrylene, Homosalate and Avobenzone are all systemically absorbed into the body after a single use [3, 4]. The FDA also found that the sunscreen ingredients could be detected on the skin and in blood weeks after application ended [4]. 


Pregnant woman in bathing suit

Oxybenzone toxicity for Mother and Baby

In particular, oxybenzone is a controversial sunscreen ingredient. While it is very commonly used, it's a known endocrine disruptor, which is harmful especially for pregnant women and developing infants. 

2018 study [5] showed that the use of Oxybenzone products during pregnancy caused severe damage to the mammary glands, which we know are of utmost importance to the health of your baby once they're born. This intense effect on lactation could be harmful even as the mother is past the pregnancy and breastfeeding stage.

Further studies have shown that Oxybenzone can contaminate semen, placenta and breast milk of marine mammals and humans [6, 7]. A recent publication in the journal Reproductive Toxicology suggests that pregnant women who use sunscreen with oxybenzone daily might absorb enough of the chemical to increase the risk of a birth defect called Hirschsprung’s disease [8]. Children with this condition are missing nerves in the lower colon or rectum, which prevents stool from moving through the bowel normally. The report’s findings don’t prove that oxybenzone exposure causes the condition, but it’s another piece of information that underscores the need for more research on oxybenzone and other sunscreen ingredients. That explains why it is not recommended to use sunscreen with oxybenzone during pregnancy, breast-feeding, or on children under the age of 2. 

For this reason, it's best to source sunscreens that you know are safe to have around your baby. If you wouldn't put it directly on your baby's skin, don't put it on yours either.


Pregnancy & Child-safe sunscreen 

To stay on the safe side, use mineral/ physical sunscreens. The most popular ingredient you'll see in mineral sunscreen is zinc oxide, which might sound scary but it's actually much safer than chemical sunscreens. 

Zinc oxide is the only Food & Drug Administration and Therapeutic Goods Administration approved broad-spectrum sunscreen ingredient. It's also the number one choice for the Environmental Working Group, a non-for-profit which uses strict standards to evaluate the toxicity and carcinogenic properties of thousands of chemicals used in common products. 

While titanium dioxide mineral sunscreens might seem safe, look for zinc oxide. This is the best UV-blockers - above all other sunscreen ingredients - to use for a safe pregnancy. It is also the only UV-blocker that is broad-spectrum on its own.


Pregnant woman applies People4Ocean child-safe sunscreen at the beach


A Great Mother’s Day Gift

Our travel-size, award-winning SPF50 vegan sunscreen is perfect for moms on the go. It is all natural and contains reef-safe zinc oxide as the only active ingredient, so it is safe for you, your baby and the world it will be born in. It's also water-resistant for up to three hours, so you don't need to worry about playing sports, sweating, or going for a swim. Apply it frequently and liberally to keep you and your baby safe in the sun. 

To amp up your new mom glow, use our award-winning nourishing and protective SPF30 sunscreen for the face and body. Not only will you be protected against the sun's harsh rays but you'll be glowing! 



Scientific References:

  1. Krause, M., et al., Sunscreens: are they beneficial for health? An overview of endocrine disrupting properties of UVfilters. International journal of andrology, 2012. 35(3): p. 424-436.
  2. Charlotte D LaPlante, Ruby Bansal, Karen A Dunphy, D Joseph Jerry, Laura N Vandenberg, Oxybenzone Alters Mammary Gland Morphology in Mice Exposed During Pregnancy and Lactation, Journal of the Endocrine Society, Volume 2, Issue 8, August 2018, Pages 903–921, 
  3. Matta, M. K., Florian, J., Zusterzeel, R., Pilli, N. R., Patel, V., Volpe, D. A., ... & Sanabria, C. (2020). Effect of sunscreen application on plasma concentration of sunscreen active ingredients: a randomized clinical trial. Jama, 323(3), 256-267.
  4. Matta, M. K., Zusterzeel, R., Pilli, N. R., Patel, V., Volpe, D. A., Florian, J., ... & Kemp, S. (2019). Effect of sunscreen application under maximal use conditions on plasma concentration of sunscreen active ingredients: a randomized clinical trial. Jama, 321(21), 2082-2091.
  5. Zhang, T., et al., Benzophenone-type UV filters in urine and blood from children, adults, and pregnant women in China: partitioning between blood and urine as well as maternal and fetal cord blood. Science of the Total Environment, 2013. 461: p. 49-55.
  6. Rodríguez-Gómez, R., et al., Determination of benzophenone-UV filters in human milk samples using ultrasound-assisted extraction and clean-up with dispersive sorbents followed by UHPLC–MS/MS analysis. Talanta, 2015. 134: p. 657-664.
  7. Hines, E.P., et al., Concentrations of environmental phenols and parabens in milk, urine and serum of lactating North Carolina women. Reproductive Toxicology, 2015. 54: p. 120-128.
  8. Huo, W., et al., The relationship between prenatal exposure to BP-3 and Hirschsprung's disease. Chemosphere, 2016. 144: p. 1091-1097.

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