If springaï¿½ï¿½s 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 sunaï¿½ï¿½s 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, theyaï¿½ï¿½re undeniably frustrating and astoundingly common. In all cases, the experts agree: Sun protection is the key to preventing and minimizing these unwanted effects. Hereaï¿½ï¿½s what you need to know about caring for your skin safelyaï¿½ï¿½and aestheticallyaï¿½ï¿½throughout 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 blockersaï¿½ï¿½those containing titanium dioxide and zinc oxideaï¿½ï¿½are all the rage among dermatologists caring for expectant moms. Why? Theyaï¿½ï¿½re powerful and they donaï¿½ï¿½t penetrate the skin.
2. Avoid over exposure. If youaï¿½ï¿½re out and about, be sun-smart. The sunaï¿½ï¿½s rays are strongest between 10 a.m. and
4 p.m. Exercise additional caution when near water, snow or sand; these elements reflect the sunaï¿½ï¿½s 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.Aï¿½If 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.
4. Listen to your body.Aï¿½This is the most important, yet least tangible, rule on the list. Treat your bodyaï¿½ï¿½s warning system with the same respect you would offer any other expert. If you feel light-headed, nauseated or over-warm, itaï¿½ï¿½s time to go inside. Find an air-conditioned space and hydrate.