SPF is essential to each and every woman, but never more so than during pregnancy. UVA & UVB protection help prevent skin cancer, hyperpigmentation and wrinkles – all of which pregnant women are prone to. Since pregnancy hormones estrogen and progesterone stimulate the melanin cells in the skin to produce more pigment, your skin can darken faster than usual. Sounds like you’re in for a sexy tan, right? Wrong. You’re looking at a patchy pattern of dark spots, long-term damage and the dreaded ‘pregnancy mask’ – A.K.A. Melasma – of yellow and brown blotches. As if this discoloration (known as hyperpigmentation) wasn’t enough to discourage sunbathing, the sun also breaks down collagen and elastin, which keep your skin looking taut, smooth and wrinkle-free. And not only are you more susceptible to heat rash during pregnancy, but moles are prone to change during your nine-month stretch, making SPF an essential beyond vanity.

So no, you won’t “cook your baby,” but all things considered, it’s best to steer clear of direct sunlight. With all that in mind, now’s the time to purchase a good SPF, regardless of what you currently use.

Below are a few favorites.

Get more of Grace Timothy’s beauty tips here.

(Original image of woman in hat on homepage via pinterest)