Last update Aug. 30, 2022


Likely Compatibility

Fairly safe. Mild or unlikely adverse effects. Compatible under certain circumstances. Follow-up recommended. Read Commentary.

Sunscreens make their action by absorption of UVA and UVB radiation. Most used products are Benzophenones 2 & 3 or Oxybenzone (BP-2, BP-3), p-aminobenzoic acid derivatives (PABA), 3-4 Methylbenzylidene camphor (3-4 MBC), Octyl-methoxy cinnamate (OMC), Salicylates, Avobenzone and Diethyl-phthalate homosalate (HMS), Octinoxate and enzacamene, among others. (EC 2009 annex VI)

Chemical sunscreens are absorbed and deposited in the skin and can reach important amount into the blood stream. (Collina 2020, Frederiksen 2013, Jimenez 2013, Janjua 2008 & 2004, Varvaresou 2006, Benson 2005, Sarveiya 2004, Hayden 1997)

Some of them have shown to have the potential of disruption of the endocrine system that may affect the genital-sexual tract and the hypothalamus-hypophysis-thyroid axis in the infant. (Fiveson 2021, Jimenez 2013, Krause 2012)

In various studies, these compounds have been found in breast milk in variable amounts, although much lower than the necessary doses studied with an endocrine disrupting effect. (Fiveson 2021, Anderson 2020, Molins 2018)

In any case, the long-term effects of chronic exposure to chemical protectors with an endocrine disrupting effect are unknown, therefore physical sunscreens are preferable during lactation. (Anderson 2020, Molins 2018)

Physical sunscreens act as a barrier that reflect all types of sun radiation. Most commonly used are: Zinc oxide (ZnO), Titanium oxide (TiO2) and Calcium or Magnesium carbonates. (Collina 2020)

Physical sunscreens are not absorbed by skin (Derry 1983), mostly on not-nanoparticle formulation. Because of this, these are considered to be of choice while breastfeeding.

Both types of sunscreens, whether chemical or physical, are environmental contaminants of the sea with deleterious effect on Phytoplankton and coral reef. (Fivenson 2020, Raffa 2019, Di Nardo 2018, Sanchez 2014, CSIC 2014, Downs 2014, Tovar 2013, RTVE 2013, Soto 2013)

Sunscreens should never be used as substitute of other preventive measures known to be more effective like avoidance of long-lasting sun exposure, higher exposure hours, promotion of wearing of clothes, hats, sun glasses and shadowed shelters.

Do not apply it on the breast or cleanse it thoroughly to keep the baby from swallowing (Chen 2010). Creams, gels or similar products that contain paraffin or mineral oil should not be used on the nipple to avoid absorption by the infant. (Concin 2008, Noti 2003)


Suggestions made at e-lactancia are done by APILAM team of health professionals, and are based on updated scientific publications. It is not intended to replace the relationship you have with your doctor but to compound it. The pharmaceutical industry contraindicates breastfeeding, mistakenly and without scientific reasons, in most of the drug data sheets.

Jose Maria Paricio, Founder & President of APILAM/e-Lactancia

Your contribution is essential for this service to continue to exist. We need the generosity of people like you who believe in the benefits of breastfeeding.

Thank you for helping to protect and promote breastfeeding.

José María Paricio, founder of e-lactancia.


Sunscreen belongs to this group or family:


  1. Fivenson D, Sabzevari N, Qiblawi S, Blitz J, Norton BB, Norton SA. Sunscreens: UV filters to protect us: Part 2-Increasing awareness of UV filters and their potential toxicities to us and our environment. Int J Womens Dermatol. 2020 Sep 9;7(1):45-69. Abstract
  2. Anderson PO. Summer Topics on Breastfeeding. Breastfeed Med. 2020 Jun;15(6):354-356. Abstract
  3. Molins-Delgado D, Olmo-Campos MDM, Valeta-Juan G, Pleguezuelos-Hernández V, Barceló D, Díaz-Cruz MS. Determination of UV filters in human breast milk using turbulent flow chromatography and babies' daily intake estimation. Environ Res. 2018 Feb;161:532-539. Abstract
  4. DiNardo JC, Downs CA. Dermatological and environmental toxicological impact of the sunscreen ingredient oxybenzone/benzophenone-3. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2018 Feb;17(1):15-19. Abstract
  5. Sánchez-Quiles D, Tovar-Sánchez A. Sunscreens as a source of hydrogen peroxide production in coastal waters. Environ Sci Technol. 2014 Aug 19;48(16):9037-42. Abstract
  6. Downs CA, Kramarsky-Winter E, Fauth JE, Segal R, Bronstein O, Jeger R, Lichtenfeld Y, Woodley CM, Pennington P, Kushmaro A, Loya Y. Toxicological effects of the sunscreen UV filter, benzophenone-2, on planulae and in vitro cells of the coral, Stylophora pistillata. Ecotoxicology. 2014 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  7. CSIC. Cremas solares y contaminación sistemas marinos. Nota de prensa. 2014 Full text (in our servers)
  8. Elena Soto. Cremas solares y contaminación del medio ambiente. 2013 Full text (in our servers)
  9. Frederiksen H, Nielsen JK, Mørck TA, Hansen PW, Jensen JF, Nielsen O, Andersson AM, Knudsen LE. Urinary excretion of phthalate metabolites, phenols and parabens in rural and urban Danish mother-child pairs. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2013 Abstract
  10. Frederiksen H, Aksglaede L, Sorensen K, Nielsen O, Main KM, Skakkebaek NE, Juul A, Andersson AM. Bisphenol A and other phenols in urine from Danish children and adolescents analyzed by isotope diluted TurboFlow-LC-MS/MS. Int J Hyg Environ Health. 2013 Abstract
  11. Tovar-Sánchez A, Sánchez-Quiles D, Basterretxea G, Benedé JL, Chisvert A, Salvador A, Moreno-Garrido I, Blasco J. Sunscreen products as emerging pollutants to coastal waters. PLoS One. 2013 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  12. Jiménez-Díaz I, Molina-Molina JM, Zafra-Gómez A, Ballesteros O, Navalón A, Real M, Sáenz JM, Fernández MF, Olea N. Simultaneous determination of the UV-filters benzyl salicylate, phenyl salicylate, octyl salicylate, homosalate, 3-(4-methylbenzylidene) camphor and 3-benzylidene camphor in human placental tissue by LC-MS/MS. Assessment of their in vitro endocrine activity. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2013 Abstract
  13. RTVE. Cremas solares y contaminación de sistemas marinos. 2013 Full text (in our servers)
  14. Krause M, Klit A, Blomberg Jensen M, Søeborg T, Frederiksen H, Schlumpf M, Lichtensteiger W, Skakkebaek NE, Drzewiecki KT. Sunscreens: are they beneficial for health? An overview of endocrine disrupting properties of UV-filters. Int J Androl. 2012 Abstract
  15. Concin N, Hofstetter G, Plattner B, Tomovski C, Fiselier K, Gerritzen K, Semsroth S, Zeimet AG, Marth C, Siegl H, Rieger K, Ulmer H, Concin H, Grob K. Evidence for cosmetics as a source of mineral oil contamination in women. J Womens Health (Larchmt). 2011 Abstract
  16. Chen LH, Zeind C, Mackell S, LaPointe T, Mutsch M, Wilson ME. Breastfeeding travelers: precautions and recommendations. J Travel Med. 2010 Jan-Feb;17(1):32-47. Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  17. CE-Parlamento Europeo y Consejo de la Unión Europea. Reglamento (CE) no 1223/2009 del Parlamento Europeo y del Consejo de 30 de noviembre de 2009 sobre los productos cosméticos. Anexo VI: Lista de los filtros ultravioleta admitidos en los productos cosméticos. Diario Oficial de la Unión Europea. 2009 Full text (link to original source)
  18. EC-European Parliament and the Cuncil Regulation (EC) no 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Cuncil of 30 November 2009 on cosmetic products. Official Journal of the European Union. 2009 Full text (link to original source)
  19. Antoniou C, Kosmadaki MG, Stratigos AJ, Katsambas AD. Sunscreens--what's important to know. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Sep;22(9):1110-8. Abstract Full text (link to original source)
  20. Janjua NR, Kongshoj B, Andersson AM, Wulf HC. Sunscreens in human plasma and urine after repeated whole-body topical application. J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol. 2008 Abstract
  21. Concin N, Hofstetter G, Plattner B, Tomovski C, Fiselier K, Gerritzen K, Fessler S, Windbichler G, Zeimet A, Ulmer H, Siegl H, Rieger K, Concin H, Grob K. Mineral oil paraffins in human body fat and milk. Food Chem Toxicol. 2008 Abstract
  22. Varvaresou A. Percutaneous absorption of organic sunscreens. J Cosmet Dermatol. 2006 Abstract
  23. Benson HA, Sarveiya V, Risk S, Roberts MS. Influence of anatomical site and topical formulation on skin penetration of sunscreens. Ther Clin Risk Manag. 2005 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  24. Janjua NR, Mogensen B, Andersson AM, Petersen JH, Henriksen M, Skakkebaek NE, Wulf HC. Systemic absorption of the sunscreens benzophenone-3, octyl-methoxycinnamate, and 3-(4-methyl-benzylidene) camphor after whole-body topical application and reproductive hormone levels in humans. J Invest Dermatol. 2004 Abstract Full text (link to original source) Full text (in our servers)
  25. Sarveiya V, Risk S, Benson HA. Liquid chromatographic assay for common sunscreen agents: application to in vivo assessment of skin penetration and systemic absorption in human volunteers. J Chromatogr B Analyt Technol Biomed Life Sci. 2004 Abstract
  26. Noti A, Grob K, Biedermann M, Deiss U, Brüschweiler BJ. Exposure of babies to C15-C45 mineral paraffins from human milk and breast salves. Regul Toxicol Pharmacol. 2003 Abstract
  27. Benson HA. Assessment and clinical implications of absorption of sunscreens across skin. Am J Clin Dermatol. 2000 Abstract
  28. Hayden CG, Roberts MS, Benson HA. Systemic absorption of sunscreen after topical application. Lancet. 1997 Abstract
  29. Derry JE, McLean WM, Freeman JB. A study of the percutaneous absorption from topically applied zinc oxide ointment. JPEN J Parenter Enteral Nutr. 1983 Abstract

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