Choosing baby skin care products isn’t as easy as it appears. If you think just grabbing the popular products off the shelves is a good idea, or even splashing out on something labeled organic is the way to go, then you have some reading to do!
Unfortunately as much as the packaging may be super cute and the advertising very convincing, you cannot just trust what a company says at face value. They do however legally have to tell you what is in the products you are buying.
Why does it matter?
To make products cheaper and cheaper, companies now use all sorts of chemicals that you don’t find in nature. Some of these are totally harmless, others unfortunately are not.
To be labeled “organic” a products does not even have to have 100% organic ingredients!
Your skin is your largest organ, and it absorbs many things straight into the blood stream. This is helpful for trans-dermal pain/nausea relief in the medical world, but it is scary considering how much we put on our skin in our daily lives.
Safe baby products are even more important than adult products as a baby’s skin is much more fragile, sensitive and thin, meaning they absorb more through their skin and react more strongly to chemicals.
A lot of conventional baby products that are marketed for sensitive skin contain ingredients that will cause irritations, rashes, teary eyes, rashes and more. All things you would never wish upon your new bundle of love.
What can you do?
While you may not be able to avoid all the chemicals around, here are 6 that are worth avoiding. Read your ingredients lists, and avoid products with these chemicals.
1. Synthetic Colors
By definition, synthetic colors are made up from petrochemicals and Coal tar.These are too often a major contributor to many skin irritations, synthetic colors used to supposedly make a cosmetic “pretty” should be avoided at all costs, along with hair dyes. They will be labeled as FD&C or D&C, followed by a color and a number.
Some products may use natural methods of creating a color but more often than not, the color in baby bathes, washes and lotions is achieved by adding synthetic color’s.
2. Mineral Oil
By definition, mineral oil is a distillation product, a by-product of petroleum. It is used as a moisturizer, lubricant and laxative.
Many companies use this product because of the low cost. Involved in mineral oil’s production is sulphuric acid, absorbents, solvents, and alkali’s which is not exactly what I’d want to put on my baby’s skin!
It acts as a coating, basically suffocating your skin (think: having plastic wrap coated on your body) and, if there are any beneficial ingredients in the product, mineral oil will not allow them to absorb.
3. Propylene Glycol
By definition, propylene glycol is a liquid alcohol used as a solvent, in anti freeze, and in the food, plastic and perfume agencies. Meaning, if products have the word “fragrance” in it, there is a large chance that propylene glycol is included. In baby products, you can find propylene glycol in baby wipes and you may even find them in ointments, shampoos/conditioners, etc.
Propylene glycol may not have such high concentrations that it could seriously hurt your baby, but the fact that it does have irritating, allergenic properties should be enough to keep it away from your baby’s gentle, sensitive skin.
4. Parabens & Other Preservatives
By definition, a paraben is any of a group of compounds used as preservatives in pharmaceutical and cosmetic products and in the food industry. The whole reasoning behind using parabens is to prohibit the growth of any kind of microbe in cosmetic and personal care products.
Parabens are found primarily any products that contain significant amounts of water, as water can encourage the growth of microbes. Parabens can be found as any of the following ingredients: Ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben, propylparaben, other ingredients ending in –paraben.
The biggest concern with parabens is they are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens have even been found in biopsies from breast tumours. There have been no studies confirming the safety of paraben preservatives for babies.
By definition, a fragrance is a pleasant, sweet smell. The word fragrance is a trade secret, which means they are not required to disclose fragrance is. There can be up to 12,500 separate ingredients that make up the word fragrance, so that vanilla smell may be a concoction of who knows what.
Baby products are no different! It seems many companies put all sorts of “sweet” smelly ingredients to make mama’s feel all warm inside, which makes the product sell better. The bottom line is this, most synthetic fragrances are an irritant. It’s best to stick to unscented or products that use natural essential oils as the fragrance.
6. Triethanolamine (TEA)
By definition, triethanolamine is an alkaline substance used as a surfactant and pH adjusting chemical. Surfactants are compounds that lower the surface tension between two liquids or between a liquid and a solid.
The concern with TEA is that it may be linked to organ system toxicity or infertility and can be irritating to the skin. TEA — and it’s cousin’s DEA and MEA — can be found in a range of baby lotions and creams.
What Products Could You Use Instead?
Have a read of the ingredients list on what you buy, if you can’t pronounce it, its probably not natural and unprocessed. Find a brand that uses natural ingredients, the more simple the list, usually the better. There are a few brands that pass the test! Earth Mama, Angel Baby do a lovely pure, natural baby care range. Puracy also do a range of organic, natural baby products.