Organic Baby Beauty Products
Our sweet little babies are totally beautiful anyway, so baby “beauty” products are entirely misnamed. But babies need to be washed, have their dry skin soothed, and must be protected from the sun.
Every beauty product – moisturiser, baby wash, shampoo, sunscreen – is absorbed to a greater or lesser degree through the skin. Babies, with their small size, are at particular risk for harm from unsafe ingredients in cosmetics.
There’s been much in the news lately about unsafe ingredients in cosmetics.
Chemicals you may have heard of are Phthalates, and Parabens.
Parabens are used in almost all cosmetics as preservatives. Many parabens have natural origins, and have long been considered safe. But recent controversial research has questioned this, claiming links with breast cancer, although most scientists still think parabens are not carcinogenic. Parabens are readily absorbed through the skin and are detectable in the urine of babies whose parents use products with parabens in. Parabens are known to cause skin irritation in a small majority of people, and since babies have the most sensitive skin of all, these are best avoided if possible.
Of more concern are Phthalates. (Pronounced tha-lates. But still add this one to the “if I can’t say it, I ain’t using it” list). Phthalates are a family of chemicals used in small quantities in many cosmetics, and have been shown to mimic the effect of hormones in the body, and researchers have claimed they can cause problems like genital abnormalities, asthma, and in large amounts, liver damage.
Phthalates are used in an ingredient in the product’s fragrance, and can also be found in the plastic packaging. Most of the time, any phthalate in the product will not be listed on the label, since it’s considered part of the all-encompassing “fragrance”. A simple way to reduce Phthalate exposure is to buy fragrance-free products, or those scented only with natural oils. Avoid phthalates for babies, and avoid while pregnant too.
So what baby products are safe? Here’s some recommendations for baby care products.
- Baby wash, soap and shampoo
Almost all shampoos, baby washes and soaps contain sodium lauryl sulfate. It’s what makes soap, soapy.
It’s also known to be a skin irritant, especially to those with sensitive skin. Sodium laureth sulfate is a related chemical that is also irritating and studies suggest although it may seem fine when first used, but may cause irritation after an extended period of use. Sodium laureth sulfate may be the culprit if your baby starts reacting to a product you’ve previously been using with no problems.
I’m a fan of Burt’s Bees Baby Bee Shampoo & Wash, which doesn’t contain any sodium laurel/laureth sulphates, and is Phthalate and Paraben free.
Both Sodium Laurel/Laureth Suplhate cause skin to dry out, so it’s important to moisturize baby’s skin well after a bath. Which brings us to…
- Baby lotion and moisturizers
Did you ever wonder what actually happens to moisturizer? I looked at an empty tub of baby moisturizer one day, and realized that that basically the entire tub had been absorbed into my baby’s skin. Thinking of it that way, I resolved to be super picky about what products, with which ingredients, I used as his moisturizer.
There’s many natural ingredients that are very moisturizing like olive oil, beeswax, almond oil, and aloe vera.
I love Earth Mama Angel Baby, Angel Baby Lotion which is vegan, not tested on animals, organic, as natural as possible and has a lush citrus-vanilla smell.
- Baby Sunscreen
Sunscreen is a summer essential. While babies under 6 months shouldn’t be out in direct sun anyway, and older babies and toddlers should have as little direct sun exposure as possible. But it’s impossible to stay indoors all summer, so sunscreen is very important.
The Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database, a non-profit group who analyze the ingredients in cosmetics, claim that 85% of sunscreens on the market contain potentially hazardous ingredients, or are simply inefective. Check this database for your favorite brands, and get a list of the lotions they say are safe and effective.
California Baby’s 30+ Fragrance Free Sunscreen lotion was their top pick in baby sunscreens for effectiveness, and safety of ingredients. I use it on my son, and while it’s a bit sticky, it smells so good (like candy) and seems to work well. Yes, it is expensive, but buying a cheap product that isn’t effective is a bigger waste, and puts baby at risk of sunburn too.
Baby Powder and Diaper Rash Cream
In a word: don’t. Baby powder can be inhaled, causing lung problems, and some studies have linked it to ovarian cancer in girls.
Healthy babies who have their diapers changed frequently don’t need baby powder.
What baby beauty products do you love? What do you feel confident using on your baby? Please share!