Don’t let the cheerful bottle fool you – conventional baby lotions, ointments, diaper creams and even wipes can harbor a staggering amount of seriously unsafe and toxic ingredients. Exposing infants and small children to repeated applications of these products can have long-term repercussions, so educating yourself is an important first step in protecting your baby. Here are five ingredients to avoid in baby care products.
“Fragrance” and “parfum” are two benign terms that refer to a mix of undisclosed and synthetic ingredients designed purely to artificially sweeten a product’s odor. Synthetic fragrances are often irritants, particularly for those with sensitive skin. Skip fragrance/parfum and look for unscented products or those that use essential oils for a naturally pleasant aroma.
2. Mineral Oil
Mineral oil is another ubiquitous ingredient in skincare products for infants and adults alike. It’s cheap and has a lubricating façade, though it actually works as a sealant on the surface of the skin, trapping moisture in and keeping air out. The only difference between mineral oil and baby oil is the addition of fragrance – gulp. It’s also a common ingredient in diaper creams and baby lotions.
Skip mineral oil in favor of products that use naturally hydrating ingredients. Our baby skincare products deeply nourish with the help of adaptogens, healers, antioxidants, and traditional Ayurvedic ingredients such as Ashwagandha, Amla, Plantain and Neem.
Parabens are preservatives added to personal care products to prohibit the growth of microbes. They can be listed under several names, including ethylparaben, butylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. These ingredients have been show to disrupt hormone function, which has been linked to a greater risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. For the immature hormonal system of a baby, this can mean permanent damage to the endocrine system.
Skip the parabens completely – not just for your baby, but in your personal care products as well.
4. Artificial Dyes
Listed as synthetic dyes, petroleum-based dyes, FD&C dyes and coal tar dyes, these ingredients are for visual appeal. Many companies use artificial dyes rather than dyes naturally derived from plants and mineral because they’re cheaper and easier to manufacture. But these ingredients – added to everything from shampoos and body wash to cleaning products, toothpaste and mouthwash – have been linked to hypersensitivity and hyperactivity in children, and a whole host of problems in poor little lab animals.
Skip the fake stuff in favor of naturally derived dyes. Or forget about the color of your baby balm and body wash altogether!
5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate
This chemical is used in shampoos, body washes, soaps and detergents as a surfactant, meaning it helps create that bubbly lather that people associate with “clean.” But it’s also a known irritant that has no place on the delicate skin of a baby or young child. Skip the sulfates entirely, and use vegetable-oil derived natural soap, such as Castile.
The truth is, everyone is exposed to toxins on a daily basis, and everything from diet and environment to personal care, cleaning and laundry products will affect the daily toxicity amount. It’s the cumulative effect of miniscule amounts of known toxins and carcinogens building up over time – particularly in the developing bodies of infants and small children – that is so worrisome. Read labels carefully and look for products that take the responsibility of caring for your children as seriously as you do.