Amid the multiple diaper changes and feedings, sleepless nights and other worries, it’s easy to see why parents of little ones don’t have time to research and analyze skincare products.
Some parents choose the same discount store and drugstore products their parents used on them. Others read labels to avoid certain ingredients and products. Some parents spend more for organic skincare products, many of them made specifically for babies and toddlers.
Little ones’ skin is relatively more permeable than adults’ – and unfortunately, product ingredients are not highly regulated in the United States.
The best that parents can do is to arm themselves with the latest research and knowledge on ingredients to make informed decisions. For example:
- Antibacterial soaps and various types of bubble bath disturb the skin’s natural pH balance, or acid mantle, especially in babies and toddlers. Sitting in them can cause vaginitis and urinary tract infections. Often, just water is enough for bathing.
- More than half of all baby soaps contain the carcinogenic chemical 1,4-dioxane, according to the Environmental Working Group in 2007. For that reason, EWG advised consumers to avoid "sodium laureth sulfate" and ingredients that include "PEG," "xynol," "ceteareth," and "oleth." EWG’s Skin Deep database analyzes thousands of products, including baby and children’s skincare products.
- Diethanolamine (DEA) or triethanolamine (TEA), also listed as TEA-sodium lauryl sulfate or cocamide-DEA can form carcinogenic compounds when combined with other chemicals.
- Lanolin – a common ingredient in baby lotions – has been shown to contain relatively high levels of pesticides such as DDT, lindane and diazinon.
- Petrochemicals, such as petroleum jelly and mineral oil, interfere with the skin’s natural ability to eliminate toxins and tend to trap moisture against the skin. Baby oil is 100 percent mineral oil. The European Union bans the use of petroleum jelly in cosmetics.
- Parabens mimic estrogen and can disrupt development in young people. Phthalates can alter human male reproductive development.
Ironically, many products that parents trust to wash their children and get rid of dry skin actually worsen conditions such as eczema. Babies’ bottoms are especially sensitive and prone to irritation, and not every diaper rash cure is created equal.
Do you have questions about skincare products? Post them on our Facebook page, www.facebook.com/bodyverde, and we’ll do our best to answer them.