Choose natural baby skin care products
A baby's soft skin is also extremely sensitive to environmental toxins. For baby's next bath, or during the next diaper change, lather your little one in skin care products that won't irritate the skin or take a toll on the earth.
Find it! Natural baby skin care products
The following companies offer full lines of baby skin care products that contain natural and organic ingredients.
This titanium dioxide-based sunscreen is made for anyone with sensitive skin. It has a blend of organic aloe and chamomile with organic jojoba and sunflower oils as well as organic green tea extract. This sunscreen is fragrance- and paraben-free and contains 100 percent vegetarian ingredients.
Avalon Organics Baby products are made with gentle formulations of organic botanicals and nutrient-rich, organic plant emollients. They offer shampoo, body wash, lotion, diaper balm, and more for baby's skin care needs.
This sunscreen is ranked #1 on the Environmental Working Group’s (EWG) sunscreen report. The active ingredient in the 2.9 ounce tube is micronized zinc oxide, whose particles are greater than 100 nm in size. This sunscreen uses no fragrances, preservatives, or dyes.
Burt's Bees complete baby skin care line includes shampoo and body wash, diaper ointment, lotion, soap, bubble bath, "All Better Balm", apricot baby oil, dusting powder, and more. These products rely on natural oils, such as coconut and sunflower oils, to cleanse and moisturize.
Designed for babies, but there’s no reason why anyone can’t use this non-chemical sunscreen that offers broad spectrum protection with highly micronized titanium dioxide. Contains organic and sustainably grown ingredients with no fragrance or scent-masking ingredients.
Earth’s Best® by JASON® Organic Baby Body Care products are made with 70 percent organic ingredients that are free from potentially harmful synthetic pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers.
Neal's Yard Remedies offers natural, organic baby skin care products, including massage oil, baby soap, baby balm, organic calendula and oat lotion, shampoo and body wash, sunscreen, powder, and aromatherapy products.
Before you buy
- Many parents find that using pure, natural oils, such as olive, almond, or coconut oil, on baby's skin is as or more effective than using packaged baby lotions.
- Currently there are no regulations to define the term “organic” when it comes to green claims on personal care products. Read labels carefully before you buy to see what the product is actually made of because some products labeled “natural” or "organic" still include dangerous chemicals and synthetic additives, like diethanolamine (DEA). There are also no laws requiring that chemical ingredients used for fragrances be listed on a product’s label, so use caution when using scented products.
Choosing natural baby skin care products helps you go green because…
- Manufacturing the chemicals used in traditional baby care products pollutes the air, water, and earth.
- Traditional baby skin care products can contain harmful and toxic substances, whereas natural and organic skin care products can reduce babies’ exposure to those harmful chemicals and preservatives.
- Baby skin care products made with natural and organic ingredients do not contain petroleum byproducts, the extraction and processing of which can be detrimental to the environment.
Traditional baby skin care products can contain harmful and toxic substances, like DEA and its derivatives, which pollute the environment and babies’ bodies. The same labeling laws that apply to food do not apply to personal care products. In fact, cosmetics are the least regulated products under the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FFDCA), so many chemicals are not required to be listed on product labels. These chemicals threaten the environment in every stage of production, transport and disposal, and they also threaten human health.
A baby's skin, which allows toxins to enter the body and bloodstream, is thinner than that of an adult, so it cannot block the entry of toxic substances as well. The absorption of chemicals through a baby's skin may also be problematic because metabolic differences make such substances more toxic to children than they are to adults. One study, for example, found that using hexachlorophene as an antibacterial skin cleanser had neurotoxic effects in infants.
Babies also do not have the same ability to detoxify and excrete toxins as adults do, and they absorb higher doses of toxins in proportion to their body weight. This increased sensitivity to toxins can cause permanent damage to a baby’s developing organs.
Baby skin care products made with natural and organic ingredients also do not contain petroleum byproducts, which have caused many environmental problems. The search for and procurement of petroleum has had major detrimental impacts on the soil, ground water, surface water, and ecosystems of the United States and around the world. Petroleum refineries release hazardous air pollutants, such as BTEX compounds and sulfur dioxide.
The fragrances in many personal care products, including those in baby skin care products, pose environmental risks as well. Fragrances are volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which add to air pollution, are persistent in the environment and contaminate waterways and aquatic wildlife.
With the race to be the first to offer eco-friendly products, especially in the personal care industry, companies are touting their products' green attributes with claims that at times can be confusing and misleading. Making sense of environmentally friendly standards is an important part of being a wise consumer.
What does “organic” really mean?
One murky area is the term “organic.” While the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) maintains clearcut standards for organic food, the same can’t be said for body care products. The industry is in turmoil trying to agree upon a set of standards. Some companies use the USDA certified organic food standard, which requires 95 percent of the ingredients to be organic. Others use the less stringent California state standard for organic cosmetic products, which requires at least 70 percent organically produced ingredients. And still others label their products organic without meeting any external criterion.
In the meantime, a nonprofit standard-setting group called NSF International has released a draft set of rules for organic personal care products and a group of 30 cosmetic companies recently devised their own set of specifications called Organic and Sustainable Industry Standards (OASIS). How it all washes out remains to be seen.
Watching out for all creatures great and small
While you're contemplating green attributes, you may also wish to join the cruelty-free movement. Just keep in mind: a company may claim that they don’t employ animal testing for their products, but without third-party verification, it’s hard to know whether these statements are in fact completely true. So stick to those products certified as cruelty-free by looking for products with the Leaping Bunny Logo or the Certified Vegan Logo. You can rest assured that no bunnies (or monkeys or cats for that matter) were harmed in the making of these non-animal-tested products.
In a recent study that shook the natural products industry, 100 “natural” and “organic” soaps, shampoos, dish liquids, lotions and body washes were tested and nearly half contained 1,4-Dioxane, a carcinogenic chemical. This toxin has been found in conventional personal care products, but this study commissioned by the Organic Consumers Association (OCA) was the first to test green products.
In scientific studies, 1,4-Dioxane has caused cancer in animals; scientists have not yet confirmed the long-term effects on humans. The US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says current levels do not pose a hazard to consumers but they have advised manufacturers to lower amounts in cosmetics as much as possible. None of the products tested that were Certified Organic by the US Department of Agriculture (USDA) contained 1,4-Dioxane. In response to this study, some of the affected companies have said they will work toward removing 1,4-Dioxane from their products.
Related health issues
According to the National Toxicology Program (NTP), the repeated application of DEA and its derivatives has caused the development of cancer in laboratory animals. The NTP study also found that DEA and its many derivatives—including cocamide DEA, lauramide DEA or MEA, or triethanolamine (TEA)—are easily absorbed through the skin and accumulate in the organs, where it can have chronic toxic effects.
The chemicals added to give a product synthetic fragrance have been shown to cause headaches, dizziness, rashes, skin discoloration, coughing, vomiting, and allergic reactions of the skin. A 1996 study on perfume and eczema, a kind of allergic reaction of the skin, found that the number of eczema patients with perfume allergy doubled between 1979 and 1989. Fragrance is the leading cause of allergic reactions to cosmetics, according to the American Academy of Dermatology. Many of the fragrances used in baby care products are known hormone disruptors, which can lead to reproductive disorders. Chemicals released by petroleum refineries are known or suspected carcinogens, and have been linked to developmental and reproductive problems. Many of these chemicals may also aggravate respiratory conditions, like childhood asthma.
- 1,4-dioxane: A petroleum-derived contaminant classified as a probable human carcinogen by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
- BTEX compounds: BTEX stands for benzene, toluene, ethylbenzene, and xylene, a group of VOCs that are emitted during oil and gas production. Benzene is a known carcinogen, and may cause blood disorders. Both benzene and toluene may affect the central nervous and reproductive systems. Ethylbenzene and xylene may have respiratory and neurological effects.
- carcinogens: Any substance that causes cancer.
- diethanolamine (DEA): DEA is a surfactant widely used in the production of fatty-acid condensates formulated into soaps, liquid laundry and dishwashing detergents, cosmetics, shampoos, and hair conditioners.
- hexachlorophene: A medicated skin cleanser that kills bacteria. It is classified as "more hazardous than most chemicals" in six out of seven test categories, and is a suspected toxin affecting the cardiovascular, developmental, gastrointestinal, immune, neurological, and respiratory systems.
- volatile organic compounds (VOCs): Organic solvents that easily evaporate into the air. VOCs are emitted by thousands of products including paints, cleaning supplies, pesticides, building materials and furnishings and they may cause immediate and long-term health problems.
- Alliance For Healthy Homes - Why Children are at Higher Risk
- Baby Nut
- EnviroTools - Environmental Impact of the Petroleum Industry
- Flavour and Fragrance Journal - Fragrance: Emerging Health and Environmental Concerns
- The Green Guide Baby Resources
- Environmental Working Group - Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database: Before you attend to Baby's delicate skin, check out where your favorite baby products rank on the hazard scale.
- Health-Cares.net - Baby Skin Care
- US Geological Survey - Environmental Impacts of Petroleum Production
- Children's Environmental Health Project - Skin Function and Development
- US Food and Drug Administration - Diethanolamine and Cosmetic Products
- David Lawrence Dewey - Colognes - Perfumes - Pesticides: Are They Slowly Killing You?
- Children's Health Environmental Coalition - Fragrance in Perfumes and Cosmetics