The skin care industry is big business, and it’s booming. Expected to hit $115 billion by 2015, it is no surprise that some of the biggest powerhouses in branding and marketing are also the household names we have all come to associate with baby bath and body products. Yes people want their skin care products to work well, but safety of these products is the primary concern for most consumers. Two ingredients that have been shown to increase the risk of cancer, quaternium-15 and 1,4 dioxane are present in many commercially available products. http://safecosmetics.org/article.php?id=221 Consumers should not feel powerless. You have the power to shape what products are available on the market through what you choose to purchase! I am going to break down for you why it is important to use natural products on your baby and what ingredients in particular to avoid in your skin care products.
Why Chemicals are Harmful for Babies
To start off, the chemicals in skin care products are harmful to everyone, but even more so for babies. Sometimes we tend to forget that the skin is our largest organ. Skin is not an impermeable barrier. Products that we put on our skin are absorbed into your bloodstream at a rate that no one really knows. Toxins absorbed though the skin have the potential to cause harm, because the body does not get the chance to detoxify them. When we eat a chemical, such as a pesticide, it gets taken to the liver. In the liver we have a group of enzymes called Cytochrome P450 which help to break down the toxin and make it water soluble so it can be excreted in the urine. From the skin, the toxin goes directly into the bloodstream and bypasses the trip to the liver. Toxins are more of an issue with babies for a few key reasons. 1) Babies do not have fully developed nervous systems and many of these substances are neurotoxins 2) Babies have a higher percentage body fat than the typical adult does. This is important as many of the chemicals that are harmful, such as parabens are “lipophilic”, meaning fat loving. These chemicals get stored in the fatty tissues, which babies have more of, and then are released as the babies grow. This is a double edged sword, when the chemicals are released they cause disruption to the child’s hormones as they are known endocrine disruptors.
What Should You Make Sure You Avoid
This is where things get a little tricky! As there is no legislation in North America surrounding the word “natural” products can be labelled as natural when they contain as little as one natural ingredient! It’s best choose brands that you have researched and trust, so you don’t get fooled by the marketing!
Here is a short list of ingredients to absolutely avoid in your baby’s skin care products
1) Parabens- look for anything ending in “aben”. Commonly listed as propylparaben.
2) Phthalates- ends in “phthlate. Used to soften the products.
3) Diazolindinyl Urea and Quaternium-15- both cause the release of formaldehyde.
4) Fragrance- In North America manufacturers do not have to disclose what is in their “fragrance” as it is considered proprietary information. The almost always contain parabens.
5) Triethanolamine- serves as a pH balancer. Known respiratory toxicant and strong allergen.
6) Polysorbate-20 and 80- Helps with the mixing of oil and water. Often contaminated with 1,4 dioxane.
7) Sodium Laureth Sulfate- Highly irritating to baby’s skin and eyes.
8) Petroleum Products- known as mineral oil and petroleum jelly. Commonly contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons.
9) Propylene Glycol- Highly irritating to baby’s skin and eyes.
10) Diethanolamine (DEA)- serves as a pH balancer. Possible human carcinogen.
I hope this post gave you some insight in what to look out for, and why you are looking out for it!
Photo credit: Lauren Barendrecht