Loreal Kids

When you become a parent for the first time, it can be overwhelming to try and pick the very best products for your baby. Personal care products is one area that can often feel very confusing for parents that want to make a natural choice, but don’t know where to start.

Buzz words on labels can make the decision even harder. Hypoallergenic. Dermatologist tested. Natural. Organic. What does it all mean and what is actually best for your baby? Since 60% of what we put on our skin is absorbed into our bloodstream, this is a very important decision.

  • The first thing you should consider is that if you can’t pronounce an ingredient on the ingredient list, you should probably put that product down and look at another one.
  • Second, you should make sure that there are no harmful ingredients in the product.
child shampoo
Image courtesy of Jay Ryness.

The Environmental Working Group has a wonderful resource called the Cosmetics Database you can use to look up products as well as ingredients. However, here is a short list of 5 ingredients you absolutely want to avoid in kids’ personal care products.

1. Fragrance

One ingredient that is often found even in “natural” baby products you should absolutely avoid is “Fragrance” (sometimes also listed as “Parfum”). This seemingly harmless term covers thousands of undisclosed scent ingredients and chemicals used as fragrance dispersants, such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance combinations have been linked to allergies, dermatitis, respiratory problems and potentially harmful effects on the reproductive system.

2. Parabens

It’s also very important to avoid any ingredient with “Paraben” in it. Parabens can be found listed on your product labels as benzylparaben, butylparaben, ethylparaben, isobutylparaben, methylparaben and propylparaben. Parabens have hormone-disrupting qualities (not what you want for a new baby). The Environmental Protection Agency has linked methylparabens in particular to metabolic, developmental, hormonal and neurological disorders, as well as various cancers.  Here is even more information about parabens.

Bubble Bath
Image courtesy of Lotus Carroll.

3. DMDM Hydantoin

DMDM hydantoin is a preservative that is antimicrobial and also releases formaldehyde. This ingredient can cause people to develop an allergy to formaldehyde allergy or to DMDM hydantoin itself. In the U.S., approximately 20% of cosmetics and personal care products contain a formaldehyde-releaser.  Additionally, the frequency of contact allergy to these ingredients is much higher among Americans compared to studies in Europe.

4. Diethanolamine (DEA), Monoethanolamine (MEA) and Triethanolamine (TEA)

All three of these chemicals are hormone disrupters that can create cancer-causing agents. There is also research that indicates a link between these chemicals and kidney and liver cancer. You will commonly find them in shampoos, soaps and bubble baths.

5. Sodium Lauyrl (and Laureth) Sulfate

Sodium Laureth Sulfate and Sodium Lauryl Sulfate are strong irritants found in many of skincare products that we have come to expect to be foamy (e.g., shampoos, toothpastes, hand soaps, body washes, etc). Many people have found that exposure to SLS triggers eczema outbreaks.

There are many more ingredients that should be avoided, but avoiding these five ingredients will give you a good start on choosing healthier personal care products for your kids (and for yourself).

Feature image courtesy of leasqueaky

By Chrystal Johnson

Chrystal Johnson, publisher of Happy Mothering, founder of Green Moms Media and essential oil fanatic, is a mother of two sweet girls who believes in living a simple, natural lifestyle. A former corporate marketing communication manager, Chrystal spends her time researching green and eco-friendly alternatives to improve her family's life.