“Johnson & Johnson finally admits: our baby products contain cancer-causing ingredients”. This headline got me fuming last weekend (you can read full article here).
If you follow me on Instagram you heard me saying this and that about this company who I dearly disgust at this stage – in the end of the day, their products are being used on babies whose skin is 3 to 5 times thinner than ours – so you really can’t go any lower than that! But I am not going to repeat myself. Instead, I dedicated one evening to research which ingredients should be avoided when buying toiletries for our children. Although, the truth is that our baby’s skin is far better off with minimal intervention; the fewer soaps, shampoos and lotions, the healthier and more perfect it will be.
Anyhow, here’s the list of 10 ingredients we want to avoid when buying baby care products;
1. Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES) and sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) – surfactants added to everything from toothpaste and shampoo, to hand soap and laundry detergents. Both used to boost product’s cleaning power or create the foamy sudsy appearance that people equate with effectiveness. The good news is that neither SLES nor SLS is required for care products to work. Many formulations, including shampoos and toothpastes, are available in SLS-free versions.
2. Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate – rolls off the tongue doesn’t it?! (also known as 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-Diol; Diazolidinyl Urea; Imidazolidinyl Urea; Bromopol, DMDM Hydantoin, Quaternium–15).
3. Polyacrylamide – though it is not a concern in itself, it is made up of repeating molecules of acrylamide, which is a strongly suspected carcinogen and has been linked to mammary tumors.
4. Parabens (including Methylparaben, Ethylparaben, Isopropylparaben, Propylparaben, Butylparaben, Benzylparaben) – commonly used as preservatives in cosmetics. What worries public health advocates is that while individual products may contain limited amounts of parabens within safe limits, cumulative exposure to the chemicals from several different products could be overloading our bodies and contributing to a wide range of health problems. Also, since a baby’s hormone system is not yet mature, parabens can cause irreparable damage to the developing endocrine system.
5. Phenoxyethanol – used as a preservative in cosmetic products to limit bacterial growth. Exposure to phenoxyethanol has been linked to reactions ranging from eczema to severe, life-threatening allergic reactions. Infant oral exposure to phenoxyethanol can acutely affect nervous system function.
6. PEG-PPG – there are legitimate concerns about PEGs, and these include: an enhanced penetration effect, possible formula impurities, and complications for damaged skin.
7. Etylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (also known as Octylmethoxycinnamate, Benzophenone-3, 4- Methylbenzylidene Camphor, Octyl Dimethyl PABA, Homosalate) – a clear liquid, used in sunscreens and other cosmetics to protect from skin damage. The concern with this ingredient is that it may increase exposure to skin-damaging free radicals. In the aforementioned study, exposure to UV rays produced free radicals in the films that persisted even after exposure had ended. That means that this ingredient could be increasing the damage to skin from UV rays, and that the damage could continue even after you get out of the sun.
8. Triethanolamine – used for several purposes in a variety of cosmetics and personal care items. Its main purpose is to balance the pH level of products, but it also helps to emulsify ingredients that usually do not blend well. This ensures they spread smoothly on skin and hair and prolongs shelf-life. Triethanolamine combines two highly toxic chemicals, neither of which would be recommended for skincare use.
9. Borax (also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate) – the European Chemicals Agency considered a substance of high concern but didn’t provide any documentation other than soil level dangers. I was unable to find any studies that proved a danger to borax in natural cleaning products however the Skin Base Database classified Borax as moderate hazard so I wouldn’t use it on my baby.
10. Mineral oil (also known as petrolatum, paraffinum, parrafinum liquididum) – used is many creams, moisturizers, hair products and oils. In baby products, you may find mineral oil in diaper creams, baby wipes, oils and lotions. Unfortunately, a lot of the well-known brands make baby oil from nothing more than mineral oil with synthetic fragrance so not exactly what you want to put on your baby’s skin.
Ever since I found out I was pregnant with Matilda I started using organic cosmetics only, as well as cleaning products (basically everything from a hand soap, shampoo to washing powder).
Luckily, there are plenty of brands out there that make very nice products without using these harmful ingredients.
Here’s a list of baby care brands I checked and use/or would use on Matilda;
- Storksak – used them on Tillie from day one (well, not literally but you know what I mean :-))
- MooGoo – currently using their Mini Moo Bubbly Wash and absolutely delighted with the ingredients
- Weleda Calendula – used it before MooGoo and loved everything about it – really good ingredients
- Burt’s Bees – haven’t used but their products’ composition is very good
- Lansinoh Earth Friendly – used on Matilda from “day one”, completely safe
Let me know what are your thoughts on this issue? What toiletries do you use for your kids?