Most people forget that your skin is an organ. In fact, it’s the largest organ in your body! Our skin acts like a sponge, absorbing everything you put on it, even if it’s bad for you. Our skin has the same function at any stage of life. It protects us against illness, absorbs and sheds water, protects against UV rays, regulates our body temperature and more. When your skin doesn’t function properly, your overall health is compromised.
Your baby’s skin acts as a natural barrier against nasty infection but because it isn’t fully developed, it cannot properly defend against all threats. Babies’ skin are even more susceptible to absorbing toxic chemicals. As a mother, there’s nothing quite as precious than your baby. But what happens when you’re exposing their skin to harmful toxins without even realising it?
Commonly found in baby powder, this mineral is used as a drying agent. But did you know it is a lung irritant too? Not only talc this harm your baby’s skin, but it can also clog their delicate respiratory pathways. Some mums might apply talc to soothe a nappy rash but talc doesn’t protect against it. Instead, opt for Little Botanic’s Nappy Balm to protect your baby’s sensitive skin from moisture and bacteria with a natural barrier.
Used topically to cure everything from dehydrated skin to diaper rash, petroleum is widely recognised by the brand Vaseline. Petroleum jelly first has to be refined to ensure the carcinogenic components are removed. However, even after being refined, it still contains harmful substances that can be absorbed into the body. It is important to keep in mind that your baby’s skin is thinner and absorbs more than your skin would. Consider using organic skincare that contains nutrient-rich ingredients like shea butter or cocoa butter to seal in the moisture without the added risk of petroleum jelly.
3. Propylene Glycol
Mothers are usually very cautious during and after pregnancy to ensure their children’s health. In the case of propylene glycol, it should be no different. You’ll find propylene glycol listed as an ingredient in baby wipes, moisturisers, sunscreen, shampoos and more. Despite it being a common ingredient of many household items, it’s classified as a skin irritant and is toxic in high doses. Remember that your little one’s skin can’t break down this compound as quickly as your adult skin can so parents should avoid letting them be exposed to this potentially harmful chemical. If you do still continue to use baby wipes, make sure to put them away immediately after use!
The chemical 1,4-dioxane is used in a variety of paints, inks and detergents. This chemical is also occasionally found in baby shampoo and bath products and is known to irritate your baby’s eyes, nose, throat and skin. This chemical is hard to spot on ingredient labels — it isn’t listed unless it’s an added ingredient. Keep your eyes peeled for ingredients that contain the letters “eth”, such as polyethylene, polyethylene glycol, sodium laureth sulfate. It’s an indicator of the presence of 1,4-dioxane.
Phthalates, pronounced “thah-lates”, are chemical plasticisers used to soften plastics. It is also found in personal care items to help lotions penetrate and to help fragrances last longer. Research has shown that it’s even present in baby care products such as baby powder, lotion and shampoo! Although the chemical industry claims there are no harmful effects of phthalates, babies are more at risk than adults are because they are still developing. Our baby’s skin absorbs these harmful chemicals quickly so when you choose baby care products, choose those that are phthalate-free.
6. Sodium lauryl sulfate
Sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS) is a cheap and effective cleansing and foaming agent. You’ll find it in a variety of personal care products like soap, shampoo and toothpaste. However, like most detergents, SLS irritates skin, causing eczema and dry or reddened skin, especially when in high concentrations or when used often. Because your baby has thinner skin than you do, they are more sensitive to soaps and detergents. To protect their delicate skin, opt for organic baby skincare, especially if your little one has eczema or sensitive skin.
Parabens are used in baby care products like body washes and shampoos, because they’re cheap and highly effective preservatives. They help prevent mould and bacteria growing in the product so without them, toiletries would have a much shorter shelf life. Although it prevents bacteria from growing, it also contains properties that are associated with breast cancer — you wouldn’t want your baby’s delicate skin to absorb them. To protect your little one’s skin, choose organic skincare products which generally don’t contain synthetic preservatives.
The ingredient “fragrances” is a broad category that includes hundreds of harmful chemicals. Despite that, they are found in many products such as perfume, shampoo, conditioners and moisturisers. Ingredients that have fragrances are easily absorbed into the bloodstream through your baby’s skin and can even cause autism, ADHD and neurological disorders. Even though your baby’s skin care products might be advertised as fragrance-free, it’s still advisable to check the ingredients list. The best way to avoid these harmful substances is to opt for organic baby skincare products.
Oxybenzone, or benzonephenone-3, is a common chemical filter found in sunscreens. You’ll also find this chemical lurking in your nail polish, fragrances, hair spray and more. Its primary function is to absorb UV light but research has shown that it is also absorbed by the skin and stays in our bodies for an unknown amount of time. Many toxicologists believe that this chemical is linked to hormone disruption and cell damage that may lead to skin cancer. Luckily, oxybenzone is listed as an active ingredient in sunscreen so it’s easy to spot. Cautious mums should choose mineral sunscreen which contains sunscreen against that sit on top of their baby’s skin, rather than soaking into their body.
If your skincare is labelled “antibacterial”, it most likely contains triclosan. Triclosan is a widely used chemical found in toothpaste, antibacterial soap and hand sanitiser. It’s a known carcinogenic endocrine disruptor, meaning that it interferes with your baby’s hormone system. While all loving mums would want to keep their precious ones safe from bacteria, it is important to allow your baby’s body to create a natural resistance and immunity to bacteria.
Be a conscious mum and keep a lookout for these toxic chemicals lurking in your baby’s skincare products. Treat your baby’s skin with extra care, attention and love by opting for organic baby skincare products, knowing that your little one is safe from harmful substances!