If you think of the huge transition newborns face when going from the protective environment of the womb to the outside world, skin care is one of those delicate matters every parent should consider. Newborn skin is immediately challenged with exposure to germs, changing temperatures and irritating substances – and those small, developing bodies are less capable of fending off chemical assaults.
Of course we all have the best of intentions when caring for our baby’s skin, but here are a few good reasons to take a closer look at the ingredient list on your skincare:
> The surface area of a child’s skin relative to body weight is greater than adults, and infant skin is considerably thinner than adult skin. That means anything that is absorbed by the skin of a baby is a lot more potent. After a review of 23 studies of early life exposures to cancer-causing chemicals, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency concluded that carcinogens are typically 10 times more potent for babies than for adults, and some chemicals are up to 65 times more powerful.
> A child’s developing organ systems are more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposures, and children are less able than adults to detoxify and excrete chemicals.
> Children have more years of life in which to develop disease triggered by early exposure to chemicals, and research suggests exposures to industrial chemicals may prime children for adult disease, just as a few severe sunburns during childhood doubles the likelihood of developing malignant melanoma later in life.
> There are more than 10,000 ingredients being used in the skin care industry, and 89% of these have not been tested for toxic or carcinogenic chemicals.
Awareness of chemicals in skincare is certainly increasing and more parents are trying to choose wisely, but in the meantime the number of so-called “natural” products on store shelves has multiplied dramatically. These days, buying baby’s bathtime bubbles isn’t so straightforward, but here are a couple of ways to keep it simple.
First, read labels carefully. Just because a product claims to have “natural” ingredients doesn’t mean ALL of its contents are derived from organic sources or are paraben and phthalate free. Knowing how to decipher ingredients can be a bit tricky, but some key toxic ingredients to look out for are: parabens, phthalates, sodium lauryl sulphate (SLS), petroleum derivatives, diethanalomine (DEA), mineral oil, artificial fragrances and colours.
For a more comprehensive list of ingredients and their potentially toxic affects, read Skin Deep’s safety guide to children’s personal care products, which identifies 20 common ingredients of concern. The Skin Deep website also has a good database if you want to look up the safety rating for baby products.
Second, bear in mind that whatever you put ON your child’s skin, is also going IN. Most people use far more product than is necessary and children don’t need to be slathered in suds, lotions and powders. A little warm water and mild cleanser at bathtime, then a small amount of moisturizer (or spot treating) does the trick.
While we’re on the subject, here are some of my tried and true favourite products I use regularly to keep my baby’s very sensitive and eczema-prone skin healthy:
Taslie Skin Care
Not only are these products super cute and organic, the packaging is completely biodegradable (pictured right). I LOVE supporting companies that embrace a green ethos in everything they do. To purchase items from the Taslie skin care range, please click here to visit Itty Bitty Greenie’s retail site.
This Australian brand of certified organic skincare (pictured above) was developed by a health care and aromatherapy specialist. I love the the sweet orange, lavender and spearmint combination in the body wash – it’s so refreshing. The gentle vapour rub balm is also a must-have, to soothe any congestion from cold & flu. Check out the entire range here.
Buds Cherished Organics
Buds was formulated in Australia, and uses unique organic ingredients sourced from 100% organic farms all over the world. The formulas are preservative-free and certified by ECOCERT, one of the world’s most highly regarded certifying boards. Visit Itty Bitty Greenie’s retail site for more details on the Buds range of skincare.