Many large toiletry manufacturers are jumping on the natural skincare band wagon by creating natural baby care products. But can these products really be trusted?
Nobody wants to purposefully expose their child to harmful chemicals, but the truth is that many personal care products designed for babies and children still contain unhealthy ingredients.
Large brands know that parents are looking for safe skincare options for their children, and they wrap a wolf in sheep’s clothing through what is known as “greenwashing”.
Greenwashing is the term used to describe the duping of customers into buying something they believe is natural and healthy, when in fact they’re buying something that contains unhealthy ingredients.
How can we as parents be sure that the “natural” brands we use are truly healthy?
Well, a bit of detective work is all it takes.
Try these four tips to help you find truly natural baby care products.
1. Always read the labels of natural baby care products
This should be the basic tenet of buying natural baby care products. Always read the label! Here are a few label reading hacks that can help sleuth out those dirty ingredients.
Avoid many confusing ingredients
You’re reading a label, and there seem to be a large number of ingredients in a product. Many of those ingredients seem hard to pronounce.
At this point, you should carefully consider whether or not to buy the product. If the ingredients are causing confusion, it’s safe to say they’re probably unhealthy.
Read the label from the end
Start reading the label at the end where preservatives appear. As soon as you see an unhealthy ingredient, you don’t need to read the rest of the list. Easy and quick!
Steer clear of mineral oils
I read this great tip on the wonderful Honesty For Your Skin blog. Natural skincare and beauty companies simply do not use mineral oils in their formulations. As soon as you see one of the following:
- Liquid paraffin
- Liquid petroleum
- Paraffin oil
- Paraffinum liquidum
- Petrolatum liquid
- Petroleum oil
Then you can be sure this is a greenwashed product that isn’t as healthy as it can be.
Use an ingredient blacklist
Keep a blacklist of ingredients to avoid. This is a long winded way to identify unhealthy products, but once you start to learn the ingredients to avoid, it becomes easier.
Here are the ingredients most concerning for children’s health (according to EWG):
- Boric acid
- DMDM hydantoin
For a full list of ingredients to avoid, see my page ingredients to avoid in skincare.
2. Use EWG to check natural baby care products
EWG – the Environmental Working Group – is a non-profit American organisation that aims to protect human health by empowering consumers to make healthier choices.
It sets out to answer the question “do we know what’s in our personal care products?”
EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database contains searchable data on thousands of:
Ingredients, products, and brands are assigned a score between 0 to 10 according to their risk. The score is made easier to read through a traffic light colouring system which classifies ingredients as low risk, moderate risk, or high risk.
Savvy parents should also take into account the data that has been fed into these scores – known as the data availability rating i.e. how much is known about a particular ingredient, product, or brand from various sources.
These two little gems are displayed on the landing page for a particular ingredient, product, or brand you may be researching. Together they make a great quick reference.
It’s worth bearing in mind that EWG is limited in that it can’t tell us interactions between ingredients in particular formulations, or give an idea as to safe concentrations of a particular ingredient.
3. Choose natural baby care products only from trustworthy brands
My favourite natural baby care brands
I learned to trust these brands through checking all the ingredients in the products my family uses.
Since I’ve yet to find an unhealthy ingredient in any of their products, I trust them 100%. That doesn’t mean I stop reading ingredients – I always read ingredients!
A wonderful range of certified organic baby and child products designed with the entire human body in mind. Weleda is true pioneer of plant-based ingredients.
Green People Organic Babies
Green People Organic Babies range is just as awesome as their adult range. The collection is natural, certified organic, and uses baby-friendly herbs like chamomile, calendula and lavender.
Bentley Organic Baby
A really nice parent and baby range made using simple ingredients. Bentley Organic Baby is Soil Association certified and great value for money.
My favourites are the sanitisers for hands, toys, and surfaces, which make brilliant nappy bag essentials.
Essential Care Baby
Mummy and baby essentials with no added nasties and plenty of beneficial ingredients. Essential Care Baby products are Soil Association certified.
My favourites are the labour oil and nipple balm.
Earth Mama Angel Baby
Natural products for true earth mamas and their little ones! I’ve not yet used anything from the Earth Mama Angel Baby brand, but have heard so many good things about it from friends and across blogs and Reddit.
I’m wondering what to try first!
UK brands who appear natural, but might not be
These brands have a natural vibe, but some of their products contain unhealthy ingredients.
Here’s an overview:
Okay, I tried really hard to like this mainstream natural baby and child brand. That is, until I read the ingredients.
- Parfum used in several products. Learn why parfum is bad in skincare.
- Irritating cocamidopropyl betaine in the baby wash.
- Allergy and dermatitis triggering amyl cinnamal in the organic sweet orange hair and body wash.
- Potentially allergenic hexyl cinnamal in the SPF 50+ sun cream, and baby moisturiser.
- Tocopheryl acetate in the SPF 50+ sun cream, conditioner, and hair detangling spray.
- Phenoxyethanol in the SPF 50+ sun cream.
This brand has been around a long time and can be found in health food shops.
I’d love to give them a go, since there are so many nice ingredients in their formulations, but here’s why I won’t:
- Tocopheryl acetate in the nappy rash cream, sun cream, shampoo, and hair conditioner.
- Phenoxyethanol in the sun cream.
- Dimethicone in the sun cream and hair conditioner.
- Retinyl palmitate in the sun cream and shampoo.
- Irritating cocamidopropyl betaine in the shampoo.
- Parfum in the shampoo.
My first impressions of the HiPP Organic baby care range are good. It’s organic, and they don’t use parabens, paraffin, or PEGs.
The fragrances used are artificial and obviously undisclosed, but HiPP does state the fragrances are non-allergy causing, which is better than some brands.
However personally I still wouldn’t use this brand on Jonah. Here’s why.
- There’s irritating cocamidopropyl betaine in the baby wash.
- The body lotion contains phenoxyethanol and tocopherol acetate.
- Most of the products contain parfum and although it’s claimed they’re non allergenic, I prefer fragrance from essential oils only.
Their bubble baths contain potentially irritating ingredients – cocamidopropyl betaine and ammonium laureth sulfate. However the fragrance free baby lotion is clean.
4. Choose natural baby care brands with certifications
My fourth tip, and a good way to get started choosing natural baby care products, is to look for certifications on product labels.
Independent certification allows brands to live up to their natural and healthy claims.
Two stringent UK and European certifications that apply to baby care products are Soil Association Cosmos Standard, and NaTrue:
Soil Association Cosmos Standard
The Soil Association is the UK’s main organic standard, certifying 80% of UK products.
The certification process can be more stringent than EU law, so you can really trust this mark to deliver a healthy product.
- Organically farmed
- Not tested on animals
- Free from:
- Harsh chemicals
- Nano particles
- Synthetic dyes
- Artificial fragrances
- Synthetic fertilisers
Some of my favourite natural baby care brands with this certification include:
Products displaying the NaTrue certification seal must adhere to stringent ingredient and process criteria:
- Nothing artificial is allowed
- A minimum of 75% of products must be compliant with the standard
Natural baby care brands with this certification include:
Non Food Certification Company (NFCC)
Owned by one of the longest standing organic certification bodies in the UK – the Organic Food Federation.
The certification was developed to allow brands to show their commitment to organic standards. The certification ensures that only organically certified and wild plant materials are used.
Green People Organic Babies hold this certification.
It’s worth noting that not all good brands have a certification, since they’re so expensive to gain and maintain.
US readers bonus tip! Use an app
Americans will get more mileage out of this, since these apps cater to the American market.
Simply install an app on your phone to scan all your baby care products for potentially harmful ingredients.
Many UK-only brands do not appear in the database, but international brands do.
This is a great option when you’re in the shop and you just want a quick answer as to whether or not to buy a baby care product.
EWG’s Healthy Living App
This neat looking app helps consumers make healthier product choices and rates 120,000 food and personal care products.
To use the app, simply scan the product, review the ingredients, then make a choice whether or not to use it.
You can also search by name and browse by category.
EWG’s Healthy Living app is available for Apple or Android devices.
Think Dirty App
This smart app claims to provide an easy way to learn about cosmetic and personal care ingredients.
Think Dirty allows users to add their own entries to the database which is fab. This app will surely become more helpful over time!
Think Dirty app is available for Apple or Android devices.
In this post we’ve seen several ways to avoid greenwashing and buy truly natural baby care products.
Label reading has to be the most reliable way to be really sure about what you’re buying, but it is time consuming, and brain taxing.
Using EWG’s Skin Deep database to review ingredients is a great option, although it comes with limitations in that it can’t tell us interactions between ingredients.
Buying from trustworthy brands only, and choosing brands with certifications is a great way to ensure you’re buying healthy.
Using an app is a fast way to learn if a baby care product is healthy and natural, but is only helpful for US consumers at this time.
I hope this post has given you some helpful pointers on how to choose truly natural baby care products. I’m constantly learning about skincare and ingredients, so don’t hesitate to comment with your own tips and hints – I’d love to hear from you!