The skin is the largest organ in our bodies. Ingredients in products that are applied to its surface may penetrate through to the small blood vessels located just below, historically circulating through the entire body. Just as vitamins and minerals can enter our bodies in this way, so too can harmful materials. Skincare products are something most people use daily, which magnifies the potential for exposure to any harmful ingredients. This is especially true for children – the ratio of their skin surface area to their body volume is higher than for adults, meaning any harmful chemical applied to the skin, once inside the body, will have a more significant impact.

As parents, we want our kids to live happy, healthy, worry-free lives. To most moms, that means getting the best of everything for their little angels. When it comes to skin protection, cleaning, and caring, this means using premium baby skincare products.

What separates a premium skincare product from the rest? The primary definition would be of a product that contains only healthy and safe ingredients, and is therefore free of any skin irritants or harmful ingredients. Some of these potential irritants, allergens or safety-related chemicals, which appear quite frequently in several baby skincare products currently on the market, include the following:

  • Fragrances (perfumes)
  • MI / MCI
  • Parabens
  • SLS / SLES
  • Formaldehyde
  • Phthalates

In part one of this series, our discussion focuses on fragrances.

Why should premium baby skincare products be fragrance free (unscented)?

Fragrance formulas are considered trade secrets and their components are not disclosed on labels. Fragrance has been incrementally cited as a trigger in health conditions such as asthma, allergies and migraine headaches [ref1]. Furthermore, some fragrance substances have been found to accumulate in adipose tissue and are present in breast milk [ref2].

We are exposed to many scented (fragrance-containing) products or materials on daily basis, such as toiletries, skincare, household, laundry products, or certain packaging materials, etc. These products are one of the sources of chemicals that have a diverse spectrum of health effects, such as endocrine disruption. Endocrine disabling compounds (EDCs) are chemicals that can alter hormonal signaling, influence our metabolism, affect nervous and reproductive system development.

Just having a “synthetic fragrance free” product may not be enough for those with sensitive skin, or certain skin problems such as eczema, hives, contact dermatitis, or other types of dermatitis. Natural scents (fragrances) from flowers and plants, including certain essential oils, could potentially lead to skin sensitization or an adverse reaction, as they may contain skin irritants or skin sensitizing materials. In this case, being natural or organic does not guarantee it's gentle on your skin; in fact, it could cause allergic reactions or trigger a flare up of a preexisting condition. For use on babies or anyone else with sensitive skin, we always suggest unscented skincare products.

References:

1. Fragrance: emerging health and environmental concerns, Flavor and Fragrance Journal, 2002, Vol17 (5), 361-371 .

2. Synthetic Musk Fragrances in Human Milk from the United States, Environ. Sci. Technol., 2007, 41 (11), 3815-3820