Is Organic Skin Care Essential For Our Babies?

The skin is the largest organ of the human body - even when you're only minutes old. It is also the first line of defence in protecting us from the onslaught of toxins that surround us everyday. Cleaning and moisturising our skin and those of our little ones has been flagged as being paramount in keeping us free from disease and discomfort.

Unfortunately, research shows that the cocktail of chemicals in even those products that claim to be "natural" skin care products can actually be doing more harm than good.

Until recently, organic skin care has been considered the domain of hippies and environmentalists. But now, even mainstream scientists are recognising that what we put on our skins can affect our bodies' ability to regenerate and function optimally. Benefits of keeping our children's skin free from things like Sodium Lauryl Sulphates (found in most shampoos) or chemical preservatives found in moisturising creams, synthetic perfumes and colorants is becoming a much more recognised preventative measure to eliminate many childhood skin conditions such as eczema. The US-based research organisation, the Environmental Working Group has been highlighting to government agencies the lethal chemicals that for years have been put into skin care products, even those for children.

In 2004, a British study found Parabens, a major component of all personal care products, in tissue taken from women with breast cancer. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), all parabens - methyl, propyl, and butyl, preservatives used in many mass-market skin care products, have been shown to interfere with the endocrine system. Another commonly used ingredient - Phthalates, are also believed to interfere with hormone processes. It has been associated with developmental problems in infant boys and can be found in many common products such as perfume and nail polish.

Some chemicals to avoid are:

  • Petro-Chemicals: These are derived from petroleum and absorbed by the body. They include mineral oils contained in many baby oils and skin care products and can be drying and irritating to the skin.
  • Laury and Lauryl Sulfate: Commonly used as foaming agents in facial cleansers, shampoos, bubble bath, body wash and toothpaste. When absorbed through the skin these can remain in the liver, heart, lungs and brain and can result in eye damage. They can irritate the skin, eyes and respiratory tract.
  • Diethanolamine (DEA): Used as a lathering agent in shampoos and body washes. Readily absorbed through the skin and may cause irritation to the skin and eyes.
  • Glycerine: Only use products which contain vegetable glycerine.
  • Paraben: Look for methyl, propyl, and butyl which are all potentially toxic and allergenic.
  • Caustics: Still used in most soaps to break down tallow (animal fat). They irritate the skin.
  • Mutagens (Pre-cursor to cancer)
  • Reproductive toxins (Male and female infertility)
  • Skin / Sense organ toxicants (Skin disease and rashes)
According to the US Federal Drug Administration, the data listed nearly 75% of all commercial and some so-called 'natural' skin care product brands containing a mixture of:
  • Allergenic Toxicants (Allergies)
  • Carcinogens (Cancer-causing chemicals)
  • Developmental toxins (Stillbirth / Unborn Children)
  • Teratogens (Birth defects)
  • What do you want to do to help protect that special little bundle that now takes up most of your time?
Checking labels on personal care products is the first step in making sure that what you're putting on your baby's skin is natural and chemical free. Be wary of products that contain a recipe that reads like a chemical table. Naturally derived may sound enticing, but if you look hard enough at a label and you can often see that what is supposed to be natural, is often a synthetic amalgamation trying to emulate a natural ingredient. Organic is always best - but it's also important to make sure that organic claims can be verified or supported.

By Keeli Cambourne*