Many baby products are marketed with claims of being ‘gentle’, ‘pure’ and ‘safe’ for our fragile young children. However, a recent study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has exposed the dangers that lurk in many commonly used baby products. Their report has found that a number of major brand-name baby products contain the dangerous chemicals of Formaldehyde and 1,4-Dioxane which are known to be cancer causing agents. It is time to rethink what we use on our babies bodies to protect their health and wellbeing.
• 17 out of 28 products tested – 61 percent – contained both formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
• 23 out of 28 products – 82 percent – contained formaldehyde at levels ranging from 54 to 610 parts per million (ppm).
• 32 out of 48 products – 67 percent – contained 1,4-dioxane at levels ranging from 0.27 to 35 ppm.
These products include Johnson & Johnson shampoo, Aveeno baby wash and Huggies baby wipes to name just a few. The full results of the study are outlined in test results page of the ‘No More Toxic Tub’ report.
So can you just look out for these chemicals on the labels of products? No! These chemicals are not required to legally be disclosed on product labels because technically they’re contaminants, not ingredients. It is also important to know that unlike many other countries in the U.S., where these products were manufactured, the government does not limit formaldehyde, 1,4-dioxane, or most other hazardous substances in personal care products.
The report is also clear to highlight that even when these two chemicals were not found it does not mean that the products are safe. Most of these products contain a plethora of other ingredients which have negative side effects and need to be used with caution and awareness. If you are unsure of an ingredient you can use Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database to research and find out more. Another great resource exposing the toxins in popular household items is the ‘Behind the Label’ series by Pat Thomas featured in the Ecologist magazine and these articles can be found online also. I personally have a rule that when I cannot pronounce an ingredient on a label I will rarely buy the product!
Many of the manufacturers make claims that their products contain low levels of these contaminants and are still safe for general use. But this is not true, if a baby is exposed to a number of these products on a daily basis, an accumulation of toxins can occur that is likely to cause health problems in the future.
So what can be used as an alternative? Well, there are many that feel the skin of a baby does not even need a soap formula for their daily washing. Herbal baths can be prepared with Gloricida & Soursop leaves, Patchouli, Basilic, Rose petals and many other local plants that will leave your baby feeling fresh and clean in the most organic and natural way.
If you do wish to have soap, shampoos and lotions, there are a huge number of natural products available throughout the world based on safe ingredients; just look in good health stores or on the many natural stores online. Locally in Dominica there are three natural soap producing companies: Coal Pot, Heaven Scent and Natural Botanicals. Their bars of soaps use local ingredients and most are gentle enough for the whole family. Natural Botanicals also produce a mild shampoo and liquid soap and I use this liquid soap for baby’s skin, in my homemade baby wipe spray and to wash her clothes so I highly recommend it! All these local products can be found in pharmacies and supermarkets island-wide. Natural Botanicals will also soon be reopening their shop on Cork Street and can be contacted on (767) 275 1804.
For a lotion, I have used olive oil, sweet almond oil and local coconut oil on my baby from birth and her skin glows. All these oils can have very small amounts of essential oils added to them for natural fragrances that also have health benefits, although it is wise to consult a qualified Aromatherapist if you are unsure of the quantity and types of essential oils to use.
Our children are too precious to allow their bodies to be infiltrated by toxic products so let’s be aware and do all we can to be natural! Please feel free to share your favourite natural products by leaving a comment.