Grotty ingredients! The ones to avoid in children’s toiletries.


Happy New Year everyone! With Christmas and 2016 behind us, it’s time to look ahead and make our annual list of New Year’s resolutions. If you’re anything like me, they’ll be lucky if they last a week. So, we’ve come up with a New Year’s resolution that’s easy to keep. Say no to grotty ingredients! It’s a simple as looking at the labels of the products you buy for your babies and children.

Say no to grotty ingredients!

You’ll be amazed at the host of nasties lurking in the bottles of toiletries marketed to babies and kids. Here’s a list of the seven main offenders you should avoid.

1) SLSs and SLESs

SLSs and SLESs are chemicals used to boost a product’s cleaning power and create foam. You’ll find them in all sorts of household items, from toothpaste to shampoo, from laundry detergents to toilet cleaner!

But SLSs are dreadful irritants. In fact, according to the American College of Toxicology, as little as 0.5% concentration can cause irritation to scalp, gums, skin and eyes.

To make SLSs less of an irritant, they’re often turned into SLESs by adding something called ethylene oxide (also used to make mustard gas!). They’re also often contaminated by 1,4 dioxane — a by-product created during the SLES manufacturing process. 1,4 dioxane has been classified as a carcinogen by the International Agency for Research on Cancer.

2) PEGs

PEGs aren’t a single ingredient, but a class of compounds that enhance the penetration of other ingredients into the skin. So, if the product you’re using has a grotty ingredient in it, PEGs will make that ingredient more easily absorbed. They’re usually followed by a number, for example PEG-4 or PEG-100. The lower the number, the higher the PEG’s absorbing properties.

PEGs themselves are often full of impurities. According to the International Journal of Toxicology, pollutants found in PEGs include ethylene oxide, 1,4-dioxane and heavy metals (lead, iron, cobalt, nickel, cadmium and arsenic). So, products and formulas containing PEGs should not be used on young skin, especially if it’s broken or irritated.

3) Tetrasodium EDTA/ Disodium EDTA

These are preservatives. They keep fragrances fresh and prevent products going rancid.  They also help toiletries work better in hard water.  You’ll find them in virtually every personal care product from sunscreen to body wash. So it’ll surprise you to know that they’re made from sodium cyanide and formaldehyde!

Clinical tests have shown that standard concentrations do not irritate or penetrate the skin. But, while not a ‘risk’, do you really want to be using formaldehyde and cyanide on your child’s skin?

4) Parabens

Parabens are also preservatives. They’re efficient and inexpensive, but they also mimic oestrogen. These grotty ingredients have been linked to breast cancer and fertility problems, and to the increase in early-onset puberty. When used on the skin, parabens react with sunlight to cause sun damage (ageing) and DNA damage.

5) Mineral oils

Mineral oils are a common ingredient in baby lotions, cold creams and ointments. But they’re also a by-product of the distillation of petroleum. Bleugh! Liquid paraffin and white soft paraffin are included in many barrier creams for treating eczema.  But their side effects include itching, dry skin, redness, rashes, and dermatitis. Doesn’t that sound like it’s making the problem worse?

6) Phthalates

Phthalates are often found in baby care products. They control the thickness of a product, and act as a stabiliser. However, phthalates are chemicals used in a variety of other ways too. These grotty ingredients in your baby wash is also used to soften plastic! Phthalates are also found in building materials, cars, cleaning products and insecticides. Readily absorbed through the skin, they’ve been linked with breast cancer, birth defects, miscarriage and early-onset puberty.

7) Artificial colours

The most common artificial colours used in children’s toiletries are D&C Yellow 10 and D&C Orange 4.  D&C Yellow 10 is a synthetic dye produced from petroleum or coal tar. D&C Orange 4 can be derived from animals or from bituminous coal. D&C colours are continuously tested on animals due to their carcinogenic properties. Does your child’s skincare product really need a colourant? Your kids can get all the fun and colour they want from harmless labels and packaging!

Essential oils at Childs Farm – find out more about them!


Essential oils not only smell fantastic, they also possess superpowers. Some are naturally antibacterial. Others deter head lice. They also affect the way we feel – calming us down, relaxing us and making us feel happy.

Joanna has a giant box of essential oils which she is constantly playing around with. When we think we need a new product, out comes the box and the sniffing begins! But just because something smells nice, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to use on young skin. So a huge amount of research goes into every choice we make for an essential oil.

The essential oils in Childs Farm products

We are often asked why we don’t use lavender oil in our products. Lavender is well known for its relaxing properties, and parents wonder why it’s not in a Childs Farm bubble bath. The reason is, we only use essential oils that can be put undiluted onto a baby’s skin without harming it. A drop of neat lavender oil would burn newborn skin. So, instead we use organic tangerine essential oil, which also has calming properties.

Here’s a guide to the essential oils we use at Childs Farm — their properties, and the products you’ll find them in.

Organic sweet orange

Also known as Citrus Aurantium Dulcis, sweet orange essential oil is naturally antibacterial. It inhibits microbial growth, which means it stops bacteria reproducing, and so disinfects children’s everyday cuts and grazes. It nourishes skin, keeping it smooth and healthy, and curing dermatitis. Sweet orange essential oil is also a mood booster! It gets rid of anxiety and sadness, and creates a happy and relaxed feeling. At Childs Farm, we use organic sweet orange essential oil in our hair & body wash for dirty rascals!

Organic tangerine

Tangerine essential oil, also known as Citrus Reticulata, has calming qualities. It soothes the body’s respiratory, circulatory, excretory and nervous systems. It also helps maintain the oil and moisture balance of skin. It’s a natural antiseptic. In particular, it wards off Staphylococcus Aureus, a bacteria to which newborn babies are vulnerable before their umbilical cords have healed, and because their skin is so delicate. You can find organic tangerine essential oil in our bubble bath for all the family and our baby bedtime bubbles.

Organic mint

Peppermint leaf essential oil (Mentha Arvensis) smells delicious. But it also heals skin and strengthens hair. We use it in our shampoo, conditioner and 3 in 1 swim because it nourishes the scalp and deeply moisturises hair. It also has a calming effect on the body and helps to soothe sore muscles. So, it’s perfect after an exerting session in the swimming pool!

Organic tea tree

At Childs Farm, we put organic tea tree oil (Melaleuca Alternifolia) in our hand wash because it’s antibacterial and antimicrobial. This means it destroys germs and stops them reproducing. However, unlike synthetic antibacterials, it doesn’t kill the ‘good’ bacteria that we need on our skin. Healthy skin is home to a vast array of ‘skin flora’ — bacteria which actually protects our skin, and which we don’t want to kill off by washing our hands with an antibacterial soap.

Tea tree oil is also deeply moisturising. So as well as finding it in Childs Farm’s hand wash to stop little hands getting chapped, it’s also in our grapefruit moisturiser. We use it in our hair detangler too, as its hydrating qualities help keep hair free from knots and static. We think it smells great, but head lice hate it! So tea tree oil also works as a deterrent against the dreaded nits!

Grapefruit peel oil

Childs Farm’s hair detangler also contains grapefruit peel oil, or Citrus Reticulata. This not only smells great, it also nourishes both scalp and hair. This makes our hair detangler the ultimate in leave-in conditioners!


You can find out more about all our ingredients on our ingredients page. Here, we list every ingredient we use. Click on each one for a full description.

Clinical Tests & User Trials at Childs Farm


In the UK, 82% of parents describe their child’s skin as sensitive, and 1 in 5 children have medically-diagnosed eczema. Childs Farm was established to make natural and fun toiletries which care for the unique needs of young skin and hair — including children who have sensitive skin or eczema

So, to give mums, dads and caregivers the reassurance they’re looking for, Childs Farm undergoes clinical tests and controlled user trials on all our products. This is because, as parents ourselves, we want to be sure that the claims we make on our packaging can be trusted 100%.

So, when we tell you that our products are dermatologically tested and approved, and paediatrician approved, as suitable for newborns and upwards – even those with sensitive and eczema-prone skin – you can rest assured that we’ve jumped through many more hoops to make these claims.

This means our product development process is rigorous; by detailing it here, we want to show you how much care goes into everything we make, and the lengths we go to, to ensure all our products are fit for purpose.

Designing a new product

Joanna has a giant box of essential oils which provides her with sensory inspiration for every new product. But just because something smells nice, it doesn’t mean it’s safe to use on young skin. So a huge amount of research goes into every choice we make for an essential oil.

Once we have chosen an essential oil and matched it with a base product, we then go ahead with stability testing. This is a robust process that all our products go through for three months. It makes sure they can withstand changes in temperature, and that they don’t separate or break up. If the product passes stability testing, the next step of our process is to put the product through a clinical trial.

What is a clinical test?

A clinical test is a managed and controlled test procedure carried out by an international medical research company, so that all results are universally recognised.

The test takes the form of a 96 hour patch test on a selection of men and women of varying ages – all of whom have medically-diagnosed eczema. A sample of product is put onto a medical ‘disc’ which is then stuck to each participant with medical tape and left undisturbed for 23 hours. This is then removed and the participant’s skin is reviewed for an hour. Any reaction or redness is recorded. The whole process is then repeated until each and every product has been tested on four different parts of each participant’s body.

Reviewing the results of the clinical tests

The results of this research are then examined by a dermatologist and a paediatrician. If both these doctors believe they substantiate the claims for which they have been tested, they confirm their approval by signing all claim documents. In the case of Childs Farm these claims are:

✓ dermatologically approved

✓ dermatologically tested

✓ clinically tested

✓ suitable for eczema-prone skin

✓ paediatrician approved

✓ suitable for newborns

✓ kind to skin

✓ mild for skin

✓ safe for skin

What is a user trial?

In addition to our clinical tests, we then go on to conduct user trials. These trials allow us to try out our products on groups of babies and children. This means we can give you, our customers, feedback from real parents – including those whose children have sensitive skin and medically-diagnosed eczema.

The process usually takes place over the course of a week, and involves at least 100 participants.

Parents are given a bottle of one of our products, and asked to use it for a week as part of their baby or child’s normal bathing routine. They are then asked to thoroughly review the product. These reviews are then returned to the a medical research team, and form the basis of a series of documents which detail the results of each trial.

Results of trials on our baby range

Our baby range was trialled on 100 newborns aged 0-3 months, and 102 babies with medically diagnosed eczema aged 3-18 months. The results were amazing:

✓ 10 out of 10 parents said the products caused no irritation to their baby’s skin

✓ 10 our of 10 parents said they’d recommend the range to other parents whose newborn or baby has eczema or sensitive skin.

Results of trials on our toddler range

Our toddler range was recently trialled on 112 babies aged between 0-3 months. A whopping 99% of parents reported no irritation to their newborn’s skin. In addition:

✓ 9 out of 10 parents said they would recommend Childs Farm

✓ 9 out of 10 parents said they would buy Childs Farm products

✓ 9 out of 10 parents preferred Childs Farm fragrances to their regular brand

We also carried out user trials on 117 babies with medically diagnosed eczema, aged between 3-18 months. We found that 88% of parents would recommend Childs Farm to other parents whose baby or child has eczema, and 90% of parents would buy Childs Farm instead of their usual brand.

Results of trials on our sun care range

Our 50+spf sun cream and after sun lotion were trialled on 100 babies with medically diagnosed eczema aged 3-18 months.

✓ 10 out of 10 parents said the products caused no irritation to their baby’s skin

✓ 10 out of 10 parents said they’d recommend the range to other parents whose baby or child has eczema or sensitive skin.

Childs Farm baby oil is a treat for mum too!


When we launched our new baby range in June all the products were specifically designed with the delicate skin of babies in mind. But we also wanted to include an oil that would not only hydrate and care for baby, but would also be something that mums would love to use too.

Great for baby — but luxurious on mum’s skin as well!

During pregnancy, skin is prone to becoming more dry and sensitive. It’s important to keep it as supple as possible by moisturising regularly — especially your ever-expanding tummy! After pregnancy, when mums have barely any time to look after themselves, we wanted to provide a product that was a quick, easy treat to nourish mum’s skin. The result was Childs Farm baby oil. It’s a unique blend of four fruit and vegetable oils: organic coconut, grapeseed, baobab and olive oil.

Here’s some information about each of the oils we’ve used, and their benefits.

Coconut oil

Coconut oil is easily absorbed and very soothing. It is incredibly effective on sensitive skin, and treats problems like eczema, rashes, dermatitis, nappy rash and cradle cap — which make it an ideal choice for baby. It is also rich in vitamin E, and has antibacterial and antifungal properties to help ward off infection.[1][2][3]

The high-grade, organic coconut oil we use naturally gives our baby oil its fragrance, and has calming properties.[4]

Grapeseed oil

Grapeseed oil is lovely and light. It is high in linoleic acid, otherwise known as vitamin F. This makes it gentle on sensitive skin, and gives it anti-inflammatory and healing properties.[5][6] Grapeseed oil also contains vitamin E, an antioxidant essential for the maintenance of healthy skin.[7]

Baobab oil

Baobab oil has a rich, silky feel. High in vitamins A, E F and D3, it’s an excellent moisturiser that penetrates quickly and easily without leaving a greasy film.[8] It also acts as an insulator, protecting skin from both high and low temperatures. Baobab oil contains omega fatty acids 3, 6 and 9 which contribute to maintaining healthy skin.[9] It has anti-inflammatory properties, which means it reduces skin irritation, and alleviates dryness and itchiness.[10] It also helps skin retain moisture, and promotes healing.[11]

Olive oil

Olive oil has a thicker consistency than coconut, grapeseed and baobab, and works best on skin when diluted with other oils, as we have done. Rich in vitamin E, it can help with cradle cap[12][13] and nappy rash.[14] It is also an effective moisturiser for very dry skin.[15][16]

Clinical tests and user trials

Childs Farm baby oil has been clinically tested and approved, and dermatologist and paediatrician approved, as being mild kind and safe to use on delicate newborn skin — even if it’s sensitive or eczema-prone. In user trials on 100 newborns aged 0-3 months and 102 babies with medically diagnosed eczema aged 3-18 months, 10 out of 10 parents reported no irritation to their child’s skin, and said they’d recommend our baby oil to other parents. However, everyone’s skin is different and so, despite our rigorous testing, Childs Farm aligns with all health care professionals in stressing the importance of patch testing any product which comes into contact with your child’s skin 24 hours before first use.

Patch testing

For babies and children with sensitive or eczema-prone skin, patch testing is essential.

Patch testing allows you to easily identify which products cause skin sensitivity. Patch test all detergents, fabric softeners and toiletries on your child before you use them. This will save an awful lot of upset later on if their skin does react to a particular product.

To patch test, take a fingertip of product and put in on the inner arm or behind the ear. Then wait 24 hours to see if the skin reacts. If there’s no reaction, then the product is safe to use.

However, if there’s any redness, itchiness or small hives that means your child is sensitive to the product. Don’t use it!

A fact sheet and a video about patch testing can be found on the ‘science bit’ page of our website.


Childs Farm provides this information as a general guide. Further information is available from the NHS and the National Eczema Society, and essential guidance should come from your GP or other medical professionals familiar with the details of your child’s case.

Copyright Childs Farm Limited 2016



[1] Organic Facts:
[2] Coconut Research Center:
[3] Live Strong Foundation:
[4] Mom Junction:
[5] Dermascope:
[6] Babycentre:
[7] Linus Pauling Institute:
[8] Marvel Oils:
[9] EcoProducts Foundation:
[10] Africrops:
[11] Oil Health Benefits:
[12] NHS Choices:
[13] Made for Mums:
[14] How to olive oil:
[15] Boots WebMD:
[16] Royal Berkshire NHS Foundation Trust:

Moisturising baby’s skin


There’s a lot of debate about moisturising baby’s skin. Here’s some information we’ve pulled together, which we hope you’ll find useful. Links to other helpful websites, which talk about baby skin and moisturising, are listed at the end.

Skin facts

The skin is the body’s largest organ. It’s the first line of defence against dehydration. It protects against viruses, bacteria and pollutants from the outside world. Healthy skin cells are plump with water. This allows them to pack tightly against each other and form an effective barrier.

The pH of human skin is 5.5. This ‘acid mantle’ repels harmful microorganisms and toxins. It also protects from infections, allergens and dehydration.

Underneath the acid mantle, there’s the ‘stratum corneum’. This works as a barrier to shield tissue beneath. Cells in the stratum corneum contain keratin, a waterproofing protein that gives skin its strength and flexibility.

Why baby skin is different

Inside the womb, the skin’s protective qualities aren’t needed. This is because baby is shielded from the bacteria and toxins of the outside world. After birth, baby’s skin gradually adapts to protect itself, but it needs particular care.

Baby skin doesn’t yet have an acid mantle. They’re born with a skin pH of 6.5 which gradually reduces to 5.5. But their acid mantle doesn’t fully work until they’re about 3 months old.

Baby skin is also up to 10% thinner than adult skin. It’s got a higher water content, but it loses this water more quickly. This is because babies have less keratin than adults, so their skin is more fragile and prone to drying out.

Another thing about newborn skin is that it’s sterile. Skin flora, the beneficial bacteria which protect the skin, develops gradually.

The importance of moisturising

Because baby’s skin is more delicate and less resistant to bacteria, it can be easily irritated and exposed to harmful substances in the environment. It loses water quickly, so regular moisturising is important to keep it hydrated and protected.

How often and when to moisturise

Moisturise normal, healthy skin after every bath, shower, splash-about session and visit to the swimming pool. Moisturise dry areas at least once every day – and then as often as you feel necessary. You don’t have to lather on loads of product — just the amount the skin can absorb.

Which products should you use?

Look for products that are as natural as possible, and have been specifically made with baby’s delicate skin in mind. Babies are particularly vulnerable to the chemicals found in many products. These can be easily absorbed through the skin and may cause your baby harm. Avoid products which contain:

  • parabens: this is a preservative that has been linked to hormone disruption, skin irritation, breast cancer, fertility problems and early-onset puberty
  • mineral oil: a by-product of the distillation of petroleum mixed with fragrance, it acts as a plastic wrap on the skin, limiting its ability to release toxins
  • phthalates: commonly found in baby products, these chemicals are also used to soften plastic! Readily absorbed through the skin, they have been linked with breast cancer, birth defects, miscarriage and early-onset puberty

Always patch test

Before using any new product on your baby, always do a patch test first. Put a fingertip of product behind baby’s ear or on the inside of their elbow and wait 24 hours. If there’s no reaction, the product is safe to use. If, however, your baby’s skin shows any sign of redness or irritation, please don’t use it as they may be sensitive to it.


Royal Children’s Hospital, Melbourne
Baby Centre
NHS Choices
National Eczema Society