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.
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.
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.
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.
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?
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.
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?
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.
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!