How I Made The Change To Natural Skincare
By Allie, My Clean Cosmetics
As soon as you announce you are pregnant people have lots of advice. From what not to eat to what to buy and everything in between. Sometimes it extends to what you should or shouldn't put on your skin. It's quite hard work to keep up with all the opinions. And then when the baby arrives everyone forgets about you and moves swiftly onto the baby!
There are lots of body products specifically for babies and children. But not all of them are created equal! Some are packed full of good nutrients that will nourish, repair and protect the skin and many others include unnecessary fillers and ingredients that can cause irritations like rashes and even have potential longer-term effects.
In this post I want to help share what I have learnt over years of research firstly for myself & my husband and now for our daughter.
In our house we try to minimise exposure to synthetic toxins both with the food we eat and also what we put onto our skin as it is our biggest organ and it absorbs a surprising amount of what we put on it!
Allie and Florence
Why Go Natural?
We all have a strong instinct to protect our little ones. There are a few reasons why choosing natural products is important:
A baby’s skin absorbs and loses moisture more easily and faster than adult skin. Baby skin is 20% to 30% thinner than adult skin, which makes it more fragile and less supple and strong - you have to develop a thick skin over time;)
Natural brands tend to include fewer ingredients in their formulas and stick to substances that work well for a baby’s skin.
We try to keep things as natural and unprocessed as possible. From a personal care perspective this means cutting out a lot of fillers, surfactants and what I consider to be unnecessary synthetic chemicals that are found in most of the personal care that is readily available.
There are so many wonderful natural ingredients that will nourish and protect your child's skin. Almond oils, olive oils and coconut oils are easy to source and a great form of nutrients for the skin.
Key Ingredients To Avoid
If you are anything like me, to start with I found this so complicated, I spent hours in shops or online looking up each of the individual ingredients and then I would still come back with products that had things in them that I didn't want to use.
I use The Environmental Working Group's skindeep database to check ingredients safety. They are a US based NGO who gathers and conducts research into many chemicals from pesticides to personal care ingredients. Of course, much more research is needed in this area to establish conclusive links but in my opinion at this stage there is enough evidence for me to question the use of many synthetic chemicals and the effect they have on our bodies both short and long term.
This is a little cheat list that you can use when choosing new products:
The big ones you may have heard of are Parabens, Phthalates, Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) / Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES).
Parabens are a preservative to stop bacteria growing but they do this by mimicking estrogen and have been proven to be associated with increased risk of breast cancer.
Phthalates are also be labelled as DEP, DBP, DEHP, they may not even be disclosed on the ingredient list as they can be hidden under “fragrance”. Again, they disruptor hormones.
SLS /SLES are used as foaming agents so found in lots of bubbles bath products but they are known to be skin irritants so best avoided with little people's delicate skin.
Many products label themselves as being free from these ingredients which is great, but it doesn't mean they are necessarily the best choice. I don't want to bombard you with too much detail but here are a few more common ingredients found in baby products to avoid:
Polyethylene glycol (PEG compounds) - are widely used as thickeners and softeners. They are known to cause dermatitis even in very low concentrations.
1,4-dioxane - is never listed on the ingredients list but it is a common contaminant in other ingredients - so avoid polyethylene, ceteareth, oleth, oxynol, -xynol
Mineral oil - Baby oil is essentially made of mineral oil mixed with fragrance, which is a nasty combination. Mineral oil is a cheap by-product of petroleum processing and acts as a plastic wrap on the skin which stops skin from releasing toxins.
Triclosan is a common skin irritant. Anything labelled as ‘antibacterial’ likely contains triclosan, which is a carcinogenic endocrine disruptor that is also harmful to the environment.
Hidden chemicals – you may find in “natural products”
Fragrance is a blanket term that can include a lot of different chemicals and companies are not required to divulge the formulation. This does not mean all products need to be fragrance free - you just want the brand to list out what they are using to create the scent rather than using a generic term "fragrance" or "Parfum"
Phenoxyethanol is used as a preservative and a stabiliser in perfumes and soaps. It has been linked to reactions most commonly eczema. It is found in a surprising number of “natural” cosmetics.
My favourite brands available in Hong Kong
Hong Kong can be a surprisingly hard place to source good natural products. A few brands that I have used and like are:
Babo Botanicals is a great brand from the US and available in some Mannings (the one on Queen's road central for example) and online at iherb.com. They have a wide range of great products going from completely fragrance free for extra sensitive skin - I love their diaper cream as well as several ranges with mild, pleasant scents from oat milk to lavender.
Earth Mama is another founder run US brand. Started by a nurse and mother whose philosophy is to heal and support our bodies with what nature already has available
Moogoo is a great Australian brand but can be a bit tricky to find here but baby central has quite an extensive range online at the moment.
Dr Bronners which is widely available in the healthcare stores like Just Green and they have an unscented liquid soap for babies.
California Baby is popping up in more places in Hong Kong from Watson's baby and baby central.
In the end it's a conscious choice
Natural beauty and personal care is growing in popularity as we all focus more on our overall wellness and the environment.
We are becoming more proactive about prevention rather than purely focused on the cure. We are all wanting to make more conscious choices. From the clothes we buy to the beauty brands we support we want to make the best choice for our family and the environment. Natural products without key questionable synthetic chemicals are the best choice for little ones because we want to protect their extra delicate skin now and hopefully for long into the future.
Hope this helps & do contact me below if you have any thoughts or questions,