What chemicals are lurking in your baby’s skin-care products?

Baby products

We all want to do what is best for our children.  We buy them the latest baby gear, the best diapers and use what we think to be the best soaps and lotions to protect their precious skin.  If it is made for a baby, sold in almost every store and used by millions, it must be safe.  Right?

Think again!  Popular baby care brand Johnson & Johnson reformulated their baby shampoo just this past January 2014, to exclude a formaldehyde releasing chemical called Quaternium-15.  Formaldehyde is a known carcinogen and due to pressure from consumers as well as retail-giants such as Wal-Mart and Target, Johnson & Johnson has reformulated the ingredients to exclude this harmful toxin.

Sounds good to me… but let’s take a look at the reformulated ingredient list:

According to The Environmental Working Group’s Cosmetic Safety Database, Johnson’s Baby Shampoo still contains a host of dangerous ingredients.

  • PEG-80 Sorbitan Laurate – of moderate concern due to possible organ toxicity.
  • Cocamidopropyl Betaine – this ingredient is a moderate hazard because its ability to cause irritation or allergic reactions to the skin.
  • Sodium Trideceth Sulfate – of low (but still present) concern due to contamination concerns.
  • PEG-150 Distearate – concern due to organ and system toxicity.
  • Phenoxyethanol – high concern for irritation to eyes, skin and lungs.  Moderate concern for organ toxicity.
  • Fragrance – WARNING!  WARNING!  This is of moderate to high concern.  According to EWG.org, “The word “fragrance” or “parfum” on the product label represents an undisclosed mixture of various scent chemicals and ingredients used as fragrance dispersants such as diethyl phthalate. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.”
  • Sodium Benzoate – this is a preservative which has been linked to hyperactivity in children and also linked to cancer because of its ability to starve cells of oxygen.  Your skin, being the largest organ on your body, is absorbing everything you put on in.  A talented doctor I follow always says, “If you wouldn’t eat it, don’t put it on your skin!”
  • Yellow 6 and Yellow 10 are produced from petroleum and are linked to cancer and hyperactivity.

While I am glad that users of this product will no longer be bathing their children in formaldehyde, the ingredient list above is far from anything I would ever want to use on my children.  I think that often we are too trusting as consumers.  As mothers, we should be looking into every ingredient list of everything we buy for our homes and families.  The Skin Deep Database is a wonderful tool to check on the safety of a product before purchasing it.  Products are given a safety rating so you can easily determine if it meets your standards.

Please also take note that even if a product says “ALL NATURAL” or contains “Natural” in the title, this does not mean ANYTHING.  The word natural is not regulated and anyone can put it on any product.   Even the Johnson’s Natural Head-to-Toe Baby Wash contains the pesky Fragrance (WARNING!) which is listed and described above.  We can never be too careful.  Look. up. everything.

Here are some brands that I have used and love:

  • Shea Moisture Baby Wash – safe and does not bother my son’s eczema!  You can buy this and the lotion at Target.
  • Shea Moisture Baby Lotion – The lotion is very fragrant so I would not recommend it for small babies or for the face of babies or toddlers.
  • Angel Baby Shampoo & Body Wash – safe for baby and smells wonderful.  Just make sure the product does not get in baby’s eyes, it is not tear free!

Our children are being bombarded with toxins every day and the more we can do to minimize their exposure, the better chance they have to live a healthy and happy life.  The toxins contained in almost every popular skin care line for babies and small children can cause system toxicity resulting in allergies, hyperactivity and who-knows-what-else.  We can never be too careful in protecting our kids!


Thomas, Katie.  “The ‘No More Tears’ Shampoo, Now with no Formaldehyde.”  NY Times.com.  17 January 2014.

The Environmental Working Group.  Skin Deep Database.  Johnson & Johnson Baby Shampoo Formula

Wells, S.D.  “Sodium Benzoate is a preservative that promotes cancer and kills healthy cells.”  Natural News.com 29 September 2011.



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