Whether you’re a first time parent or a seasoned offspring producer, walking down the children’s care aisle of your local supermarket or pharmacy can be an overwhelming experience.
There are so many options available today when it comes to picking the perfect product for baby’s bath time, bed time and changing time. Not that we should complain; having more selection is a good thing, right?!
But choice in any area of life can sometimes feel like a paralyzing paradox – putting even more responsibility in the decision maker’s hands to make the right one. Not to mention the inevitable judgment fatigue that comes with it. Every option is another mental evaluation which can be tiresome. It’s no wonder trends like non-uniform ‘uniform’ dressing are taking off – wearing the same thing every day must pay off when it’s one less decision you have to make in the morning.
And when it comes to choosing products to put on your young one’s skin, the decision becomes even harder. Little skin is thinner, more delicate and more permeable than adult skin, so it’s important to feel safe in what you are applying.
Many of you who are reading this will have likely suffered a reaction to a skincare product you’ve tried on yourself at some point in your life, whether it be a small blemish or something more serious. Or you might have begun using a new face wash which seemed perfectly fine in the beginning, only to find out three weeks down the track, after regular use, that your once healthy, balanced skin is now dry, patchy and irritated.
So what’s a parent to do when faced with the daunting task of picking products for baby’s uber delicate little tush?
Products which are made of natural, bioactive extracts and essential oils are not only great for their calming, therapeutic benefits, but they are also more efficacious than their synthetic counterparts.
There has been a distinct shift towards a more eco-conscious society over the past decade, and as a result there are now many eco-friendly, natural products available which are effective, and suitable for a broad range of skin types.
But even then, it can be hard to differentiate which is the best between the growing number of plant based and organic options out there.
“The most important thing is to look for any recognised certification (like Ecocert) that will guarantee you a good quality baby product,” says Ms Tellechea, certified Cosmetic Chemist and Organic Formulator at The Cosmetic Company.
“The organic Ecocert certification guarantees you that 95% of the ingredients are naturally derived and a high percentage of those ingredients are organic.”
Ms Tellechea warns that a lot of products in the market may claim the term ‘contains natural or organic ingredients’ but the rest of the product could contain chemicals that are not suitable for anyone, be it an adult or a baby.
“Ecocert was introduced in 2003 in France and was the very first certification body to develop standards for natural and organic cosmetic products,” explains Ms Tellechea.
“Before then there was an absence of official standards for cosmetic products using organic ingredients. The existence of a great number of private certifiers not recognised by the body of the cosmetic professionals makes it difficult for the consumer to recognise ‘real’ organic or natural products on the market.”
But by purchasing products which come with an Ecocert stamp of approval, you’ll know that the product has had to adhere to extremely strict guidelines put in place by the governing body. These include but are not limited to ingredient quality and mildness control, 100% organic and natural ingredient approval, and absolutely no parabens, no phenoxyethanol, no synthetic colour or fragrance – all of which are high irritants.
For baby care, a recommended care regime will include a body wash, shampoo, lotion, powder, bottom butter and a sun care product which uses mineral filters like Titanium dioxide (although no baby should ever be left in direct sunlight).
There has been considerable negative coverage on Baby Powder recently, but it’s a vital part of the skincare routine to soothe and dry baby’s delicate areas so it’s important to know the reason for the backlash.
“Some studies have shown that talc – a key ingredient in many baby powders out there – can be dangerous as it could be linked to cancer, and can cause irritation of the nasal tubes and lungs,” says Ms Tellechea. “But there are now powders available that do not contain any talc, which instead use cornstarch for the same effect.”
“Mineral oil (paraffin) or silicones should also be avoided because they are very occlusive for a baby’s skin,” adds Ms Tellechea.
For all of the ingredients that are not allowed according to Ecocert’s regulations, you’d be forgiven for imagining that using just natural and organic products won’t be as effective as synthetic ingredients that ‘get the job done’.
But Ms Tellechea assures that this is incorrect. “Formulating certified organic products can be a challenge as there are a lot of forbidden raw materials, but with a lot of work and effort you can produce high quality and safer products.”
Body Oil that’s been specially formulated for babies also offers the opportunity to massage your baby to sleep, and provide extra skin nourishment – especially during the drying winter months. “Baby’s skin is different from adult skin but like ours, it is also sensitive to climate,” says Ms Tellechea. So make sure you look for nourishing ingredients like sweet almond oil and sunflower seed oil for maximum efficacy.
Products with other natural ingredients such as honey and chamomile work to protect and calm baby’s skin, and oils such as avocado oil, macadamia seed oil and beeswax offer unparalleled nourishing effects.
Something to keep in mind when harvesting ingredients from nature, is of course that it’s just as important for cosmetic product manufacturing to respect the environment as much as it does our little one’s body.
By buying a product that is Ecocert certified organic, you can rest assured that environmental care has been taken into account too. “As well as being friendly on baby’s skin, the main principles of Ecocert is to create products in the respect of the environment and the consumers,” says Ms Tellechea of The Cosmetic Company.
“This covers the use of ingredients derived from renewable resources, making sure it is manufactured by environmentally friendly process, the use of natural ingredients from organic farming, the importance of proper cleaning and sanitising processes in accordance with the relevant organic standard, the traceability of ingredients and the transparency to the consumers.”
When it comes to looking after a child’s skin in a conscious environment, information is key. Next time you’re shopping for their skin care, wash away the worry and arm yourself with the power of certified nature. When you know how to look for effective, natural and organic options, making safe decisions for your little ones will become a breeze – and will do the world of good.
By Amelia Haysom
For more information and some great options for natural, organic baby skincare, check out the Little Skinfood range.