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It's no secret that babies have incredibly delicate skin that tends to lose moisture fast. As a result, many parents coat their child in moisturizing baby lotion to keep their baby's skin looking soft and healthy.
Unfortunately, many baby lotions provide your child with more than just an improved complexion. Baby lotions have been known to include many dangerous chemicals and ingredients that may also cause harm.
These toxic elements are more prevalent than you may like to believe and can cause problems and irritations for your child.
Luckily, there are some great baby lotions out there that will make your child's skin soft and healthy without the harmful side effects.
Here are the best baby lotions that are safe for your little one.
Top 5 Non Toxic Baby Lotions
Before I get into all the baby lotion info, I just wanted to point out that applying baby lotion is a GREAT time to do a baby massage.
Baby massage is extremely beneficial because it helps you bond with your baby, which is great for their emotional well being. Massaging an infant can also reduce crying and fussiness, help them sleep better, and even can help alleviate constipation and colic!
Here is a great video on exactly how to do a full baby body massage:
Conventional Baby Lotion
So, what problems exactly are found in baby lotions?
Baby lotion is mostly composed of oil and water, but many lotions have had other toxic ingredients added to their mixes as well.
In addition to oil and water, baby lotions will also contain ingredients known as emulsifiers which prevent the oil and water from separating. While these emulsifiers serve a purpose, many of these emulsifiers have been shown to be toxic and unsafe.
While some companies have changed their ways to some extent, most still include harmful ingredients in their products.
What Chemicals and Materials Are Found in Most Baby Lotion?
Several unsafe chemicals and materials rear their head in the ingredients list of common baby lotions. Several items make the list again and again and cause unnecessary risk to your child.
These ingredients have been found to be common allergens, and many also pose more serious risks as well. Many have been found to lead to diseases such as cancer.
There is a debate about some of these, but we prefer to play it safe. I'm sure you do too. When it comes to your child's health, it's best not to take too many risks. With many of these ingredients, the evidence points to some serious concerns.
Below is a basic rundown of the main toxic substances you may find in typical baby lotions.
Chemical or Material
Safe to Use?
More research needed - quantities may be small enough to be ok - We lean towards NO
More research needed - quantities may be small enough to be ok - We lean towards NO
OK if it came from organic wool that was not heavily treated with pesticides
More research needed -- We lean towards NO
1,4-dioxane is found in many baby lotions, and this is one ingredient you should certainly avoid.
PEG (Propylene glycol) is a dangerous substance that is found in many baby lotions and is known to be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane. The skin can easily absorb PEG.
While it can come from PEG, it is also found contained in other ingredients as well, such as any ingredient you see that has the -eth prefix.
According to research, 1,4-dioxane is irritating to the eyes and respiratory tract. It may also cause damage to the central nervous system, the kidneys, and the liver.
Verdict: No??? More research needed - quantities may be small enough to be ok - We lean towards NO
Benzyl Alcohol has been shown to to cause eye irritation and skin irritation. In addition the MSDS also shows it may be toxic to the liver and central nervous system. Repeated exposure to benzyl alcohol also can affect the immune system, gradually causing an allergy.
The Cosmetic Ingredient Review(CIR) has concluded that it is safe to use at concentrations of up to 5%. However, the CIR was made and is funded by the Personal Care Products Council, a trade association representing the global cosmetic and personal care products industry.
...I'll leave it up to you whether they are motivated more by safety or by what is easiest/cheapest for the personal care product industry....
Let's just say that in the European Union, benzyl alcohol is allowed in cosmetics and personal care products at a maximum concentration of 1%.
In any ingredient that is "worse in larger quantities," there is a higher concern for babies and children since they have lower weights and are therefore more affected by potential toxicities.
Verdict: No?? More research needed - quantities may be small enough to be ok - we lean towards no
TEA, DMDM hydantoin, and quaternium-15 can all release formaldehyde so stay away from these chemicals. Formaldehyde is carcinogenic and something you don't want to use on your baby's skin.
Formaldehyde is also known to be an irritant and a neurotoxin and has been linked to cancer, leukemia, and asthma. There is some debate however over whether formaldehyde in this form and quantity is truly dangerous.
Nevertheless, we prefer not to take the chances when it comes to our child's health. While it needs more research, formaldehyde is on our "avoid" list for now.
Parabens have been used as preservatives since the 1950s, particularly in cosmetics and other health products. Although they have traditionally been used to prevent bacteria growth, their usage has come with side effects.
Parabens work as mimics of estrogen and have been present in patients with breast cancer, although no causal relationship has been proven.
Parabens are also neurotoxins and have been linked to skin irritation, hormonal disruptions, and reproductive toxicity.
Parabens are found in many products in addition to baby lotion, unfortunately. Parabens can be found in soaps, body washes, shampoos, moisturizers, and other beauty products.
Parabens may disguise themselves on your baby lotion ingredients list in a variety of ways and may come up as benzylparaben, butyl paraben, ethyl paraben, isobutyl paraben, isopropyl paraben, methyl paraben, or propyl paraben.
Verdict: Be Carefull! Ok if came from organic wool that was not heavily treated with pesticides.
Lanolin is an animal product that is often found in baby lotions. Lanolin comes from the wool of sheep and specifically, it comes from the sheep's sebaceous glands and coats its fur.
Since most sheep in the U.S. are not raised organically, and most come into contact with GMOs and pesticides, the lanolin that they produce is also at risk of containing these harmful substances.
Lanolin has also been linked to allergies. However, there is some debate around this. I go over this more in my mattress guide where I talk about wool allergies. Check it out here.
Verdict: No??? More research needed - we lean towards no
Phenoxyethanol has been linked with some limited evidence to acute effects on nervous system function in infants. It has also been linked to skin irritations such as eczema.
What about Johnson's Baby Lotion and Aveeno Baby Lotion?
Since these seem to be 2 of the most common baby lotions used, I get asked about them a lot. I have bad news for those that like using them...both contain products from the known and suspected toxic ingredients list above.
- Johnson's Baby Lotion: In 2012, the baby product giant actually gave all of us a welcome double take when they said they would be phasing out their use of harmful chemicals by 2015 in their products, including Johnson's Baby Lotion. The chemicals they sought to eliminate included formaldehyde, 1,4 dioxane, triclosan, phthalates, parabens, and fragrance. However, as of 2017 the ingredient list still contained at least fragrance and phenoxyethanol.
- Aveeno Baby Lotion (this is actually made by Johnson and Johnson): This one is actually not too bad, but it does contain benzyl alcohol, one of my ingredients to be careful of in large quantities.
Non Toxic Baby Lotion
By now you know what kind of harmful ingredients many common baby lotions contain and why you should avoid these lotions.
That leads us into discussing what you should be using instead. There are many more natural, organic and non toxic alternatives to typical baby lotions that you can use.
These options will not contain the harmful elements listed above such as 1,4-Dioxane, formaldehyde, and parabens, but will instead have much simpler formulas that contain natural and organic ingredients.
First, we'll go over some of these ingredients you can expect to see in non toxic baby lotions. Then we'll look at our top picks for baby lotions that you should be using.
What Chemicals and Materials Usually Make Up Non Toxic Baby Lotion?
Natural Oils (Sunflower, Olive, Coconut, Almond Oil)
Baby lotions will have a base to make up its composition. Along with water, these natural oils usually work as a base for these non toxic baby lotions, as they do with regular lotions.
The best baby lotions will use completely natural and organic oils such as sunflower oil, olive oil, coconut oil, safflower oil or almond oil, and will have few other ingredients.
Each of these oil types has natural properties that help to condition and improve the skin, so each of these will work wonderfully as a base to a baby lotion. Coconut oil is our first choice for a base, but many of these other natural oils work great as well.
Shea butter can also work as a base of a natural, non-toxic lotion. This ivory-colored fat comes from the nut of an African shea tree and is known for having great skin soothing properties, making it a common element of baby lotions.
Shea Butter is a fat that is derived from a stearic acid and oleic acid. It is not hard to find listed as an ingredient in consumer products. It has been used in many types of cosmetics including moisturizers, salves, and lotions.
Various essential oils are often found in non toxic baby lotions. Essential oils such as chamomile help to give the lotion a great scent and often have the benefit of containing other helpful and soothing properties as well.
Some non-toxic baby lotions will use high-quality essential oils that have been extracted using carbon dioxide.
Aloe Vera is well-known as a wonder drug for the skin and helps to keep skin smooth and make it healthier. It is also commonly used to soothe sunburns and skin irritations.
It is often found in typical baby lotions as well as some of the best non toxic choices. Aloe vera is natural, safe to use, and works perfectly for infants.
While aloe vera gel is useful to use on your skin straight from an aloe vera plant, it also works great as an ingredient in a high-quality non-toxic lotion. Keep your look out for aloe vera on a baby lotion's ingredient list.
When looking for nontoxic baby lotions, there are several certifications that you will want to keep a look out for. To earn a certification, products must meet certain set requirements, and these certifications will give you a good idea of what the products are composed of.
Certifications will appear as a logo or symbol on products.
The USDA organic certification appears on organic products and will indicate that the product has met a set of organic standards set by the USDA. Other countries will have organic labels with a somewhat different set of standards.
These standards include, among others, the avoidance of synthetic chemicals and genetically modified seed.
Administered by The Non-GMO Project, the non-GMO label is awarded to products that have met the standards of the non-profit organization. The label certifies that the product doesn’t use GMOs.
Particularly a concern with people who have Celiac Disease, the gluten-free label will denote the absence, of wheat, oats, and other grains that contain gluten.
Top 5 Non Toxic Baby Lotions...Reviewed
So now for the grand finale. Below we’ve listed the best baby lotions that you should use instead of a normal baby lotion. The baby lotions listed below are free from all or most of these harmful carcinogens and other ingredients that you want to avoid giving to your child.
These baby lotions have all natural ingredients and have been certified organic. With their fewer and more natural ingredients, these are much safer options to use on your infant's skin.
Here are the top 5 picks.
Written by Ashley
Chief editor here at Nontoxic Reboot. I'm passionate about providing you with the best and easiest ways to make your world healthier and a little less toxic.
It’s no secret that babies have incredibly delicate skin that tends to lose moisture fast. As a result, many parents coat their child in moisturizing baby lotion to keep their baby’s skin looking soft and healthy.