Guest post: What’s in Your Skin Care Products?

While I’m on vacation until Aug. 9 (and quite possibly for the day or two after I get back), I’m featuring several guest bloggers. Today’s guest post comes from my friend Heather (who’s amazing and wonderful and taking care of my garden while I’m gone) of A Mama’s Blog.

A few days ago, I wrote about Ryan having keratosis pilaris (KP). One of the solutions that has helped Ryan, which I didn’t go into a lot of detail on, was our switch to natural skin care products.
As I wrote, this has been such a change and learning experience for me. Growing up with 3 other siblings, money was tight, and my mom bought the least expensive skin care products she could. This usually meant the typical products you would find at any drug or grocery store.

I am a beauty product junkie I’ll admit it. So I love trying out new shampoos, conditioners, make-up, lotion, and skin care products. Over the years I have gravitated towards more natural brands. I have very, very, dry and somewhat sensitive skin, and these products just work on my skin better.

I don’t know why I didn’t connect the dots, -if I was getting better results with natural products, then they were probably better for my baby, when Ryan was born. Like a lot of new mothers, I stocked up on Johnson & Johnson baby products. I also had received a Burt’s Bee Baby Starter Kit. I noticed right away after using J&J lotion on Ryan, his skin seemed very rough and dry. After using the Burt’s Bee lotion, his skin was softer and never felt dry.

I noticed this with all the skin care products we used on Ryan. The “traditional” products were always drying and somewhat irritating, where the more natural ones were not. I tried out a lot of lotions to try to keep Ryan’s skin hydrated, to reduce his KP flare-ups.

About two years ago, I came across this eye-opening, and educational website, Skin Deep, which is a cosmetic and personal skin care data base. It breaks down the ingredients in thousands and thousands of products, and lets you know which ones are the most dangerous based on ingredients in the products that are linked to cancer, developmental/reproduction toxicity, violations, restrictions, and warnings, and other issues like skin irritation. The most dangerous ones are a 10, down to 0 (with minimal hazards). It will tell you too, if the company tests its product on animals and if they have signed the Compact for Safe Cosmetic pact.

I was SHOCKED and quite honestly, appalled to see the rankings of some of the products I was using on Ryan at the time. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Lotion had a hazard of ranking of 7. In fact, 95% of baby lotions on the market have lower concerns. It is one of the most hazardous baby lotions, and how many millions of people are using it on their babies? No wonder Ryan’s skin always seemed stressed after using it.

I started to feel deceived by these baby companies, because so many of the products that sound natural, and sound good, like something you would want on your baby’s skin, is anything but. Like Huggies Baby Lotion with Shea Butter– sounds good but it also has a ranking of 7, which is a high hazard. The Burt’s Bee’s Baby Buttermilk Lotion has a ranking of 4, which put it in the moderate hazard category. I had to conclude that the lower the ranking on the products we were using, were not only better for my son’s skin, but also better for his potential health. What mother would want to knowingly expose her baby to potential toxins?

I was also surprised to find some products I thought would be high on the list actually weren’t. An example was Vaseline 100% Petroleum Jelly. Its ranking is 0, which is considered a low hazard. Another one was Johnson & Johnson Baby Oil. I thought it would be at least a 7 or 8, but it is a 3, with a moderate hazard. There are some baby oil’s that ranked at 0’s though, so baby oil wasn’t as bad as I had thought.

All of this taught me that I have to read ingredients on skin care products. I can’t just assume because a company claims the product is “natural” or because it says “baby” on it, it is safe and non-toxic to use on my children. I feel like my kids will be exposed to so many toxins in life anyway that I can’t control, but I want to cut down on the amount they are exposed to at home by using less toxic products in their bath, and on their skin.

Of course for Ryan this also means his KP doesn’t flare-up as much, and that is reason enough for me to have made the switch to less toxic skin care products for our family.

When not blogging at A Mama’s Blog, guest blogger Heather is an almost full-time stay-at-home mama to two boys, and works part-time a few days a week. Heather enjoys blogging about daily life with her sons, pregnancy and birth, and natural living. Heather is also a monthly contributor at API Speaks, Attachment Parenting International’s blog.