March 31, 2009 at 4:47PM
by Alexandra Zissu
I've been reading your blog for almost a year now and just love it. I've tried almost every baby and toddler wash available labeled organic, green, natural, etc. So far I haven't found one that I was completely happy with. Upon further investigation of the ingredients some aren't as chemical-free as I would like, others are filled with unnecessary ingredients or fillers, and one in particular was so icky I couldn't get through the whole bottle without switching (and I hate to waste). My favorite "wash" so far has been a homemade concoction of Dr. Bronner's Mild liquid soap, some vegetable glycerin, and a drop of rose essential oil. It lathers up, rinses clean without any residue and smells clean, not perfumey. I'm curious what wash is preferred by the "organic moms."
Elizabeth from California
That sounds like a lovely concoction. For more ideas on how to make your own natural personal care products beyond baby wash, check out Annie Berthold Bond's Better Basics For The Home
, if you haven't already. It's a great reference.
I prefer bar soap to wash when it comes to scrubbing babies (and myself). Not for any organic or natural reason. I find using bars makes it easier to control the amount used - you need so little for those sweet little bodies. Or maybe I'm just more used to them. My favorite bar soap is Weleda's calendula baby soap
. We use this soap on her hair, too. It's BDIH-certified
natural and is the mildest, purest, and most widely available bar I have found. This comes in a liquid form if that's what you prefer. We have also used the Dr. Bronner's "Baby Mild" Organic Bar Soap
, which I like but is a bit more drying. I have tried countless other samples, too. Of these, I liked Erbaviva's organic baby soap
, though it's a little pricey, as well as Terressentials Organic Baby Wash
Whatever baby wash you use or make, I suggest avoiding lavender and tea tree oil for babies because they have been linked by researchers at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
to breast growth in boys. There are other organic essential oils in the world so it's not too difficult to pass these over.
Other popular natural brands include Aubrey, Burt's Bees, and California Baby. I'm sure you have tried all of these. Still another popular (and very pricey) brand that has a natural reputation is Jurlique. I actually mentioned Jurlique in The Complete Organic Pregnancy
. Since the book was printed, Jurlique changed its packaging and began including longer ingredient lists on the new packaging -- or maybe they just reformulated. Either way, it has come to my attention that certain ingredients in their Baby's Gentle Shampoo & Body Wash and Baby's Soothing Bubble Bath aren't things I personally would use on my baby. These are ingredients on SaffronRouge.com's Black List
(things the one-stop-organic-beauty site founder Kirstin Binder deems unacceptable for use in an organic product, based on her extensive research).
For readers out there who aren't using natural/organic/pure body wash or bar soap on the kids (or on themselves), switching to one is a very prudent idea, especially in light of the recent Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
report that found dozens of top-selling children's bath products are contaminated
with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane.
If you can't find any of the above mentioned products at stores near you, you can order them online. And/or you can take the following steps, suggested by the Campaign For Safe Cosmetics:
Select products with fewer ingredients and no synthetic fragrance or dyes, and use fewer products overall.
* Choose safety:
Search The Environmental Working Group's cosmetic safety database, Skin Deep
, to learn more about the products you use and find safer alternatives. Also check out EWG's Safety Guide to Children's Personal Care Products.
* Read labels:
Select products for baby and yourself that don't contain the ingredients quaternium-15, DMDM hydantoin, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, PEG-100 stearate, sodium laureth sulfate, polyethylene and ceteareth-20. These are commonly contaminated with formaldehyde or 1,4-dioxane.
* Take action!
Can't memorize these lists? Nobody can. If harmful contaminants and ingredients weren't allowed in products, you wouldn't have to. Tell Congress you want safe cosmetics for babies, adults and everyone in between.
NB: Skin Deep's list of safest baby washes and liquid soaps
parents can buy isn't actually my everyday go-to list because I want my ingredients to be organic as well as pure and safe, which isn't something their helpful database takes into account. If you're using a conventional product, do take the time to look it up here; you might be alarmed by what you learn and be motivated to make the change.
And yes, I do know that my bar soap of choice actually gets a not-so-great rating on Skin Deep. Let me explain: the rating is worse than it should be, thanks to an ingredient listed on the packaging as "fragrance." Unfortunately this word can officially mean that a product contains organic essential oil (which is the case with Weleda soap) or it can mean that it contains the worst, most toxic synthetic fragrance on the market. So it scores poorly. On Weleda's calendula oil, they list the fragrance as "fragrance (natural essential oils)" which gets them no negative points, but on their calendula lotion, it's listed as "fragrance (parfum, mixture of natural essential oil)," which gets them a few negative points. I've been meaning to put in a call to an Environmental Working Group toxicology expert to get to the bottom of this, and will. I'll post their response shortly.
Are there any favorite washes and bars or DIY wash recipes I'm missing out on? Please share in comments.