Children are especially sensitive to the chemicals found in personal care products. Reduce kids\’ chemical exposure by using organic skin care products.
Wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, dull skin—just because kids don’t have the same skin concerns as we do doesn’t mean they’re not immune to their own particular skin concerns. The following tips will help your child’s skin look and feel its best, naturally.
Why natural and organic?
Choosing natural and organic products for our children may actually be more important than choosing natural and organic products for us. This is because children are still growing and developing, and are therefore more susceptible to environmental influences. Furthermore, they have a higher body surface area to body weight ratio, which means they have a higher rate of exposure to the products and ingredients they use.
According to a survey by the US-based Environmental Working Group (EWG), “Every day, children are exposed to an average of 27 personal care product ingredients that have not been found safe for developing bodies.” With findings such as these, choosing natural and organic products (made without artificial ingredients, chemicals, pesticides and herbicides) is a simple, positive step parents can take.
Your bundle of joy
Gently does it
Babies’ and toddlers’ sensitive, often dry skin benefits from nourishing natural products. Choose a mild cleanser (such as castile soap) for bathing and a gentle moisturiser to hydrate. Soothing ingredients include oatmeal and calendula, while fragranced products can be irritating and should always be avoided.
No more nappy rash
Help to prevent or treat nappy rash by choosing wipes that do not contain alcohol or perfumes, and use an unscented barrier ointment after nappy changes.
The EWG also recommends avoiding the following ingredients in wipes and nappy creams:
- 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bronopol)
- DMDM hydantoin
- boric acid
- sodium borate
Talcum powder, made from talc, has long been used in baby care. However, it can be harmful to the eyes, skin and lungs. Concerns have also been raised about its potential contamination with asbestos. It’s best just to skip the baby powder altogether.
Opt for natural shampoo
Some conventional baby shampoos have been shown to contain formaldehyde-releasing ingredients. Your best bet is a natural shampoo.
If hair combing is a never-ending battle in your house, choose a natural conditioner or detangler for easy brushing and knot-free hairdos. Conditioner creams can be used in the shower or bath, while detangler sprays are often used on wet or dry hair before combing. Tangle-taming ingredients in natural versions include glycerine and coconut oil.
Brightly coloured, heavily perfumed bubbles may be fun, but chemicals in conventional bubble bath products can lead to rashes and urinary tract and yeast infections. Natural bath washes are free of irritating chemicals but still make bath time exciting.
Bumps and bruises
Although serious wounds should be left to the professionals, natural products and home care TLC can help clear up minor cuts and scrapes. Make sure to have these home remedies ready in your natural first aid kit:
- honey, a natural antiseptic
- calendula, which helps heal skin
- lavender, an essential oil that acts as an antiseptic
- aloe, which may accelerate skin cell growth
Tweens and teens
Choose natural deodorants
Puberty brings a host of new skin care concerns, including body odour. Sweating is an important function as it helps cool the body. And contrary to popular belief, it is not sweat itself that smells, but rather the combination of sweat mixing with bacteria on the skin.
While antiperspirants block the sweat pores thereby reducing sweating, deodorants allow the body to undergo the natural perspiration process but neutralise odours. Some research suggests a link between antiperspirants and breast cancer, although the evidence overall is inconclusive.
Nevertheless, to reduce your child’s exposure to chemicals, natural deodorants are the way to go. Also encourage your tween or teen to further reduce bacteria and body odour by bathing regularly.
Natural deodorants come in a variety of forms (choose one based on your teen’s personal preference):
- classic stick solid deodorants
- liquid deodorants with a roll-on applicator
- solid deodorants or deodorant stones or crystals, which are wetted and patted on the skin
- powder deodorants, which are often cornflour-based
Thyme for clear skin
Teenage skin has long been synonymous with acne. While avoiding pimples altogether may seem unfeasible, it is possible to reduce the occurrence and severity of acne breakouts with healthy habits (such as avoiding the urge to scrub the skin or squeeze pimples) as well as natural products.
Specifically, recent research has uncovered thyme as a natural treatment that may be more effective (and less irritating) than prescription acne creams. Calendula and myrrh tinctures also show promise.
It’s normal for adolescent girls to show an interest in make-up. When you decide your daughter is old enough to wear make-up, take a moment to explain to her the importance of choosing natural products. Then hit the store to choose make-up together.
The top chemicals to avoid in cosmetics are:
- BHA and BHT
- coal tar dyes
- DEA-related ingredients
- dibutyl phthalate
- formaldehyde-releasing preservatives
- PEG compounds
- sodium laureth sulphate
Thankfully, natural make-up brands carry safe alternatives for virtually every make-up product, from mascara to lip gloss.
Choosing products that are safe and effective for children is simple if you know where to look. Visit your local natural health retailer and ask to speak with their in-house skin care or beauty specialist to find out more.
A healthy diet for a healthy complexion
While chocolate was once (unfairly) blamed for causing acne, what we eat can affect our skin. A diet for healthy skin is not unlike a diet for overall health. Maintain healthy skin by encouraging your child to eat plenty of
- fruits and vegetables
- whole grains
- vegetarian proteins (such as legumes, nuts and eggs) and lean animal protein
- dairy products such as yoghurt
If your child is a picky eater who may be missing out on key nutrients, you may wish to ask your local health food retailer’s staff about a children’s multivitamin.
Skin care resources
|Organisation||Website||What they do|
|EWG’s Skin Deep Cosmetics Database||ewg.org/skindeep||rates thousands of skin care products and uncovers the safest options|
|Healthy Child, Healthy World||healthychild.org||“empowers parents to protect children from harmful chemicals”|
|Good Guide||goodguide.com||includes a shopping guide for personal care products on website and on iPhone app|
|The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics||safecosmetics.org||helps teens (and adults) make healthier cosmetic choices|