8 Harmful Ingredients In Baby Care Products

Common Chemicals Found in Baby Care Products

There’s nothing more precious than a baby. From the day that we lay eyes on our infant we do everything in our power to make sure that they are taken care of to the absolute best of our abilities. From what we feed them to the products we put on their skin, we believe that the decisions we make are with their best interests in mind and that nothing harmful with come from them.

But did you know that our little ones are constantly exposed to irritants from the moment they enter this world? From environmental pollutants to skin care and household products, even the items that claim to be “all-natural” still can have adverse effects on their health, as well as their delicate and highly absorbent skin?!

Whether it be rashes, allergic skin reactions, eczema outbreaks or other skin irritations, there are numerous personal care products available on the market that contain these potentially harmful ingredients and artificial fragrances – and as a Mom of 3 myself, I want nothing to do with them!

This is why I choose to use organic and all-natural products with the least amount of ingredients as possible!

But how do we know which of the ingredients listed are actually causing potential harm so we can avoid those? Let me help!

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What To Avoid In Baby Care Products

Here is a list of 8 ingredients that should be avoided in baby products – and yours too for that matter!

1. Artificial fragrance

The majority of baby shampoos and soaps contain various synthetic fragrances in order to make babies smell great and to encourage parents to keep buying these products. Unfortunately, artificial fragrance can irritate a little one’s respiratory system, as well as cause various skin irritations. Moreover, the chemical compounds that create a scent are generally identified as trade secrets, so it is impossible to know what you are truly getting[1].

With thousands of different ingredients falling under the generic “fragrance” term, the unidentified mixture of ingredients can include carcinogens, allergens, respiratory irritants, endocrine disruptors, neurotoxic chemicals and environmental toxicants. In fact, A National Academy of Sciences points out some vital facts [2]:

About 95 percent of chemicals used in synthetic fragrances are derived from petroleum (crude oil). They include benzene derivatives (carcinogenic), aldehydes, toluene and many other known toxic chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects, central nervous system disorders and allergic reactions. And many on the list are known or suspected endocrine disruptors, compounds that mess with hormonal health and can trigger weight gain and even set you up for diseases decades down the line.

2. Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde has been used for decades to embalm dead bodies for open casket burials, and is a preservation fluid that replaces the blood. However, it’s also a common ingredient in beauty products to prevent bacteria growth. Recognized as a cancer-causing agent (carcinogen) by the National Cancer Institute, formaldehyde is a severe respiratory irritant that can cause damage to the central nervous system [3].

3. Parabens

Designed to prevent bacteria from growing, parabens are a chemical preservative that have been deemed xenoestrogens – agents that mimic estrogen in the body[4]. “Estrogen disruption” has been linked to breast cancer and reproductive issues. And in 2004 British cancer researcher Philippa Darbre, Ph.D., found parabens present in malignant breast tumors, and is why experts in many countries have recommended limits on paraben levels in beauty products[5].

Furthermore, watchdog organizations worry that if parabens can be stored in the body, they could have a cumulative effect and pose a health risk, and is why they are best avoided altogether.

However, please be aware that these chemicals are often not listed as parabens on the ingredients label but rather such things as butylparaben, propylparaben and methylparaben.

4. Phthalates

First off, it’s pronounced tha·lates – you’re welcome for that. I had no idea for a long time either.

So now that we got that out of the way… phthalates are a group of industrial chemicals that are used to make plastics more flexible and durable. Often found in plastic toys, water bottles, etc., you will be surprised to learn that they are also used in beauty products. The most common types are as follows:

  • Dibutyl phthalate (DBP) – used in nail polishes to prevent cracking
  • Dimethyl phthalate (DMP) – used in hair sprays to give it a flexible, less “crunchy” hold
  • Diethyl phthalate (DEP) – used as a solvent in fragrances to help scent “linger”
  • Di-2-ethylhexylphthalate (DEHP) – commonly found in eye lash glue

According to the FDA and the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR), they are not harmful [6].

However, According to the European Union, phthalates are considered to be unsafe and on July 11, 2018, representatives of the EU voted unanimously to prohibit the use of four phthalates in consumer products —butyl benzyl phthalate (BBP), di(2-ethylhexyl) phthalate (DEHP), dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) [7].

5. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)

A common ingredient in personal care products, sodium lauryl sulfate, or SLS, is an additive that allows cleansing products to foam and lather. From shampoos, and body washes, to toothpaste and lotions, the Environmental Working Group’s Skin Deep Cosmetic Safety Database considers SLS a “moderate hazard” that has been linked to cancer, neurotoxicity, organ toxicity, skin irritation and endocrine disruption.

According to Mercola.com, although SLS is derived from coconuts, it is contaminated with a toxic byproduct during the manufacturing process and prolonged contact with the skin may also result in skin irritation.[8]

Furthermore, SLS may also be listed as sodium dodecyl sulfate, sulfuric acid, monododecyl ester, sodium salt, sodium salt sulfuric acid, sodium dodecyl sulfate, aquarex me or aquarex methyl, reports the EWG.

6. Sodium benzoate

Sodium benzoate is a synthetic compound created when benzoic acid is combined with sodium hydroxide. Benzoic acid is a sodium salt found naturally in some fruits and spices such as berries, apples, cinnamon and plums and isn’t harmful on its own. However, the problem occurs when benzene is combined with ascorbic acid.[9]

Benzene is a cancer-causing chemical associated with blood cancers such as leukemia. The FDA recognizes that sodium benzoate is used as an antimicrobial agent and allows limited use.

Sodium benzoate can also trigger allergic reactions in some people. According to the December 2007 issue of “Environmental Health Perspectives” [10], it has also been implicated as a potential trigger for hyperactivity in children with attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder. It is stated that sodium benzoate in and of itself does not cause the disorder, and more research is needed to determine what role, if any, it plays in worsening hyperactivity.

7. Talc

Commonly used in baby powder to help prevent and calm diaper rash, talc is an ingredient that has been linked to several health issues. There are studies that link talc use to cancer, and talc has occasionally been found to be contaminated with asbestos. [11]

To be safe, we recommend using a talc-free baby powder to safely soothe your baby’s behind. Or better yet, use a Diaper Balm that has other soothing ingredients to calm inflamed skin and prevent other rashes and discomforts from developing in the first place.

8. Tributyl-tin (TBT)

Used in some paints, plastics, and various consumer products, TBT is used as an antifungal agent and can even be found in disposable diapers. Known to have carcinogenic effects, upset hormone levels, and even damage a person’s immune system. Moreover, there are also been numerous studies that exposure to it and other endocrine disruptors could reprogram the metabolism of individuals, predisposing them toward weight gain.[12]

This is why it’s important to look for organic or chemical-free diapers, or even consider cloth diapers for your baby.


Although daily irritants are something our little ones are exposed to right from birth, we as parents can take extra precautions in order to protect their delicate and highly absorbent skin.

Some of the biggest culprits? The household and personal skin care products that we use on a daily basis! Fortunately, opting for products with natural and hypoallergenic plant-based ingredients is one of the best ways to care for and prevent certain skin conditions, as well as protect and nourish baby’s soft sensitive skin.

That is why I have made it my mission to create better-for-baby products – and is how EverJoyn got started!

Join us on our mission to expand this Conscious Parenting Movement and use products that are great for baby – and for you!

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