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Common Baby Skin Products with Harmful Chemicals Part 2

Jessica Kellner

Tags: healthy baby products, toxic baby products, safe baby skin products, nontoxic baby skin products, phthalates, parabens, fragrance, Desitin Diaper Rash Relief,

It's disturbing enough to look at the ingredients in personal-care products and cosmetics for adults--with zero government regulation, these products are frequently filled with chemicals that are, no exaggeration, proven carcinogens. Take, for example, formaldehyde, categorized as a human carcinogen by both the U.S. government and the World Health Organization. This ingredient is the base of keratin treatments used for straightening hair. It's also frequently used as a preservative in lotions and other products.

But it's even more disturbing to discover the harmful ingredients present in popular products for babies. Parents of infants--likely too overwhelmed to research every ingredient on every product they buy--purchase these items in good faith, hoping to help their babies. Unfortunately, despite marketing to make these items seem healthful, some common baby products contain chemicals proven to be harmful.

So for this blog series, I researched some of the top-selling baby products in the U.S., and hope to share their harmful ingredients for all the parents of little ones who are a little too busy to spend time researching product ingredients. Here's to naturally healthy little ones. 

#2: Desitin Diaper Rash Relief

This product gets an overall score of 5 out of 10 on the Environmental Working Group's (EWG) Skin Deep database--a moderate risk. It's likely not going to cause serious damage, but it has several ingredients of concern. My attitude is why slather a baby with questionable ingredients when a healthier option exists. In this case, I'd recommend a calendula salve made with organic ingredients. 

Ingredients of concern:

Fragrance: Here again we see fragrance, that ubiquitous ingredient made up of a mix of chemicals, which often contains phthalates. The EWG rates this ingredient (the worst offender in this product formulation) an 8 out of 10 on its hazard scale, noting its association with allergies, respiratory distress and potential effects on the reproductive system.

Propylparaben: This commonly used paraben is ranked a 7 by the EWG for the strong evidence of its endocrine-disrupting actions. The endocrine system controls our hormones, and endocrine-disrupting chemicals are common in personal-care products.

Petrolatum: Petrolatom is a petroleum-based ingredient that is "classified as expected to be toxic or harmful" on the Environment Canada Domestic Substance List. It also carries contamination concerns--in product formulations, some ingredients have a higher risk of combining with others and thus forming toxic compounds. In this case, the contamination risk relates to PAHS, a persistent and bioaccumulative endocrine disruptor.

The product contains several additional items ranked a 4 by the EWG, among them: Ethylparaben and methylparaben, two parabens considered endocrine disruptors and potentially immunotoxic; phenoxyethanol, a preservative that can cause irritation of the skin, eyes or lungs; and PEG-30 Dipolyhydroxystearate (ranked a 3), which carries a high concern rating for contamination and a low concern rating for organ system toxicity.