Despite widespread reports of potentially dangerous chemicals in soaps and shampoos, questionable additives are still found in baby bath products.
These can include sodium laureth sulfate (SLES), an inexpensive lathering agent. This is often used to replace the more notorious sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), which holistic health experts have been warning us about for years.
It’s known that SLS can irritate the skin. The chemically similar SLES is considered more gentle. But it still raises safety concerns.
Consequently, a growing number of parents are now trying to use sulfate free baby shampoo. These formulas don’t contain any of these harsh foaming agents. Oftentimes, they’re free from other problematic additives as well.
Safe Baby Bath Products
You probably won’t hear about SLES worries if you rely upon mainstream health information. In fact, there appears to be a strong public relations campaign, in defense of this chemical.
However, the noise on the other side of this debate is difficult to ignore.
For instance, the Environmental Working Group gives SLES a score of 3, on a scale of 1 to 10. This means it’s a “Moderate Hazard.”
The EWG cites potential skin irritation and possible organic toxicity. This non-profit citizens group also points out that both SLS and SLES can both be contaminated with dioxins. These industrial contaminants are highly toxic and they accumulate in the body.
According to the EWG, a dioxin called 1,4 dioxane is a “High Hazard.”
Also, the EWG raised alarms about another potential contaminant called ethylene oxide. This is a known carcinogen.
Baby Shampoo Without Sulfates
The good news is that some sulfate-free baby shampoos have come onto the market. These are generally more expensive than drugstore and grocery brands. However, if concerns about sulfates are valid, these products are also much safer.
These more natural selections are typically sold as shampoo/body wash. (You also want your baby’s bath soap to be sulfate free as well.)
But you do have to shop carefully. In researching this article, I was almost fooled by one very benign-looking product. At one time, apparently, it didn’t contain sulfates. But, at some point, they appear to have been added. (I’ve found this exact same problem with an adult shampoo as well.)
In my drive to maintain a toxic-free house, good sulfate-free shampoo has been the most difficult item to find. Actually, I had a difficult time locating a baby product I can confidently recommend, but I did manage to find a couple.
There is so much deceptive labeling, even among some of the better known “all natural” brands. Actually, I’m appalled at the long lists of chemicals found in some of these baby bath cleansers.
One of the best choices right now appears to be a product called Baja Baby Night-Night Lavender Shampoo and Body Wash. Its main foaming agent is an herb called calendula, which is also a skin-soothing plant. Baja Baby contains a number of other herbs, including burdock root and nettle leaf.
Parabens are another troublesome class of chemicals often found in cosmetics. (These mimic estrogen and have the potential to disrupt the hormones.) Baja Baby Night Night shampoo contains no parabens or phosphates.
Just as the name implies, this natural lavender-scented shampoo is designed to calm a baby or a young child.
However, if you don’t like lavender, or you don’t want a soothing night-time shampoo, Baja Baby also makes an unscented version of its all natural baby shampoo. This body wash/shampoo contains the same herbs as the one shown above, without lavender added. There is also a citrus-scented version, which contains tangerine, grapefruit and ylang ylang oils.