Vista Magazine issue 74 January 2011

Page 37

Educating Today... For a Better Tomorrow

Potential Hazards

in Your Child’s Skincare Products By Tami Main


s a parent, you expect your babies’ products to be safe. This is not necessarily the case. Children are less likely to detoxify and excrete chemicals from their system than adults. Their developing organs are far more vulnerable to damage from chemical exposure. Is Your Baby Bathing in a Toxic Tub? The reality is that several of the top selling children’s bath products claiming they are “gentle” and “safe” are contaminated with the cancer-causing chemicals formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, according to the March 2009 Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report. In addition, carcinogens, pesticides, reproductive toxins, endocrine disruptors, plasticizers, degreasers and surfactants are all industrial chemicals found by US researchers in personal care products. Equally disturbing are Canada’s cosmetic labelling requirements. In Canada, cosmetic companies are not required to disclose all ingredients. Fragrance can be listed as “parfum” or “fragrance,” which is misrepresenting a concoction of several chemicals. The baby powder fresh scent present in baby lotion is actually a chemically-made fragrance. Everyone can be affected by fragrance. This includes allergic sensitization, potential effects on the endocrine system or even reproductive toxicity. We need to be more diligent and demand tighter labelling laws on our children’s personal care products. In fact, we need tighter laws on all personal care products. Exposure to chemical toxins can result in cancer, infertility, obesity, and a host of other related illnesses.

Ingredients to Avoid in your Skincare Products Become a label reader and learn to avoid the products that may be harmful for your children – and for you, too. The following are a few ingredients to avoid in your products. Sodium lauryl and laureth sulphates: These foaming agents are used in shampoo, bubble bath and cleansers. They are skin and eye irritants and may cause allergic skin reactions and liver toxicity, and are harmful to fish and wildlife. Parabens: Parabens are estrogen-like compounds that can be used as a preservative in personal care items and cosmetics. They can interfere with hormone function and are associated with breast cancer. Lanolin: Lanolin, often used by nursing mothers, contains a fatty substance from sheep’s wool and is used as a base in cosmetics. It can contain pesticides that could be absorbed into the skin. These chemicals can cause cancer. Triclosan: Triclosan is an antibacterial and antifungal used in products such as hand soap, sanitizers and toothpaste. Antibacterials can cause resistance to antibiotic bacteria and interfere with thyroid function. Environmental concerns are associated with this chemical. Synthetic fragrances and colours: Used to scent and colour products, these are usually a mixture of chemicals and can cause allergies, asthma, cancer and problems with the nervous system. These chemicals are harmful to the environment. Phthalates: Phthalates are often used in fragrances. Children exposed can have adverse effects on their developing hormone systems. These chemicals have been used in common shampoos and lotions. Recommended Alternatives I would recommend purchasing a product containing only essential oil

if you are looking for a scented product. In fact, “parfum” can be used to mask other ingredients when claiming the product is “unscented.” Always check the last ingredients for “parfum” or” fragrance.” If you are unsure about a product’s ingredients, there is a fantastic website called Skin Deep: Cosmetic Safety Reviews at in which you can input any listed ingredient to view its rated toxicity. Even baby oil, synonymous with mineral oil, is made by using heat to remove gasoline and kerosene from crude petroleum. Using sulfuric acid, absorbents, solvents and alkalis, hydrocarbons and other chemicals are removed, leaving the final product: mineral oil. This petroleum by-product, known as baby oil, usually has a toxic fragrance added to it. Mineral oils also contain hydrocarbons which can result in death if ingested by a child. Coconut oil can be a wonderful alternative to baby oil. Always check with your doctor if your child suffers from skin sensitivities before trying a new product, even if it is natural. Toxic ingredients can be rapidly absorbed through the skin and bloodstream. Toxins absorbed through the skin bypass the liver’s metabolism. Many chemicals are more toxic absorbed through the skin than when ingested. Baby powder is another recognized potential carcinogen for lung and ovarian cancers. Inhaling baby powder is toxic to babies’ health. Formaldehyde and donor ingredients are also considered possible carcinogens. These are found in hair and nail products and have been associated with cancer. We need to limit our children’s exposure to these chemicals. As my five-year-old daughter has a dairy allergy, I am well aware of issues associated with babies and children who have problems such as eczema and dermatitis. We have the knowledge that personal care products can be made without hazardous ingredients and contaminants. Don’t always trust the claims of the label. Research the product’s ingredients. Less is more when it comes to your babies’ personal care products.

Tami Main is the director of a skincare company based in Langley BC. She specializes in producing natural and environmentally friendly sk‑ incare for children. Contact her at or www.



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