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Pregnancy + Parenting

Choosing the safest & best natural baby wash/ shampoo

Why choosing the safest and best natural baby wash matters, and how to do it.

My daughter was born with lots of hair, so the first time we washed her hair was on day 2 in the hospital. I had a choice of Johnson’s or Mustela that the hospital provided- I chose Mustela because it marketed itself as ‘natural’, but I was secretly kicking myself that I hadn’t brought something from home. I didn’t know as much then about baby product ingredients as I do now. I had no idea that products which are made and advertised as being specifically safe for babies are allowed to be filled with proven harmful chemicals or at least a high number of chemicals which can cause skin irritation and allergies. I knew that of course there would be some products that were milder and more natural than others, but I didn’t realise quite yet that some products were really not suitable for children at all. (I was lucky that the Mustela was fine!) I often hear stories of babies who have had rashes from their baby shampoo, bubble bath or body wash and now I know what’s in some of them, it doesn’t surprise me at all! So how do we choose the safest and best natural baby wash / shampoo?

In this post I’m going to look at why choosing a non-toxic baby shampoo / body wash matters, what ingredients we want to avoid and also give a list of our Clean + Conscious favourites.

Why does choosing a non-toxic baby wash / shampoo matter?

The skin is our biggest organ. Chemicals from products placed on the skin can be absorbed and even make it all the way into the bloodstream. A baby’s skin is particularly soft and sensitive making it not only absorbent but prone to irritation and allergies. Shampoo / body wash ends up covering a huge surface area of the body and so we have to be really careful to make sure the ingredients they contain are safe.

Which are the ingredients to avoid and why? 

Ingredients you must avoid:

  • Fragrance/ Parfum: This can be made up of hundreds of undeclared chemicals, often including hormone disrupting phthalates. Phthalate exposure in infancy is linked with infertility, especially for males. Fragrance can however be made from natural organic essential oils which are safe (though sometimes may carry a bit of an increased risk of skin irritation.) If it’s not marked as fragrance coming from a natural essential oil, then don’t use it.
  • Parabens: These are endocrine disruptors and have a weak hormone activity. They can also cause skin irritation. The EU have actually banned many types of parabens.
  • Methylisothiazolinone (MI): This has been the cause of some horrific allergic reactions and is a leading cause of dermatitis. It’s banned in the EU from being used in baby wipes.

Would be nice to avoid:

  • Propylene glycol: This is a skin and respiratory irritant. Propylene glycol also enhances skin absorption and so allows other chemicals to absorb into the skin more easily.
  • Synthetic colours: These are purely used to make a product look more appealing and are often derived from petroleum. Some products are coloured naturally too and these are much safer.
  • PEG compounds: These are used as thickeners. They strip the natural oils from the skin leaving it vulnerable. They can cause allergies and are easily contaminated with potential carcinogens.
  • Cocamidopropyl betaine: This is a foaming agent which has been associated with skin irritation and allergic contact dermatitis.
  • Quaternium-15: This is a preservative which is a formaldehyde releaser as well as a skin irritant.
  • Sodium hydroxymethylglycinate: This is a preservative which is a formaldehyde releaser as well as a skin irritant.
  • Sodium Laureth Sulfate: There is strong evidence this is a skin and eye irritant. It is also easily contaminated with potential carcinogens.
  • Phenoxyethanol: This is a skin, eye and lung irritant. It can also be contaminated with unwanted chemicals due to its manufacturing process.
  • Food Products in the ingredients lists such as goat’s milk, cow’s milk nut oils and oatsStudies have shown a link between the application of a potential food allergen repeatedly onto the skin and food allergen sensitisation. This increases the potential for severe food allergic reactions when the food is actually eaten. This is especially relevant for a child with a high risk of food allergy and also those with eczema.

Clean + Conscious Winners 2023

GOLD + EDITORS CHOICE: Wotnot Naturals – 100% Natural Baby Wash & Bubble Bath

This baby wash and bubble bath is made from mainly edible ingredients. It features certified organic aloe vera as the primary component, along with 2% colloidal oatmeal for soothing and nourishing effects. Suitable for the most sensitive skin, it effectively cleanses without stripping natural oils. Read reviews from experts on this product HERE.

SILVER: 123 Nourish me – Sleepy Head Bathwash

Sleepy Head Bath Wash is a versatile product that serves as both a bath wash and shampoo. It is designed to cater to babies and older children, providing them with a soothing experience and preparing them for a peaceful night’s sleep. Read reviews from Experts on this product HERE.

BRONZE: Seven Sundays – The Baby Wash

The Baby Wash is a gentle, fragrance-free cleanser suitable for both hair and body. Its organic and natural formula, crafted with care, includes magnesium. Safe for little ones, it promotes longer bath time and a good night’s sleep. Read reviews from experts on this product HERE.

GOLD + EDITORS CHOICE (2021) Weleda – Calendula Shampoo and Body Wash 

 Creamy, gentle and subtly scented with safe organic essential oils. This shampoo is mild and moisturising, yet it can still cut through grease from a dinner-covered child! Gentle, nourishing and a wonderful option for dermatitis / dry skin sufferers. **This product contains almond and sesame seed oil. If you have a baby / child with a high risk of a food allergy or eczema, it is not recommended to use this product until they are eating these foods in their diet and show no allergy. Read reviews from experts on this product HERE.

SILVER: Vasse Virgin – Kids Shampoo

Formulated from excellent non-toxic ingredients and including mandarin, lavender, geranium, chamomile and yarrow essential oils, this shampoo smells amazing. Being so fragrant, it is recommended for older babies and children. The shampoo is made in Australia and a treat to use. Read reviews from experts on this product HERE.

BRONZE: Mikash Skincare – Calming hair & body wash

Formulated from very good non-toxic ingredients. This gel-like wash uses lavender, sweet orange and frankincense essential oils, which smell great. It is gentle on the skin and the fragrance is soft and not overpowering. Read reviews from experts on this product HERE.

See our top recommended Baby products in our 2023 winners Directory here!

I’ve also done articles on choosing safe baby wipesbottom balms, non-toxic baby floats and paddling pools, reusable nappies and disposable nappies . If you found this helpful, you’ll love those too.

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