Soon-to-be mommas are often very aware that they need to be careful about what they eat or drink. But what we often forget is that what we put on our skin also ends up inside our bodies. There are a couple of good ways to think about this. First, through a historical cosmetics lens: think of how we now regard women who used white lead (often tainted with arsenic) to paint their faces, and the serious damage that did both to their skin and their health. How many men, women and children died from lead poisoning from cosmetic use between the middle ages and Victorian era? Stepping back a bit, what horrible ingredient(s) will our great grandchildren be aghast that we routinely used on our faces and bodies?
Second, let’s use a modern medical lens: think about the use of transdermal patches for delivering medication for pain management, contraceptives, nausea, and many other medical issues. Why are transdermal patches so useful? One reason is that the medication—as long as its molecular structure isn’t too huge—passes right through the skin and enters the bloodstream very, very quickly. So quickly that transdermal patches have to be made with materials that mete out the medication at a slower pace so it doesn’t all get absorbed at once. Gosh. Doesn’t it make you wonder about the moisturizer you’re using for your hands, face, eyes? How about that lovely foundation you’re wearing, or your lipstick (even Burt’s Bees lipsticks have been found to be tainted with lead)?
Taken a step further, would you slather your newborn child in a shampoo/wash that contains potentially cancer-causing chemicals? (And shouldn’t companies who have those chemicals in their products be working to get them out, not waiting for the pressure of a boycott to force their hands? But I digress.) Many moms are in the same boat as us here at Aloe Baby or Jessica Alba, who has co-created honest, a company dedicated to getting nontoxic products into our households. It is in this spirit that I offer today’s product reviews.
The setting: Natural Products Expo West—the largest and most respected exposition for natural products on the planet. We at Aloe Baby went looking for partners—companies with similar missions whose products we could sell here on our online shop (coming in May, 2012). When we looked at baby skin care lines, we asked for samples as potential resellers. We talked to people from some wonderful companies, including: Aubrey Organics (amazing family atmosphere, which speaks highly of its CEO, Curt Valva), Natracare, Hugo Naturals, Nappy Shoppe, MommaEarth, Eyla’s Imports, Bellybar/NutraBella, Body Verde, Bamboobies, Sparkle Hearts, The Jojoba Company, BabyGanic, Waleda, Badger, California Baby, Motherlove, Earth Mother Angel Baby, and many more. Most of these companies were warm, receptive to new innovators, and super supportive. Here were some of the stand-outs among the baby products we tried:
- Natracare Organic Cotton Diaper Wipes. First of all, Susie, the founder of the company, is truly wonderful! It was delightful to meet and talk with her, and I can see why her company has succeeded. She is full of life, love, and hope, and she was very encouraging to us as a new company. Okay, the wipes: these were the only wipes we brought home from the Expo, and we LOVED them. Organic cotton infused with essential oils and natural plant extracts—what’s not to love? They are free from animal products (for the vegans among us), any formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, SLS, or parabens. They smell lovely! Not overpowering, but just enough scent to impart a sense of cleanliness, which is important when dealing with poopy diapers. Their company’s philosophy and their ingredients are extremely well aligned with ours, and we adore their sense of corporate responsibility. These are very good candidates for our online shop.
- Baby Hugo Shampoo and Baby Wash (Chamomile & Vanilla). My daughter has pretty sensitive skin, so I test for gentleness on myself first. I use two tests: how harsh is it on my (newly) colored hair and how does it feel when I put it in my eyes? I put quite a few baby washes to these tests, but this Baby Hugo product stood out. It didn’t sting my eyes at all, which was a great first sign. I used it three or four times on my freshly colored tresses, and it didn’t strip the color at all. In fact, it left it feeling conditioned/moisturized in sort of a heavy way, probably because of the Shea Butter. It wouldn’t be appropriate for daily use for me, because my hair is already thick, but I really liked the gentleness. Because the fragrances are all natural, we had no issues with sensitivities when I used it on my daughter. I love the product so much that I haven’t farmed my bottle out to anyone else yet, so I haven’t gotten confirmation, but so far I ADORE this product enough to put it in our online store. Watch for it!
- Baby Hugo Diaper Cream with Vitamin E. Because our own product, Tender Defender, works best when applied beneath a barrier cream, we’ve been on the lookout for a good candidate. Most of the barrier creams people use (Desitin, Triple Paste, A & D Ointment, etc.) have petrolatum and other objectionable ingredients, so we’ve scoured the “green” space for an alternative. One of our favorites is Baby Hugo’s Unscented Diaper Cream. Its ingredients are a who’s who of moisturizing, and if it is applied thickly enough, it can be used as a barrier cream. We were dismayed when we couldn’t get all of the product out of the container, which is made of a higher density plastic, but my mom came over and used her frugal ingenuity: she cut the container in half, put it in a plastic baggy, and then we scooped out the remaining diaper cream, which lasted us a few more days. While I’m not thrilled that I have to do that with the packaging, it is one of the best natural barrier cream solutions we have found, and we have looked REALLY REALLY hard! Yup, it’s a stand-out! Look for it to show up in our online store!
- BabyGanics Healin’ Groovy Non-Petroleum Protective Ointment. This one is really cool. I could almost swear I’m opening a jar of Vaseline, but there’s no petroleum to be found in this product. It’s a little more pliable than Vaseline would be, so it spreads very well. We have found it to be a terrific compliment to Tender Defender. It moisturizes beautifully. As a barrier ointment, it isn’t quite as effective at staying put and repelling diaper “events” as Baby Hugo’s Diaper Cream. But there’s no denying its moisturizing capacity, and when buying the 1-pound tub, it’s fairly economical. As a silly aside, we had to go buy this one. We were told to come back on the last day of the Expo and get Healin’ Groovy and Hiney Helper from their booth, but the person that was there that day said they weren’t giving out any products. We haven’t tried Hiney Helper, so we can’t comment on that one. Healin’ Groovy, though? That might end up in our shop!
So, dear readers, which of these products would you like to see us carry as our online store opens and grows? We would love to hear from you!
Tags: aloe baby, Aubrey Organics, baby skin, BabyGanic, Badger, Bamboobies, barrier cream, Bellybar/NutraBella, Body Verde, Burt's Bees, California Baby, Cosmetics, Curt Valva, Earth Mother Angel Baby, expo west, Eyla’s Imports, Hugo Naturals, Ingredient, Jessica Alba, MommaEarth, Motherlove, Nappy Shoppe, Natracare, nontoxic products, Online Shop, Skin Care, Sparkle Hearts, tender defender, The Jojoba Company, Waleda