Have you ever wondered what ingredients make up baby wipes, or what repercussions could result from everyday exposure to these wipes? We begin to use these cleansing & moisturizing wipes the day our babies are born, and use them continuously for years, averaging 20 wipes per day in my household. Skin absorbs 70% of what we put on it, and we make the assumption that the companies who make these baby care products have our best interest at hand. Unfortunately, this is not the case. Ninety percent of body care ingredients have NEVER been fully analyzed for safety, and are only evaluated if and when a complaint is filed, after the product is released to the public.
Baby products are no exception, and when symptoms do arise, it is difficult for parents to pin point what the aggravating culprit is, as babies are exposed to countless new substances daily. So we just continue on, using these safe and gentle baby wipes EVERY SINGLE DAY, assuming they are our best option.
What does the research say? With limited research out there, there is nothing conclusive to date. I did find some compelling information on the link between baby wipes and the skins pH. In a double-blind clinical trial, significant changes were found in the pH on the skin surrounding the pubic and buttock area. The babies who were exposed to baby wipes had a significantly lower skin pH in comparison to the babies who solely used soap and water. Every part of our body has a specific pH necessary for balance and vitality, and altering this pH can have lasting and detrimental consequences. The last line of the clinical trial states, “Further research is necessary to evaluate the implications of these findings.” Unfortunately, no further research has been done.
I picked up a bag of unscented wipes, with the label reading: hypoallergenic & free of alcohol, parabens, phthalates & chlorine. That sounds pretty good, pretty clean, right? Well, let’s take a look at the ingredients and see if the packaging claims live up to the actual product.
Water, Propylene Glycol, Aloe barbadensis leaf juice, Tocopheryl acetate, PEG-75 Lanolin, Disodium cocoamphodiacetate, Polysorbate 20, citric acid, Disodium phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Ethylene Brassylate, 2-Bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-Diol, Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate
Aside from water and aloe, did you even slightly recognize these “pure & safe” ingredients? Let’s take a closer look.
Propylene Glycol (PG) is an ingredient used to help draw moisture from the air, and deliver it to the skin. The FDA considers PG to be “generally recognized as safe”, even though it is banned from cat food. PG has been shown to provoke skin irritation in even low doses under 2%, while it is commonly used in formulations up to 50%.
Noted side effects are:
• Can cause burning
• Irritating & allergenic
• Can cause eye irritation and conjunctivitis, as well as upper respiratory irritation
EDTA (Disodium EDTA), a neurotoxin linked to brain damage in animals, is added to enhance the products penetration. Made from formaldehyde, this ingredient has caused fetal death & birth defects in animals, but is still approved for use in cosmetics & baby food.
Bronopol (2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-dill), a known endocrine disrupter, as well as a lung and skin toxicant, causes allergic contact dermatitis. Does this sound hypoallergenic to you?
Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate can affect thyroid function, and also causes allergic contact dermatitis. Interesting how a product that claims to be hypoallergenic has the potential to cause an allergic reaction.
These pure and safe wipes are turing out to be not so pure or safe. But worry not, there is an easy and affordable solution. Take matters into your own hands and make your own. It’s super simple, and you have the control to determine exactly what ingredients your baby is exposed to.
Lychee Therapeutic’s Easy Breezy Baby Wipes
•1 cup calendula, chamomile, or lavender tea. Use purified water, bring 1.5 cups to a boil, add a handful of fresh or dried selected herbs & simmer for 20 minutes. Let cool and strain. Resulting infusion will yield about 1 cup.
•1/2 cup witch hazel
•2 TBS aloe vera juice
•5 drops calendula essential oil
•3 drops tea tree essential oil
•5,000 IU vitamin E oil (optional) This helps to preserve the liquid.
1. Pour all ingredients into a jar with a lid and shake well.
2. Load pre-cut paper towels (or reusable cloth) into a waterproof container. About 20 squares should last 1 day.
3. Pour liquid over paper towels. Put the lid on the container and flip over to make sure all pieces are equally soaked with the liquid.
4. Store in cool, dark place and refill as needed.
Written by Tessa Mancini Gillen, CNC
1. Gabriel, Julie. “The Green Beauty Guide” 2008 Health Communications, Inc.
2. Johnson W Jr. “Final report on the safety assessment of PEG-25 propylene glycol stearate, PEG-75 propylene glycol stearate, PEG-120 propylene glycol stearate, PEG-10 propylene glycol, PEG-8 propylene glycol cocoate, and PEG-55 propylene glycol oleate.” International Journal of Toxicology. 2001; Suppl 4:13-26
3. Priestly GC, et al. “Changes in skin pH after the use of baby wipes.” Pediatr Dermatol. 1996 Jan-Feb; 13(1): 14-7