These are the chemicals to avoid when buying baby products

The “back to nature” approach is fast taking over the industry. And as woke parents are buying into more sustainable, ethically sourced products, baby skincare brands are taking up the mantle to provide the goods.

Cape Town-based dermatologist Dr Kesiree Naidoo says parenthood is one of many motives why people make the move to natural.

“Patients with chronic skin problems like eczema are concerned about using ‘potent’ prescription products for prolonged periods so seek out natural alternatives,” says Naidoo.

She also weighed in on the carbon footprint impact and the cruelty-free angle. But there’s a more pressing reason why parents should make the move to natural skincare products. “People are scared of cancer and any ingredients that may be reported to cause it,” she said.

Even if a baby product says “all natural” or “organic”, these are the chemicals to avoid when buying baby products.

babychemicals childsfarm insta - These are the chemicals to avoid when buying baby products
Childs Farm is a range of sensitive, paraben-free skincare products has quickly risen to become the UK’s fastest growing baby and child toiletries brand. Made from 98% naturally-derived ingredients, it’s now also available in SA via Clicks stores. Picture: Instagram


Ingredients like parabens have been very topical. There’s been a huge debate over their use as a preservative in cosmetic products because of their weak oestrogen-like effects and easy absorption by the body.

Some parabens have been banned in the EU. Thus far, there’s not enough research into their long-term side effects. “There was concern they may influence oestrogen-related cancers like breast cancer. However, there’s no conclusive evidence of this,” noted Naidoo.


Used as a drying agent when added to baby powder, talc is known to irritate lungs and could be carcinogenic. “The mineral talc tends to occur in rock mass formations that are intermingle with other magnesium silicate minerals, including the highly dangerous asbestos,” Gillian Deacon said in her book There’s Lead In Your Lipstick.

“Since it is virtually impossible to extract the talc rock from the asbestos during the mining process, the carcinogenic contaminant is almost invariably going to be carried over into any consumer product containing talc.”

Unrefined petroleum jelly

“Purified or refined petroleum jelly that meets the safety standards of various regulatory boards should not contain any toxic ingredients,” added Naidoo.

The harmful ingredients are removed by the manufacturing process, but unrefined petroleum jelly may contain polycyclic, aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been reported to be carcinogenic.

babychemicals talc - These are the chemicals to avoid when buying baby products
Used as a drying agent when added to baby powder, talc is known to irritate lungs. Picture:

Naidoo said refined petroleum can cause acne by acting as an occlusive moisturiser which sits on the surface of the skin – acting as a skin barrier. Despite this, she recommends that it is still an affordable and effective moisturiser.

Harsh fragrances

Added to disposable nappies, baby powder shampoo and other baby products, the effects of fragrance are long lasting and can cause respiratory, neurological, skin and eye damage, noted Canadian parenting writer and green blogger Katherine Martinko. She warned parents to carefully check labels before buying anything.

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