How To Care For Your Child's Skin And Hair -- Naturally

How To Care For Your Child's Skin And Hair

   Since I have two small kids of my own, I wanted to write a bit about how to take care of the skin and hair of little people. I notice that a lot of moms don't realise that many conventional baby-care products contain crappy ingredients, and are neither gentle or natural. Kids skin is very sensitive and growing kids are very susceptible to chemicals. These chemicals often act like hormones, cause cancer or simply irritate and damage the skin and hair.

    Note: by kids I mean from age of 1,5/2 till puberty!

Noticing the body and stimulating the senses

    Learning to take care of the body is an important part of the development of a child. At this age its important not to stress the cosmetic / beauty aspect of it, but rather the self-care aspect as well as the enjoyment of the whole process. For example noticing that the skin is dry and rubbing almond oil on it, or pouring a small drop of lavender essential oil on their hands and enjoying the scent -- all the senses are involved, and the child takes a moment to notice their body (kids are often so focused on their activities and the world around that they don't pay attention to their body unless they hurt it!)

Bath and cleansing:

    Always buy soaps and other bath products for your kids that are without SLS (sodium laureth sulfate) or SLES (sodium lauryl ether sulfate), as these are harsh detergents that irritate the skin. Best are natural olive-oil based soaps -- find handmade ones that come in the most gorgeous candy colours. Never use antibacterial soaps.
    I used to think that all natural bath products don't foam (since it's mainly SLS that creates foam) but since then I discovered that's not true. I love Dreckspatz bubble baths which are certified natural cosmetics, and they do foam nicely. For sure there are other brands of natural but bubbly bath products in other countries too.
   Kids skin doesn't produce much sebum (oils) and they don't sweat stinky, so they don't need to use soap all over their body every day. It's enough to use soap just on the parts that need it.
   Another reason for using natural bath products -- conventional ones often disturb the pH balance of the skin and so cause infections in the genital area.


    Kids don't need to shampoo very often -- usually a tiny bit of natural shampoo once in a while is enough. teach them to rub their scalp well with their fingertips and not their nails.
    Getting a shampoo without SLS is very important --- sodium laureth sulfate actually harms the eyes.
    Cradle cap (yes, it's not just for babies) is best removed by gently brushing out after soaking with water / oil.
     Which brings me to -- oils. If your kid's hair is dry, apply olive oil half and hour before washing.
     If your kid has a very different hair type from yours, you might want to read up on how to take care of it. Especially if your kid has curly hair and you don't -- a lot of moms fight a losing battle against frizz and dryness, not realising that their kids curls don't like detergents and brushes!


      If you are using a powder, do look for something talc-free, as inhaled talc causes respiratory problems. Cornstarch-based powder is best. However I have to admit that I never used powder on any of my kids bottoms -- but I'm not sure whether this would work in a warmer climate as well.
      If your kid has a dry skin, the best thing is oils -- they are gentle, healing and simple. You can rub the oil in like a mini massage or teach the kids to do it themselves. I prefer a simple plant oil, such as Jojoba, which I can mix with other plant-based oils if the fancy strikes me. If you don't like mixing stuff, it's fine to buy an oil mix. Your selection is not limited to baby oils: pregnancy skin oils, hair oils, skin oils for grown-ups are good: oils are extremely multi-purpose. Always check the ingredients before buying -- you're looking for perfume-free and free from mineral oil and silicones. Many oils (including baby oils) are mostly mineral oil, which in short is a cheap ingredient that doesn't do the skin any good. And perfumes are usually irritating and contain a bunch of undeclared toxic chemicals.
     For very dry patches, cracking lips and irritated skin I love Weleda skin food and the Weleda calendula baby cream.


   Unfortunately not all kids sunscreen is free from chemical sunscreen, so be sure to read the labels. Chemical sunscreen acts like hormones and is often not photostable. A good sunscreen is also free from alcohol. Most kids sunscreen is white and sticky, but kids don't mind if you pretend its war-paint!

Some ingredients to avoid:

    Avoid anything with parabens (anything ending with -paraben, usually found near the end of the ingredient list), mineral oil, paraffin, perfume and artificial colouring.
    When in doubt, look up the product on the Skin Deep Database, it shows exactly how toxic or not a product is.

    In Germany there are quite rigorous laws regarding baby products, so it's pretty easy to find inexpensive non-toxic products. Usually the German brands have a much better ingredient list than multinational brands. However my personal approach was even simpler: I tried to find natural products that work for the whole family. I DIY our shampoo, buy olive-oil based soap, mix our moisturising oil, and buy a natural toothpaste that everyone in the family uses.

   One last tip: If your kids want crappy products with the latest cartoon character on it, you can be sneaky and buy that but pour the contents down the drain and refill with your choosen brand of stuff.

    For those of you who have kids -- what are / were your favourite natural products? Do share!


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