There is a growing demand for organic and natural products, foods, clothing and toys as people become more aware of the impact their choices have on the earth. Consumers tend to think a lot about what food goes into their body or into the landfill but tend to not think as much about the products that are used on their bodies. We routinely use products on our babies and children (and ourselves even during pregnancy) and don’t think too much about the ingredients.
Just today an email arrived from the Environmental Working Group stating: “In 2009 alone, we discovered that dozens of top baby products contain formaldehyde, that three out of five brand-name sunscreens either don’t protect skin from sun damage or contain hazardous chemicals — or both…”
Consumer trust with brand names is high but some of the most trusted companies produce some of the most toxic baby care products. Baby wash that we soak our babies in and shampoos and lotions that are slathered all over them can be really unhealthy for them. The bubble bath may smell good but it could actually be harming them – causing biochemical or cellular level changes, cancer, neurotoxicity and organ system toxicity.
To learn more we contacted Tina Evans, Founder of Squeaky Clean Tot to provide the information and resources to help moms make better choices for their families. Below are some question we hope will help you next time you purchase baby care products.
HBN (HealthyBabyNetwork.com): “Natural” on a label doesn’t always mean healthy or natural. Can you explain?
Tina Evans: Sadly, the term “natural” has no regulation in the cosmetics industry. A baby shampoo could contain a very small amount of plant-based ingredients (coconut, olive, grape seed oils, glycerin, calendula, chamomile), followed by a long list of chemicals. The best advice I can give is to read the ingredients and look for safer products on Cosmetics Database or Squeaky Clean Tot.
HBN: What has been the biggest surprise in your research?
Tina Evans: When I was first considering building this site, a good friend turned me on to the Cosmetics Database. This is where I get the information on most of the body care products in our database. It is a wonderful resource if you want to find out more about a cosmetics company or if you want information on specific ingredients. They use a rating system where 0-2 is considered a low hazard, 3-6 is a moderate hazard, and 7-10 is high hazard. (I only post products that have a score of 0-2.) I think the biggest shock was when I realized Johnson & Johnson has no baby products with a score less than 3. Most of their products rate 5 or higher, and some are as high as 9. This is a company that has been around for a very long time and has a loyal following. I’m not sure if they would be selling as many products if all parents were aware of what is being put into a bottle of baby wash.
HBN: Are there common ingredients we should be concerned about and look for before a purchase?
Tina Evans: I have a page called The Nasty Stuff (www.squeakycleantot.com/the-nasty-stuff/) on the website that lists ingredients that consumers should avoid. With the flu season in full swing, many parents are using antibacterial soap. Many contain Triclosan, which may disrupt growth hormones from the thyroid. A good alternative is a company called Clean Well. They make antibacterial soap and hand spray without Triclosan and alcohol.
I also try to avoid: sodium laureth sulfate, parabens, phthalates and Bisphenol A (BPA)
All of this information can be overwhelming, but even replacing two or three baby products, can make a huge difference. If consumers demand safer products, these companies will have no choice but to listen and change their formulas.
HBN: What inspired you to launch www.SqueakyCleanTot.com?
Tina Evans: My daughter was diagnosed with eczema in April of 2008. The doctor gave us a whole list of things it could be from laundry detergent to the tags in her clothes. My gut feeling was that it was something we were putting on her skin. The first thing I stopped using was her bubble bath. It cleared within a week and I believe it was the fragrance that was causing the reaction. This whole experience really worried me because the product we were using is from a company I believed to be safer because it didn’t have some of the red flag ingredients we’ve all heard about, like Sodium Laureth Sulfate. The bottle even says it is “96.08% natural”. I started doing some research and realized consumers are being misled by companies claiming their products are “natural” and safe for “sensitive” skin.
HBN: Why did you choose Mom-to-Mom reviews?
Tina Evans: When I purchase important products, I always look for consumer reviews because I want honest opinions. I think moms are great at being straight-forward and sincere, especially when talking about their children. I have written many reviews of products in our database, but I am only one voice. I am excited to build a community where parents can be heard. I also want our website to be a source of information for new parents so we can help them make informed choices from the beginning.
Please help other moms make better choices and comment on the products you have used and what you liked or disliked. Please visit http://www.SqueakyCleanTot.com to add your review or learn more about the products you purchase.
If you are looking for some great products consider some of these companies. They may be available in your local grocery store, health food specialty stores, Whole Foods Markets or online. Check with individual websites for purchasing.