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If you are confused by popular terms such as “natural” or “organic” on baby skin care product labels, you are not alone. Most new parents are perplexed, just like you. This simple guide to the most commonly used terms, will help you separate fact from fiction and choose safe and healthy ingredients that are just right for your baby’s skin.
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It’s not just you. Even professionals become confused because in the world of organic baby skincare:
We are here to help! Two decades worth of skin science and lab work is at the core of the Babytime! team’s expertise. Baby skin is our passion; protecting its health and safety our purpose. We care – and the fact you are reading this means you probably do too.
Ready to end your confusion? In the following guide, we tell you, in clear and simple language, what all these confusing terms actually mean. We clarify why “organic” is not always the best or safest. And, we explain why we use and, equally important, don’t use, specific words or phrases on our Babytime! products and in our 3-step approach to providing natural baby skincare products that are so safe and effective they are chosen by hospitals around the world.
“USDA” refers to the United States Department of Agriculture. Until recently, the USDA only regulated food. Now, this agency also oversees baby skincare products that make organic claims.
As you can imagine, baby skincare products are very different from food. Nevertheless, to be certified USDA Organic, a baby skincare product must contain at least 95% organic ingredients. That seems clear, but does it always make sense?
Consider this example. A baby sunscreen made with safe zinc and titanium requires more than 5% of these minerals to be effective. Zinc, however, is not an agricultural product and, therefore, can’t be certified as an organic ingredient. Thus, it is impossible for a mineral-based sunscreen to be USDA Organic and also provide adequate protection for your baby.
Water is another perfect example. Some baby skincare products require water to effectively hydrate the skin. However, a formula containing water requires a preservative ingredient because water feeds bacterial growth. Once a preservative is introduced, no matter how safe or natural it is, as of today the product will no longer meet the USDA criteria for organic.
“Made with Organics” is also a term regulated by the USDA. This term means a baby skincare product must have at least 70% organic ingredients.
That’s us! Our Babytime! products are made with at least 70% organic ingredients. Working within these criteria, we are able to make completely safe, highly effective formulas exclusively with plant-based, natural or naturally derived, and predominantly organic ingredients. Babytime! products are certified by the USDA as at least 70% organic.
“Natural” is, by far, the most abused term in the baby skincare industry. Nearly every company that claims their products are 100% natural is, in our book, purposefully misleading you. The term “natural” is not regulated by governmental agencies and, thus, is open to your individual interpretation and definition.
To explain this a bit more, a chemical derivative of a plant is considered plant-based or from a natural source, but it’s not 100% natural. On the other hand, an ingredient that is 100% natural is not necessarily safe. For example, Aloe Vera gel taken directly from the plant contains an oil which can be highly irritating to skin. The same Aloe Vera gel purified in a lab will retain its natural healing properties, but be free of the irritating oil. Purified Aloe Vera is far safer and better for skin than its original form, but is it 100% natural? That’s for you to decide.
“Chemical Free” comes in as a close second for the most abused and absurd marketing terminology. If a maker of baby skin care products tells you their line is “chemical free,” rest assured they have absolutely no understanding of organic chemistry or what it takes to actually make a baby skincare product – or anything in our world for that matter. Water, salts, diamonds and sugar are chemicals. Formaldehyde, DMDM Hydantoin [LS1] and Sodium Laureth Sulfate are also chemicals, but these happen to be very harsh on a baby’s skin and health. We’re fully committed to not using harsh chemicals in baby skin products. In fact, that’s our promise to you.
We rely heavily on “Plant-based” or “plant-derived” ingredients as part of our standard for making the best, safest and healthiest skincare products. Our approach to skincare is based upon the ability of the skin to absorb nutrients from its surface. Plant-based and plant-derived ingredients – as opposed to synthetic chemicals – have nutrient value and are, therefore, capable of optimizing skin health and immunity, and supporting your baby’s skin in its natural process of developing and healing. We choose ingredients that are safe, researched, and, as appropriate, as close as possible to their original raw state when plucked from the ground.
“Vegan” refers to an item that is completely free of animal products and by products. While all of our formulas are vegetarian and never tested on animals, several of our formulas include pre and probiotics that are derived from yogurt. The animals are not harmed in the process and the yogurt has no potential for life, but in the strictest sense of the word, some of our baby skin care products are not vegan due to their probiotic content. Our vegan product options include Playful Wash, Snuggly Lotion and Sunny Sunscreen.
Babytime! products do not contain fragrances – ever. We appreciate beautiful scents, but not synthetic, chemical-based fragrances. Why? Smell has a very powerful effect on the brain. When strong, synthetic fragrance is introduced to your baby’s environment, it can overwhelm the baby and interfere with how your baby experiences and learns to understand the world.
On the other hand, certain scents that are derived from natural sources – like citrus and lavender – may trigger a specific response in your baby such as creative exploration (orange) or relaxing calm and peace (lavender). It makes a big difference to your baby’s health if these scents are derived from natural sources or synthetically generated in a chemical laboratory. The ingredients “fragrance” and “parfum” are concoctions of up to 4,000 chemicals that are not required to be listed on a package. We believe in transparency and “fragrance” isn’t.
“Preservative free” baby products can be very dangerous, especially when the ingredients are all naturally derived. Bacteria, mold and fungi grow quickly and represent a significant health risk to you and your baby. The only exception would be making your own baby skin care products at home as frequently as you cook fresh food. Just like fresh broccoli molds, so will fresh skin care products.
There are safe, natural preservatives available to skincare manufacturers including citrus and kimchi extracts. These are the types of preservatives we choose to make our safe and gentle baby skincare products.
We hear a great deal of confusion around the term “botanicals.” Sometimes moms want “natural ingredients that don’t have botanicals.” This is not possible. Botanicals come from plants and they are a primary source of natural ingredients. If you want natural skin care products, you want botanically-based skin care products. Without botanicals, there are no nutrients, vitamins, or any form of nourishment available to your baby’s body from skincare products. That said, not all botanical ingredients are safe, which is why it is important to make decisions based on safety testing data and original, reliable research. That’s the Babytime! approach.
“Gluten” is a specific protein found in wheat, barley and rye, which triggers an immune system reaction in susceptible people. Recent research indicates that gluten intolerance may be present in as many as one in three babies. With this in mind, progressive doctors recommend against using baby skin care products that contain sources of gluten, especially when dealing with baby eczema or other forms of dermatitis. Aveena Sativa (the common oat) is frequently contaminated with gluten and is also commonly used in skin care products, even products for eczema. If you’ve already used this ingredient on your baby with no adverse reaction, then you likely don’t need to worry. However, we believe that the safest choice is the best choice when it comes to natural baby skin care products so Babytime! products are gluten-free.
“Actively Healthy” is our own special term. We use it to differentiate our ingredient choices from the standards in the industry. Although there are endless choices, we choose ingredients that, when possible, go above and beyond a simple stated use. For example, we could use a paraben or phenoxyethanol as a preservative, but don’t. We carefully select ingredients, even our preservatives when possible, that add value to your baby’s body by providing nutrients, vitamins and minerals. Babytime! ingredients are Actively Healthy because they support the overall health and immunity of baby skin.
At Episencial, we have committed to making the sources of our Babytime! ingredients clearer than any other brand in the world. Fully transparent, we want you to know exactly what you are getting when you choose our products. All of our ingredients are honestly natural, organic and/or sourced from plants.
To make it as easy as possible for you, we’ve developed an info graphic for our packaging that color-codes the ingredient sources. We’ve also added key identifiers for those of you who shop for baby products with values and lifestyle needs that go beyond the basics of typical baby wash, baby lotion, and baby sunscreen – like Vegan or Gluten-free considerations.
At home, you are on the front line of the value choices in your home – moving us toward a new Vivid Green Generation. Knowing that your choices matter and serve as a role model to your children is important. Through everyday activities and conversations – turning off water while they are soaping-up their hands and brushing their teeth, turning off the lights, and using products that are free from harsh chemicals – you are ensuring a positive future for your baby. So involve your children in your efforts – both large (buying a hybrid, installing solar panels) and small (turning off the computer at night) to improve the future health of our children, because every decision you make for your baby can support great health and a strong future.
[http://www.usda.gov/wps/portal/usda/usdahome?navid=ORGANIC_CERTIFICATIO&navtype=RT&parentnav=LAWS_REGS] Three Levels of Organic