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Ingredients Every Parent Should Watch Out
in Baby Shampoo for Baby Care

A newborn baby's skin is very delicate and is prone to irritation quite easily. Thus, it is important for you as new parents to select every product you use on your baby very carefully. A baby's skin is said to be 30% thinner than that of an adult's, so everything you choose as a parent should be non-irritable, subtle, and kind to their skin. That means you will have to do your research to make sure you are well aware of what to avoid when purchasing baby care products. Even though, like any other cleanser, even the baby shampoo is washed off with water after use, chemical residues and continuous usage of shampoo can have a more adverse effect than one can anticipate.

Since babies are more vulnerable to toxic chemically procured shampoos, it is even more critical to choose a delicate non-toxic shampoo for the little one. Here's a list of most of the toxic chemicals or ingredients you should look out for before purchasing a baby shampoo.

1. Formaldehyde 

Baby shampoos can be both soap-based and also soap-free, the soap-free baby shampoo contains formaldehyde, which supposedly makes the shampoo tear free. It can be infused directly in the shampoo or alternatively released by the other preservatives. Although, baby shampoos based on soap, are made of synthetic substances they won't make your shampoo a bottle containing known carcinogens, to say the least. So it advised to look strictly for "Formaldehyde-free". Look out for these preservatives especially:

  1. Formaldehyde 
  2. quaternium-15- This formaldehyde-releasing chemical is used as the preservative in baby shampoos. Also known as a human skin allergen, it is responsible for skin irritations too.
  3. dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin that is also known as an anti-microbial agent, is another formaldehyde-releasing chemical. It affects human immunity and causes numerous allergies. It can prove to be fatal for babies because it creates irritation in the eyes, skin, and even lungs.

Another alternative can be to avoid any baby shampoo that contains the following chemical compounds: 

Imidazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, diazolidinyl urea, , 1-4 dioxane, Benzylhemiformal, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol), Tosylamide/Formaldehyde Resin, 5-bromo-5-nitro-1,3-dioxane, Glyoxal, Methenamine, Polyoxymethylene Urea. 

2. Parabens

The most commonly used preservatives, parabens, are affordable, effective, and often mimic Estrogen (the hormone). Parabens mainly contribute to preventing fungus or bacteria growth in baby products that have the potential to harm your baby. It is said it be one of the reasons to cause early anxiety, decreased social interactions, slow-paced learning, and even problems with memory. Parabens in baby shampoo can cause skin irritation or even neurotoxicity if used for a long time. 

The key here is to avoid any baby shampoo that has ingredients ending with – parabens. 

3. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate or abbreviated as SLS, is found in kinds of toothpaste, shampoos, or any kind of foaming cleanser. This surfactant can come in various aliases like sodium salt sulphuric acid, sodium salt, sulphuric acid, aquarex methyl, or even sodium dodecyl sulfate. So it is safe to avoid any baby shampoo with SLS. Even though it comes from coconuts, when mixed with ethylene and 1, 4 –dioxane it becomes deadly and carcinogenic. There are more than 1000 studies to prove that SLS when used during manufacturing processes becomes highly toxic. They can cause diseases like endocrine disruption, skin toxicity, neurotoxicity, or even create symptoms like irritation in the eyes of your babies. 

4. Fragrances

Every time a baby shampoo smells good is toxic, especially for the babies. Sweet and fruity to smell comes with respiratory disruptions, skin allergies, and hormone disruption among others. Phthalates are one of the main ingredients while making fragrances. But they aren't listed as ingredients on any skin product or cleansing product because they are often considered a trade secret. Phthalates are proven to affect unborn babies with developmental disruptions and asthma and respiratory problems in newborn babies.

Although, fragrance-free doesn't mean totally devoid of any smell. Baby shampoo can be still scented by using natural oils or flower or fruit preserved waters. They probably won't smell as fruity or flowery as your fragranced baby shampoo, but they would still have a faint scent and will definately be harmless. 

5. Polyethylene Glycols

PEGs are used as smoothers, thickeners, moisture lockers, and even penetration enhancers in baby shampoos. These petroleum based chemicals when mixed with ethylene and 1, 4- dioxane becomes a deadly compound combination, possibly even becomes a human carcinogenic. PEGs can prove to be fatal for babies and people with damaged skin. In the ingredient list, it is usually written as PEG and a number thereafter.

6. 1, 4- Dioxane

This organic compound is a by-product of the ethoxylation process. Ethoxylation is the process where certain chemicals are mixed with ethylene oxide to decrease their effects. Such chemicals when are used raw, can be quite harsh and also dangerous for the skin. Even though this product is known to be carcinogenic, it is still used in baby shampoos among other baby care products. They can cause serious diseases like organ toxicity, respiratory distress, and other fatal disruption in babies. While purchasing a baby shampoo, steer clear of any product that has myreth, oleth, Laureth, xynol and ceteareth, in their ingredients. These cmpounds might be mixed with 1, 4- dioxane during manufacturing. 


You should look out for DEA, TEA or MEA on labels. These chemicals are used as foaming agents in the baby cleansing products including baby shampoos. They are known to disrupt the hormone cycle. TEA is a toxin that could cause numerous allergies including drying out of hair, skin, and even eye infections with prolonged use.

8. Cocamidopropyl betaine

This surfactant is responsible for creating the lather in shampoos. Even though it seems to be purely harmless, many research shows that this ingredient a toxin because it can cause possible sensitization. Researchers always request and advise manufacturers to lower the concentration of sensitizing impurities used in baby care. But, this toxin contains DMAPA and (Amdoamine) Amidopropyl Dimethylamine, both of which are two very harmful contaminants. 

We have listed you with almost the most toxic chemicals used as ingredients while manufacturing baby shampoos. But, if there's anything that is not mentioned above, it is best that you look more for scientific researches. They would provide you with accurate data, putting all your doubts away for good, you have regarding the shampoo ingredients. The scientific sources you can look into for knowing more about baby shampoos can include:

  1. National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health PubMed
  2. Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reports the US 
  3. European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) database
  4. American Contact Dermatitis Society
  5. EWG Skin Database
  6. European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety reports

Using more than one source can be the key to forming an unbiased opinion about which ingredients to avoid or not while purchasing a baby shampoo for your little one. 

Now, which ingredients are non-toxic and gentle for your baby's skin? Plant-derived ingredients are mostly considered subtle and gentle for baby skin. If your baby shampoo has any of the following ingredients, you should be relieved and buy it for your young one:

  1. Glycolipids
    These are natural sugar-based glycolipids that will cleanse your baby's hair without drying them out. It is known to be very gentle on the skin and is not an allergen.
  2. Citric acid
    This is an organic acid. It is known to balance the pH of the skin without causing any irritation to the skin or the eyes.
  3. Essential Oils
    Needless to say, essential oils are harmless and give out subtle scents when using any skincare products. But it can be a harmless allergen for some babies. It is best to know whether your baby is allergic to any plant, flower or fruit before purchasing any product with plant-based scents like essential oils for your baby.
  4. Glycerine
    The most gentle and non-toxic shampoos would use vegan glycerine. They help to lock the moisture in the baby's skin. They are very subtle and do not have any harsh effects on the skin. 
  5. Squalene
    Squalene is another vegan and harmless ingredient suitable for any soft and delicate skin. It helps to restore the natural balance of your newborn baby's skin.

The list of toxic ingredients in baby shampoos or any other baby care products is nowhere near being finite. But the above ingredients are common in almost cleansing product to make the baby shampoo more market-worthy and high quality. 

Every baby has his or her different needs and necessities that parents need to cater to. Therefore, it is advised to look out for any possible allergens. Needless to say, you need to avoid the normal yet fatal toxins while buying baby shampoos to save your little one of the probable diseases. 

Our take, you can try the very gentle and fragrance free baby shampoo and wash by Pippete. It is free of soap, non-toxic, non-irritant. The shampoo is made of plant-based ingredients which would surely be gentle on your baby's skin.

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