Bath time is supposed to be a fun time. But if you’ve ended up on this page, you must know that a lot of shampoos and soaps are full of toxic ingredients.
And being the good mama (or papa) you are, you want to keep them as far away from your child as possible.
It’s true that there are some nasty things to be found in shampoos and body washes, and unfortunately, the same goes for those made for kids and babies.
Needless to say, you have to be very careful when it comes to picking out a shampoo or body wash for your little one.
This is where we come in: we’ve done the research and we’re ready to show you exactly what you need to know to make the best informed decision and avoid those nasty chemicals.
Shampoos & Body Washes: Both the Same Thing.
When it comes to bath products for babies, you can really use any product interchangeably.
For example, if something is labeled as being a shampoo, it’s really perfectly fine and suitable to use as a body wash, or even to make bubbles in the bath.
The product is really the same thing, and the label is more marketing than anything.
The Common Nasty Stuff to Avoid in Shampoos and Body Washes.
Sodium Lauryl Sulfate/Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLS)
You may have heard of SLS. It’s a surfactant, detergent, and emulsifier used in tons of cosmetics and personal hygiene products. You can find SLS in virtually all shampoos and body washes as well as things like laundry detergents, mouth washes, and many skincare products. You’d probably be shocked to learn that it’s also found in industrial cleaners.
The main purpose of SLS in shampoos is that it acts as a lathering agent. Without it, your shampoos and soaps just wouldn’t lather up, and would therefore be pretty poor cleaners.
SLS is a cheap solution, and it’s true that it originates from coconuts, but that doesn’t mean it’s natural! It’s anything but: the process of manufacturing SLS results in it being contaminated with 1,4 dioxane and Ethylene oxside, both carcinogens.
SLS has been proven to cause skin and eye irritation in both animal and human trials. They did conclude that the concentration of SLS in the product was directly related to how much irritation it caused, but when we’re talking about young children and babies, any amount is too much.
There doesn’t seem to be any scientifically-proven link between the use of SLS and cancer. However, the fact that it’s contaminated with the two previously-mentioned carcinogens should be enough to cause concern.
Fragrance can be found in almost all bath and body products, for both adults and babies.
Natural fragrance is fine… mostly. We’d personally opt for unscented versions of products whenever possible, because even essential oil natural fragrance can be irritating, and there’s no real information on whether or not these things could actually be harmful in the long run.
What really is harmful is chemical fragrance.
In fact, the fragrance industry uses over 3000 different chemicals in their blends that end up in the final product, and these chemicals are most often hidden from the consumer.
This is because there’s a loophole that makes it so companies are not legally required to disclose what exactly goes into their fragrance. Some of them are really awful chemicals that are linked to endocrine disruption, cancer and more.
Parabens (chemical preservatives)
Parabens are used in so many different personal care products. They’re used as a chemical preservative, inhibiting bacterial growth. Parabens are used in a variety of forms, and you might find them listed as the most common: butylparaben, methylparaben, and propylparaben.
Parabens have been shown to mimic estrogen in the body. Estrogen disruption is thought to play a role in cancer growth, and in fact a recent study has shown that 99% of breast cancer tissues sampled contained traces of parabens.
Although parabens are so widely used—in over 85% of cosmetics by some estimates—many brands have started creating paraben-free products due to customer concerns. You can definitely find good shampoos that don’t have these potentially deadly chemicals.
There’s No Such Thing as a 100% “Organic” Baby Wash.
We looked everywhere, and there’s simply no baby wash that’s truly organic.
The best we can find is washes that are free of the toxic chemicals and use only natural ingredients and none of the harmful stuff listed above.
Some products do use organic ingredients, but they’re not fully organic. Don’t be mislead by the label. Just because a company is called “Happy Baby Organics” doesn’t mean that the products they sell are organic. Buyer beware.
Seven Natural + Organic Baby Shampoos & Washes You Can Trust.
If you’re as concerned as we were after we learned about how chemical-filled baby bath products can be, never fear: the following shampoos and washes can be trusted.
They’re chemical free, safe and natural, and you can use any of them worry-free.
A CASTILE SOAP
Let me just say this: I’m an absolutely huge fan of Dr. Bronner’s soaps!
Even before I discovered their mild baby formulations, we used Dr. Bronner’s (click here to check price on Amazon) all the time. I would never go back to another product, and I think you’ll be the same way once you try it. I bet you’ll even use it as a body wash; it’s just that great.
Their products are just awesome. All of the ingredients are certified organic, and the bottle is also 100% recycled material, which is the bonus cherry on top.
There are several different scents available, but for your little one, I’ll recommend the unscented, mild shampoo just to be safe. However, feel free to go with one of the scented versions, because it’s all natural fragrances.
Dr. Bronner’s is heavily concentrated, so dilute it with water and one bottle is going to last you a very long time.
Just be warned that this is not a no-tear shampoo, so be careful around baby’s eyes: it will sting a bit if it makes contact. Other than that, it’s mild and gentle on sensitive skin, won’t dry out the hair, and is just all-around amazing.
MADE ON AN ORGANIC FARM
Babo Botanicals makes a great line of safe, natural and gentle shampoos and washes that are a safe bet. They’re also certified cruelty-free by PETA.
We love that all of their products are manufactured on an organic farm in upstate New York, and are made with natural, fair trade ingredients.
All of their washes are vegan and are clinically tested and proven to be tear-free and non-irritating.
Rather than sulfates, which are chemically-produced lathering agents, Babo use sulfonates, which have an important and distinct difference: they are naturally occurring and chemical-free!
They also have no chemical fragrances added, yet they still smell really nice. The Berry Primrose bath and body wash for example has a pleasant berry smell.
Babo’s products are highly recommended!
Another great choice, Earth Mama-Angel Baby makes natural and organic shampoos and washes.
Containing no synthetic fragrance, antibacterial chemicals, phthalates, parabens or harsh sulfates, their products are a great choice for those looking for a safe and natural baby bath product.
Do be warned however that this is not a tear-free shampoo, so avoid getting it in the eyes (which you should really avoid with any wash.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates Earth Mama Angel Baby a 1 (the lower the better) which is an excellent score. It only contains 7 ingredients in total.
In terms of smell, we were surprised to find that it lives up to its No-Scents name: it literally has no smell at all. Zilch, nada.
Another great thing to love about this soap is that it has a pump, and it comes out of the bottle in a foam, which makes it way easier to use and avoid getting it in the eyes of a baby who probably doesn’t enjoy bath time very much.
AN EASY-TO-FIND CHOICE
California Baby’s line of products is available in tons of stores, making it easy to find, especially if you don’t want to buy online.
They have a few different versions available, but I’ll be covering the Calendula shampoo & body wash, which has a great EWG score of 1.
It’s made from the extract of the Calendula flower, which has been used for centuries to naturally sooth skin, and contains now harmful chemicals or additives. It does have a pleasant smell, but it comes from natural essential oils, not chemical fragrances.
The only downside I’ve seen to this shampoo is that the pump puts out more shampoo than you actually need, so it might run out quickly. If you use California Baby, try squeezing out only half a pump at a time.
This is a no-tear shampoo, and doesn’t contain any numbing agents.
One of the most natural shampoos you’ll come across, Nature’s Paradise is made mostly from water and organic coconut oil, sunflower oil, apple cider vinegar and green tea.
Being mostly organic (we say that because the apple cider vinegar isn’t labelled as organic) makes it a great, safe choice and also good for the environment. It has a pleasant smell that some people do seem not to like, but in any case, it fades quickly.
On the downside, Nature’s Paradise is rather expensive, but they have one of the most worry-free products there is. Also know that this isn’t a tear-free shampoo, so be careful around baby’s eyes.
A 99.5% NATURAL OPTION
Puracy makes a great non-toxic and natural baby wash that’s extremely popular and made with 99.5% natural ingredients.
This wash is also vegan, hypoallergenic, and non-toxic.
They have a EWG rating of 3, which is rather poor, but we believe it’s misleading. The reason for the rating is that they’re mislabeling the natural fragrance as being non-natural. This product also uses sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate, two natural preservatives, which are waaaay than the chemical preservatives found in most shampoos and body washes.
However, if you’d like to avoid sodium benzoate, and I know some of you might, better skip this one.
The packaging is also recyclable, and the product itself is biodegradable, which is great for the eco-conscious shopper.
As of right now (March 2020) they only make it in one variety: citrus grove, which has a very light citrus smell. They only use natural fragrance, not chemical, to achieve this.
This wash is marketed as being tear-free, but judging by comments on the internet, it’s actually not. Avoid getting it in the eyes, because it will very likely cause irritation.
SCENTED & UNSCENTED
MADE OF makes a line of great natural baby washes: one is fragrance-free, and the other two are scented with essential oils.
These washes are made with 77% organic and 23% natural ingredients—no artificial chemicals to be found here.
They’re certified cruelty-free by the Leaping Bunny organization, and have a great, short list of ingredients.
This wash isn’t tear-free because the company didn’t have it tested, but it doesn’t matter because you really should avoid getting even a “tear-free” shampoo in your little one’s eyes.
All in all, a good natural baby wash that we recommend.
Any one of these choices is a great option, and you can be sure that you’re not going to run into any of the nasty stuff.
Do you have any questions about our choices in the best natural + organic baby washes? Please let us know in the comments below.