Here are some things parents should keep in mind while choosing a shampoo for their baby.
By Ghazal Alagh
For most parents, with the cuteness of a baby’s curly hair comes the challenge of taking the right care. The difficult-to-maintain frizzy hair demands extra attention especially when it comes to children. Curly hair has a lesser amount of moisture as compared to straight hair. With the everyday exposure of hair to milk, food, and dirt, daily use of baby shampoo becomes unavoidable. Frequent shampooing, in turn, leads to further reduction in the scalp moisture.
For new mothers, managing the developing curls and keeping them clean is a difficult task. As the first step, they should choose an appropriate shampoo followed by the correct application method. Children’s hair needs extra protection from harmful chemicals that are present in most commercial baby shampoos. It is essential for mothers to be aware of the toxic elements and their adverse effects on their babies’ hair while choosing a shampoo. Parents should focus on natural shampoos which help to retain moisture and keep the hair clean.
What are the commonly found harmful chemicals in a baby shampoo?
It may be shocking to know that certain carcinogenic chemicals, which are banned in many countries, are still being used in India by well-known brands. To select the best from an extensive list of available baby shampoos, it is crucial for parents to keep a note of the labels.
Some of the toxic ingredients that mothers must watch out for when buying a baby shampoo are Parabens, PEG and Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES).
Parabens are used as preservatives and are known to be harmful. The chemical gets absorbed in the skin, causing irritation and rashes. To keep a baby safe, pick a shampoo that is paraben-free. Check the label and refrain from buying products with labels with has paraben as a suffix.
PEG or polyethene glycols are used in shampoos as cleansing agents. They enhance the penetration effect of other chemicals present in the shampoo. PEGs can cause severe skin reactions and contamination. Apart from PEG, parents should look out for polyethylene glycol, polyethylene oxide, and polyoxyethylene on the label.
Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES) are the foaming agents used in shampoos. It is hazardous for the skin as well as eyes. Parents should steer clear of shampoo bottles that have SLES, SLS and other chemicals of the family like sodium dodecyl sulfate, lauryl sodium sulfate, sodium n-dodecyl sulfate, lauryl sulfate sodium salt, on the label.
Mineral oils, a petroleum processing byproduct used in baby products, block the pores and restrict the skin from “breathing”. It obstructs toxins from getting released and disrupts the absorption of healthy ingredients.
What are the substitutes?
To maintain soft, nourished and tangle-free curls, pick a natural baby shampoo. These are mild, toxin-free and are safe to be used on baby’s sensitive skin. They are a harmless alternative to the tender and absorptive skin of a baby. Select a shampoo which has natural oils like coconut, avocado, almond, and jojoba. Coconut-based shampoos are a great solution, especially for curly hair as coconut is known for its moisture retention properties.
Aloe vera-based shampoos are also a boon to the soft and sensitive skin of a baby. Gel extract of aloe vera has healing power along with moisturising effects.
Look out for vitamin-based shampoos. Vitamin A, B, and E provide strengthens hair and scalp. These vitamins nourish a baby’s hair roots and keep the scalp healthy. Jojoba oil treats dry scalp and avocado oil unclogs follicles and stimulates new hair growth.
Natural shampoos, therefore, are the perfect recipe for mothers to take care of the adorable curly hair while keeping their babies tear-free and safe from the harmful chemical platter being served in the baby shampoo market.
(The writer is Co-founder, MamaEarth.)