With the birth of the new royal baby last week, all eyes have been on Meghan Markle and Prince Harry with their more modern approach towards parenting. In today’s modern world, there is a global movement especially in the beauty industry for a ‘back to nature’ approach, including the demand for natural, paraben-free skincare products for babies and children…
Consumers have become increasingly conscientious. That means we care more and more about sustainability, ethics and the long-term effects of what we consume. Think of the sweeping tide of veganism. The move to sustainable, ethical materials for fashion. The cry for clean, ‘chemical-free’ products in the beauty industry.
The beauty industry, especially, has seen a fundamental shift in what consumers are calling for. People’s desire for ‘clean products’ has some of the biggest beauty brands in the States asking for regulation and industry oversight. In the UK, Childs Farm – a range of sensitive, paraben-free skincare products – has quickly risen to become the country’s fastest growing baby and child toiletries brand. Made from 98% naturally-derived ingredients, its growth demonstrates the demand for natural.
Joanna Jensen, founder of Childs Farm, says, “It was after the birth of my daughter, Mimi, that I began actively searching for natural products to suit her very sensitive, eczema-prone skin. As parents, we want to ensure we’re using the best possible products to secure our children’s’ long-term health and wellbeing. I couldn’t find any products that satisfied all my criteria, so I decided to create my own.”
Dermatologist Dr Kesiree Naidoo, based at Vincent Pallotti Hospital in Cape Town, says parenthood is one of many motives why people make the move to natural, “There are multiple reasons. Patients with chronic skin problems like eczema are concerned about using ‘potent’ prescription products for prolonged periods so seek out natural alternatives. We’re also more concerned about our collective carbon footprint and environmental impact, so we gravitate to companies that promise ‘cruelty free’ and ‘ethically produced’ standards.”
Naidoo says people are getting increasingly concerned about the harmful effects of chemicals on their bodies. “People are scared of cancer and any ingredients that may be reported to cause it.” Ingredients like parabens have been very topical. They’re used as a preservative in myriad cosmetic products. They’ve come under scrutiny because of their weak oestrogen-like effects and easy absorption by the body.
“There was concern they may influence oestrogen-related cancers like breast cancer. However, there’s no conclusive evidence of this.” Some parabens have been banned in the EU, but not all. So far, there’s not enough research into their long-term side effects.
The other very topical ingredient is petroleum jelly. Naidoo says, “Purified or refined petroleum jelly that meets the safety standards of various regulatory boards like the FDA should not contain any toxic ingredients. The harmful ingredients are removed by the manufacturing process. Unrefined petroleum jelly may contain polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which have been reported to be carcinogenic and at the heart of the controversy.”
She says refined petroleum can cause acne, “Petroleum jelly is an occlusive moisturiser which sits on the surface of the skin, acting as a skin barrier. It prevents water loss from the skin and protects the skin from external irritation. It can potentially cause acne or folliculitis as it blocks the hair follicles. Despite this, it is still an affordable and effective moisturiser.”
From a professional perspective, Naidoo recommends products with minimal preservatives and fragrances, “Regular use of a good moisturising cream from birth will help prevent eczema in babies that are genetically predisposed.”
She concludes that natural ingredients have been used for centuries, but it’s only now we’re investigating some of them for safety and efficacy, so we have proof of their positive results. “It is imperative to establish safety of any skincare ingredient to avoid replacing a known ingredient with one with unknown adverse effects. Natural ingredients are potentially very powerful and need to be used responsibly.”