Image source:

Top 15 Chemicals to Avoid in Baby Shampoo

At the very beginning of pregnancy, many future mothers think about bath care products they might use for their babies. Therefore, they start to choose baby products more accurately. This makes sense because the mother and child need the gentlest, safe care — especially today when babies are born into a world of chemicals and ecological problems. The point is, the baby’s delicate skin is much thinner than adult skin.

Therefore, it is especially permeable; any substances from cosmetics and wash products get inside and are absorbed much faster by the baby’s skin. In addition, the newborn skin does not yet have any functions to provide full protection from hazardous substances from the outside world. That is why, when using any baby cosmetics, we should pay special attention to its composition. Unfortunately, the inscription “non-toxic baby shampoo” doesn’t always indicate that the product will not harm a baby’s tender skin.

In this article, we will give you a useful memo to help you navigate the baby shampoo compounds that we should avoid when choosing a baby wash. How to pick the right non-toxic baby shampoo? Let’s explore 15 chemicals to avoid when choosing the proper baby bath product for everyday use.

1. Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Image source:

SLS is widely used in the production of detergents due to its cheapness and efficiency. Sodium lauryl sulfate is used in clinics around the world as a skin irritant tester: researchers use this product to irritate the skin of animals and humans and then treat it with different products.

Unfortunately, studies at Georgia Medical University have shown that sodium lauryl sulfate penetrates into the eyes, brain, heart, liver, etc. and stays there for a long time. These studies also show that SLS changes the protein composition of children’s eye cells and delays the normal development of these children, causing cataracts. By the way, many companies often disguise their products with SLS as natural, indicating this component as “derived from coconuts”. This additionally stresses out the need for the proper baby bath product as suggested by

2. Surfactants

Surface-active substances are Cocamidopropyl Betaine, Cocamide DEA, Ceteareth-12 / Ceteareth-20, Laureth-4. These carcinogens are used in shampoos, soaps, and shower gels. They irritate the eyes, skin, and mucous membranes and may cause dermatitis. Diethanolamine (DEA) penetrates easily into the skin and settles in various organs, especially in the brain. The substances in this group are toxic to the kidneys, liver, brain, and skin.

3. Parabens

Image source:

Parabens are chemicals found in shampoos, deodorants, and other cosmetics. They may mimic the effects of the female hormone estrogen, which can stimulate breast tumor growth. Parabens are petrochemicals used in almost all cosmetic products because of their ability to kill bacteria and thus preserve the product for a long time. A shampoo containing a substance whose name ends in -paraben should be treated with great care. Today, two types of parabens are considered the most dangerous: propylparaben and butylparaben.

4. Preservatives

Without this special additive, the shampoo industry simply cannot exist; it preserves its properties and prevents the growth of microorganisms in the shampoo. However, not all preservatives are harmless. Benzalkonium chloride, Benzyl , Phenoxyethanol, Methylisothiazolinone (MIT), Methylchloroisothiazolinone (MCI), Sodium Hydroxymethylglycinate, and Diazolidinyl urea are used in pharmacology as a decontaminating agent; whereas in shampoos, they play the role of preservative and surfactant.

Such components included in baby shampoo can cause severe allergic reactions, provoking skin, and respiratory tract diseases. Moreover, scientists suspect that this substance has an extremely negative effect on the eyes, provoking the emergence of glaucoma.

5. Formaldehyde Releasing Chemicals

Image source:

Formaldehyde is a cosmetic preservative. It is toxic due to the negative effect on reproductive organs, respiratory, and CNS. Due to the ban on the use of formaldehyde in cosmetics, manufacturers began to call it Quaternium-15 (it releases free gaseous formaldehyde), Dowicil 75 Dowicil 100, Dowicil 200 – all of them can cause contact dermatitis.

6. Quaternium-15

This component can cause irritation on the skin, and in cases of contact with the eyes, prolonged contact can lead to a loss of vision. It causes an allergic reaction. Quaternium-15 releases dangerous formaldehyde, which is a hazardous carcinogen.

7. DMDM Hydantoin

DMDM Hydantoin is an antimicrobial component classified as a preservative releasing formaldehyde. The use of Hydantoin (and other formalin-releasing components) in cosmetics is constantly being challenged by supporters of the industrial use of natural and organic components.

In the USA, the concentration of this substance in shampoos may not exceed 0.2%., in the European Union, 0.6%. But you will never really know what amount of DMDM is used in your particular shampoo: the manufacturer does not specify this percentage.

8. Fragrance, Perfume

Perfumes and fragrances found in modern shampoos can contain hundreds of different harmful compounds, including phthalates, dangerous chemicals that are associated with asthma, thyroid disease, and cancer, in particular, breast cancer in women. In addition, artificial flavors are considered the main cause of allergies to cosmetics.

9. Phthalates

Image source:

Phthalates are used in the manufacture of consumer products such as perfumes, cosmetics, shampoos, medical devices, soft toys. The Journal of Pediatrics has published a study providing convincing evidence that phthalates in children’s cosmetics affect the reproductive function of boys. The effect of phthalates on children is particularly dangerous. Infants are exposed to phthalates made up of shampoos, lotions, and powders.

Phthalates can cause asthma, infertility, reduced testosterone concentration. Due to health problems associated with exposure to phthalates, some of them have been banned in the European Union and the USA.

10. Polyethylene Glycols (PEGs)

“PEG” (Polyethylene glycol), polyethylene glycol (ethylene glycol) – stabilizer, thickener, foam extinguisher. This substance, due to its ability to influence the processes in the body, can cause serious metabolic disorders. It has been proven that females of animals eating PEG have given birth to calves with genetic changes.

11. Propylene Glycol

Image source:

Propylene glycol is an oil derivative widely used in creams and humidifiers because of its properties of water binding. It is cheaper than glycerol but causes more allergic reactions and irritations. Propylene glycol is believed to “soften” the skin. However, in the industry, it is used as antifreeze in water cooling systems and as brake fluid. Propylene glycol causes a large number of reactions and can irritate a baby’s skin, even at low concentrations.

12. 1,4-dioxane

1,4-dioxane is never shown on the label but is contained in 57% of children’s detergents in the United States. It can cause irritation to the skin, mucous in the eyes, and nasopharynx during prolonged contact. There is a high chance of the chemical contaminating with 1,4-dioxane when you see Sodium Laureth Sulfate, PEG compounds, included in the baby shampoo.

13. Sodium Hydroxide

Image source:

This element is also known as caustic soda, which can cause burns to the skin. Together with the fat, sodium hydroxide forms soap products. During the washing reaction, sodium hydroxide interacts with the fat and makes the cleaning process.

14. Sodium Benzoate + Citric Acid

In cosmetics and personal care like hair products, baby shampoo, and mouthwash, sodium benzoate is commonly used as a preservative. A large concern over the use of sodium benzoate is caused by its ability to convert to benzene, a widely-known carcinogen. Benzene can form inside multiple products that contain both sodium benzoate and vitamin C (ascorbic acid).

15. Colorants

Image source:

Colorants are indicated as CI on the label. These ingredients are used to give the product a bright color and thus attract the attention of the customer. All synthetic colorants are potential irritants. On children’s skin, the colorant can form redness, increase dryness, and irritation. Aggressive, bright synthetic dyes can cause an allergic reaction, provoke coughing, suffocation, and swelling of the mucous membrane.


Guided by the above information and taking care of the child’s hygiene, young parents should ensure that a baby’s skin is cleaned, moisturized, and protected without any harming components. Unfortunately, you can find the harmful substances mentioned above in many popular baby care products, So, if you want to protect your little loved one and pick non-toxic natural-based baby products, we have prepared a guide dedicated to the choice of the organic baby shampoo on, so you can choose a suitable item and use it on a daily basis, without any worries about your baby’s health.

About Matt Durham