As many of you already know, the Paleo lifestyle has not only been a transition to eliminating toxins in food for me, but also in our skincare and home care products. We have taken the same approach with Indyanna. We have used minimal products since she was born and they have mostly been from Primal Life Organics, which we love & trust! As we were preparing for our trip to Kauai, I realized that I may need a few more things for her (i.e. sunblock, bug spray). We all want to make the best choices for our littles, but it can be difficult navigating the terrain of the many products available, especially once we learn just because a product is labeled, “organic” it does not mean it is healthy. After doing some internet searching, I decided the best thing to do is reach out to my friend, Trina, who is an expert in all things skincare. The information she shared with me was so informative and useful, that I asked her if she can do a Q&A for the Rubies & Radishes readers.
I am also very excited to announce that Primal Life Organics has added a baby line!!! We have been using a version of PLO’s Baby Butt Balm & Baby’s Toilet Water with Indyanna since she was born. We LOVE these products, they are nourishing and soothing to Indy’s sensitive baby skin, and they also cause no harm to our cloth-diapers.
In celebration of Primal Life Organic’s new baby line, Trina is generously offering Rubies & Radishes readers 15% off all baby and kid friendly products! The coupon code is “ruby baby“. It is good through Friday 3/29.
A: What are some of the problems with conventional baby skin care products?
T: Conventional skincare products, both adult and baby, contain ingredients (phthalates, petrochemicals, propylene glycol, synthetic fragrances, sodium laurel sulfate, 1,4-Dioxane, parabens, lead or chemical preservatives.) that are both harmful and unnecessary. Synthetic fragrances can cause disruptions in the immune system causing a life-long sensitization, which can result in an allergic reaction with each exposure. According to the EWG (Environmental Working Group) “fragrances are considered to be among the top five known allergens and are known to both cause and trigger asthma attacks. Preservatives are add to enable a long shelf life, sometimes 3-5 years, and enables Big Cosmo the ability to mass-produce products. Most preservatives and “fragrances” are known cancer causing agents or neurotoxins. According to the EWG) and The Campaign For Safe Cosmetics- “A fragrance is considered a trade secret, so companies don’t have to tell us what’s in it- often dozens or even hundreds of synthetic chemical compounds. Even ‘unscented’ products may contain masking fragrances, which are chemicals used to cover up the odor of other chemicals. Bad for adults- even worse for babies- as I will explain below.
Except from the Skintervention Guide by Liz Wolfe and Guest Expert Trina Felber:
Baby skin is definitely soft, pink, smooth, supple and almost flawless. The skin of a baby is definitely more sensitive to the external environment than adult skin. It’s important to realize the functions of the skin remain the same at any age: barrier protection, photo protection, thermoregulation, immune surveillance, hormonal syntheses, insensible fluid loss and sensory perception. However, there are some vital differences. Infant skin is more permeable than adult skin. The top layer, epidermis, is not well attached to the dermis. The two layers have fewer microscopic seal (hemidesmodomes) between them and this allows for increased absorption of topical applications. Infants also have more fat than adult skin, so fatty substances are more readily absorbed.
Adding insult to injury is the fact that infants have an immature drug metabolism system (liver) and toxic level of chemicals could become problematic much more quickly than for adults. I feel it is very important to establish a toxin free skincare routine from conception and maintain it thru childhood.
A: What are some healthy options for baby shampoo/soap?
T: When it comes to skincare, babies, infants and toddlers are low maintenance! Newborns need very little skincare. Most of the time, a water bath is sufficient. When a “bath” is truly needed, I used the Primal Organic Shampoo Bar for hair and body. Just avoid the eyes because it is chemical free, and can sting the eyes.
Beyond that, children require very little topical application. I have found from my own experience with three kids- most skin conditions including body and butt rashes, dry skin and irritation- are food related. Children can have allergies and sensitivities to numerous foods including dairy, wheat, gluten, soy and some fruits and vegetables. All of my kids would break out in severe diaper rashes from dairy. Strawberries produced a body rash. I would treat it with a homemade butt balm (Baby’s Butt Balm) or Primal Body Butter, which is excellent for children (when needed) because it only contains nourishing oils. Be careful if using products meant for adults- even natural products. If they contain essential oils, the concentration for children should be less than an adult formula. Only use natural products that contain essential oils on children that were made for specifically children.
Keep it simple when it comes to skincare for kids- too much bathing dries the skin. Only add topicals when needed. NO talc or baby powder, which becomes easily dispersed in the air and is an airway irritant and will be inhaled by you and baby (and has been linked to cause asthma)!! Use a small amount of nourishing oil (even simple coconut, olive or any organic oil) when needed. Avoid anything with chemicals, fragrance and toxins.
A: This is such great information, Trina! We were using a baby shampoo rated safe by the EWG, but it was drying out Indy’s scalp. We recently started using the Primal Organic Shampoo Bar for every other bath, and just water baths in between. It is working wonderfully. Indy’s scalp is soft and her frohawk is looking better than ever!
A: What are some healthy ways to treat diaper rash?
T: The best way to treat diaper rash- in my opinion is to look on the inside. Our skin is an extension, if you will, of our innards. A rash of any kind signifies an allergic reaction or a sensitivity to something that came into contact with the body. An all over body rash may indicate a reaction to something applied to the skin- think lotion, soap or detergent, as well as something ingested- think food or medication. The same may be true about diaper rashes. Many believe the rash results from sitting in a wet or dirty diaper for too long. I speak from experience when I tell you that may not be true. We called our daughters BM “toxic poop” because until we figured it out, as soon as she pooped, her bottom would INSTANTLY turn red and inflamed.
We realized it HAD to be her nutrition- or mine since I was breast-feeding. We were supplementing with an organic formula- made from cow’s milk. We took her to a homeopathic doctor who recommended Weston Price and making our own formula. To make a REALLY long story short- she turned out to be allergic to all raw and pasteurized cows milk, goat’s milk as well as all dairy I ingested!
So, I say first look at intake. It can be very frustrating and tedious- but definitely better for baby to avoid the irritant.
Topical ointments (chemical free like PLO’s Baby’s Butt Balm) work wonderful to help heal broken, inflamed tissues. Baby’s Butt Balm is made from organic, healing oils that help repair damaged tissue AND forms a barrier of protection against soiled diapers. The Primal Baby line also includes Baby’s Toilet Water (great for cleaning up messy diapers) and soon Baby’s Giggle Massage Serum and Baby’s Body Butter. I still use Baby’s Toilet Water once potty trained- for messy, BM bottoms. I keep it on the commode- do one spray, and it really makes cleanup fast and easy!
A: We are going to Kauai in March, do you have recommendations on how to make sure Indyanna gets her vitamin D, while avoiding a sun burn?
T: I really avoid sunblock- I have never used it on my kids. I try to keep them out of the high-noon sun as much as possible. If they are going to be in the noon sun, I put the long or short sleeve “sun shirts” or “sun suits” on- shirts and bathing suits that have protection on them and they really do work. I have read that cotton clothing does have a SPF of 15. Sun exposure is necessary for vitamin D production- at her age, around 30 minutes is a healthy amount for vitamin D production. Hats are perfect- and adorable.
Build a base tan with a little sun exposure before the trip. Also, natural oils do contain a natural SPF. Most are between 4-6, but some do have a higher SPF. Red Raspberry Seed oil has an SPF between 28-50. I have used it for long exposures and it does work well. It can be expensive- but for a sunny vacation trip- it would be well worth buying some and rubbing some on her 20 minutes before exposure.
Here are two sources to purchase organic red raspberry oil:
I asked Liz Wolfe, author of The Skintervention Guide and blog Cave Girl Eats, her recommendation for sun-care and kids. This is her take:
L: My instinct would be to allow her to get a bit of exposure on her arms and legs – just a few minutes at first, keep an eye on it, and “up” the exposure as you’re comfortable…but keep a wide-brimmed hat (adorable!) on at all times to protect her ears and nose. From there, the options are SHADE and a physical sunscreen like the Badger Baby Sunscreen Cream. These are creamy and all white, so a little nerdy looking, but the best option in sunscreen for babies!
If burn happens, don’t use aloe. It can cause a painful “tightening” of the skin. Actually, the best treatment for sunburn is probably organic, non-GMO soybean oil as it has the highest concentration of Vitamin E.
T: Lastly, I have recently noticed that since I have been eating Paleo, I have a better tolerance for the sun. I really cannot remember the last time I had a sunburn, or sun rash. I have also noticed that my kids seem to have a “natural” resistance to the sun- and then I read “8 Natural Ways To Prevent A Sunburn And Sunscreens Not One Of Them” by Marks Sisson. Who knew the Paleo diet could provide natural sun protection?” It makes sense- the cavemen did not have sunscreen- and I am sure that they did not abstain from activity during sunlight. This is a MUST READ.
A: Thank you for sharing this fascinating article by Mark. Indy’s diet is high in many of the nutrients he discusses, vitamin D, saturated fat and long-chain Omega-3s. Along with your suggestions, she did not get burned at all. She actually got a little tan! We also followed Liz’ suggestion and brought some vitamin E along.
A: Do you use anything for insect repellent, as in any essential oils? I am wondering if we should bring something for Indy since we will be outdoors a lot in Kauai.
T: Neem oil stinks but works great- I guess you can say it smells so bad- even mosquitos don’t like it! Neem oil has amazing skin healing properties. It has a garlic-like odor and is yellow in color. In its natural state, neem oil is a semi-solid and typically sold mixed with a liquid oil (olive oil).
Because neem oil is strong, just a dab or two is needed- not a full body slick. Put a dab on 2-3 places- and she should be bug free. Neem oil can also be burned (as incense) or added to citronella flares for added outdoor protection.
A: We dabbed a couple of drops of neem oil on Indy before we went on big adventures. She did smell like garlic, but was bug bite free the entire vacation.
Thank you, Trina for helping us have a healthy vacation. Indy had a great time, got no sunburns or bug bites and avoided any questionable ingredients on her soft baby skin!