Some remarkable advances in dermatological science, but particularly when it concerns children’s skin, some parents are now moving towards products using only natural, organic ingredients.
Though skincare products have to list all their ingredients, it’s sometimes difficult to know whether the chemicals used in them are completely safe—even when they are approved by regulatory authorities. Some parents would rather not take the risk of using products that contain substances such as preservatives and plasticizers.
For instance, phthalates—commonly used as binders and plasticisers in cosmetics—have been linked with asthma, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, breast cancer, obesity and type II diabetes, while parabens—used as a preservative—are believed to penetrate the skin, accumulate in tissue and disrupt hormone functions.
Triclosan, an effective antibacterial found in many soaps, can also affect hormonal levels in animals. It’s not clear whether it has an effect on humans. These and other chemicals are often regarded as undesirable risk factors in cosmetics.
Throughout history, cosmetics have been made with natural plant ingredients such as aloe vera, and even when the first commercially manufactured cosmetics were marketed, they were made in essentially the same way. Some cosmetics companies are now returning to this approach, so parents can confidently use treatments free of synthetic chemicals.
Nuts are a rich source of natural ingredients—for instance shea nuts produce a butter which is an excellent moisturiser, as well as providing ultraviolet protection and working as an anti-inflammatory, while kola nuts are said to stimulate blood flow.
Grains such as millet are also commonly used, providing a source of skin-nourishing mineral salts, vitamins and unsaturated fatty acids.
Natural oils include manketti oil, a natural deep moisturiser and anti-inflammatory, while marula oil, rich in essential fatty acids, hydrates the skin and improves skin elasticity.
Boabab is one of Africa’s most important oils. Derived from the Adansonia Grandidieri tree, it’s a popular moisturiser. One of the most popular natural ingredients is coconut oil, which seems to be something of a wonder ingredient—it is an excellent massage oil and skin softener, and its protein content contributes to cellular health and tissue repair.
Together with essential herbs, fruits and spices, these natural ingredients can provide a safe and eco-friendly alternative to chemical-packed cosmetics for you and your children.
This feature was originally published in the summer edition of Healthy Child with Dr Ranj Singh, which you can also read here!