The baby shampoos, soaps and lotions you use on your child might be labeled “natural” or “gentle,” but could also be filled with toxic chemicals which are dangerous for your child’s health.

Most of the chemicals in use have never been properly tested for safety nor are regulated in North America.

1 Bleach

Bleach is a corrosive, especially to metal surfaces. Bleach itself is readily diluted with water and can be neutralized on surfaces, including skin, with sodium thiosulfate (if necessary). Direct reaction: Bleach reacts with biological tissues, causing irritation and cell death by protein denaturation.

2 Sulfates

Sulfates have developed a bad reputation over the years due to their production process and the myth that they’re carcinogens. The largest side effect sulfates may have is the irritation they cause to eyes, skin, or scalp. Try going sulfate-free for a week to see if it makes a difference for you

3 Phthalates

Phthalates, also known as plasticizers, are chemical compounds that are usually added to plastics to increase their longevity, durability, transparency, and flexibility. They also work as a solvent or binding agent in many cosmetic and skincare products. Phthalates are made up of phthalic acid in the form of oily liquid, odorless, and colorless. And are the most commonly used chemicals in the entire world. They can cause endocrine disruption, developmental and reproductive toxicity, cancer.

4 Synthetic Fragrances

They also include numerous carcinogenic chemicals, neurotoxins, respiratory irritants, solvents, aldehydes, hundreds of untested and unregulated petrochemicals, phthalates (which can act as hormone disrupters), narcotics, and much more.

They have been shown to disrupt hormone activity, reduce sperm counts, and cause reproductive malformation, and have been linked to liver and breast cancer, diabetes, and obesity. Link fetal exposure with autism, ADHD, and neurological disorders.

5 Bisphenol A (BPA)

Exposure to BPA is a concern because of the possible health effects on the brain and prostate gland of fetuses, infants and children. It can also affect children’s behavior. Additional research suggests a possible link between BPA and increased blood pressure, type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

6 Talc

Talc is routinely contaminated with asbestos, a known human carcinogen, according to testing by the US FDA.

Repeated inhalation of talc can also cause serious lung problems in adults, including asthma, bronchitis and talcosis. Talcosis is an inflammation of the lungs that can lead to stiffening or scarring of the lungs and lung failure. Common symptoms include shortness of breath and a dry cough.

7 Parabens

Parabens are a class of alkyl ester preservatives that are both inexpensive and highly effective at extending a product’s shelf life. Multiple parabens are often used in the same formulation to target a wide range of microorganisms. Some parabens are banned from cosmetics in the European Union (including benzylparaben, pentylparaben, isobutylparaben and isopropylparaben), while others are not harmful and commonly used as food additives and preservatives in cosmetics. Methylparaben, propylparaben, butylparaben and ethylparaben are the most common parabens in baby products, specifically in sunscreen, shampoo, soap, bubble bath, oil, lotion and diaper cream. None of these four have been proven safe.

Parabens are a group of chemicals widely used as artificial preservatives in cosmetic and body care products since the 1920s. Since cosmetics contain ingredients that can biodegrade, these chemicals are added to prevent and reduce the growth of harmful bacteria and mold, increasing the shelf life of the product. The concern with these chemicals is that scientific studies suggest that parabens can disrupt hormones in the body and harm fertility and reproductive organs, affect birth outcomes, and increase the risk of cancer. They can also cause skin irritation.

8 Tributyltin (TBT)

The tributyltin compounds may be strongly irritating to the skin in humans, especially the hair follicles, and skin exposure may result in chemical burns in only a few minutes if the concentration of tributyltin is high enough. Shipyard workers exposed to TBT (occupationally exposed to dusts and vapors) developed irritated skin, dizziness, difficulty breathing, and flu-like symptoms. Other mucous membranes such as the eyes and nasal passages may also become irritated upon exposure.

The toxicity of TBT prevents the growth of algae, barnacles, molluscs and other organisms on ships hulls. … Although an effective biocide, tributyltin was wrongly deemed safe environmentally. TBT has a half-life of one or two weeks in marine water. When it accumulates in sediments its half life is about 2 years.

9 Oxybenzone

Along with decreased energy, oxybenzone has been linked to a variety of hormonal issues in both children and adults, including low sperm count in men, an excess of estrogen, and, in rare cases, infertility.

In addition to that, oxybenzone is a UV absorber, meaning it actually allows your skin to soak in the sun rays, thus creating a tan or freckling common in individuals with a lighter skin tone. Since sunlight is being absorbed into your second layer of skin, by using products with oxybenzone you’re more likely to develop an allergy to topical sunscreens. It also allows to chemical to circulate freely throughout your body, possibly linking it to a number of other health issues.

When certain sunscreen chemicals—including oxybenzone and octinoxate—contaminate aquatic environments, they may bleach or kill coral and cause reproductive issues and birth defects for fish, mussels and sea urchins.

10 Flame Retardants

Flame retardants do appear to present a threat to health, and may potentially do more harm than good in a fire. … The study found that today’s most widely used products contain the hazardous chemical element bromine, and that they actually increase amounts of carbon monoxide and hydrogen cyanide released during fires.

The largest study of children and flame retardants, led by Brenda Eskenazi, director of Berkeley’s Center for Environmental Research and Children’s Health, showed that children with higher exposures to PBDEs in the womb or during early childhood were more likely to score lower on tests assessing coordination, attention and IQ.

11 Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a colorless, strong-smelling gas that presents a health hazard when breathed into the lungs, or when it gets into the eyes or onto the skin.

When formaldehyde is released into the air and is present in the air at levels exceeding 0.1 ppm, it can cause serious irritation of your eyes, nose, and lungs. It can also cause skin sensitivity or allergic dermatitis.

Skin sensitization or allergic dermatitis can develop after repeated contact with formaldehyde-related ingredients. When formaldehyde is released into the air, it can cause serious irritation of your eyes, nose, and lungs. The greater the exposure, in terms of both duration and concentration, to products that contain formaldehyde-related ingredients, the higher the potential health risks. Possible reactions that have been reported include eye problems or irritation, nervous system problems (for example, headaches and dizziness), respiratory tract problems (sore or scratchy throat, cough, wheezing), nausea, chest pain, vomiting, and rash.

12 Diethyl Phthalate

Diethyl phthalate is currently used through direct addition in cosmetic products and personal care products and indirectly in fragrances.

Diethyl phthalate is a “plasticizer” used to help scents linger. It can actually be found in everything from toothbrushes to toys to baby lotion. Like some other plasticizers, diethyl phthalate is a proven endocrine disruptor with the ability to mimic hormones and interrupt hormone production. It is also listed by the EPA as a Clean Water Act Priority Pollutant due to its insolubility and potential to penetrate the soil and contaminate groundwater. It also may irritate the skin and eyes.

13 Resorcinol

Classified as irritant. Resorcinol is a white crystalline substance that is water-soluble. It works by breaking down hardened skin that is rough and scaly. Often uses of resorcinol is to treat pain and itching caused by minor scrapes, cuts, sunburn.

The European Union mandates maximum allowable quantities when it is used in products, and requires warning labels due to endocrine-disruption concerns related to thyroid hormones. Resorcinol could appear on an ingredient list in a number of different names, including: 1,3-benzenediol, resorcin, 1,3-dihydroxybenzone (m-hydroxybenze, m-dihydroxyphenol).

World Health Organization (WHO) also stated that resorcinol causes thyroid dysfunction (probably because it is an endocrine disruptor). It can manifest in hyperthyroidism and causes an enlargement of the thyroid gland. This would affect the central nervous system and can lead to drowsiness, unconsciousness, seizures, and alterations in the adrenal glands as shown in animal studies.

14 Synthetic Musks
Synthetic musks are often used in fragrant products as a substitute for expensive, rare, natural musks, which are derived from musk deer, civet, or sperm whales. The common musks Xylene and Ketone are restricted to maximum concentrations in fine fragrance, eau de toilette and other products in the EU for causing skin irritation and inhibiting hormone production. Xylene can also be listed as 5-tert-Butyl-2,4,6-trinitro-m-xylene. Ketone can be called 4’-tert-Butyl-2’,6’-dimethyl-3’,5’-dinitroacetophenone.

Synthetic musks are xenoestrogens, which means they mimic the action of oestrogen in your body, and disrupt hormone signalling and actions, potential leading to many hormone-related disease conditions, such as precocious puberty, irregular menstrual cycles, endometriosis, difficulty conceiving, birth defects, breast and ovarian cancers, as well as obesity, type II diabetes, bone growth and blood clotting problems, depression and loss of muscle mass in men

15 Phenoxyethanol
Phenoxyethanol is a “glycol ether” used as a fragrance ingredient and preservative that kills bacteria and extends a product’s shelf life. It’s found naturally in green tea but is often manufactured synthetically by reacting phenol with ethylene oxide, a known carcinogen. Phenoxyethanol has become a more common alternative as manufacturers phase out parabens and formaldehyde-releasing preservatives, as it has been assumed to be a safer option despite lingering concerns.

Phenoxyethanol is known to cause allergic-type reactions on the skin in some people. Several studies have shown both humans and animals can experience: skin irritation, rashes, eczema and hives.

16 Benzyl Alcohol
Benzyl alcohol is an “aromatic alcohol” that is used as a fragrance ingredient, bacteriostatic preservative, local anesthetic and viscosity-decreasing solvent. It occurs naturally in some fruits, flower oils and trees, but is often synthetically produced by combining benzyl chloride with sodium hydroxide. It is highly common in baby products, and particularly those marketed as natural. Like phenoxyethanol, its prevalence has increased as manufacturers seek alternatives for parabens.

While benzyl alcohol is an effective preservative, it can act as a skin sensitizer and cause contact dermatitis. At concentrations of 3% or greater it has been shown to cause irritation, and is restricted to a maximum concentration of 1% in cosmetics in the European Union. If you suspect that benzyl alcohol could be causing irritation, look for products without essential oils, including ylang ylang, jasmine, rose and hyacinth.

Prolonged or repeated exposure can cause allergic contact dermatitis. It also warns that it may be toxic to the liver and central nervous system. Another concern with benzyl alcohol is that like some other preservatives, it can break down to create aldehydes when combined with other chemicals, and one of those aldehydes can be formaldehyde, which is a known carcinogen

17 Sodium Benzoate
Sodium benzoate is yet another common alternative to parabens. As a fragrance ingredient and preservative, it can be found in nearly any type of baby product. Like benzyl alcohol, sodium benzoate occurs naturally in some foods, including fruits, seafood and dairy products. More common, however, is it’s synthetic counterpart, which is used as a food additive that’s GRAS (Generally Recognized As Safe) by the FDA up to a concentration of 0.1%.

Studies suggest that sodium benzoate may increase your risk of inflammation, oxidative stress, obesity, ADHD, and allergies.

18 DMDM Hydantoin
Although you won’t see it on a product label because it isn’t added directly to a product’s formulation, formaldehyde can end up in baby products that include preservatives like DMDM Hydantoin and Bronopol. These chemicals, aptly named formaldehyde-releasers, slowly decompose to prohibit bacterial growth and extend shelf life. In addition to being a known carcinogen, formaldehyde is categorized as a skin sensitizer that can lead to an allergic response or cause contact dermatitis.

DMDM Hydantoin acts as an antimicrobial preservative in diaper creams to prevent spoilage from fungi, yeast and bacteria. In addition to releasing formaldehyde, there’s strong evidence that DMDM Hydantoin is a skin irritant, immune toxicant and allergen.

19 Bronopol
Bronopol, or 2-Bromo-2-Nitropropane-1,3-diol, is an antimicrobial preservative found in wipes. It’s restricted in the European Union to a maximum concentration of 0.1% due to its ability to form nitrosamines (reasonably anticipated human carcinogens) when combined with triethanolamine, but has no such restriction in the U.S. It is also known to worsen eczema.


If you see products that advertise smooth or straight hair, chances are they contain formaldehyde.  Formaldehyde is a carcinogenic (cancer-causing) chemical found in many well-known children’s products. To put it into perspective, Formaldehyde is used in the production of many building materials and household products… do you really want this in your child’s hair?

According to the National Cancer Institute, this colorless gas can lead to burning sensations in the eyes, nose and throat; coughing, wheezing, nausea and skin irritation (2). Formaldehyde may be disguised with different names: Formaldehyde, formalin, quaternium-15, dimethyl-dimethyl (DMDM) hydantoin, methylene glycol, imidazolidinyl urea, diazolidinyl urea, sodium hydroxymethylglycinate, 2-bromo-2-nitropropane-1,3-diol (bromopol).

Bonus Bad Ingredient -what not to love about a bubble bath? 

Once you learn the ingredients that create bubbles, you will learn exactly what’s not to love! The ingredient 1,4 dioxane is a carcinogen linked to organ toxicity. According to Safer Cosmetics, this ingredient is found in 22% of over 25,000 tested cosemetics… BUT you may not find it on the ingredient label (3). How is this so? The toxic ingredient 1,4 Dioxane is actually formed when multiple ingredients come together to form this substance.

The chemical is linked to cancer and liver and kidney damage.