Good basic skin care starts with a good skin care routine. Slathering on moisturizers is a vital part of this routine. Moisturizers help maintain both the hydration and barrier function of the skin. Remember- babies have more delicate and sensitive skin than adults. Babies need a daily moisturizer to keep their skin healthy.
There are so many moisturizers to choose from that it may be confusing on which one is the best moisturizer for your baby. For your baby’s skin, choose products that are safe, hypoallergenic and non-irritating. A good resource to help you find the best moisturizer for your baby is the National Eczema Association, which shares a list of clinically tested products.
Again, adults and babies have different skin. A baby’s skin is thinner, more sensitive, more prone to irritation, and more prone to losing water. This should matter in your decision of what type of product to use on your baby.
As you choose the best moisturizer for you baby, you have to consider what makes a lotion, cream, and ointment different from each other? There is some basic chemistry to understanding the makeup of these different product formulations. For simplicity, lotions, creams and ointments can be classified as emulsions, which is a mixture of oil in water. As for an example of an emulsion, think of the classic oil and water salad dressing. To get all of the different components mixed up in a salad dressing, you have to mix it up by shaking it up. This wouldn’t be so practical for a skincare product, so there are ingredients called emulsifiers in our skincare products to keep the oil and water mixture stable. What makes lotions, creams, and ointments different is their composition of that oil and water mixture. Ointments have more oils and lotions have more water. Lotions are 70% water; creams are 70% oil; and ointments are greater than 80% oil.
Creams and ointments are better moisturizers to use on a baby’s skin. Lotions have more water that can potentially dehydrate the skin by pulling out the water from the skin rather than keeping the natural moisture in the skin. Creams and ointments are better at locking in our natural moisture and will better protect your baby’s skin. If your baby has normal skin, a cream would be a good choice. If your baby has sensitive skin that is more prone to eczema, then an ointment would be better. Ointments do the best job to protect the skin from water loss. A trick to make ointment application not so greasy is to apply the ointment on skin that is damp or has some water droplets on it.
As for things to avoid in your moisturizer choice for your baby, here are a few:
Avoid these ingredients in your skincare products: parabens, phthalates, sulfates, formaldehyde-releasers, sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS), dyes, GMOs, and bisphenol-A. These ingredients are not necessary and have their individual controversies against them. Fragrance should particularly be avoided in babies’ skin as fragrance is becoming the most common cause of contact allergy. No fragrance for you baby.
National Eczema Association resource links: