Healthy Skin Swaps: Diaper Balm
Diaper balm. It's a newborn staple, that perhaps you hadn't even heard of or given any thought to before having a baby. Maybe you didn't get your first tube or jar until your baby got their first rash. Like everything else for baby, there are so many choices when picking a product to soothe and protect their little bum. You may not have even known that this choice mattered. But we, as organic baby skin care experts, are here to tell you that it does matter. And we are going to break it down for you here!
There are several important jobs that a diapering product does. For this post, we are going to call it a diaper balm because that's what ours is, but there are other names including cream, paste and ointment.
The first job a diaper balm does is to protect that delicate skin from irritation that comes from coming into contact with urine and bowel movements many, MANY times per day. The longer the contact, the greater the risk for irritation from moisture and bacteria. Next, there is the wiping. Frequent wiping with even the softest, gentlest wipes can be rough on super delicate skin. We won't go into detail about wipes in this post, but wipes can be full of harsh irritants, so we always recommend wipes that are unscented with gentle ingredients like Kinder By Nature Plant Based Baby Wipes. If you're looking for natural diapers, our recommendation is Bamboo Nature Eco Friendly Baby Diapers.
How does the product protect the skin? It's pretty simple. Diaper products contain ingredients that are water-insoluble, so they repel moisture, creating a barrier on the skin. For example, Zoe Organics Diaper Balm is completely waterless; containing oils, cocoa butter and beeswax that increases the staying power of the product on the skin. We recommend applying our balm regularly as a preventative measure - think of it as a nice protective coating that repels the elements. It also makes clean up easier and decreases friction on the skin when wiping.
The second job is to soothe irritation and redness that develops. Rashes can run a full spectrum of severity and it is important to catch it quickly. A diaper balm works to calm the skin through the properties of its ingredients. Zoe Organics Diaper Balm is infused with organic herbs. We literally add calendula flowers, chamomile flowers, lavender buds and plantain leaf to the organic oils and let them steep their skin-loving properties into the oil. We then use this infused oil as the base of our balm. It's no wonder it works so well!
So, now that we know its function (or at least what it is supposed to do), let's break down our healthy skin swap! For this swap, we chose a popular conventional brand Boudreaux's Butt Paste, and recommend replacing it with Zoe Organics Diaper Balm. Keeping reading to learn why:
Here is the information for the Original Boudreaux's Butt Paste from their website:
- Maximum strength treatment (40% zinc oxide) and protection
- Visibly improves diaper rash in as little as 3 hours (their claim)
- Provides overnight protection
- FREE FROM: dyes, preservatives, parabens and talc
- Pediatrician-recommended brand
- Creamy, non-pasty formula
- Goes on clear
- Concentrated, waterless formula
- Made with an herbal infusion
- Free of fragrance, artificial or synthetic ingredients (petroleum free)
- Made with 100% organic ingredients
- Cloth diaper friendly
Let's breakdown the ingredients:
We'll start with Boudreaux's Butt Paste:
- Zinc oxide is used to form a barrier on top of the skin. It is the ingredient responsible for the white color of the product. The pastes and ointments are safe and effective for diaper rash, but in higher concentration they are difficult to remove from the baby’s skin due to their thick and adherent nature. (USPharmasist.com)
- Mineral oil is highly refined and processed petroleum. It is generally recognized as a safe and effective emollient, and in this case a protectant for diaper rash. It is water-insoluble, giving it a barrier effect. "However, it remains on the skin indefinitely until physically removed, and may build up on the skin if not periodically cleansed away. Since the FDA directs the caregiver to cleanse the diaper area with each diaper change, mineral oil should not accumulate. However, if patients fail to cleanse the baby properly, it could cause chronic skin irritation and folliculitis." (USPharmasist.com)
- Paraffin wax is a soft colorless solid derived from petroleum, coal or oil shale that consists of a mixture of hydrocarbon molecules. (Yikes!)
- Castor seed oil is a multi-purpose vegetable oil. This is a popular ingredient in skincare and can be very beneficial. Our preference is always that an oil like this be certified organic, so we feel better about how it is grown and processed.
- Myroxylon balsamum (balsam tolu) resin is a a sap-like substance that comes from the Myroxylon balsamum (tolu) tree. It has some very beneficial properties and is used medicinally. "In manufacturing, tolu balsam is used as a fixative, as a fragrance in soaps and cosmetics, and as a flavoring in cough medicines." (rxlist.com) The scent of Boudreaux's Butt Paste likely comes from this ingredient. This is probably a decent ingredient depending on how it is grown and extracted.
- Petroleum jelly: We see this ingredient in many beauty and skincare products and most predominately in Vaseline. Unfortunately, petroleum jelly is derivative of oil refining. "Originally found coating the bottom of oil rigs in the mid-1800s, it's a byproduct of the oil industry and therefore an unsustainable resource (read: not eco-friendly). It's commonly used topically to cure everything from dehydrated, flakey skin to diaper rash. Though generally regarded as safe, the components that are removed from the oil during the refining process of petroleum jelly are carcinogenic in some cases." (huffingtonpost.com)
Alright, let's take a look at Zoe Organics Diaper Balm ingredients:
Sunflower oil (organic): Sunflower oil is extracted from the seeds of the sunflower plant and is usually obtained via cold-press extraction. It contains linoleic acid which helps to maintain the skin’s natural barrier and support its ability to retain moisture. It also has an anti-inflammatory effect when used topically. A small animal study also found that topical use of sunflower oil was beneficial for healing wounds faster. (healthline.com)
Beeswax (organic): Produced by the female worker honeybees and is harvested by removing the top layer of wax that covers the honey cells. Beeswax works well in cosmetic products because of the wax esthers that exist in both beeswax and human skin. Beeswax is a natural hydrating ingredient that increases essential moisture in skin and in the relief of itching from sensitive skin. It has an irritation potential of zero, so it will not cause irritation or clog pores, but rather provide a host of benefits such as general healing, antiseptic and emollient. Even after processing, it remains a biologically active ingredient, retaining some anti-bacterial properties and contains vitamin A, which is necessary for normal cell development.
Cocoa butter (organic): Cocoa has been called “food of the gods”. It has been used for centuries in Africa for its moisturizing and healing properties, where it has been used to protect and condition skin which has been damaged by the sun and wind. Cocoa butter contains natural antioxidants and is naturally rich in vitamin E and other vitamins and minerals as well as cocoa mass polyphenol (CMP), a substance that inhibits the production of immunoglobulin (IgE). Women have used it for centuries to prevent and treat stretch marks.
Herbs (organic) infused into the oil:
lavender flowers - A powerful analgesic as well as antiseptic, anti-bacterial, anti-viral, anti-toxic, anti-inflammatory, decongestant, restorative and tonic on the skin. It contains a high percentage of linalool, which makes it excellent for healing.
calendula flowers - Commonly used to disinfect minor wounds and treat skin infections. The antibacterial and immunostimulant properties of the plant make it extremely useful in treating slow-healing cuts and cuts in those with compromised immune systems.
chamomile flowers - Useful in treating minor abrasions, cuts and scrapes. It is an anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiviral and antiparasitic.
plantain leaf - Known to relieve pain for bee stings and insect bites, stop itching from poison ivy and other allergic rashes and promote healing in sores and bruises.
Tea tree essential oil (organic): Tea tree oil is an essential oil that has many benefits for the skin. It’s an alternative to conventional treatments. When used topically, tea tree oil can treat certain skin conditions or improve the overall appearance of your skin. Properties include analgesic, antibacterial, antibiotic, anti-infectious, anti-inflammatory, antiparasitic, antiseptic, antiviral, decongestant, expectorant, fungicidal, stimulant (immune).
When looking at these ingredients lists, one of the things that really stands out is the huge percentage of petroleum-based ingredients in Boudreaux's Butt Paste (mineral oil, paraffin wax and petroleum jelly). This is quite common among conventional diapering products. Petroleum-based ingredients are commonly used because they are really cheap and they do the job of creating a barrier on the skin. What really frustrates us, is that there is virtually no nutritional value to these ingredients. We often liken products like this to junk food for the skin. Why would you want a derivative of crude oil on your skin (or your newborn baby), even if it has been highly refined? "A petroleum product, petrolatum can be contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs). Studies suggest that exposure to PAHs — including skin contact over extended periods of time — is associated with cancer. i On this basis, the European Union classifies petrolatum a carcinogen ii and restricts its use in cosmetics. PAHs in petrolatum can also cause skin irritation and allergies. iii" (David Suzuki Foundation)
In stark contrast, Zoe Organics Diaper Balm is 100% natural and uses 100% certified organic ingredients - a food-grade standard, that ensures the purity and quality of the ingredients as well as how they are grown and processed. When you look at the long list of benefits and linked to each ingredient, there is no question which are better for our bodies.
Some other things to consider when making this healthy skin swap:
Not just a Diaper Balm it's a MULTIPURPOSE PRODUCT: Not every diapering product is also safe and functional for other parts of the body. Zoe Organics Diaper Balm is not only the awesome for bottoms, but its clean safe ingredients are good for skin from head to toe! So, if you've got some Diaper Balm on hand and need something for minor scrapes and booboos, chapped cheeks and lips, or patches of eczema - this multitasker is your new go-to!
- Cloth Diapering: Not all diapering products are compatible with cloth diapers. Greasy, pasty build up from petroleum-based ingredients can ruin cloth diapers by preventing them from absorbing properly.
A product claiming to be "pediatrician-recommended" likely purchased the rights to that label: Verywellfamily.com says "According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, they are simply "marketing terms that try to get you to buy a product. Although the product may be recommended by a group of doctors, what the advertisers don't tell you is how many doctors or how long ago the recommendation was made. It could be 5 or 100 doctors surveyed 10 years ago." Or, it could be one or a few pediatricians that you have never heard of; you shouldn't let the fact that they are recommending a product influence your purchasing decisions."
Some final thoughts. We hope this post is helpful and informative. These Healthy Skin Swaps are not intended to come down on other brands, but to educate about ingredients that we don't think belong on our bodies - and to help you to find better options. We are especially concerned with providing safer, more nutritious options for newborns and growing children, who have thinner more permeable skin and who are more vulnerable. We want to support you on your journey to creating a healthy, happy home for you and your family.
Leave a comment