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Baby Shampoo and Skincare: Toxic Ingredient Cheat Sheet

With industry titan Johnson & Johnson coming under fire earlier this week for its use of potentially harmful chemicals in certain baby items, there’s never been a better time to read the fine print on your products.

| November 3rd, 2011
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Baby Shampoo and Skincare: Toxic Ingredient Cheat Sheet

This past Monday, a campaign backed by 25 groups—including the Environmental Working Group, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and Physicians for Social Responsibility—publically urged Johnson & Johnson to remove potentially carcinogenic chemicals from their baby products by November 15th.

Trace amounts of the red-flagged ingredients—1.4-dioxane and quaternium-15—are found in popular products such as Johnson’s Baby Shampoo and Aveeno Baby Soothing Relief Creamy Wash.

1.4-dioxane, a solvent used to make chemicals gentler on skin, has been shown to cause vertigo, drowsiness, headaches, as well as irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat, while quaternium-15 releases formaldehyde, a common disinfectant, was recently classified as a human carcinogen by the U.S. National Toxicology Program.

MORE: Beauty's Most Controversial Chemicals

Though J&J claims to be in the process of phasing out these ingredients, many parents may choose to opt for safer options. “If you want to be super-cautious, look for organic, chemical-free products specifically indicated for children,” says NYC dermatologist Francesca Fusco, M.D.

Try brands such as Lavanila, Weleda, and California Baby, and follow this cheat-sheet of additives to avoid below.

Ceteareth and Oxybenzone: Both are used in many sunscreen formulas. Opt instead for a natural zinc sunscreen.

DEET: This harmful pesticide used in bug repellents should never be applied to a child’s skin.

Dimethl phthalates (DMP) and other phthalates: All are toxic ingredients shown to affect the liver, kidney, and blood.

Talc: Derived from minerals that might contain asbestos, a known carcinogen. Try baking powder or cornstarch-based versions instead.

Mineral oil: A pore clogging petroleum-based oil that traps toxins inside the body. Look for essential oil moisturizers instead. Note: Most well-known baby oils are made up of mineral oil and fragrance.

MORE: Is Your Perfume Toxic?

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