If you’re a parent, it’s important to know about the role the skin plays in the health of your baby.
The skin is the largest organ in the human body. Apart from protecting us against the environment, it also performs a surprising number of other functions.
Caring for your infant’s skin can be challenging for a new parent – but with the right information, it’s a lot easier.
WHY BABIES NEED SPECIALISED SKIN CARE
A full-term, healthy baby is born with fully developed skin. Obviously, it needs time to mature, but the skin’s functions are already well developed. A premature baby, on the other hand, may experience more problems as the skin may not be fully equipped to deal with exposure. In both cases, your baby’s skin needs care and nurturing, for a number of reasons:
- The skin acts as a barrier against the elements.
- It prevents the entry of pathogens, irritants, and allergens into the body.
- It helps protect the body against disease and infection.
This last point is particularly important, because your baby’s immune system takes time to fully develop. In cases where a baby’s immune system may be compromised, good skincare is also good healthcare.
BABY SKIN vs ADULT SKIN
There are a number of key differences between a baby’s skin and fully developed adult skin. Good skin care for your baby can prevent skin problems or even health issues in later life.
Here are some of the most important comparisons:
1. A BABY’S SKIN IS MORE PERMEABLE
In a baby, the outer layer of the skin (the epidermis) is still very thin. The cell structure is smaller, and the collagen fibres are thinner. This means that the skin is more porous and hasn’t yet formed a completely effective barrier against pollutants or other substances. So, for example, baby skin is not as waterproof as adult skin. Irritants or allergens can also work through unprotected skin.
When this happens, even in small quantities, it affects your baby because of the concentration of pollutants relative to body size. This is why barrier creams and other protective measures can help prevent severe allergies or illness.
2. A BABY’S SKIN RETAINS MORE WATER
Your baby’s skin contains less lipids (fat cells) and less melanin than an adult’s skin. This has two distinct effects: your baby’s skin absorbs water more quickly, but also dries out more rapidly. This is why hydration is so important to a baby’s health. Keeping baby’s skin moisturised also helps prevent dryness and skin irritation.
You might also find that your baby has fluctuations in skin dryness, and that affected areas may change in time. This happens because the skin is still settling, finding a state of homeostasis where everything is in balance.
3. A BABY’S SKIN IS MORE PRONE TO SUN DAMAGE
Because melanin, or natural skin colouration, is still developing in your baby, the skin is less able to shield against solar radiation. Even for babies with darker skin tones, it’s wise to exercise caution when outdoors. Ideally, you should not be exposing your baby to the sun for longer than 15 minutes twice a day. This is sufficient to aid the synthesis of Vitamin D in the body.
SIMPLE WAYS TO CARE FOR YOUR BABY’S SKIN
Here are a few easy ways to ensure your baby’s skin is kept healthy:
1. GENTLY PROTECT AGAINST THE ENVIRONMENT
Your baby’s skin is particularly vulnerable to chemicals – so be careful which skincare products you choose. It’s safest to use gentle, natural skincare products that don’t contain parabens, petrochemicals, synthetic perfumes, and sulphates. Here at Down To Earth, we also recommend staying away from products containing essential oils for the first 3 months, to avoid hypersensitivity or skin irritation.
2. HYDRATE AND MOISTURISE NATUALLY
Regularly hydrate and moisturise your baby’s skin, especially after bathing. It’s important to use a natural lotion formulated with healthy vegetable oils that are high in linoleic acid. This creates a protective layer on the skin’s surface while helping to retain moisture. It also forms a very effective barrier. A good natural lotion should also contain antioxidants, which help protect the skin against free radicals that are caused by pollution.
3. COVER UP
Although natural sunlight is essential for Vitamin D synthesis and mood regulation, among others, you should be cautious. Take care to stay out of the sun between 10am and 3pm, especially in summer, as this is when UV levels can be dangerously high. Dress baby in protective clothing when outdoors and also, remember to moisturise baby’s skin after every sun exposure to prevent dry or inflamed skin.
WHAT WE RECOMMEND AT DOWN TO EARTH
Because our Down To Earth products are formulated using natural ingredients, our products are perfect for use on all skin types, including your baby’s skin.
Here, we recommend Down To Earth All Over Wash for Body, Face, and Hair. This is an ultra-gentle formulation that contains no sulphates and cleans effectively without stripping moisture from your baby’s skin. It nurtures and protects, and contains aloe ferox, honeybush, grape seed, and palmarosa oils.
- Our All Over Wash can be used by the whole family and is suitable for babies over 3 months of age.
- It’s free from any harmful chemicals and is especially suited to sensitive skin at any age.
- It regulates moisture levels and prevents dryness – an absolute must for baby skin.
- When used as a shampoo, it effectively and gently cleanses hair of excess oil build-up and dirt, leaving hair shiny and healthy. (Your baby might be very good at getting sticky hands into her hair!)
- Because this is a 3-in-1 formulated product, you’re spending less, taking up less cupboard space, and taking less time to apply it – which means you get more quality time together.
- It’s ideal for travel – or even for short trips – because it takes up less space and is easy to use.
- Our Down To Earth safety assessor has certified this product as safe for baby use, on a daily basis.
Here, we recommend the Down To Earth All Over Lotion for Body, Face, and Hands. This is a deeply nourishing all-over moisturiser containing aloe ferox, honeybush, calendula, and macadamia nut oils.
It’s non-greasy, can be applied to any area of the body, and is perfect for preserving your baby’s skin, even in dry environments. The result? Skin as soft and smooth as a baby’s bottom!
- All Over Lotion is perfect for everyone in the family – and especially recommended for babies over the age of 3 months.
- It’s free of any harmful chemicals and is suited to sensitive or easily irritated skin types.
- The formulation contains grape seed oil and macadamia nut oil, which provide essential nutrients that are deeply absorbed for great skin health.
- It contains Inulin, a prebiotic which helps support your developing baby’s skin microbiome. This is important because it creates a healthier and stronger natural skin barrier.
- It provides lasting skin protection against the elements and external pollutants, incorporating ingredients that are natural, sustainable, and safe for use.
- Just like the Down To Earth All Over Wash, it’s an all-in-one product, so it takes up less space, saves you money, and is ideal for travel and convenience.
It’s important to note that All Over Lotion for Body, Face, and Hands is a ‘stay-on’ product. It’s not a ‘wash-off’ product, and so safety and skin health are really central to the formulation. You don’t want a product applied to your baby’s skin which could cause irritation – or worse, create long-term exposure to potentially harmful chemicals. Our safety standards are exceptionally high, and there are several factors we consider:
- A baby’s ratio of skin area to body size is far greater than an adult’s – so there’s more potential for harm. We ensure that the ratio of ingredients used in our products won’t cause irritation, over-sensitivity, or an adverse skin reaction.
- Long-term exposure to certain chemicals can be toxic, and some can even be carcinogenic. That’s why we use absolutely no harmful chemicals in our formulation.
For ultimate skin protection, we recommend Down To Earth Clear Skin Gel. This antimicrobial gel powerfully protects against skin irritation or even abrasions, and is formulated with aloe vera, tea tree, calendula, and echinacea.
Clear Skin Gel is a highly effective natural disinfectant. It also encourages healing from scrapes, cuts, or blisters, and helps to eliminate infection-causing bacteria. It can also be used to soothe and provide relief from sunburn or insect bites.
Simply apply to the affected area, once the skin has been cleansed, as frequently as needed until skin is calm, clear and comfortable again.
- Aloe Vera and Calendula have demonstrated proven healing properties and are ideal for treating any kind of skin damage regardless of age.
- Tea tree oil and Echinacea are powerful antibacterial agents and are safe on all skin types.
- This is a versatile skin gel which can be used to treat a wide variety of skin issues in babies older than 3 months, children and adults.
- This product contains no synthetic perfumes.
- Because it’s a universally applicable protective gel, it can substitute for a range of products and is perfect for easy storage or travel.
Want to find out more about how our safe natural products can protect your little one’s skin? Simply contact us and we’ll be happy to answer your questions!