Why the most obvious choice may be one to avoid.

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Why is it that we always assume that things that have been in place for decades are safer than things introduced recently. I can think of several examples where this is true but also a few where it may not be – old is not always gold.

A lot of parents grew up with Johnson and Johnson and assume that everything that comes from their staple is safe for  the baby since it did not result in any big problem for them. This is a wrong way of looking at things because

  1. The odds of being affected negatively by the chemicals in these products are low enough that it is always impossible to pinpoint the reason for health problems that people face. That does not mean you look at sample size of 1(you) and assume things are fine even faced with evidence in the contrary.
  2. When we used the same products in our childhood, we were in a different age when the amount of toxicity in the products was not so alarming. Today our children are subjected to a barrage of products that are questionable and it is our duty to prevent what we can.

Johnson & Johnson Baby Soaps and Shampoos have been a regular staple for decades for a lot of families but recent evidence coming out is not so comforting. In the last decade a deeper analysis of these products revealed the presence of two harmful chemicals – formaldehyde and 1,4-dioxane, that have come under increasing scrutiny by consumers and environmental groups. After much public uproar Johnson & Johnson undertook a major project to remove the two chemicals and you can read more in this NYT article.  However teh fact remained that they still maintain that the products were safe and the fact is that some products even today use the chemicals that are supposedly harmful.

Now I could spend some time looking at the ingredients of each J&J product to make sure that the are safe( and I suggest you do if you have to buy for some reason).

Here is a quick list for you to check if you insist on using J&J. This is also applicable for other soaps and shampoos. If you want to avoid formaldehyde-releasing ingredients and 1,4-dioxane, you need to know what to look for as they’re NOT listed on the label; at least not in those words. Common ingredients likely to contaminate products with formaldehyde include:

  • Quaternium-15
  • DMDM hydantoin
  • Imidazolidinyl urea
  • Diazolidinyl ureaTo avoid 1,4-dioxane, watch out for these ingredients, which create 1,4-dioxane as a byproduct:
  • PEG-100 stearate
  • Sodium laureth sulfate
  • Sodium myreth sulfate
  • Polyethylene
  • Ceteareth-20

Other potential harmful chemicals

  • Any chemical that includes the clauses “xynol,” “ceteareth,” and “oleth”
  • Diethanolamine or DEA
  • Propylene Glycol
  • Parabens
  • Pthalates

To be safe I would recommend that you opt for products that are made from natural ingredients and in the next section I will recommend a few so that you can choose between those and decide which one works for you.

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