Experts Reveal Whether Kids Really Need to Use Special Skincare Products


With inflation driving up the cost of everyday items, many families are trying to find ways to save on living expenses. It can be nice for each member of the family to have their own brands in the bathroom, but products designed for babies and children can be expensive. And if you give multiple children daily baths, you may run into products quickly, especially if the children extract the shower gel from the bottles themselves!

How necessary is it for younger family members to have their own skin care products? Could we all simplify and save by buying just a few gentle formulas for the whole family?

What is the difference between baby/kids and adult products?

“There are no specific guidelines [on] what makes a product for kids,” board-certified pediatrician Dr. Jen Trachtenberg told HuffPost.

In the absence of guidelines, are there real differences between products for children and products for adults?

Dr. Jessica Hui, a pediatric allergist and immunologist at Jewish Health in Denver, told HuffPost that “a lot depends on the specific product and those key ingredients. The answer ranges from almost no difference to large differences.

It is important to note if the ingredients differ between the child and adult versions.

“Many children’s products may be the same as adult formulations but with different packaging, or added colors or even ‘baby smell’ scents,” Trachtenberg said.

“Just because it’s written ‘for kids’ doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a better or more appropriate product,” she added.

It’s true that babies’ and children’s skin is often more sensitive and thinner than that of older children and adults, but that doesn’t limit you to only using products with the word ‘baby’ on it.

What are the things to look for in products that babies/kids will use?

Trachtenberg recommends “a gentle cleanser, not soap, as it’s much harsher and drying.”

She mentioned Dove, Cetaphil, Vanicream and CeraVe as gentle adult products without dyes or fragrances that children can also use.

Trachtenberg recommends a moisturizer with ceramides, which are the fats or lipids in your skin cells that help your skin retain moisture.

They are “naturally present in the healthy skin barrier,” Hui explained.

“Sunscreen is also important,” Trachtenberg said, and “not much different from what adults need.”

Some parents prefer to use mineral rather than chemical sunscreens for their children, as the FDA has generally recognized them as safe and effective. There is also evidence that chemical sunscreens are absorbed into the bloodstream, although we don’t know if this exposure poses a risk. But mineral sunscreens, sometimes called physical (rather than chemical) blockers, also work great for parents.

Hui noted that the protective ingredient in sunscreens, such as zinc oxide or titanium oxide (for mineral sunscreens), is the same for adults and children, but “those marketed for children are always more expensive”.

“My young daughter personally uses the same sunscreen as me,” Hui added.

What ingredients should be avoided?

In addition to soap, Trachtenberg recommends avoiding perfumes, dyes, formaldehyde and parabens in products for your toddlers, as well as propylene glycol, which “can cause rashes and hives.”

“Sometimes baby products can actually be more irritating because fragrances added to baby products are common contact allergens for people with sensitive skin,” Hui said.

“I check the added fragrances and dyes most often,” Hui said. “Fragrances and dyes are easy to see and smell ingredients! — on the packaging.

She added that some adult products are designed to exfoliate and may be too harsh on babies’ and children’s skin.

Allergens are a concern, but they differ for everyone, regardless of age. If a member of your family has problems with specific ingredients, you will need to figure out which ones and avoid them.

“Major contact allergens” include “fragrances, preservatives, lanolin, and cocamidopropyl betaine — to name a few,” Hui said. “That doesn’t mean you have to avoid all of these common allergens, but even more so if you or your child have skin irritation. [as a result of] one of these ingredients.

Are more expensive products – for children or adults – better?

“Often children’s products may have added scents and colors and expensive packaging to appeal to parents and children,” which isn’t necessary to make the product effective, Trachtenberg said.

Sometimes products cost more when they contain additional beneficial ingredients, like ceramides and the like. But drugstore brands can be just as effective as name brands for children and adults, Hui said.

And there’s nothing wrong with adults using products designed for kids, though Hui noted that “if an adult needs a more exfoliating product, then a baby/kids product won’t provide it.” probably not”.

But if you are looking for a soft and moisturizing product?

“It’s definitely possible for the whole family to use the same products,” Hui said.


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