Delicate and thin, baby skin requires gentleness. This is why some brands have decided to launch ranges specifically dedicated to infants. What regulations govern these formulas? Here are some insights.
The regulations surrounding the formulation of skincare products for babies.
- The specificities of a baby's skin
- What is the regulation regarding the formulation of baby skincare products?
- Selecting a cosmetic for your baby: what should you pay attention to?
The specificities of a baby's skin.
The skin of an infant differs from that of an adult and is characterised by a high degree of fragility which extends up to the age of 6 years. Indeed, during the first six years of life, children's skin actively develops to attain the characteristics of adult skin. Among the main differences between an infant's skin and an adult's, we find the activity of the sebaceous glands. Indeed, this is underdeveloped in children, which results in a relatively fragile hydrolipidic film and a weakened skin barrier.
Furthermore, the stratum corneum, which forms the upper layer of the epidermis, is approximately 30% thinner in children. This structure typically plays a protective role for the skin by retaining moisture and limiting the impact of external factors. Similarly, the epidermis is about 20% thinner in babies. Lastly, the pigment system in children is less efficient, thereby increasing the sensitivity of their skin. Indeed, the process of synthesising melanin, the protective brown pigment, is not fully developed until the age of 3 years.
What is the regulation regarding the formulation of baby skincare products?
In Europe, the rules for formulating cosmetic care products are defined by Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and Council. These guidelines are the same for all cosmetic products, whether they are intended for adults or children. However, in the instructions for assessing the safety of ingredients and cosmetic products drafted by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety (SCCS), a section is specifically dedicated to the safety assessment of products for babies.
"Microbiological Quality" of the European regulation, it is specified that: "Particular attention is given to cosmetic products used around the eyes, on mucous membranes in general, on damaged skin, in children under 3 years old, in elderly people and in people with a weakened immune system." Furthermore, in the "Safety Evaluation" section, it mentions a "specific evaluation of cosmetic products intended for children under three years old and cosmetic products exclusively intended for external intimate hygiene.", without however the modalities of this specific evaluation being clearly explained.
Furthermore, the incorporation of essential oils and fragrances in baby products is discouraged due to their allergenic properties. Studies have indeed shown that baby skin is more sensitive to allergens and these substances can cause contact dermatitis. The preservatives are, on the other hand, restricted and should only be used at the minimum concentration that allows the product to be protected from bacterial contamination. The use of phenoxyethanol, a preservative suspected of being toxic to reproduction and development, is also limited and the ANSM recommends a concentration of less than 1%.
Furthermore, the ANSM advises against the use of camphor, eucalyptol or menthol in baby products due to a risk of seizures. Lastly, substances classified as CMR (Carcinogenic, Mutagenic or toxic for Reproduction) are prohibited in the formulas of cosmetic products for babies, unless the SCCS (Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety) issues an explicit opinion justifying their use for this infant population.
Selecting a cosmetic for your baby: what should you pay attention to?
Selecting a cosmetic for your baby can be daunting when you consider the special attention their skin requires. Here are some tips to help you make your choice:
Choose products specifically formulated for babies : This first piece of advice may seem obvious, but it is crucial to opt for products specifically designed for the delicate skin of babies. As a precautionary principle, we also recommend considering only those cosmetics that state "suitable for children under 3 years old" as truly suitable for infants.
Opt for gentle, allergen-free products : Carefully check the ingredient list of the product you wish to purchase to ensure it does not contain any irritating or allergenic ingredients, such as parabens, phthalates, alcohols or mineral oils.
Perform a tolerance test : Before using a new cosmetic on your baby's skin, it is wise to perform a skin tolerance test on a small area of their skin, such as their elbow, to check that the product does not cause an allergic reaction or irritation.
Seek advice from your doctor : Before purchasing new cosmetic products, you can certainly ask your general practitioner for guidance. They will be able to enlighten you and recommend treatments suitable for your baby's delicate skin.
Regulation (EC) No 1223/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council. Official Journal of the European Union (2009).
Guidelines from the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety, SCCS (2015).
Thesis by Zohra MOUSLIME. Evaluation of the safety of cosmetic ingredients intended for children under 3 years old (2015).
LOW K. Y. & WALLACE M. Prevalence of potential contact allergens in baby cosmetic products. Clinical and Experimental Dermatology (2019).
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