Formulating Child-Friendly Skin Care Products: How Nuthatch Naturals Selects Ingredients
Children need skin care. Many kids don’t use any products on their skin other than sunscreen in the summer. But children suffer from dry and itchy skin more often than adults do. If your kids are like mine, they don’t ask for help when their skin is itchy. They don’t reach for a moisturizer. They just scratch, which hurts their skin and makes it even itchier. Kids would be much better off using a gentle, natural moisturizer regularly.
It’s known that children’s skin is thinner and more permeable than adult skin. Not as thin as babies’ skin, but not as strong a barrier as adult skin either. The skin cells at the surface are smaller and less developed. This makes it easier for water to escape from the skin, making the skin less hydrated and drier. And, harmful chemicals from the environment such as allergens and pollution can penetrate the skin barrier more easily.
The science of allergens is not well developed – it’s not known why some kids develop allergies to for example peanuts and others don’t. To be safe, we should limit exposure to potential allergens where we can. Especially to known allergenic ingredients such as those commonly found in fragrances and essential oils. At Nuthatch Naturals, the first principle in formulating our skin care products for children is to do no harm. Our formulas are hypoallergenic and do not contain known potential allergens such as fragrances.
Children’s skin is different from adult’s skin. We believe that they need their own products, developed specifically for kids. A mild moisturizing ingredient in an adult product will also work on children’s skin. However, many adult products contain ingredients that are added to help with adults’ skin problems. For example, many have antiaging ingredients such as retinol and niacinamide. These are added to make the skin look younger, with fewer wrinkles and age spots. Kids don’t have wrinkles!
Nuthatch Naturals cares deeply about sustainability. We want to give our children a world that is at least as good as the one we grew up in. Today’s children will live into the 22nd century. They will experience many environmental changes over their lifetime due to climate change and pollution. To reduce pollution and limit global warming, products we buy every day must be sustainable. For today’s kids, this is a no-brainer.
Sustainability is many different things. The United Nations defines sustainability as making sure that people have what they need without hurting the needs of future people. It means that humans can coexist with nature for a long time. It’s about communities existing, growing, and surviving with only positive impacts on each other and on nature. For Nuthatch Naturals, it means making sure that we use only natural materials to make our products. We don’t waste products and ingredients, and we don’t leave things in nature for future generations to deal with. We strive to be carbon neutral – not emitting carbon dioxide and other gases into the atmosphere. We want our packaging to be recyclable.
In a perfect world, every product would be natural and sustainable. But there are some obstacles to being sustainable. For one thing, not every ingredient has a sustainable equivalent. It’s hard to make stable products with natural preservatives, for example. And few cosmetic product bottles and jars are recycled. It’s also difficult to design formulas with the same smooth, silky feel as synthetic products while using only natural ingredients. Consumers who want to be green accept that green products may not feel quite as silky.
Other limitations to current cosmetic products are energy use and end of product life disposal. At Nuthatch Naturals, we would like to produce and ship our products with only renewable energy – solar panels to run the manufacturing plant and electric vehicles to bring it to customers. We also would like to collect all our used product bottles from our customers and reuse or recycle them. Right now we can’t do that yet, but in the long run these are our targets.
We design formulas for Nuthatch Naturals with only natural ingredients. Natural in our view means ingredients that come from plants with minimal processing. Sustainable ingredients are mostly natural but not all natural ingredients are sustainable. Especially natural ingredients that are grown on large scale farms are challenging for sustainability, not least from a biodiversity point of view. Some ingredients that are often grown in monoculture on large farms and plantations are palm oil and coconut oil. But also common feedstocks like wheat and sugarcane. An excellent sustainability certification program for agricultural products is the Rainforest Alliance certification.
For the Nuthatch Naturals Daily Soothing Lotion, we used a range of natural ingredients. First, we started with natural butters including kokum butter and shea butter. These have outstanding moisturizing properties. We also used natural oils such as avocado oil and olive oil. To bind it all together in a consistent lotion, we used a naturally derived emulsion stabilizer based on natural candelilla and jojoba oils. The moisturizing properties were increased with Tremella extract, an outstanding natural moisturizer and antioxidant. Finally, the formula was preserved by Japanese honeysuckle, an effective natural antimicrobial product.
Many cosmetic ingredients are not at all natural or sustainable. We stay away from these ingredients:
- Synthetic and fossil fuel derived ingredients – many of these have low levels of impurities that can be sensitizing and harmful.
- Ethoxylated materials – can contain 1,4-dioxane, an eye irritant that is suspected to cause cancer.
- Plastics and synthetic polymers – these persist in the environment.
- Animal-derived products – for example wool and beeswax.
- SPF boosters – these include chemical UV absorbers that have not been approved as sunscreens by the Food & Drug Administration but can be found in many sunscreens.
Nuthatch Naturals cares for children’s skin, which is different and more sensitive than adult skin. We believe natural and sustainable ingredients are best for children for many reasons. Our products are hypoallergenic and dermatologist approved. Our Daily Soothing Lotion is among the gentlest and mildest available. We think it’s the best possible product for our and your children!