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Avoiding Toxic Ingredients in Children’s Personal Care Products Can be Easy

By Ilana Wiles

This post is sponsored by The Honest Company. We have been wanting to write about this important topic.

Honest Baby Product Care Products

When it comes to buying products for your baby, obviously no mother would willingly purchase anything harmful for their child. But we might falsely assume the most beloved and well-known brands in baby care sell products we can trust.

I’m a parent. I have a three-year-old, a two month old and a full-time job. My head is swimming with information from pumping schedules to preschool applications to remembering my Thursday morning status meeting at work. FYI? Today, I totally forgot it.

When I google “how to make sure I keep chemicals and toxins out of my children’s toys and care products,” I am met with article after article of studies, facts, figures, all of them too confusing and scary to take in. Plus, a lot of the brands mentioned are brands I would have assumed would be playing by the rules.

It didn’t take long to realize, I don’t know nearly enough about this stuff to keep myself and my babies safe from the dangerous chemicals and toxins pervasive in our world.

To see if I am the only one out there who feels totally overwhelmed by the “watch-outs” and the warnings and the names of chemicals I can neither spell nor pronounce, I created the quiz below to test your baby personal care product safety savvy.

Find out if you know your Sodium Lauryl Sulfate from your Polyethylene…

If you are like me, then you scored pretty poorly on that quiz. I’ve got way too much going on to remember the names of all those chemicals. Plus, it seems like there is new information and warnings coming out all the time and I don’t have the bandwidth to keep on top of it. I prefer someone else to keep on top of it for me.

Thankfully The Honest Company has a team of people, led by Christopher Gavigan, who are happy to play that role for me. Christopher is a dedicated leader and long-time activist in children’s environmental health, having spent many years in charge of Healthy Child, Healthy World, a non-profit lobbying for a safer and less toxic environment for our kids and teaching parents how easy choices can make our world a safer place for our families.

The Honest Company is a family company and its team spends all day, every day making sure their products meet their high standards for safety. As an added benefit, they have a high standard for design too, as evidenced in the photo below which includes their adorable patterned diapers.

They promise each personal care, cleaning and home product they sell is effective, eco-friendly, well-designed, convenient, affordable and unquestionably safe. Just take a look at their website and the detailed ingredient list they provide, which not only lists what goes into their products, it also lists what does not. It’s refreshingly explicit and transparent.

As a working mom of two, I want to think about these things but I don’t have the time. The Honest Company makes me believe I am doing good by my children and family by doing what’s easiest. How often can you say that?

Below is a cheat sheet of the commonly found chemicals in children’s personal care products. Feel free to share it, print it out, keep it in your wallet and use when looking for products for you and your family.

Or, you can just take the easy way out and shop through Honest. Sign up for a free trial (plus nominal shipping).

In the meantime, we all can sign up for a Free Trial (plus nominal shipping).

Answers to Quiz questions:
1: #4, 2: #4, 3: 23%, 4: 60%, 5: All of the above, 6: #4, 7: Phthalates & Parabens, 8: a newborn, 9: Sodium Lauryl Sulfate, 10: All of the incredibly nasty stuff above, 11: Triclosan, 12: There is absolutely no good reason, 13: Phthalates, 14: False

Resources: HCHW, EWG, and Collective-Evolution.

Thank you to The Honest Company for making this post possible.

About the Author

Ilana Wiles

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertisin...

Ilana Wiles writes Mommy Shorts, a popular NYC humor blog geared towards new parents. In addition to blogging, Ilana has worked as a creative in advertising for the past 15 years. She lives in the East Village of NYC with her husband, her two-year-old daughter and a rapidly growing pile of stuffed animals.

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  • Elaine B

    A friend of mine was JUST telling me about this company! Will have to try it out. The dinosaur pattern is my fave, but if I was having a girl, I’d go for the bloom!

    • Thanks Elaine! Sign up for a free trial using the link above.

  • I like the dinosaurs.

  • Laura6

    I love the gingham.

  • Kate

    The hearts are adorable!

  • Scientist mom

    *facepalm* You…you know that everything in the world is made of chemicals, right? The oxygen that we breathe is a chemical (and! a powerful oxidant, as it turns out!). Water is a chemical (Dihydrogen monoxide, anyone?)

    Spreading chemophobia doesn’t help anyone. Alphamom, people turn to you for advice.  You’re making mothers scared of everything, out of scientific ignorance coupled with marketers eager to exploit it.  

    MOTHERS. Using the local drugstore’s brand of diaper cream will NOT give your baby cancer.

    Read. Learn. 

    Start here:

    • Thank you for sharing this. First of all, not all “chemicals” are equal and clearly some are more dangerous to humans (especially little ones) than others. I think our readers are smart enough to decipher this on their own and make the decisions for their families by reading your source and the ones I cite. 🙂

      • Anya

        I have to agree with Scientist Mom too, and I take issue with some of your sources.  EWG in particular is notorious for using bad science and scare tactics. They try to equate hazard with risk, when the two are not the same thing AT ALL (risk = hazard x exposure). Their actual hazard ratings are very subjective, some chemicals are listed under two different names with different scores, and they often treat data gaps as a GOOD thing (but not consistently!). 

        “In summary, the Skin Deep database does not offer any insight into the true safety in use of any cosmetic product. Indeed, by encouraging the use of ingredients with no supporting toxicity data, they are risking the health of the very consumers they purport to be seeking to protect. This database should be radically amended (and corrected) to better reflect it’s true worth, or closed down.”

        And there is NOTHING WRONG with mineral oil and petrolatum.  Some cosmetics companies [and the EWG] “use the information about non-purified mineral oil as a scare tactic. The mineral oil used in skin-care products is certified as either USP (United States Pharmacopeia) or BP (British Pharmacopeia). This is the type that’s used in skin-care products, and it’s completely safe.”

        Parabens are another ingredient over which there is much fear-mongering but little real risk:

        • Absolutely correct.
          The thing is that many people just parrot stuff the read somewhere on the internet w/o actually understanding the meaning.
          For example PEG or other ethoxylated stuff. The problem arose decades ago when Dioxan (not to be confused with Dioxine….another common mistake), an impurity from the ethoxylation process, was still high. Today, the industry has a very good control over this impurity, hence it is no problem anymore.
          The parabens polemic arose, because of rumors that parabens can emulate hormones in the human body. However, there was never any scientific proof for this theory.
          Mineral oil: there is no inherent problem with mineral oil, at least not with the USP grade.
          The cosmetic industry on it’s own tries to limit or even avoid mineral oil, mostly because it doesn’t provide a great skin feel. There are many other emollients that work much better, although they are more expensive which often makes them prohibitive in low end mass market products.
          Beside all that, we also have to look at the application of a cosmetic product.
          Let’s take a shampoo. It contains around 80 % or even more water. Once applied to the skin, it only remains there for a very short period of time and then it gets rinsed off. Hence, whatever chemicals remain on the skin are insignificant to your health.

  • BoobTraveler

    Ugh. I agree with Scientist Mom. Some of the items on that list are just ridiculous (PEG? Really??), and even the ones that are actually of some concern don’t have enough information for anyone to make an informed decision.

    At least it was clear that this was a sponsored post.

  • MR’s Mama

    Interesting info to sort through.

    Love the Honest diaper patterns…I think my girl would like the Bloom or the Tiny prints best. Super cute!

  • La Keisha

    I love the tiny prints design. They have some really cute diapers!

  • I like tiny prints!

  • Right  now?  The skulls.  I’ve seen enough snowflakes for a while now!

  • The dinosaurs!

  • Nicole

    I’d love a free supply of products from the honest company, my favorite diaper pattern is the tiny prints.

    Figuring out what is safe for a baby and what isn’t, is definitely difficult and time consuming. Luckily I have a husband who is a bio-chemist and can understand all the nitty-gritty details of the research papers. All that said we both agree there are some things that should be avoided.

  • Ally

    I love tiny prints.

  • Shera

    The dinosaurs are cute!

  • Niki

    I love the hearts!

  • I love the Tiny Prints print! So adorable!

  • Kelly Joseph

    They are all so cute! I would have to say the anchors are my fave. 

  • Emily V.

    I love the ice cream cone prints!

  • Lucie

    You just forgot: phenoxyethanol in baby wipes… really dangerous!

    • Anya


  • Chrissie V.

    I love the winter snowflake pattern!! I LOVE the Honest Company!!

  • Shanelle L.

    The purple leopard design is adorable. My daughter, Luca tries to say leopard as she points to the one she wants. Then lays down and gives it to me. I think it’s her favorite as well. 

    Thank you so much for bringing safe products into our home. It’s a big step towards a non-toxic environment for my family. My husband last night just told me, “Thank you for making our family healthy and safe. ” 

    Thank you Honest Company!

  • Jennie

    I love the bloom print!  Thanks for the article, alphamom!

  • Bella DP

    When I was preganat I looked into all kinds of articles regarding the chemicals and gor freakout and confuse by all the info out there. My daughter is now 11months and I tried all kinds of diaper s on her since she was born. The honest diapers gave her a seriosly bad rash that I had to stop using them. I moved to pampers. I love the honest diapers idea but the re are a few babies thar I know that have gotten a rash after using them.

    • Thanks Bella for the feedback. I do hope that you got in touch directly with Honest’s customer service.

  • Christy

    hearts please!

  • Liz


  • Meh. I’ll stick to cotton prefolds, coconut oil, and breastmilk for my standard baby products. I’m suspicious of anything that is marketed as “baby” – shouldn’t we all be trying to limit our exposure to chemical fillers? 

  • Kayla

    I like bloom!

  • Lori

    I love the Honest Dinosaurs pattern (but Tiny Prints is a close second!)

    I’m using cotton prefolds now, but those disposables sound great for going on long trips and vacations. 

    Health risks aside, I think there’s a huge advantage to using eco-friendly products that are good for the environment, biodegradable and not petroleum based. Even if those chemicals don’t harm humans, they eventually accumulate in the water supply and hurt sensitive species like amphibians. 

  • Carol L

    I think the Snowflake Pattern is adorable. Thanks for this chance.
    Carol L.

  • Susan

    The skulls are adorable!!! I have a little girl so I would get the bloom print!

  • Steph

    I would choose Sweets. So cute and my little one loves ice cream so it would perfect for her.

  • Lis

    Thank you so much for creating this amazing company! I love the face and body lotion! 

  • JM

    Um, if you’re making a graphic that is supposed to be so important, why is it such a god-awful color combination? White print on light blue? I can’t read a word! Nevermind print it off!

    • Thanks for your feedback. However, can I recommend you make your suggestions in a better tone? Wake up on the wrong side of the bed? 😉

  • Kendra

    I love the designs on the swim diapers! Finally something cute without cartoon characters on it!

  • Meagan Clinedinst

    They are all such great designs! I love that they are unaffiliated! My favorite has to be the Pink Stars! Thanks a bunch for making this product line!

  • Sarah

    I love the gingham print!

  • Rebecca

    I love the blue and green checks as well as the skulls. But they’re all so cute!!

  • Julie D

    Love the gingham print! Looking forward to using these diapers on baby #2 in April!

  • Katharine

    Tiny prints

  • Laura

    I love bloom! It’s so sweet.

  • Dana

    How am I supposed to choose just one?!?  I like the bloom,  the hearts, and the stars, and that’s just because I have an infant girl.  If I had known about this with my son, I would have to add in the dinosaurs (he had onesies that would have matched these perfectly), the gingham, and the anchors. 🙂

  • I love the Leopard design!

    My poor girls have such sensitive skin and react to nearly everything I’ve put on them.. Pampers and Honest Diapers/Wipes are the only two that haven’t given them an awful rash. I was given Honest as a gift but switched to Pampers when I ran out, simply out of convenience.

  • Melissa

    My favorite design is Bloom. Thanks.

  • Ashley

    I have used Honest diapers and I love almost all their prints. Right now I’m loving leopard!

  • Katie

    I love the swim diapers! It makes so much more sense for re-usable swim diapers than to buy those other ones that fall apart so easily!

  • Katie Dean

    The Lumberjack is adorable!

  • Dorothy P

    I’m a plain jane white diaper kind of girl, but I guess if I had to choose a print…the dinosaur print is pretty cool.

  • Jamie

    I like the Tiny Prints! So cute!

  • Victoria

    The dinosaur print is too cute!

  • Donna

    Love the dinosaurs pattern! Thanks!

  • Melissa Lambrecht

    We like the hearts, although also don’t live in fear of chemicals. However, i know even my skin does better with limiting perfumes and other “extras. “

  • Sara R

    I love the little skulls… so cute!!

  • Mollie

    I love the skulls! The tiny prints are my second pick.  Thank you for making quality products

  • Lisa


  • Larissa H

    I absolutely love the bloom!! Hopefully my embarassingly-old-to-still-be-wearing-diapers daughter will be out of diapers soon. So then my favorite for my 10 month old son would be the skulls! 🙂

  • Erika

    I love the gingham! So cute for a baby boy!

  • Amanda

    Snowflakes pattern!

  • amanda g

    These diapers are so cute…. can’t choose between dinosaurs or skulls!

  • Jessica Wander

    Sooo cute! I love the bloom pattern!

  • The anchors are super cute!

  • Kendel

    My big kids vote for skulls so that little sis “can be the Dread Pirate Baby!”

    • Liana W.

      LOL! Love this!

  • Kimberly Broom

    I love the anchors for my little boy. Its scary what chemicals are in everyday products, and we have no idea what we’re putting on our children.

  • Trisha McMoses

    I love the blue and green plaid pattern.

  • Liana W.

    We’re a cloth diaper family, and even though our diapers do fit newborns, I remember primarily using the disposables provided by the hospital for the first week. I plan on doing cloth right away with this next one, but it would be awfully handy to have some spare newborn disposables on-hand. Since we won’t know sex until the birth, I think I’d have to go with Skills or Tiny Prints. 🙂

    • Liana W.

      Oy. SKULLS. Not Skills. 😉

  • Kjirsten

    I love the bloom pattern!

  • Bethany

    I love the hearts print!

  • Lindsay

    I love the skulls! No doubt.

  • Rhi

    I love, love, love the lumberjack print.

  • Sarah Curran

    Yikes, 43%. At least I have until May to prepare before my baby arrives!

    My favorite pattern is Bloom. It’s so precious for a little girl!

  • Alicia

    Love the bloom!  And I love this article.  Just found out Johnson and Johnson products are causing my baby to have a diaper rash so now we need to switch to products like Honest Companies!

  • Ellen

    I like Bloom the best!

  • Megan K

    The pink stars!

  • Diana B.

    Tiny Prints!

  • megan

    I love them all but one of my favorites is the tiny prints!

  • Vanessa

    Tiny prints

  • Michelle scieneaux

    I love the gingham.

  • Jennifer

    I love the stars! Adorable!

  • Hannah S

    I love the Tiny Prints print 🙂

  • Dolly J

    Scull and Crossbones!!

  • Stephina

    Loving the tiny prints. Very cool products. I find that making my own baby hygiene products cuts out a lot of the chemicals, but I’m slacking (ie, don’t have the time…) and have yet to whip up another container of wipes…

  • Misty

    Love the hearts!

  • I was just looking at this website a couple of days ago, considering the diaper bundles. I like the little hearts best! Would look so cute on my little Mia’s tushie.

  • Love the skulls!

  • Maz Raelin

    We adore the leaf pattern- reds, oranges, so beautiful!

  • I like the hearts!

  • Jenn S

    I love the bloom pattern!!

  • Theresa

    Tiny prints!

  • Sonya Morris

    The Tiny Prints pattern is my favorite!

  • Angela

    Super, super cute dinosaurs!

  • I love Honest!! I feel confident that my baby will be safe with their products- and cute! I like the bloom print and my husband loves the skulls 🙂

  • Sam Van Caster

    I LOVE The Honest Company products!

    Their “Tiny Prints” pattern is my favorite! Very uni-sex but oh, so adorable!

  • Aaron Van Caster

    My wife likes these products. She likes the Tiny Prints pattern the best.

  • Sweets! I love all the little treats printed on these.

  • Megan Weishaar

    I love the bloom print diapers!!

  • Heather S

    I have twins and I love the Dinosaurs for my son and the hearts for my daughter. So good to know I can put the guess work out of buying safe products now. Thank you

  • Kurrin

    The hearts! Probably because my birthday is on Valentine’s Day, so I naturally love them 🙂 love Honest products!

  • Andee

    Seriously, this kinda makes me want to have another baby. The cuteness of cloth diapers with the handiness of disposable. And non-chmicals!

    I think that my favorite is Leopard.

  • LydiaK

    Thanks for the cheat sheet, and info about The Honest Company.  I have 5months to go til this little person gets here, and finding all the chemicals in everything scary and overwhelming.

    I love Bloom, or the dino one for a boy. 🙂

  • c

    I’m an Honest Co. fan. We cloth diaper, but I like to have a stash of their dipes around for when sposies are necessary. My favorite right now is Tiny Prints.

  • Ang

    Oh… mah… goodness… Lumberjack. Super precious.

  • Jeannette

    I love bloom, super pretty and simple. I also like the starry night pattern of the training pants. Amazing products!

  • Alexis T.


  • Soo Jin

    I love the dinosaur print! Adorable!

  • Oh boy, yet another site that creates fear of chemicals and disperses misinformation !!!
    I’m a chemist and worked almost my whole life in the cosmetic industry.
    You can’t just list a number of cosmetic ingredients completely out of any context saying they are bad.
    Virtually anything can be toxic and even lethal. It’s only a question of concentration.
    If you eat too much spinach you load up on oxalic acid, which, especially in kids can have an impact on bone growth. Almonds contain cyanide (the stuff the Nazis used to gas undesired people). Even regular salt or even water can kill you if you overdo it.
    Does that mean you shouldn’t eat them ? Obviously not, but you shouldn’t run on an almond or spinach diet either.

  • Tara F.

    I LOVE the anchors. Love nautical prints.
    sweetinsahmnity at gmail