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Sensitive Skin? Avoid Nasty Laundry Chemicals

There’s nothing quite like the velvety feel of a new born baby’s skin. It is one of the many amazingly beautiful things about babies. You’re right in thinking it’s like that because they haven’t been exposed to all the environmental factors that toughen up our skin over time, but there is something else at play.

Interestingly, the skin is one of the only major organs that isn’t fully formed in a full term healthy baby. When a baby is born, their skin is formed enough to protect them to a degree – it’s known as ‘competent barrier function’ but it continues to evolve and develop throughout the first year of life. This puts babies at a risk of absorbing nasties that us grown ups can easily fend off.

That’s why it’s so important to be using a laundry detergent that won’t compromise the ‘barrier function’. Given that our clothes sit next to our skin all day and night, it makes sense to wash them in a detergent that is safe from harmful chemicals.

Most supermarket brands of laundry detergent contain all sorts of chemical ingredients used to increase the cleaning power, or make it look like they are improving the cleaning power. There are bleaches, brighteners, foaming agents, to name a few. None of these actually work to remove the dirt from our clothes, but are used to make the clothes look brighter, and the water look soapier.

If you’ve got a baby in the house, some of the chemicals you should try to avoid in your laundry detergent include:

  • SLSs (Sodium Laurel Sulphate): this is a foaming agent and is a known skin irritant. It is thought to disrupt the natural oils that our skin produces which help to keep our skin healthy. This disruption leads to direct damage, leaving us more susceptible to absorbing allergens.
  • Synthetic fragrances: many synthetic fragrances have been linked to multiple health issues. Asthma, allergies and migraine headaches are just the beginning, they are also associated with hormone disruption. It’s an area that is still being studied intently, so best to avoid them for peace of mind.
  • Optical brighteners, dyes, and bleaches: There is evidence to suggest that these agents are ‘potentially toxic’ to humans, and we know they are toxic to the environment so until it can be proven that they are safe to use, it’s best to steer clear.

There is plenty of choice for safer options. Look for products that use natural agents such as eucalyptus oil, are dermatologically tested, and are specifically designed for sensitive skin.

Given that all our clothes, our bed linen, our bathroom towels, kitchen towels and any other fabric items used daily in our homes all need to be washed, and all either sit next to, or close to, our skin (or food), it’s worthwhile making sure what you’re washing them in is safe.

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