Test examines the chemicals in baby ointments and zinc ointments

12. jun 2020

Does the baby ointment you use at puzzle time contain any allergenic perfume? The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals has had 41 baby ointments and zinc ointments under the magnifying glass.

test-kemien-i-babysalve-og-zinksalve.gif

Test: Chemicals in baby ointments and zinc ointments
Photo: The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals

Many baby and zinc ointments get top marks

In the test of baby ointments and zinc ointments, 29 products get the best rating. These ointments are without problematic substances.

Baby ointment and zinc ointment with an A-rating are good choices without unnecessary chemicals. Look for them if you need ointment to prevent or care for red bums when changing diaper.

See the test with product pictures (link to test in Danish)

Baby ointments with perfume are an unnecessary contributor to allergy risk

All baby ointments tested are free of suspected endocrine disruptors such as parabens. However, baby ointments may contain perfume or plant extracts that can cause allergies.

Children can develop contact allergy to perfume. If that happens, they have the perfume allergy for the rest of their lives. The risk of allergy increases the more the child is exposed to perfume.

Therefore, avoid perfume in products for children and babies. In the test, eight ointments contain perfume and therefore get the lowest chemical rating, the C-rating.

Zinc is a necessary ingredient

The zinc ointment tested contains the substance zinc oxide, which is problematic for the environment. This substance would usually trigger an average rating in tests.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals, however, make an exception for zinc ointments. This is because zinc oxide is the substance that gives the zinc ointments the desired drying effect on red and irritated skin. The substance is therefore necessary in the zinc ointments.

However, use zinc ointments with care, and only when necessary to care for red and irritated skin.

French authorities warn against this substance

Phenoxyethanol is a frequently used preservative in care products.

However, according to the French authorities phenoxyethanol should not be used in products intended for the diaper area, where you can expect greater absorption of the substance due to the vulnerable skin.

The European Scientific Committee (SCCS) does not share the French concern. SCCS considers the substance to be safe to use.

As a precaution, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals have chosen to give baby ointments containing phenoxyethanol a medium chemical rating. Only 3 baby ointments contain phenoxyethanol.

About the test

How we tested

In April 2020, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals examined the Danish market for baby ointments and zinc ointments. The test includes 41 different products from Danish stores and web shops.

The test is a so-called declaration test. The testing team has reviewed the ingredients list of the ointments for the content of problematic chemicals. These are, for example, substances suspected to be endocrine disruptors or can cause allergies.

The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals’ test methods

This is what we found

In the test, the 41 baby ointments receive the following ratings:

• 29 products get the best rating, A. They are free of a variety of problematic ingredients. However, the zinc ointments contain zinc oxide, which can be problematic for the environment. However, since zinc oxide is necessary for the drying function of the ointments, the substance is not included in the evaluation of zinc ointments.

• 4 products receive an average rating, B, partly due to the content of the substance phenoxyethanol.

• 8 products have the lowest chemical rating, C. They contain perfumes that can cause allergies.

In many cases the good choices in the test are marked with environmental- and allergy-labels.

Products with a C rating contain the following substances:

•Perfume. Many fragrances can cause allergies. The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals generally recommend avoiding perfumes in baby and children's products. This is in line with the Environmental Protection Agency's recommendations.

• Plant extracts. The EU Scientific Committee Consumer Protection (SCCS) has assessed a number of plant extracts such as lavender as allergenic. The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals cannot recommend the use of these plant extracts in baby and children products.

Products with a B rating contain the following substances:

• Phenoxyethanol, a preservative that French health authorities believe should not be used in products meant for children around their diaper area. Children are generally more at risk. The sometimes-irritated skin in the diaper area will be more able to absorb the substance. That way, children could be exposed to more of the drug than they consider safe. The European Scientific Committee (SCCS) does not agree with the French risk assessment of phenoxyethanol. SCCS believes that the fabric is safe to use in the diaper area as well. For precautionary reasons, the The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals rates phenoxyethanol to a B when used in baby ointments and wet wipes intended for diaper change.

• Chamomile or marigold extract. Asteraceae, such as chamomile and marigold, can cause allergies. As a precaution, The Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals recommend baby products without chamomile extracts. However, the risk of Asteraceae extract in baby care products is unknown.

What the companies say

Dagrofa, responsible for the Green Balance Baby & kids zinc ointment, informs the Danish Consumer Council THINK Chemicals that phenoxyethanol is replaced with another preservative in 2021.