The terms natural, chemical and organic are often used to market personal care p products. The word ‘natural’ can be defined as ‘having undergone minimum of processing or preservative treatment’. A chemical can be defined as a distinct compound or substance, especially the one that is prepared or purified through a manufacturing process. Ideally, every substance on the earth is a chemical or a mixture of chemicals, thus making the claim ‘chemical-free’ practically meaningless. Chemicals can be harmful, harmless or beneficial as per their dose. Organic ingredients can be defined as being sourced from plants that were cultivated without the use of synthetic chemical fertilizers or pesticides. Natural products have led us to powerful and useful drug combinations that can be applied to combat diseases such as cancer and dementia. The terrestrial plants found in India have chemo-preventive as well as anti-cancer properties. Other natural product-derived compounds have also been registered and approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as they can be used in the treatment of infectious diseases and allergies. These features permit the use of such products for baby care. According to FDA “natural” means, nothing artificial or synthetic.
The products available on shelves may contain a variety of chemicals that can irritate your baby’s sensitive skin. However, the natural skin care range could as well be harmful for your little one. Artificial products may be infested with harmful preservatives, carcinogens, foaming and emulsifying agents, artificial colorants and fragrances that could harm your baby. This is why parents generally opt for natural products over artificial ones. But, the most pertinent question still remains. Are natural products really natural? Ideally, any product that claims to be natural, must be free of additive chemicals such as artificial fragrance, colorants, preservatives as well as synthetic additives.
You may have come across various terms such as eco-safe, dermatologically tested, sensitivity tested and hypoallergenic on baby care products, all enriched with natural ingredients. There are many examples around us to prove that the products that claim to be natural need not always be safe. For instance, the discovery of measurable amounts of arsenic in rice is alarming, as it could find its way into infant food.
Currently, there has been a global interest in the use of natural products, as they are natural and assumed to be ‘harmless’. However, one must bear in mind that ‘natural’ is not always synonymous to being ‘safe.’
According to the FDA, an ingredient’s source does not determine its safety. There are many plants which may or may not be organically grown and may contain substances that may be toxic.
The product’s safety depends on various factors such as the ingredients in it, how they work in the body, preparation as well as the dosage.
More often natural products without the right preservatives are easier to contaminate, resulting in loss of efficacy.
Try and limit your baby’s exposure to harmful ingredients. Babies are more vulnerable to their effects due to an immature immune system. Various options can replace your conventional toiletries such as aloe vera gel, vitamin E oil, mineral oil, among others. The Indian traditional medicine and the Indian science of using natural products for healing and maintenance (Ayurveda) is gaining popularity worldwide. However, regulation and practices such as setting up of statutory bodies controlling the education, pharmacopoeia, research, guidelines, etc. will go a long way in evaluating the status of these systems in modern times.
Be sure to check the ingredients, manufacturing date and date of expiry while buying your baby products. Consult your pediatrician if you have doubts about the chemicals and ingredients used.
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