There are several major differences between baby and adult skin. Here we explain how those differences are taken into account to ensure the safety of personal care products for use on babies and infants up to three years of age.
How delicate is baby skin?
Baby skin is more delicate than that of adults and can be damaged by coarse fabrics or rough towels, for example. This is partly because baby skin is slightly thinner than adult skin (about 20 to 30%). It is also because skin responds to the environment and babies are making the transition from life in the womb to life in the outside world, and therefore experiencing it for the first time. Baby skin also has a higher surface pH (a scientific measure of acid or alkaline).
Personal care products made for babies and infants are formulated to take these factors into account; for example, they use milder cleansers, low levels of fragrance and carefully control the pH to ensure compatibility with the skin. Also, there is an enhanced safety assessment legally required for all cosmetic products intended for use on children under three years of age.
Generally bathing a baby in water only is the recommendation for the first two to four weeks of life but after this point, it is safe to use personal care products which are intended to be used on babies and infants. NHS Choices has advice on washing and bathing your baby.
Can ingredients be more easily absorbed through infant skin?
No. In fact, babies are born with skin which is very nearly complete in its barrier function and this further matures within the first two to four weeks after birth, providing an effective barrier to external substances. Although baby skin may be physically more sensitive than adult skin, and thus requires gentle handling, from the point of view of being able to keep out unwanted substances, baby skin is an effective barrier.