Raising kids is tough. There are a million different articles and books and studies that tell you what products you should and shouldn’t be using. While I am skeptical of the whole “natural” beauty product movement, there are a number of amazing and effective natural ingredients that I enjoy using (honey and green tea are some that come to mind). And being a mother myself, I am always on the lookout for products that will keep my baby safe. I recently had the opportunity to try two products from Olen Skincare: Sunblocz Baby + Kids and Baby Butz Diaper Rash Cream. Here are my thoughts:
Zinc Oxide: Nano vs Non-Nano
If you have been following this blog closely you know that I prefer physical sunscreens to chemical sunscreens. And if you’ve been following it even closer you know that between the two ingredients used in physical sunscreen, titanium oxide and zinc oxide, I prefer zinc oxide. Zinc oxide is more effective than titanium oxide because UVA and UVB rays are separated into longer UVA (UV-aging) and shorter UVB (UV-burning), and zinc oxide blocks a significantly longer portion of UVA rays (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2005).
Zinc oxide can come in two forms – “nano” and “non-nano.” Some scientists argue that nano is bad because small oxides can get into your skin and cause oxidation, yet the vast majority argue that the benefit of a nano zinc oxide in preventing UV-induced oxidation is greater than the risk of oxide-induced oxidation. What’s more, very precise studies [with electron microscopy] have shown only very minimal levels of nano oxides penetrate the uppermost layer of the skin (Skin Pharmacology and Physiology, 2007). There is also a cosmetic advantage afforded by using nano zine oxide — it does not leave the telltale white streaks of its non-nano counterpart. Sunblocz Baby + Kids uses non-nano zinc oxide, which I don’t mind but it’s not my favorite. But at the end of the day, it’s still zinc oxide, the superior sun protection ingredient regardless of what form it comes in!
Zinc oxide is also used in the brand’s Baby Butz Diaper Rash Cream as well but for an entirely different purpose. It is used to soothe and protect your baby’s skin by repelling water away and creating a safe barrier for healing. The formula also includes white petrolatum, which helps keep the diaper from sticking to the cream and preventing further irritation.
The Sunblocz Baby + Kids also uses another favorite ingredient of mine: green tea. Green tea contains the polyphenol epigallocatechin-3-gallate (EGCG), which has been shown to have remarkable preventive effects against photocarcinogenesis and phototoxicity in mouse models. In a 2001 study in the journal Carcinogenesis, topical application of EGCG to human skin resulted in decreased oxidative stress and an increase in antioxidant enzymes after UV irradiation. A further 2003 study in Molecular Epidemiology and Cancer Prevention found that the polyphenols in green tea prevent UVB-induced oxidation of lipids and proteins and prevent against the depletion in antioxidant enzymes experienced after UVB exposure in mouse skin. Not only is your child getting superior sun protection from zinc oxide, but he or she also has the added healing benefit of antioxidants from green tea!
Bee-lieve it or not, beeswax is in all sorts of products! From cosmetics (like Sunblocz Baby + Kids) to candles, it’s endlessly useful both in its applications on skin and for the way it works in formulations. Beeswax has a slight antioxidant effect, likely due to minor ingredients or propolis, but it’s primarily used because it creates a thin, non-allergenic, protective layer over the skin (NC State University). Beeswax has several functions in formulations. When mixed with ingredients it can help to preserve active materials and release them slowly (NC State University). It works excellently as an emollient and stabilizer as well!
Is it safe to use? For most people, yes! Ethoxylated derivatives of beeswax, PEGs Sorbitan Beeswax, have been approved in cosmetic formulations up in concentrations up to 11%. These were found to be non-carcinogenic (though they can increase the activity of carcinogens), irritant, or skin sensitizer. The sorbitans were relatively nontoxic when consumed (International Journal of Toxicology). However, if your child is allergic to bee stings or has a sensitivity to them, please use with caution and pay attention to the symptoms he or she is experiencing. More information on this can be found here.
If you are a fan of products that are more natural but still contain effective ingredients, then I believe that both Sunblocz Baby + Kids and Baby Butz Diaper Rash Cream are great options! Just be cautious if your child has had an allergic reaction to bee stings in the past, as the Sunblocz Baby + Kids does contain beeswax.