Have you ever wondered about baby wipes ingredients? Are you on the hunt for the safest baby wipes? Do you want to find out which baby wipes ingredients to avoid?
If you’ve answered YES to any of these questions, you’re at the right place!
Skin is our largest organ, and much of what we put on our skin gets absorbed into the bloodstream. Children are even more vulnerable because they tend to absorb chemicals at a higher rate than adults do.
In addition, there isn’t a clear understanding of the effects of long-term exposure to chemicals, or their cumulative effects.
In other words, going over the ingredients of something you use daily on your child is an important step to improving your child’s health.
From year to year, the ingredients of baby wipes change.
How “clean” are baby wipes at the end of 2018?
I’m pleased to say that as of right now, baby wipes have cleaned up their ingredient game significantly. Phew!
Consumers are becoming more aware, and manufacturers are paying attention. Some baby wipes are not yet entirely free of problematic ingredients, but it’s a step in the right direction.
Here is a breakdown of the ingredients of baby wipes sold on the verge of 2018/19:
I’ve divided all ingredients into THREE main categories:
❶ Baby wipes ingredients that are beneficial OR of low concern
❷ Baby wipes ingredients to think about
❸ Baby wipes ingredients to avoid
Pay attention to the ingredients printed in RED – these are the baby wipes ingredients to AVOID.
Some ingredients in BLUE might not be perfect or ideal, or at least not for everyone, but they aren’t necessarily a huge deal. I’ve also included ingredients here that aren’t harmful on their own but can be contaminated during the manufacturing process.
If you scroll further down, you’ll find the current lists of ingredients of baby wipes as of late 2018. But, hold on…
BEFORE you jump to the ingredient lists to find out which are the safest baby wipes, I highly suggest you read about WHY some of the baby wipes ingredients landed in the blue or red zone.
I’ll try to make this as quick and simple as possible.
No drama, no fearmongering, just scientific data…
❶ Baby wipes ingredients that are beneficial OR of low concern
Ingredients left in black are generally beneficial or not considered harmful, but two things come to mind.
The purity of some ingredients (like essential oils, or even plain water) may be concerning to some, so I’ll leave this one up to you.
Also, glycerin is somewhat of a hot topic among some parents, and many baby wipes do contain this ingredient.
When it comes to glycerin, it can either come from natural sources (both plants and animals), or it can be made synthetically (derived from petroleum).
Either type is generally considered safe, but some parents or caregivers may have a preference. If you care for one over the other, you should know you’ll need to do some digging since labels don’t generally specify which type of glycerin is used in baby wipes.
❷ Baby wipes ingredients to think about
— Malic Acid
Malic acid is known for its ability to exfoliate skin and appears to be generally safe when used topically and in small concentrations.
It can, however, cause skin irritation in individuals with sensitive skin and can increase sensitivity to sunlight.
If you use baby wipes to wipe your child’s face often, or if your child’s skin is very sensitive, I’d personally try to avoid Malic Acid in baby wipes. Admittedly, it might just be me. Do what feels right to you!
Phenoxyethanol is a fairly common preservative used by the cosmetic industry these days, though I’ve seen a few brands steering away from it.
There are some potential red flags to it, but more studies are needed.
The Environmental Working Group (EWG) rates phenoxyethanol as a risk level 4 (out of 10) which puts phenoxyethanol very close to the moderate risk threshold.
Just for a reference, both sodium benzoate and potassium sorbate – other commonly used preservatives in baby wipes – score as 3. Potassium sorbate isn’t strong enough of a preservative to be used on its own though, so it’s always used together with another preservative, usually sodium benzoate.
Because water creates a breeding ground for bacteria and mold, all disposable water-based baby wipes need to contain some type of a preservative. Unless you’re a fan of bad bugs and mold…
Phenoxyethanol is generally assumed to be safe when used in low concentrations in cosmetic products, but reactions even at low doses have been shown in studies. ALSO:
This claim involved a certain brand of nipple cream, and not just one but two potentially concerning ingredients the cream contained: phenoxyethanol AND chlorphenesin, thought to have caused respiratory problems, vomiting, and diarrhea in infants.
The notice has since been taken down by the FDA – republished – only to be taken down again – with ZERO clarification. As of right now, it still shows up in the FDA’s search results but leads to a blank page.
To date, no additional information about the warning has been provided by the FDA.
Now, it is entirely possible that the warning was made prematurely, in error, or that the two ingredients may cause the forewarned issues only when they interact.
To err on the side of caution though, I’d personally avoid using baby wipes containing phenoxyethanol around the mouth until more information about this issue becomes available, and until we know more about phenoxyethanol in general.
— Disodium EDTA
Clinical tests have shown that low concentrations of disodium EDTA do not irritate, sensitize, or penetrate the skin. Disodium EDTA is rated as low risk by the Environmental Working Group.
However, this ingredient improves skin absorption of OTHER ingredients.
And that’s the key here.
If you see any harmful ingredients (printed in red) in the ingredient list together with disodium EDTA, it means that they’re more likely to get absorbed into your child’s skin. The same is true for any possible contaminants as well.
I’d rather stay away from baby wipes containing fragrance AND disodium EDTA (Amazon Elements Fresh Scent Baby Wipes, Pampers Complete Clean Baby Fresh Wipes). But then again, synthetic fragrances are bad on their own anyway…more on that below!
— Hidden ingredients: contaminants in baby wipes
In addition to any disclosed ingredients, there may be unlisted impurities in the package of your baby wipes resulting from the manufacturing process of some of the listed ingredients.
The following contaminants printed in blue might not seem like a big deal on their own.
If you read up on them, you’ll find out there might be some theoretical health risks associated with them, and/or data gaps, but they’re not classified as harmful. It’s mostly the contamination with other toxic ingredients that is worrisome.
Some baby wipes contain multiple contaminants that have landed in the blue zone.
You’ll find these contaminants in the ingredient lists below written in italics.
This way you can keep tabs on the number of potential contaminants in different baby wipes, which will hopefully help you weigh the risks and benefits of using any particular brand/type of baby wipes.
Contaminants in red should be avoided altogether and won’t be found in the safest baby wipes.
Not only is there a possibility of contamination with harmful ingredients, there are OTHER health risks associated with them as well.
For that reason alone, I’m not making any distinctions – no italics here. Pure red.
⧉ Potential contaminants: (1) Ethylene Oxide; and (2) 1,4-Dioxane
Baby wipes ingredients that may be contaminated with Ethylene Oxide, and 1,4-Dioxane are:
Ceteareth-12 (read more below)
Ceteareth-20 (read more below)
Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil
BIS-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16/16 Dimethicone
Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone
The ingredients listed above are all produced with ethylene oxide.
If extreme caution isn’t taken during the manufacturing process, these baby wipes ingredients may become contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane. (There is unfortunately no way for a consumer to know.)
Both ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane are potent skin irritants and carcinogens, and regular use of baby wipes containing these contaminants might increase the risk of cancer.
That is, IF these ingredients are indeed contaminated. But, like I said, you and I don’t know.
⧉ Potential contaminant: Hydroquinone
— Tocopheryl Acetate
Note: Do not confuse TOCOPHERYL ACETATE (that may be contaminated with Hydroquinone) with TOCOPHEROL (no contamination risks).
Tocopheryl Acetate is a synthetic form of Tocopherol – the natural vitamin E. Both are beneficial for the skin, having anti-oxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.
Hydroquinone is essentially used as a bleaching agent in products made for reducing age spots and blemishes. It’s an ingredient that obviously wouldn’t be included in a baby wipe solution in the first place, right?
However, when Tocopheryl Acetate is synthetically produced using methylhydroquinone, it may become contaminated with hydroquinone.
Hydroquinone has been shown to be carcinogenic in some animal studies. Hydroquinone can also make skin more sensitive to sunlight and may act as a skin sensitizer.
I think we’re done with the blue category here!
Let’s move on to the worst offenders of them all… The baby wipes ingredients to avoid.
❸ Baby wipes ingredients to avoid
A pleasantly-smelling baby wipe has the potential to make even the dirtiest job slightly more feasible, right?
But the truth is not as innocent as it smells.
Fragrances are basically mixtures of undisclosed ingredients, many of which act as allergens and hormone disruptors.
In reality, just ONE synthetic aroma may contain hundreds of different chemicals. If you’re shaking your head in disgust, I’m right there with ya.
The vast majority of fragrances are derived from petroleum and can contain phthalates, parabens, VOCs, and other harmful chemicals and irritants. I won’t go into detail about these since I promised to keep this brief, but feel free to look these nasties up.
The good news is, unscented baby wipes work just as well!
Some products can contain a masking agent to cover strong or unpleasant scents of other ingredients. The good news is, manufacturers seem to be ditching masking agents, and it’s an ingredient that would be listed on the label.
I haven’t found ANY masking agents in any of the products listed in this post, but some other products that I haven’t included may contain this ingredient. Just a heads up…
— Ceteareth-12; and Ceteareth-20
Ceteareth ingredients have ended up in the baby wipes ingredients to avoid category for the following reasons:
- They enhance skin absorption, allowing other, possibly toxic substances to penetrate deeper into the skin. This would of course relate not just to baby wipes but anything else you may be using on your child’s skin as well.
- Available data indicate that Ceteareth ingredients shouldn’t be used on irritated or injured skin (which would include diaper rash!).
- These ingredients may be contaminated with ethylene oxide and 1,4-Dioxane. (See above under Hidden ingredients: contaminants in baby wipes.)
These are the three ingredients in baby wipes I would personally rather avoid, especially if I were to use baby wipes on a regular basis.
Now, are you ready to find out which are the safest baby baby wipes?
SAFEST BABY WIPES
Baby wipes ingredients – 2018/19
(In alphabetical order)
The following links and images can contain Amazon affiliate links.
If you scrolled straight down here, you might want to skim the paragraphs above to read up on why some ingredients look different in the ingredient lists below and whether YOU want to avoid them or make peace with them.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camillia Oleifera Leaf Extract, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Polysorbate 20, Glycerin, Fragrance, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Polysorbate 20, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Tocopheryl Acetate, Disodium Cocoamphodiacetate, Polysorbate 20, Citric Acid, Disodium Phosphate, Disodium EDTA, Phenoxyethanol, Sodium Benzoate.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Chamomilla Recutita Flower Extract, Vegetable Oil, Glycerin, Lauryl Glucoside, Polyglyceryl-2-Dipolyhydroxystearate, Glyceryl Oleate, Dicaprylyl Carbonate, Sodium Benzoate, Citric Acid, Potassium Sorbate, Solanum Lycopersicum (Tomato) Seed Oil, Helianthus Annuus(Sunflower) Seed Oil, Vaccinnium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Seed Oil, Nigella Sativa (Black Cumin) Seed Oil, Rubus Idaeus (Red Raspberry) Seed Oil.
BABYGANICS BABY WIPES have been redesigned in 2018. They’re now called BABYGANICS FACE, HAND & BABY WIPES.
The NEW formulation contains vegetable oil (GMO-status and which type of oil not specified), Polyglyceryl-2-Dipolyhydroxystearate (safe, vegetable-based emulsifier), Dicaprylyl Carbonate (safe, plant-derived moisturizer), and (plant-based) glycerin for skin protection.
Taken out from the OLD formulation of BABYGANICS BABY WIPES was olive oil, avocado oil, calendula extract, and aloe leaf extract.
The new BABYGANICS wipes are still some of the safest baby wipes out there (with no blue or red ingredients), but I have to say I personally preferred the older version. It kinda bugs me that they were reformulated because these are typically our go-to wipes for our road trips, but I will most likely still use them.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Ceteareth-12, Cetyl Palmitate, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate.
Ingredients: Purified Water, Cetearyl Isononanoate, Ceteareth-20, Cetearyl Alcohol, Glyceryl Stearate, Glycerin, Ceteareth-12, Cetyl Palmitate, Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E), Phenoxyethanol, Potassium Sorbate.
Ingredients: Water, Glycerin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Prunica Granatum (Pomegranate) Extract, Peucedanum Ostruthium (Masterwort) Leaf Extract, Decyl Glucoside, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Silver Citrate.
No fishy ingredients here either – HONEST baby wipes earn their spot as one of the safest baby wipes out there as well.
It’s another brand of wipes I bring on family trips because our Target stocks small convenient packages of HONEST CO. baby wipes, perfect for hiking or air travel. — We have no more babies at our house, but our kids create PLENTY of messes for us to clean…
Ingredients: Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Polysorbate 20, Caprylyl Glycol, Sodium Benzoate, Coco-Betaine, Malic Acid, Fragrance/Parfum, Glycerin, Sodium Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract.
NO COSTCO MEMBERSHIP???
The following Costco product is also sold on Amazon >>>
Ingredients: Purified Water, Phenoxyethanol, Decyl Glucoside, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Caledula Officinalis Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract.
Not too bad at all if you ask me… I’ll be honest: these surprised me!
KIRKLAND baby wipes are very close to hitting the safest baby wipes spot on this list. If you don’t mind the ingredient phenoxyethanol, these are very safe.
Ingredients: Water, Gluconolactone, Potassium Sorbate, Propanediol, Sodium Benzoate, Caprylyl/Capryl Glucoside, Maltodextrin, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Calcium Gluconate, Citric Acid.
NATY BABY WIPES are made with 100% plant-based renewable materials and are biodegradable and compostable.
NATY BABY WIPES are also one of the safest baby wipes out there, but they might be hard to find at stores near you so you may need to order online.
PAMPERS AQUA PURE SENSITIVE is the newest addition to the Pampers line of diapers and wipes.
Ingredients: Water, Citric Acid, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Citrate, Sorbitan Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, BIS-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16 Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Xanthan Gum, Fragrance/Parfum/Fragrancia.
PAMPERS COMPLETE CLEAN BABY FRESH WIPES are the former PAMPERS BABY FRESH WIPES and are the only PAMPERS baby wipes that are scented.
⚑ PAMPERS SENSITIVE + PAMPERS NATURAL CLEAN BABY WIPES (NEWLY as PAMPERS COMPLETE CLEAN UNSCENTED – only available from third-party sellers on Amazon, so I’m not linking these wipes yet.)
Ingredients: Water, Citric Acid, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Citrate, Sorbitan Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA, BIS-PEG/PPG-16/16 PEG/PPG-16 Dimethicone, Caprylic/Capric Tryglyceride, Xanthan Gum.
You may wonder: What’s the difference between Pampers SENSITIVE and Pampers NATURAL CLEAN/COMPLETE CLEAN UNSCENTED baby wipes?
Both versions of these wipes have the exact same ingredient formulation at this point, unlike the previous years.
Pampers NATURAL CLEAN wipes have been reformulated in 2017, and pentadecalactone (a masking agent) has been removed.
The difference between the two wipes is: (1) Pampers SENSITIVE wipes are 20% thicker; (2) Pampers SENSITIVE wipes have a soft grip texture whereas Pampers NATURAL CLEAN/COMPLETELY CLEAN UNSCENTED wipes do not have a textured pattern.
With only one ingredient to maybe keep an eye on (a potential contaminant), SEVENTH GENERATION wipes are also one of the safest baby wipes you can get these days.
⚑ UP & UP (TARGET) FRAGRANCE FREE BABY WIPES (BLUE PACKAGE)
Ingredients: Water, Phenoxyethanol, Decyl Glucoside, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Glycerin, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum.
⚑ UP & UP (TARGET) FRESH SCENT BABY WIPES
⚑ UP & UP (TARGET) GREEN TEA MELON BABY WIPES
⚑ UP & UP (TARGET) PEACHES + HONEY BABY WIPES
Ingredients: Water, Phenoxyethanol, Decyl Glucoside, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Sodium Bicarbonate, Glycerin, Fragrance, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Microcrystalline Cellulose, Cellulose Gum.
TARGET’s UP & UP BABY WIPES have been reformulated in 2018, and it’s actually quite a switch.
Before the change, all UP & UP BABY WIPES had varying ingredients. As of right now, all four types of UP & UP BABY WIPES are based on the exact same formula, with fragrance added to scented wipes. Disodium EDTA and Polysorbate 20 have been removed from the wipe solution.
Right now there is only ONE version of UNSCENTED UP & UP BABY WIPES (there used to be two), and THREE versions of SCENTED WIPES (previously there were two).
Right off the bat, WATER WIPES appear to be one of the safest baby wipes on the market. They ARE squeaky clean, yes, BUT I have to mention something to keep this post balanced.
You may have heard that commercially available Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE) has been found to contain synthetic antibacterial and antifungal disinfectants like benzalkonium, triclosan, or methylparaben, none of which are naturally found in the extract of the seeds themselves.
Also, the GSE products that DIDN’T contain these additives appeared to have NO antibacterial, antifungal, or antiviral effects.
The researchers therefore concluded that the antimicrobial activity of GSE is not due to the extract itself but rather a result of adulteration of GSE with synthetic preservative agents.
The WATER WIPES manufacturer claims that the GSE they use comes from a reputable supplier and is tested for contaminants (including but not limited to the three offenders listed above) and NONE are present.
I’m not going to sway you either way, you need to decide if WATER WIPES are truly one of the safest baby wipes for your family.
PS: I must clarify because now I feel like I’ve put a bad mojo on the WATER WIPES… This is another brand of wipes we have occasionally brought on our trips. But, you decide for yourself!
Related: Best NON-TOXIC Disposable Diapers
Phew, we’re done here! Thanks for sticking out!
I hope I’ve helped you with your search for the safest baby wipes for your family.
If you have any questions about some of the baby wipes ingredients to avoid that I talked about or any baby wipes ingredients in general, talk to me!