Today I would like to discuss three well-known brands of diapers and baby wipes – Hello Bello, Honest, and Pampers Pure. These three brands are marketed as a step up from your standard line of diapers and baby wipes, being made with gentler and safer ingredients, and all are available at brick and mortar stores nationwide which makes them a convenient choice for many parents that desire a premium product for their baby without having to shop online. If you have wondered more than once which of the three is the best choice for your baby and your wallet, stay tuned! In this article we are going to compare both diapers and baby wipes of Hello Bello vs. Honest vs. Pampers Pure in terms of functionality as well as ingredient safety.
This review has two parts:
- Hello Bello vs. Honest vs. Pampers Pure – Diapers Comparison
- Hello Bello vs. Honest vs. Pampers Pure – Baby Wipes Comparison
I’ll go ahead and cover the diapers first. If you’re only curious about the rating of the baby wipes, clink the link above and you’ll be taken straight to that section.
#1 Hello Bello vs. Honest vs. Pampers Pure – Best Diapers???
Which one of these companies beats the others?
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Hello Bello diapers
- Available in 7 sizes: Newborn, 1-6
- Wetness indicator: sizes N-3
- Cloth-like feel
- Premium absorbency
- Totally chlorine-free (TCF)
- Sustainably harvested fluff pulp
Made without: chlorine processing, artificial fragrance, phthalates, lotions, latex, TBT, DBT, MBT.
Description: Hello Bello diapers are made without unnecessary and often the most problematic add-ons such as fragrance or lotions and are totally chlorine-free (TCF). Many brands label their diapers as “chlorine-free” when in fact they are not guaranteed to be 100% free of chlorine based on the bleaching process used (known as elemental chlorine-free bleaching, or simply ECF), but Hello Bello diapers are made without chlorine processing altogether and hold true to that claim. Phthalates can sometimes sneak into the diapers through various manufacturing processes, but Hello Bello advertises their diapers as free of phthalates.
As stated here, Hello Bello diapers are also free of TBT, DBT and MBT (tributyltin, dibutyltin, and monobutyltin) which are highly toxic persistent environmental pollutants with red flags related to human exposure as well. (Find out more about TBT, DBT, MBT, TCF/ECF diapers, and other problematic chemicals in diapers here.)
Hello Bello diapers are printed with various colorful designs that change seasonally.
Also offered is a nighttime diaper that’s manufactured with the same standards as the daytime diaper, the only difference in the nighttime version is that it’s made with a more efficient absorbent core (more SAP).
Compared with Pampers Pure and Honest, Hello Bello diapers are the cheapest out of the three.
Eco credentials: Much of the Hello Bello diaper is derived from petroleum, made with polyethylene, polypropylene, and polyester nonwoven fibers. This includes the top sheet (the inner lining) and the back sheet (the outer layer). The only plant-based component besides the fluff pulp in the core is the core wrap that’s made with corn-derived PLA (bio-based plastic). Just so we’re clear, this is the part that wraps around the absorbent core that isn’t in touch with baby’s skin. The fluff pulp is sourced from sustainably managed forests, but no certification is provided to validate that claim.
- Cute prints
- Free of common problematic chemicals
- Leaks are a common complaint
- Not as stretchy in the waist as other brands
- Made with mostly unsustainable materials
Honest Clean Conscious diapers
- Available in 7 sizes: N, 1-6
- Wetness indicator
- Plant-based materials
- Made with sustainably harvested, TCF fluff pulp
- Size N has a belly button cutout and is quilted
- Sizes 1 & 2 have a blowout pocket
- Sizes 3-6 have super stretchy sides
Made without: chlorine, latex, fragrance, and lotion.
Description: Honest diapers are totally chlorine-free (TCF) – made without chlorine processing altogether. They are also made without fragrance, so no worries about fragrance ingredients causing irritation and exposing your baby to harmful (and frankly, unnecessary) fragrance chemicals. While Honest diapers are not labeled “lotion-free” right on the packaging, every time I check with Honest Co. the answer is nope, no lotion in our diapers.
Like Hello Bello, Honest diapers come in tons of different prints that change on a regular basis, so you will never be bored with the same diaper design.
Honest diapers have undergone a redesign early this year, and the changes did not go unnoticed among the Honest crowd. Before the change, Honest diapers were functional though somewhat stiff and rough to the touch. This definitely wasn’t the softest diaper around, but it had its share of fans. However, since the latest redesign, the ratings took a nosedive. Parents that were loyal to Honest are not at peace with the changes, and they are vocal about the desire for Honest to bring the old version back.
Like Hello Bello, Honest makes a nighttime diaper as well. It has the same material composition as the daytime Honest diaper.
Eco credentials: Some components of the Honest diaper are made with plant-based materials, but none of those come in direct contact with baby’s skin. Specifically, you’ll find PLA in the back sheet (PLA stands for polylactic acid – a petroleum-based plastic substitute made from plant starch), and the absorbent core is based on plant-based and petroleum-based SAP (superabsorbent polymer) in addition to the fluff pulp. The rest of the diaper uses standard petroleum-based materials, including the top sheet (the inner lining) that wraps around baby’s skin. The fluff pulp used in the core is said to come from sustainably managed forests, but there is no certification backing that up.
- Cute designs
- Leaks are common
- Skin irritation
- Run small
Pampers Pure diapers
- Available in 7 sizes: N, 1-6
- Wetness indicator
- Cotton enhanced
- Plant-based materials
Made without: elemental chlorine (as per new labeling), fragrance, latex.
Description: Pampers Pure is a premium diaper in the Pampers line, known as the only Pampers diaper made with totally chlorine-free fluff pulp (TCF). HOWEVER, the latest packaging and product description describes Pampers Pure diapers as “elemental chlorine-free” (ECF).
New to ECF vs. TCF? ECF diapers can contain traces of dioxins – bioaccumulative and toxic pollutants. More info in this article here – scroll down to #7 Dioxins.
I have contacted Pampers twice so far regarding the labeling change and have been reassured several times that nothing has changed about the bleaching process of Pampers Pure diapers. (All while the SmartLabel still displays the former ingredient list with TCF fluff pulp.) Currently I am awaiting further clarification from Pampers and will publish that once I have it.
Compared with other diapers in the Pampers lineup, Pampers Pure diapers are made without perfumes (fragrance). There is one add-on worth mentioning though – the top sheet is enriched with shea butter. Pampers doesn’t go into detail about this feature, so it remains unknown whether this is a one-ingredient add-on or whether the formula is based on multiple ingredients. Speaking of mystery ingredients, the absorbent core of Pampers Pure diapers contains a petroleum-based odor absorber. What exactly is this ingredient??? Pampers remains mum on this subject.
In contrast with Hello Bello and Honest diapers, Pampers Pure diapers are printed with soothing pastel prints and don’t show through clothing as much.
Eco credentials: Pampers Pure diapers are made with petroleum-based materials with the exception of the top sheet (the inner lining) that uses a blend of polypropylene and plant-based fibers (ratio not specified), and the back sheet (outer cover) that contains a small percentage of cotton (15%) in an otherwise predominantly petroleum-based fiber blend. (The cotton used is not organic – so contamination with pesticides is a concern here, and for the super-Earth-friendly, GMO status is not disclosed, so let’s assume the obvious.)
- Odd chemical smell
- Some reports of chemical burns
➥ VERDICT: Which diapers are best? Hello Bello, Honest, or Pampers Pure?
There are some key differences between Hello Bello, Honest, and Pampers Pure diapers. Ultimately, which brand is the best for you & your baby will depend on your priorities and the fit and functionality of the diaper which is specific to each and every baby. Not one single diaper fits all babies the same and performs in the same exact way for all. It’s just the way things are.
Hello Bello diapers will do the job, but they are not the best out there. As for green claims… a little is better than nothing, but there is definitely room for improvement. Where Hello Bello diapers shine is affordability and the lack of some of the most concerning chemicals often used in diaper making, so if you can make Hello Bello work for you, you can sleep sounder, knowing you are saving money and your baby’s bum.
The Honest Company has a history of deceptive marketing, so as a precaution, take everything you read on the Honest website with a grain of salt. That’s my 2c – as always, that’s me, being brutally honest. Where am I going with this? I periodically check the reviews of most disposable diapers on the market for each new update of my Best Non-Toxic Diapers Guide, and it already seems like Honest is diluting the recent shower of negative reviews. But in this day and age it’s easy to see that the negative feedback is still pouring in elsewhere across the interweb where the company does not have control over what’s being displayed. Without any ill will towards Honest Co., as of right now, it seems like Honest diapers might not be worth the hassle unless and until the issues most parents are experiencing with the diapers are looked into. After all, this is a diaper with a premium price tag.
Pampers Pure diapers have been around for a few years with minor changes in design/composition until possibly this time. If they have truly gone from being TCF to ECF only, then in all honesty the only notable difference between Pampers Pure diapers and the rest of the Pampers line is the lack of fragrance and a very minor usage of bio-based materials. And that alone does not justify a premium price. In a cost comparison, the price of Pampers Pure diapers is comparable to Honest diapers.
➤ Best budget diaper: Hello Bello
➤ 100% chlorine-free guaranteed: Hello Bello, Honest
➤ Best performance: Pampers Pure
➤ Most plant-based materials: Honest
#2 Hello Bello vs. Honest vs. Pampers Pure – Best Baby Wipes???
>> Laundry pile growing by the minute? Baby crying? Skip to the verdict!
All baby wipes in this review are unscented and neither brand uses odor blockers to mask unpleasant scents of some of the ingredients used. Synthetic fragrances are problematic in baby products because A) they can trigger allergies and asthma symptoms, and B) they are the source of many hidden chemicals that can cause harm beyond breathing difficulties. It’s well established that many of the commonly used fragrance ingredients are known endocrine disruptors and/or carcinogens such as phthalates, aldehydes, and benzene derivatives. Babies deserve better!
That being said, some reviewers report that Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes do have a particular scent to them. Whenever your unscented baby wipes have a certain “smell,” you’re just smelling the unique chemistry of the ingredients used, not added synthetic fragrance.
Hello Bello baby wipes are marketed as a premium quality plant-based cloth, but the material isn’t disclosed. I reached out to Hello Bello regarding the material of the wipe, and after an initial watered-down generic reply I have finally gotten somewhere:
“Our premium cloth is viscose fiber made from regenerated cellulose.” [the Hello Bello team]
In other words, a semi-synthetic fiber, made via a synthetic process from natural materials.
Honest does not disclose the material used in their baby wipes either, so I wrote the Honest Co., asking about which specific materials they use in their baby wipes – whether it’s 100% viscose or a viscose blend with other fibers. This was the exact question I sent, pretty much. Here is the response I have received:
“Great question! Our Baby Wipes are made from plant-based materials. Thank you!” [the Honest team]
And then I asked for a clarification of the material used and it’s been crickets ever since.
…So, let’s just call it a mystery fabric for now, shall we?
Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes are made from a blend of regenerated cellulose, polyester, and cotton (GMO status not disclosed). So that’s a blend of synthetic, semi-synthetic, and natural fibers. Unlike Hello Bello and Honest, Pampers is fully transparent about the materials used in their baby wipes both on their website and in the SmartLabel database. That’s refreshing!
Hello Bello and Honest baby wipes share many similarities. Both are textured, sturdy and soft, with just enough moisture. With both there is the occasional dissatisfaction over the ability to pull the wipes out one by one. The wipes can bunch up inside the package, and you’ll get out more than you need, wasting a few wipes. Hello Bello baby wipes cost about half of what Honest baby wipes sell for, but Honest baby wipes are slightly bigger in size (Hello Bello: 6.7 x 7.9 inches; Honest: 7.1 x 8 inches).
Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes are not textured but clean reasonably well and are soft and well moistened, almost too wet at the bottom of the pack. The reviews for Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes are generally positive, but either they have recently been made thinner or Pampers has a supplier issue (not surprising in this day and age) and has to improvise on occasion. This is the smallest wipe out of the three, measuring 7 x 6.8 inches, but still adequate in size to do the job.
(Pay attention to the ingredients of concern in red, see notes below the ingredient lists.)
Hello Bello baby wipes: Water, Gluconolactone, Sodium Benzoate, Hydroxyacetophenone, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice*, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract*, Decyl Glucoside, Polyaminopropyl Biguanide, Ethylhexylglycerin. (*Organic)
Honest baby wipes: Water (Aqua), Glycerin, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Punica Granatum Juice Extract, Decyl Glucoside, Citric Acid, Caprylyl Glycol, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Benzoate.
Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes: Water/Eau, Citric Acid, Peg-40 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Citrate, Sorbitan Caprylate, Sodium Benzoate, Disodium EDTA.
Hello Bello baby wipes are preserved with sodium benzoate, ethylhexylglycerin, and polyaminopropyl biguanide, further boosted by hydroxyacetophenone (chelator) and gluconolactone (humectant), while Honest uses just two main preservatives in the baby wipes solution – ethylhexylglycerin and sodium benzoate, with an antimicrobial boost from the chelator trisodium ethylenediamine disuccinate and the humectant caprylyl glycol. Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes are preserved with sorbitan caprylate and sodium benzoate, with a boost from the stabilizer/chelator disodium EDTA.
- Hydroxyacetophenone (Hello Bello) is a chelating agent that helps prevent spoilage by inactivating metal ions responsible for deterioration of cosmetic products. It’s an ingredient with limited data. Some preliminary indications point to the potential of skin irritation and dermatitis, as well as contamination concerns. [source: EWG, CIR]
- Polyaminopropyl biguanide (Hello Bello) is classified as CMR 2 (suspected human carcinogen) in the European Union but is generally considered safe in non-aerosolized cosmetic formulations in concentrations up to 0.1% when formulated to be non-irritating and non-sensitizing. The amount of data for this chemical compound is poor. As with any ingredient without robust data, there is a potential that there are yet unrealized risks associated with it. [source: EWG, CIR 2017, CIR 2018, EU/SCCS]
- Ethylhexylglycerin* (Hello Bello, Honest) is one of the newer additions with limited amount of data. This is a versatile ingredient used not only as a preservative but also as a surfactant and a skin conditioner. It’s generally considered to be safe when used in cosmetic formulations, but cases of skin reactions and contact dermatitis have surfaced. Ethylhexylglycerin is made via a process known as ethoxylation where ethylene oxide is used to downgrade the harsh effects of other chemicals, and as a result a potential for contamination with residual impurities exists. [source: EWG, CIR, Derm Review]
- Caprylyl glycol (Honest) is a humectant (a beneficial ingredient that helps hydrate the skin) that also acts as a preservative, increasing the shelf life of a product. This ingredient is generally well tolerated by the skin and has a rating of 1 out of 10 in the EWG database (1 being the least of concern), but the CIR Expert Panel has noted that caprylyl glycol may act as a penetration enhancer, meaning there is a possibility of increased penetration of other ingredients and possible contaminants present in the formulation. [source: EWG, CIR]
- PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil (Pampers Aqua Pure) is a surfactant, a helpful ingredient used in baby wipes to reduce skin friction from wiping. Out of the surfactants widely used in baby wipes, PEG-40 hydrogenated castor oil is one of the less safe ones. PEG ingredients are the condensation products of ethylene oxide, and as such can be contaminated with impurities that include ethylene oxide and 1,4-dioxane, both of which are skin irritants and carcinogens even in small doses. Another thing to keep in mind is that all PEG ingredients improve the penetration of other ingredients which can allow harmful substances to sink deeper into the skin. This risk is further increased when such formulation is used on damaged or broken skin (such as diaper rash). [source: EWG, CIR]
- Sorbitan caprylate (Pampers Aqua Pure) is a fairly new ingredient with data gaps. It’s used as a surfactant and emulsifier while also acting as a preservative booster. According to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) Expert Panel, sorbitan esters such as sorbitan caprylate are safe with minimal potential for skin irritation, so that’s somewhat reassuring. [source: EWG, CIR]
- Disodium EDTA (Pampers Aqua Pure) is a chelator (creates bonds with metal ions) that aids in preservation. Studies have shown that disodium EDTA does not sensitize or penetrate the skin, and the risk of contamination of this ingredient with harmful substances is minimal. It can, however, enhance the absorption of other ingredients and contaminants deeper into the skin. [source: EWG, CIR, PubMed]
*Hidden ingredient concern: The ingredient ethylhexylglycerin (listed above) may contain undisclosed tocopherols – natural or synthetic forms of vitamin E (labeling loopholes enable mislabeling of vitamin E in cosmetics) which can be contaminated with hydroquinone during production when manufactured synthetically. Hydroquinone is a chemical used as a bleaching agent in products made for reducing age spots and blemishes and is generally not considered safe in leave-on cosmetic applications such as baby wipes. [source, source, source, source]
➥ VERDICT: Which baby wipes are the best choice? Hello Bello, Honest, or Pampers Aqua Pure?
Honest and Hello Bello baby wipes share many similarities and both are rated positively. Hello Bello is the cheaper wipe, but Honest wipes are larger. In a safety comparison of Hello Bello vs. Honest baby wipes, Hello Bello baby wipes are formulated with more ingredients of concern, but the difference is small overall.
Pampers beats both Hello Bello and Honest in transparency. Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes are very popular among parents seeking a more natural baby wipe, but the ingredient list isn’t as clean as it’s made out to be. Still, the formulation beats other Pampers baby wipes.
In an overall comparison of Hello Bello vs. Honest vs. Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes, currently there are no outstanding reports of skin irritation, and no issues with skin discoloration or other red flags you can sometimes encounter with baby wipes. But as with any other skincare product, some sensitivities are expected. You will always have some babies reacting to even the most benign substances, so if your baby does not tolerate the baby wipes of your choice well, discard the wipes and try another brand and hope for the best.
I would rate all 3 brands as decent when it comes to ingredients – not the best, not the worst either. Pampers Aqua Pure baby wipes did not make it onto my list of the Best Natural Baby Wipes. Neither did Hello Bello, and Honest only made it by a narrow margin. But many mainstream brand of wipes are made with a much higher concentration of problematic ingredients, so keep that in mind.
BEST BABY WIPES
➤ Best on your budget: Hello Bello
➤ Safest ingredients: Honest
➤ Largest wipe: Honest
➤ Best performance: it’s a tie!
I hope this review helps you figure out who takes the gold in the Hello Bello vs. Honest vs. Pampers Pure race to the top with your needs and preferences in mind.
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