Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

How to Make Your Own Homemade Safe Baby Body Wash {GUEST POST}

October 19th, 2011 · 79 Comments · Cleaning, Green Living

How to Make Your Own Homemade Safe Baby Body Wash :: via Kitchen Stewardship

This is a guest post about how to make your own soap for baby by Erin Odom of The Humbled Homemaker

When I became a mother, I starting thinking about my family’s health and nutrition for the first time.

I breastfed (until my first daughter was almost 2 and still going with my second at 10 months), I made most of my baby food and snacks with all-organic ingredients and I started using more whole foods while cooking for my husband and myself as well. (Image by Tasa)

Over the past few years, my family has slowly started reducing our waste/recycling, gardening, using homemade natural cleaning products, dabbling in alternatives to conventional medicines, taking our children to the chiropractor and using cloth diapers.

But there was still a step I hadn’t changed until recently–using a natural soap on my children’s skin. From day one of motherhood, I used a popular conventional brand’s head-to-toe body wash and shampoo.

Why change to an all-natural soap?

To be honest, I think I was so concerned about changing my family’s eating and other green living habits, that I ignored the fact that I was using a potentially toxic soap on my babies’ skin.

Yes–I said toxic.

The thought of changing one more thing overwhelmed me.

And I thought it would be much too expensive.

But the more I’ve researched natural living, the more I’ve realized the skin is our biggest organand it absorbs EVERYTHING.

Dr. Joseph Mercola, of Dr. Mercola’s Natural Health Center, says that we may actually absorb more toxins when we put something on our skin than if we were to eat it.

“The truth is, when you consume toxins in foods, such as pesticides in fruit and vegetables, the enzymes in your saliva and stomach often break them down and flush them out of your body,” Dr. Mercola said. “Food also passes through your liver and kidneys, so the toxins that make it through are detoxified to varying degrees by enzymes before they reach the remainder of your body.”


But when toxins are absorbed through our skin, Dr. Mercola said, “they bypass your liver and enter your bloodstream and tissues — with absolutely no protection whatsoever.”

If I am careful about every little thing my children ingest, why wouldn’t I take the same care with what I put on their skin?

What’s really in baby soap?

Although many conventional baby washes tout themselves on being “all-natural,” tear-free solutions, the ingredients list all kinds of substances I cannot even pronounce. Check out this list of some controversial ingredients you can find in the leading brands:

  • PEG-80, which is potentially toxic to organs
  • Sulfates, which can irritate skin, is potentially toxic to organs and could even lead to endocrine disruption or cancer
  • tetrasodium EDTA, may cause some eye toxicity
  • quaternium-15, may irritate skin allergies
  • orange 4, may potentially be toxic to humans

In addition, I was horrified when I realized my 3-year-old’s bubble bath contained red #40, which can potentially lead to hyperactivity and lower IQ!

Will just bathing my children in this soap for a few years be enough to cause cancer and/or result in other harmful effects? I don’t know. That is not my point. My point is–If I can avoid ANY exposure to potentially harmful ingredients–even in small amounts–why wouldn’t I?

My children can put whatever they want to put on their skin when they are adults, but, for now, God has entrusted them to my care. I want to choose the very best for them—even if it’s not society’s norm.

Safer Alternatives

Thankfully, there are several natural body care options available on the market today. I have used and really liked Burt’s Bees. My local Target also carries Earth Mama Angel Baby, California Baby and Yes to Carrots. I’ve also heard good things about Butt Naked Baby and CJ’s Carcass Cleaner.

But my dilemma remained: If we were to afford to eat healthier, how would we be able to afford natural skincare products, too?

So I decided to start making my own.

Homemade Baby Wash/Shampoo

homemade body wash


I found variations of this recipe in different places on the internet, but I tweaked it to fit my liking. I also use a foaming soap dispenser because the consistency is really too thin if just using an old baby wash bottle. You might need to tweak this recipe depending on the skin type of your children, but here is what works for my family:

Ingredients:

Directions:

Mix ¼ cup of castile soap with ¾ cup of water. Mix in 8-10 drops essential oils. Pour everything in a foaming soap dispenser. That’s IT!

I use this soap to wash my daughters’ hair and body. I occasionally use it to wash myself, too—but my hair needs a little more cleaning oomph. (Anyone have a suggestion to a good natural alternative? I’m still looking!)

Warning: Do not get this in your child’s eyes. It is NOT tear-free. I sometimes just use warm water to wash my girls’ faces anyway. I recently read that newborns really only need to be cleaned with water anyway (it’s not like they’re out rolling around in the mud!).

An added bonus

My whole family is actually now using this formula as hand soap. I found a little tutorial for making a cute foaming hand soap dispenser out of a canning jar, and with my hubby’s help (I am SO not crafty), we made one for each bathroom and the kitchen.

Overall? I feel like this formula gets my babies’ clean, my hands clean–AND best of all–it’s not antibacterial and doesn’t contain the harmful Triclosan Katie warned about in the summer!

What baby soap do you use on your children? Share your recipe if you make homemade! If you still use a conventional soap, what is keeping you from making the switch?

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Don’t forget to check out the current cleaning GIVEAWAY and the other post for today, on making homemade baby wipes.

A Winner!

Congrats to Clara Scholl, the winner of the big Babypalooza giveaway. If you’re not the winner, check out our sponsors’ discount codes for great deals:

Further reading:
imageErin Odom is a journalist and blogger at The Humbled Homemaker. She’s a 30-year-old stay-at-home wife and mother who’s “hopelessly flawed on my own but redeemed by my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. I’m a work in progress: the same God who created me in my mother’s womb is still weaving and spinning to make me who He wants me to be.” Please visit her for more great research articles on natural living and natural mothering. The Humbled Homemaker is for less-than-perfect wives and mothers who desire to better themselves as homemakers and live a more natural life.

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Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links to blogger ebooks for Erin, MadeOn soap, Earth Mama Angel Baby, and Amazon. One of us will get a little kickback if you make purchases there, but it won’t cost you any more. Thanks for allowing us to make a little money while sharing good info with you! See my full disclosure statement here.

*Disclaimer: This post is solely my personal opinion after spending hours of research on this subject. I hope I have laid out some facts that will spur you on to do your own research. I am in no way a medical expert, and you should always conduct your own research and consult your trusted medical professional before making decisions about your family’s health

 

 

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79 Comments so far ↓

  • Kate

    We just use plain water, unless a particularly makeup-ey relative has been holding the baby. I agree, it’s not like they’re digging ditches or something. If I need more then Dr. Bronner’s it is.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Glad to know I’m not the only one who thinks this way! Haha!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • slawebb

    Great tips! I’m really enjoying all these make at home stuff!

    Have you tried water and baking soda? I have really oily hair normally and was having a terrible time with using the baking soda. Here’s a grat post about it- http://www.musingsofahousewife.com/2009/09/granola-bar-recipe-ii.html . When I started boiling my water and mixing in the baking soda it actually started working! I’ve been doing it for over a year now and only wash my hair every other day. I also use the vinegar rinse. But that’s how it started working for me.

    [Reply to this comment]

    CClio333 Reply:

    I also use baking soda as shampoo, followed by a vinegar rinse. I make mine a little differently though – I use about a quarter cup of baking soda and mix in water to form a thin paste. Then I add 3-5 drops of neem oil. You can get this at most health stores. It is a natural insect repellant and fungicide, so I also put a few drops down my kitchen sink every once in a while. After I rub the baking soda paste into my scalp, I rinse it out with water and then rinse with vinegar diluted 1:4 in tap water. I don’t rinse under the showerhead after that – I just wring my hair out and towel dry. The smell is strong for only a few minutes. If I didn’t have neem oil, I’d use tea tree oil.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    I have not tried it yet, but it’s on my list to try this winter once it cools down more here in NC (which should be soon!). Thanks for the tips on the variations. I have oily hair! For now, I am doing the best I can using a mix of stuff. Crazy as it sounds, I have a pricier organic shampoo I use every other day, and I use the homemade soap on my hair on days I know I’m not going out! haha! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Maureen via Facebook

    I wouldn’t use lavender or tea tree oil on male babies/children as there is some concern re: the physiologically feminizing effects of both & I wouldn’t necessarily want to use either regularly/longterm for any baby/child…

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Heidi

    Did you make your own foam dispenser to fit over a jar?? I checked the website and did not see one like what you have pictured. Maybe I just missed it…

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    We did make our own, but my hubby ordered all the parts! I will check with him when he gets home from work. It’s a plastic top w/ the plastic dispenser.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Hubby got the plastic canning jar top in the canning supply section of Wal-Mart. I despise Wal-Mart…he makes all our Wal-Mart runs. Until last night, I thought that plastic top came w/ the pump! The pump came from the online store I linked to. You can buy full plastic bottles w/ foaming dispensers or just the dispenser part.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • karen

    I recommend making your own cloth wipes–easy to make, easy to use, and just work better. My wipes are cut up flannel receiving blankets (how many of these do you need anyway?)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    I use baby wash clothes for most of my wipes….absolutely love them!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Cara

    Where did you get the cool top to fit a canning jar?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    My hubby ordered them….asking him when he gets home! We ended up making several for gifts for friends as well…we’re actually thinking about using them as Christmas gifts this year!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Hubby got the plastic canning jar top in the canning supply section of Wal-Mart. I despise Wal-Mart…he makes all our Wal-Mart runs. Until last night, I thought that plastic top came w/ the pump! The pump came from the online store I linked to. You can buy full plastic bottles w/ foaming dispensers or just the dispenser part.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Heidi Reply:

    How did your hubby make a hole in the top of the plastic canning jar kid, without cracking the lid top? Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Suzanne R.

    Apple Valley Natural Soaps has WONDERFUL shampoo bars made of vegan oils and essential oils. It’s an all-in-one: shampoo, body wash, shave lather. I use a little coconut oil as a leave-in detangler/conditioner for my long ‘textured’ thick hair.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Are they the same company that Keeper of the Home reviewed recently? I was super excited after reading her post, but I checked into them, and it looked like shipping to NC from Canada would double the cost? Is this the same company? If so, do you know of any similar companies in the U.S.? Her review was so good!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Emily @ Random Recycling

    We have been using California Baby for two years, but would like to switch over to a less expensive option as our two year old likes the soap a little too much lately.
    The decorative stones in the foam soap dispenser is lovely~ and mine are sitting in a pile just waiting to put them to use. Thanks for the idea!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    We matched the stones to our bathrooms and kitchen! Oh, I should add that we did use just a plain plastic dispenser for the girls’ bath soap since they are more likely to pull it into the tub and break it!

    We have given several of the dispensers w/ the homemade soap in them as gifts. We are hoping to do the same for Christmas gifts. The scent of our kitchen soap is currently peppermint (for the upcoming holidays!)–made with peppermint essential oil!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Catie

    We just use plain water around here. Even after digging around the garden and playing in the sprinkler. If somebody’s REALLY dirty or muddy, I just use the hose or the shower head to spray off the worst of it and then run a bath.

    I don’t know if we’ll need to employ baking soda for hair later on, but so far, only my husband and I use baking soda and all of us go completely without soap. We don’t stink (any worse than usual, anyhow), and I find we all have less need for lotion or moisturizers. My skin is much clearer, too.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Great tip!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Amanda

    I searched EWG for shampoo for myself and found Salon Naturals. I now use it for the little ones as well and it hasn’t triggered any reaction from my sensitive little ones :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Thanks for the review! Where do you get it?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Amanda Reply:

    I purchase it online at http://salonnaturalsonline.com/. I am just too much of a girly-girl that wants to have soft flowing hair and I really disliked what bar shampoos and no-poo did for me. I guess I’m not as much of a less is more person, but I do want to make sure that the products I use are healthy and safe :-)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Erica

    I concur with Suzanne, above…Apple Valley Natural soap!

    http://www.applevalleynaturalsoap.com/default.htm

    The shampoo bar didn’t work as well for me, since we have very hard water. But, they are heavenly for washing, and other friends I know love them for shampooing purposes, too.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    I really hope I can find an equivalent that will ship to the U.S. for cheaper (I am sure it’s the actual cost…shipping is just expensive!). I wonder if they would do a bulk order if I split with some other natural-minded friends. Hmmmmm….Thanks for the great review! It’s good to know there are several ladies who have tried and love Apple Valley!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erica Reply:

    Apple Valley Natural Soap is located in Minnesota…completely the U.S.!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • via Facebook

    Maureen Driedger Uh oh, there’s a new one. I think I’ll check with my essential oils contact about that one! Yikes!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • via Facebook

    Thanks for the tip, Maureen! I will definitely have to check into that–especially if we ever have boys!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Mindy

    Be careful with essential oils. I recently watched a video presented by the Doctor who runs the Women’s Therapeutic Institute. He argued that particularly tea tree and lavender essential oils should not be used regularly- especially on children. They are endocrine disruptors. Even natural things like essential oils and herbs are not designed for every day use. Wish they were!! :)

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Thanks so much for this info, Mindy! I definitely need to check into this!! I might just start using with without the oils! Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lauren

    Would your hair still be oily if you stuck with a less frequent washing schedule for a while? I ask because I only shampoo twice a week now, and my hairdresser said last time “oh I see you’ve got freshly washed hair today” but it was 4 days later! It just takes a while for your scalp to adjust.
    I use either a shampoo bar or pure olive oil soap, grated on the box grater, and melted with coconut oil, essential oils and baking soda as shampoo. I rinse with a dilution of ACV, nettle tea and lavender, but I do wash it out despite having very hard water, because the vinegar smell really lingers in my hair. I never figured out the washing with baking soda alone thing – how do I get it through my hair to my scalp? It just sort of clumped on the outside, or ran right through. The stuff I make now is thicker, so I rub it between my palms a little to loosen it up first, but I’m okay with that.
    I don’t use body soap, and haven’t for months, and when I told my husband (as proof that our toddler doesn’t need it either) he was surprised. So I can corroborate Catie’s report that you won’t stink without it. Deodorizing soap’s really just killing off the bacteria that can only populate your skin when it’s stripped (by soap!) of the bacteria that should be there.
    My midwife told me to wash infants in warm water and rub them down with olive oil. Since I wash my face with oil too, I figure that’s good for both of us (my husband is still unsure about suddenly being married to a “hippie” :) )

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    This is great advice. I need to try this this winter–especially because I am committing to stay at home more–and my family doesn’t really mind if my hair is slightly more oily than normal. I have been washing my hair every day for as long as I can remember–and I know that is probably a bit part of the problem!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • ErinK.

    I bought some castile soap with almond at whole foods. Do you think this is save for the kids bodywash? 4 and 2 year old boys…they NEED soap! lol

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    I wouldn’t see why not…as long as they aren’t allergic to almonds! Just be careful around the eyes–and make sure you dilute it. It will last forever!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Michele via Facebook

    I’ve heard that, Maureen. I like to use sweet orange oil for our little boy.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Thanks for the tip about the orange oil!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Jenna

    Just an interesting note on the “tear-free” baby washes – I have two friends who are soapers who told me on two separate occassions that the reason the children’s soaps are “tear-free” is because they put a numbing agent in them!! I have not done my research, but I really would not be surprised. I agree – just wash those babies with plain old water :)! Really enjoying this series – thank you.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Yikes! That’s scary!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Andrea

    I used to make homemade wipes this same way, but honestly got tired of buying and cutting up the paper towels. I ended up buying some cheap second-hand flannel wipes. I still make up the wipes solution, and put it in the same container I used to put the wipes in, but now I just dip a wipe and wring out when it’s time for a diaper change. I bought a small squirt bottle to fill with the solution and put in the diaper bag, along with the cloth wipes, and it’s worked great for us. We use cloth diapers, so it’s easy to throw the wipe in with the diaper. Also, before making the switch to cloth, I was using an electric knife to cut the paper towels, which was messy, but so much quicker!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    I use baby wash cloths for my wipes. Many times I just wet them with water, or I make a solution w/ hot water and a squirt of the baby wash. I put the solution over the wipes in a wipes container and store them in there.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Lindsay

    I checked the website that you showed for the duspenser but couldn’t find the lid for the mason jar like the one you have. Is that where you got it?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    We got the plastic lids in the canning section at Wal-mart (actually, my hubby did–I despise WalMart!).

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Beth

    What’s the deal with all the writing all over the Castile soap bottle? What’s the message it is trying to communicate?

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Reply:

    Beth,
    Some people don’t use Bronner’s because of that – there are other brands, but smaller ones and harder to find – I dunno, I just ignore it. Weird stuff, I agree. Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

    Erin@TheHumbledHomemaker Reply:

    Beth, I have wondered the SAME THING! It kind of made me feel weird, but then I thought: God is bigger than all this writing anyway!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Andrea

    All the writing is a little eccentric. I found lots of info. about the eccentric and deceased “Dr.” Bronner and his sons as they have joined in their father’s business and honored him by continuing to print his writings on the labels. The father, “Dr.” Bronner, is of Jewish descent, and much of what he wrote came through his tragic life. It’s worth checking into where most of the oil products are purchased these days to decide for yourself if you’d like to support this company.

    http://www.drbronner.com/pdf/PureInspiration_spring2009.pdf

    http://www.drbronner.com/good_articles.html

    [Reply to this comment]

  • How to refill your foaming soap dispenser « The Super Mom Chronicles

    [...] that 4L supply will last me well over a year, and I use it for other things as well as hand soap (homemade baby wash is a perfect example of what it’s great [...]

  • Jenni

    W use a similar recipe for our hand soap. I only use soap (Burt’s Bees right now) on Claire once a week (Saturday night) unless there’s a definite need for it, which is rarely. :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Rachel

    Made this and LOVE it! Thank you…love your site:) But I am wondering where you found a foamer pump that fits a ball canning jar? I can’t find one anywhere:(

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Marta

    I use this too on my son, but I find that it is drying his skin. We didn’t have this problem with California baby before (original formula). I put coconut oil on him after a bath, but that still doesn’t help too much. I don’t even wash him everyday and don’t use much soap. Any advice?

    [Reply to this comment]

    julie m. Reply:

    Coconut oil can be very drying. It is for me. I have just begun a search to find a mild castille liquid soap or bar that doesn’t have coconut added at all or at least like 3rd or 4th in line in the ingredients so there would then be less of it added. I have read that a “true castille” soap is made only with olive oil. And any olive oil added products I have used have always moisturized. Take a look at countryrosesoap.com Blessings!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Anny

    Hi Erin,
    I just tried Dr. Bronner’s unscented baby mild for my 2 yr old daughter’s wash and shampoo. Using Dr. Bronner’s as body wash work great so far. However it is not to great on her hair because it doesn’t lather well and leaves a weird smell on the hair. Any suggestion on what I should do to make it better? I was about to use essential oil, but after reading all the comments, it seems that it is not a good idea either. Any idea how to make it work well but also safe?
    Thank you

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Anny,
    Erin’s had a lot of sick-kid issues this month, so she can’t get back to answer your question. For my kids, I either just use a few drops castile with water and deal with not so much suds, or I use NaturOli soap nuts shampoo very sparingly. Kids’ hair isn’t that greasy, so they don’t really need to wash with soap more than once a week, or even less! :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Baby Soap homemade – Baby Soap | Baby Care » Blog Archive

    [...] Baby Soap and Easy Organic Soap Making …Natural Homemade Cleaning Products that are Baby SafeHomemade Baby Body Wash | Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps …Pretty Baby Naturals, No Preservatives, No Petroleum, No Sulfate …Soapaholics Anonymous: [...]

  • Jeanne

    Does anyone have any links/references regarding tea tree & lavendar (or other essential oils) being endocrine disrupters? I’ve been using CA Baby TT&L do address my kiddo’s cradle cap, though I only use it 1-2X a week (they have a roman chamomile bubble bath the rest of the week). I was also going to start experimenting with essential oil aromatherapy (cedarwood & frankincense) to help with my son’s ASD.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    You might be sorry you asked this, but I do have a source…it’s from a doTERRA rep, so just be aware that this may be information mixed with commerce, as my mom would say. But it’s cited, and I’m going to copy the entire lengthy document for you here:

    Neither lavender oil nor tea tree oil can be linked to breast growth in young boys
    Robert Tisserand
    Background
    In a recent report, a correlation is alleged between commercial products containing
    lavender and tea tree oils and breast growth in young boys. Three cases were seen in boys
    aged 4-7, who had all been using such products. In each case, the breast growth reduced
    to normal parameters within several months of ceasing to use the products. Subsequent
    laboratory testing showed that both essential oils had estrogen-like properties (Henley et
    al 2007).
    In the report, no information is given about any of the constituents of the products used.
    The information given about product use is sparse, and we do not know for certain
    whether any of the products contained lavender or tea tree oils, since they were not
    analyzed by the researchers.
    The cases
    Case one
    In the first case, “The patient’s mother reported applying a “healing balm” containing
    lavender oil to his skin starting shortly before the initial presentation.” No further details
    of the product or its use are given, but a healing balm sounds like something that might
    only be applied to a small area of skin. If so, then it is unlikely that any ingredient could
    have entered the boy’s blood in sufficient concentration to cause gynecomastia within a
    short time period.
    Case two
    In the second case, a styling hair gel was applied to the hair and scalp every morning,
    along with regular use of a shampoo. Both tea tree and lavender oil are cited on the
    ingredient list of both products.
    In a subsequent website report, it is claimed that the two hair products used in this case
    were manufactured by Paul Mitchell, and that these were analyzed by a competitor. The
    shampoo was said to contain “very low concentrations” of tea tree oil, and the content in
    the hair gel was “virtually undetectable”. Lavender oil concentration was not checked
    (Neustaedter 2007).
    Dermal absorption of fragrance from shampoo application has been estimated to be 80
    times less than that from body lotion (Cadby et al 2002). If the website report is genuine,
    considering that shampoo is a wash-off product, and that there was only a negligible
    amount of tea tree oil in the hair gel, tea tree oil can be ruled out as a possible cause of
    this boy’s gynecomastia. However, liberal use of a hair gel rich in lavender oil could
    result in moderate dermal absorption of lavender oil constituents (Cal 2006).
    Case three
    The third case involved “lavender-scented soap, and intermittent use of lavender-scented
    commercial skin lotions”. This sounds as if there may not be very much natural lavender
    oil present. Further, soap is a wash-off product, and the use of lavender lotion is
    described as “intermittent”. Whether any absorption of genuine lavender oil took place at
    all seems doubtful.
    Since dermal absorption of soap fragrance is some 266 times less than that from body
    lotion, it is virtually impossible that the fragrance in a soap could be absorbed in
    sufficient quantity to cause any physiological effect (Cadby et al 2002).
    Of great interest is the statement that, in this third case, a fraternal twin used the same
    skin lotions, but not the soap, and did not develop gynecomastia. It would be reasonable
    to assume that, since the soap could not be responsible for the effect, and since the twin
    used the lotions without any problem, the gynecomastia in this third case must have been
    due to some cause other than essential oils.
    The in vitro testing
    The in vitro evidence shows weak but definite endocrine disrupting effects for both
    lavender and tea tree oils.
    The second case was the only one in which tea tree oil was involved. Tea tree oil was
    tested because it was deemed to be “chemically similar” to lavender oil. However, apart
    from the fact that both are essential oils, they have little in common chemically.
    The composition of the essential oils tested is not given, nor is any other information
    about them, apart from the supplier. Since they do not appear to be organically grown,
    biocide content is a possibility.
    Discussion
    It is unusual in such reports not to name the products suspected as being responsible for
    the effects under discussion. In the circumstances, it is also curious that the labeled
    ingredients were not cited. It is even more surprising that no attempt was made to
    ascertain, retrospectively, whether any constituents of lavender or tea tree oil were
    detectable. If the products are not named, no one else can test them either.
    Even assuming that one or both of the essential oils were present at some level, we do not
    know what quantities of essential oil constituents may have penetrated the skin, but we
    do know that transcutaneous absorption from fragrances takes some time. The amount
    that could find its way into the blood from a wash-off product such as a shampoo or soap
    is negligible, because the time of skin contact is so short. Skin absorption from tea tree
    and lavender oil constituents is measured in hours, not minutes, in and some instances
    even leave-on products result in minimal dermal penetration (Cal 2006, Reichling 2006).
    The Henley et al report mentions that none of the boys had been exposed to any known
    endocrine disruptor, such as medications, oral contraceptives(!), marijuana or soy
    products. However, no mention is made of other known endocrine disruptors, such as
    organochlorine pesticides, PCBs, polychlorinated dioxins, alkyl phenols, pthalates and
    parabens (Darbre 2006). Both pesticides and phthalates have been found in essential oils,
    and both phthalates and parabens are commonly found in cosmetic products.
    It is, therefore, entirely possible that other ingredients in the products caused the
    gynecomastia. Pesticides, PCBs and dioxins are found in the environment, often in food,
    and it is also possible that some local surge of environmental hormone disruptors caused
    these cases in Colorado.
    No attempt was made to identify the constituent(s) responsible for the in vitro effect, but
    it is reasonable to expect that any hormonal action in an essential oil would be due to one
    or two constituents, or even contaminants. It is noteworthy that, while in vitro hormonal
    effects from essential oil constituents have been previously reported, these are generally
    very weak, and have been estimated as being at least 10,000 times less potent than 17β-
    estradiol (Howes et al 2002).
    There is no evidence that the effect seen in vitro would take place in vivo, and much
    more research would be needed before any definite determinations could be made. Many
    estrogenic substances have previously been identified from plant sources, and very weak
    activity is typical of these phytoestrogens (Chadwick et al 2006, Howes et al 2002).
    Conclusions
    As the report states, breast growth in pre-pubertal boys is extremely uncommon, yet three
    cases are reported within a short period of time, and all in the same clinic. Considering
    that some 200 tonnes per annum are produced of both lavender and tea tree oil, that most
    of this goes into personal care products, and that very little of the evidence presented for
    these 3 cases is convincing, the press reports of caution are premature.
    Even if one or more of these cases was linked to product use, any connection with either
    lavender or tea tree oil is unproven. Other known endocrine disrupting ingredients in the
    products could have played a role. Furthermore, we do not know what other factors, such
    as dietary or environmental, may have played a part.
    The in vitro work reported by Henley et al (2007) does indicate a hormonal effect.
    However, this cannot be extrapolated to estimate actual human risk, especially without
    knowing more about the essential oil constituents causing the in vitro effects seen.
    No connection was established between the in vitro work and the three cases, and the
    case for tea tree oil having an effect on prepubertal gynecomastia is especially weak.
    Phytoestrogens generally have a very weak hormonal activity, and it is implausible that
    the amounts of essential oil that enter the body from product use would have a significant
    effect. Further research will hopefully clarify these issues.
    References
    Cadby PA, Troy WR, Vey MG 2002 Consumer exposure to fragrance ingredients:
    providing estimates for safety evaluation. Regulatory Toxicology & Pharmacology 36:
    246-252
    Cal K 2006 How does the type of vehicle influence the in vitro skin absorption and
    elimination kinetics of terpenes? Archives of Dermatological Research 297: 311-315
    Chadwick LR, Pauli GF, Farnsworth NR 2006 The pharmacognosy of Humulus lupulus
    L. (hops) with an emphasis on estrogenic properties. Phytomedicine 13: 119-131
    Darbre PD 2006 Environmental oestrogens, cosmetics and breast cancer. Best Practice &
    Research Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism 20: 121-143
    FMA 2007 http://www.fmafragrance.org/sub_pages/020107henleyresponse.pdf
    Henley DV, Lipson N, Korach KS, Bloch CA 2007 Prebubertal gynecomastia linked to
    lavender and tea tree oils. New England Journal of Medicine 365(5): 479-485
    Howes M-J R, Houghton P J, Barlow D J et al 2002 Assessment of estrogenic activity in
    some common essential oil constituents. Journal of Pharmacy & Pharmacology 54:1521–
    1528
    Neustaedter R 2007 http://www.cureguide.
    com/Natural_Health_Newsletter/Lavender_Dangers/lavender_dangers.html
    Reichling J, Landvatter U, Wagner H, Kostka KH, Schaefer UF 2006 In vitro studies on
    release and human skin permeation of Australian tea tree oil (TTO) from topical
    formulations. European Journal of Pharmaceutics & Biopharmaceutics 64: 222-228

    [Reply to this comment]

    Jeanne Reply:

    No regrets! :-) I prefer to see dry analysis when concerns are raised. I appreciate your taking the time, thank you.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Railroad436 Reply:

    I know this post is several months old but I thought I would add that I am a guy and the body wash I have right now has both Lavender and Tea Tree oils in it. A lot of body washes sold that are marketed to guys have both of them in it, added for the effects, not the scent.. Thinking it will feminize a boy is just weird.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Homemade Baby Body Wash {The First Years-at Kitchen Stewardship} | The Humbled Homemaker

    [...] used a popular conventional brand’s head-to-toe body wash and shampoo. Read the rest of this post here.Women Living Well, Healthy 2Day Wednesdays, Simple Lives Thursday, Live Renewed, The Prairie [...]

  • Organic Baby - Yes!

    Thanks for this great article – I have just written a similar article on how to make your own baby lotion if anyone is interested!! Thanks!
    http://www.organicbaby-yes.com/homemade-lotions.html

    [Reply to this comment]

  • julie m.

    I have started using soap nuts. Have you all heard of them? They foam and are actually a fruit instead of a nut. And they are an alternative to soap based cleansers. So you could take the above foamer recipe and add the soap nuts mixture instead. If you go to Bubble&Bee you can find quality soap nuts with instructions to make the liquid. If I do use soap I now only like to use castille soap with saponified w/o.olive oil. Since that is what the proper definition of castille soap is. When it is saponified w/all coconut oil or even part it is just too drying for my skin. Dr. Bronners is way to drying for my skin. Try Country Rose Soaps. Blessings.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Organic Baby - Yes!

    Honey is also a great ingredient to wash with that moisturizes the skin – you can even wash with honey alone!
    Thanks for supporting organic baby products!

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Frankie

    Love your site! How did you get started on having your own website? Do you get paid by sponsers? I need a stay-at-home mommy job. I’m interested in making this soap for my baby! I love using natural things and I can’t wait to try this soap. Thanks!

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    F, Please see my contact page FAQs. Thanks, Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Michelle

    Is it okay to add Vitamin E or grapeseed oil to this soap?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • A Natural Holiday: Homemade Peppermint Foaming Hand Soap

    [...] soaps? Well, check out this post.) It’s all natural, and I feel safe using it on myself (and even as a baby wash on my girls!).  Homemade Peppermint Foaming Hand Soap [...]

  • Sara CK

    Why is distilled water better?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Wednesday Link Up: Homemade Hygiene 101 | Well Rounded Mama

    [...] Homemade Baby Body Wash (via Kitchen Stewardship) [...]

  • Naturally Frugal Tip: Make Your Own Body Wash

    [...] Homemade Baby Body Wash – If I feel the above body wash recipe is too strong for my 6 year old’s skin, I will use this recipe. [...]

  • Doreen Aery

    If you wanted to make your homemade hand soap antibacterial, you can use tea tree oil. It has antibacterial and antifungal properties.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Adria R

    How did you get the soap pump to stay in the lid? Did you poke a hole on top then glue it in?

    [Reply to this comment]

  • Marisa

    Are you still looking for a natural way to wash your hair that works well? I was for months, so I know how it is. I did the baking soda/vinegar method for several years, but found it to be too harsh over time. I tried every homemade shampoo I found, and none of them got my hair clean enough. I finally found JR Liggets shampoo bars, and have been VERY happy with them. Completely natural, affordable, and they work great. They get my hair nice and clean, while not being harsh.

    [Reply to this comment]

  • ana

    hi Katie, i am a mom too, my husband and i agree on using the most Earth-friendly products and nothing is as effecive as homemade. For our skin and hair we use neutral soap, and a similar product for the dishes and laundry. I am from mexico, here the organic products are expensive, but there are many brands that produce a classic recipie product, thats the ones we used. Saludos

    [Reply to this comment]

  • naomi

    Hey there,
    Not sure if this has been mentioned yet – but doTerra Essential Oils has a shampoo for adults that my husband and I use, and it works great -

    Thanks for this recipe!!
    I’ll be giving it a try for our son :)

    [Reply to this comment]

  • cassy

    I love your idea and am going to try it. I must warn you not to use lavander. There is a study about the effects of lavander on boys. It messes with their hormones. I don’t have a link to it but I recomend looking into it.

    [Reply to this comment]

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Cassy,
    Yes, true – it was really about synthetic lavender though. Here’s a good explanation: http://www.mommypotamus.com/does-lavender-oil-cause-estrogen-imbalance/

    :) Katie

    [Reply to this comment]

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Ultimate Healthy Living Bundle - ends 9/15!
Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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