“The best baby moisturiser is one that replaces deficient ceramides and soothes newborn’s skin.” Singapore dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin and chief scientific officer of Dr.TWL Dermaceuticals.
If you are reading this while searching for the best baby moisturiser on the market- first understand how newborn skin is different. In this interview with dermatologist Dr. Teo Wan Lin, she explains the structure of baby skin. Baby skin is different from that of a toddler, an older child and adults.
Baby moisturisers – can I use a regular moisturiser?
Using your favourite drugstore moisturiser on baby? Check these first. Baby’s skin is permeable, so many cosmetic additives and preservatives are unsafe.
The product should be labelled dermatologist-recommended. The best baby moisturisers have no fragrance. We generally do not recommend using regular moisturisers for baby’s sensitive skin. Brands that work with dermatologists are a safer bet. These brands are readily available at drugstores. However, there is a difference in effectiveness between different brands. It depends on the active ingredients used.
Generally, the best baby moisturisers tend to be more expensive because of higher concentrations of ceramide. A “safe” baby moisturiser can be as common as white soft paraffin, also known as Vaseline. However, safe doesn’t mean effective at all. Essentially, Vaseline does function as a moisturiser, by preventing water loss to the environment. It stops trans epidermal water loss. This is only one part of moisturiser therapy.
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What ingredients are in the best baby moisturiser formulations?
Ceramides (synthetic, plant derived preferred over animal sources), humectants (hyaluronic acid, glycerin), occlusives (mineral oil). These are common ingredients in dermatologist recommended moisturisers including baby moisturisers. Mineral oil is not bad for skin when correctly formulated it enhances moisture retention. This means less trans epidermal water loss to the environment.
Baby skincare is designed for the unique structure of baby’s delicate skin
The implications for baby skincare are clear based on the structural differences. The design of baby skincare products has to be as mild as possible. In terms of cleansing, we are considering how surfactants interact with skin tissues. Harsh cleansers can lead to a disruption in the delicate skin barrier of infants. This potentially allows for easy penetration of environmental allergens and skin infections. In addition, it is extremely vulnerable to friction and occlusion, especially in the diaper area. This is the reason why we recommend barrier creams, both to treat and to prevent skin irritation. When formulating skincare products for babies, it has to be carefully considered to balance these needs.
Components of the best baby skincare regimen – dermatologist recommended
Babies definitely need skincare. In fact, the needs of baby skincare are different from that of adults. Baby skin has primarily one deficiency: an incompletely developed skin barrier. Cleansing is very important because it helps to maintain a healthy balance of good and bad bacteria. This ensures that the microbiome is resilient. Eventually, when the baby grows to be an older child, the same healthy microbiome can help to protect against a variety of skin infections.
Will my baby get eczema if I have eczema?
Baby skincare is critical if there is a family history of eczema. This is primarily due to a deficiency in the gene filaggrin. This gene is responsible for manufacturing ceramide, an important fatty lipid that joins the skin cells together, much like how cement joins the bricks of a wall together. As a result, if cleansing is too harsh, for example, using surfactants that strip the skin dry of its natural moisturizing oils, it will be damaging to delicate baby skin.
- Look for mild skincare products for your baby’s skin
- Baby skincare is critical, especially if there is a family history of eczema
How to know what moisturizer is the best for your baby?
An important step in baby skincare is the application of a ceramide dominant moisturizer. There are many different types of moisturizers marketed for babies. Look at the ingredient list. It is important that it contains a variety of ceramides. For example in the Multi-CERAM Moisturiser, phytoceramides in the form of shea butter form the base of the moisturizing ingredients, together with other humectants that trap water under the skin. Your dermatologist will be able to recommend the best moisturizer for your baby.
For cleansers, choose those which have been approved for dry, sensitive skin and recommended by dermatologists. We formulate a medical grade honey cleanser that uses honey as a natural lathering agent that also has antimicrobial properties. It also moisturizes the skin while cleansing at the same time. It is important to highlight that you do not need to use a lot of cleansing foam in order to get the job done. In the case of the honey cleanser, a pea sized amount is more than enough. Focus on areas that are soiled and rinse off thoroughly with cool water.
Best baby moisturiser application technique – dermatologist tip
There is a form of therapy known as wet wrap therapy that is advocated for infants and children with very dry skin. Wet wrap therapy essentially means your skin has to be damp as you apply your creams, including any medications if prescribed by a dermatologist. This is usually achieved by wearing a damp layer of clothing for at least 30 minutes.
Another helpful tip is to always keep your baby wipes, detergent, and alcohol free. My preference is for reusable wipes that do not contain any other detergents or surfactants. The micellar baby wipes can be used with the mineral booster formulated with purified deep seawater for a quick cleanse on the spot if your baby soils themselves. The Mineral Booster contains polyglutamic acid, which is a relative of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic Acid is more well known, but polyglutamic acid is actually far more effective.
When should I start moisturising my baby?
Start moisturizing your baby from day one. A good moisturizer formulated as a prescription emollient device can help to build your baby’s skin resilience and protect it from infections and future dry skin problems. If you notice your baby’s skin is irritated, first check the location. If it is at the diaper area, it is important to air the area and try to do open cradle nursing as opposed to keeping the diaper on for prolonged periods of time. Using natural materials such as linen and cotton is also more beneficial.
Usage of a barrier cream is not just for treatment, but also for prevention. A good moisturizer can function as an effective barrier cream in most cases. One that contains zinc oxide can have additional benefits in terms of controlling bad bacteria and moisture if that is the cause of irritation.
- Look for a ceramide-based moisturiser for your baby’s skin for treatment and prevention
- Choose a dermatologist-recommended cleanser for dry, sensitive skin for your baby’s skincare
- Sunscreen is as important for infants and children as they are for adults
Other skincare ingredients in the best baby moisturisers
Panthenol is a popular skincare ingredient found in many skin and hair products, touted for its moisturizing abilities. It has the unique ability to function as both a humectant to draw water, binding it to the skin, as well as an emollient to prevent transepidermal water loss, trapping water to smooth and hydrate the skin. Hydrated skin helps to improve the overall appearance as well as plumpness and elasticity of the skin.
Panthenol is the provitamin precursor that the body uses to convert to vitamin B, also known as pantothenic acid. It is an ingredient that has been increasingly incorporated in makeup, haircare products as well as skincare products for its ability to give the skin its dewiness, as well as impart shine to hair. On ingredient labels, it is also known as provitamin B5, butanamide and d-pantothenyl alcohol.
How does panthenol benefit the skin?
Acting as a humectant, it is able to bind to water molecules, holding them in the skin. This makes this ingredient suitable for skin that has to endure harsher climates, exposure to air conditioning or heaters, as it is able to compensate for and prevent the transepidermal water loss that occurs. Transepidermal water loss is the loss of water from our skin to the environment.
Not only does it retain moisture in the skin, but it also acts as an emollient that helps to stimulate cells that promote skin barrier function, maintaining a healthy skin barrier. The skin barrier is the outermost layer of the skin that plays an important role in protecting from environmental stressors, irritation, and inflammation. Benefits of a strong skin barrier include being able to lock in moisture and keep it from escaping.
As the same cells responsible for skin barrier function are also important for wound healing, panthenol may help to protect the skin while it is healing.
Studies also suggest that panthenol was able to help reduce UV-induced redness and irritation through its anti-inflammatory effect. Furthermore, it could also help relieve itching associated with eczema or dermatitis.
Is panthenol safe for skin?
Panthenol is considered safe for its intended uses. It is generally well-tolerated by most skin types, rarely causing irritation or sensitivity. However, with any ingredient, an allergy is always possible, even though the chances are low. Therefore, it is always beneficial to perform a patch test before using any new ingredient or skincare and makeup product.
- Panthenol is a skincare ingredient that acts as a humectant and an emollient, helping to draw water to the skin and prevent transepidermal water loss
Understanding common skin problems in babies
Applying baby moisturiser for Insect bites?
Watch out for bites on a baby as well. If you are bringing your baby outdoors, be sure to use a mosquito patch or a baby safe insect repellent. Bug bites, besides being a possible carrier disease, can trigger allergic reactions in infants. This can result in a widespread type of rash starting from a single insect bite. In these cases, it is best to seek a consultation with an accredited dermatologist as baby moisturiser therapy alone may not be enough.
Why does my newborn have acne?
My newborn has acne, should I still apply baby moisturiser?
Neonatal acne is a form of acne that is due to the transfer of hormones from the mother to the baby. This is usually self-limiting, which means it will resolve on its own. You may consult with your dermatologist if it persists or gets worse. Moisturiser therapy is still recommended, provided it is a non-occlusive formula like the Multi-CERAM moisturiser. Baby’s skin is delicate and susceptible to infections. Applying a well formulated baby moisturiser can prevent skin infections.
Common baby skin problems – will baby moisturiser help?
Of all the skin conditions that can occur in a newborn infant, one of the most dangerous which must not be ignored is an exanthem. It is important to distinguish exanthem from just dry skin or eczema. An exanthem can be the marker of a serious infection going on in a young child. It is best to visit an accredited dermatologist or your pediatrician if you suspect that there is a new rash.
My baby has scalp flaking, should I apply baby moisturiser on the scalp?
A baby’s scalp is also particularly prone to flaking, also known as cradle cap. This is a form of yeast overgrowth, known medically as seborrheic dermatitis. Using olive oil to remove the crust, as well as maintaining good hygiene is the first step to stabilizing the oils and balance of drums on your baby’s skull. Removing the crust should be done gently as the crust can sometimes be very thick and adhere to the scalp. Your dermatologist may find it appropriate to prescribe a prescription shampoo if required. Applying moisturiser on baby’s scalp is not always helpful or necessary. Use as directed by your dermatologist.
Best Baby Skincare Tips Recommended by Dermatologists
- Use a baby-safe insect repellent when going outdoors
- Visit a dermatologist if you notice neonatal acne
- Use olive oil to gently remove crust on the scalp from cradle cap