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Last updated on April 12th, 2017
Aren’t you tired of the unpronounceable ingredients?
Don’t you just want to use baby wipes without getting a degree in chemistry?
Let me provide you a quick summary on the Huggies baby wipes so you know what baby wipes to buy.
There are many different types of Huggies baby wipes and their ingredients differ. The most popular Huggies baby wipes include
- Huggies® One & Done® Refreshing Wipes,
- Huggies® Simply Clean® Wipes, and
- Huggies Natural Care® Wipes.
From year to year, ingredients change. That’s why every year I check back with the manufacturers for new developments. Since I first started writing about baby wipes, which was in 2013, I noticed that Huggies baby wipes have become much safer. For example, the problematic preservatives, Methylparaben and Methylisothiazolinone, were gone in 2014. Coincidence? I’d like to think that our consumer pressure had something to do with it. So let’s keep paying attention to the ingredients and asking questions of manufacturers.
With that said, let’s look at two of the Huggies baby wipes formulations – Huggies® One & Done® Refreshing Wipes and Huggies Natural Care® Wipes. I commented on the ingredients that concern me the most. While I found the Huggies baby wipes’ ingredients on the website, I also called the company to confirm the ingredients in January of 2016.
Huggies® One & Done® Refreshing Wipes
Water: all baby wipes have to contain water
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract: a skin conditioner
Polysorbate 20: It is an emulsifier that keeps ingredients from separating. It is produced by using carcinogenic ethylene oxide, which may contaminate the final product with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane. Learn how to spot ingredients that may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane here.
Caprylyl Glycol: is a skin conditioner and mild preservative.
Sodium Benzoate: a food grade mold and some bacteria preservative.
Coco-Betaine (aka Cocamidopropyl Betaine): a cleansing agent and is associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. In fact, it was named Allergen of the Year in 2004.
Malic Acid: pH Adjuster
Fragrance: Fragrances are mixtures of undisclosed ingredients and many people are allergic to them. Fragrance mixes often contain diethyl phthalate, which is associated with hormone disruption. Fragrance mixes have been associated with allergies, dermatitis, respiratory distress, and potential effects on the reproductive system.
Glycerin: a lubricant, skin conditioner
Sodium Citrate: pH adjuster
Tocopheryl Acetate: a skin conditioner. It is a synthetic form of vitamin E. Natural form would be a better choice.
Cucumis Sativus (Cucumber) Fruit Extract: a skin conditioner
Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract: a skin conditioner
Camellia Oleifera Leaf Extract: a skin conditioner
And finally, the wipes themselves are made of a blend of polypropylene (a type of plastic) and chlorine-free wood pulp. Polypropylene is a type of plastic made from crude oil, natural gas, and coal; the ingredients are undisclosed; to make wood pulp solvents are used.
Huggies Natural Care® Wipes
Water: All baby wipes contain water and thus need preservatives to protect against mold and bacteria.
Phenoxyethanol: FDA has issued warnings revealing that the ingestion of phenoxyethanol can be toxic and harmful for infants. Accidental ingestion can produce depression of the central nervous system and lead to the occurrence of diarrhea and vomiting (source). So make sure that your baby does not put the baby wipes in her mouth, and that you don’t use them to wipe her hands if she is a finger-sucker.
Amodimethicone: a silicone-based lubricant
Caprylyl Glycol: a skin conditioner and mild preservative
Cocamidopropyl Betaine: a cleansing agent (aka a surfactant), is associated with irritation and allergic contact dermatitis. In fact, it was named Allergen of the Year in 2004.
Malic Acid: a pH adjuster
Sodium Citrate: a pH adjuster
Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice: a skin conditioner
Tocopheryl Acetate: It is a synthetic form of vitamin E. Natural form would be a better choice.
And finally the wipes themselves are made of blend of polypropylene (a type of plastic) and chlorine-free wood pulp. Polypropylene is a type of plastic made from crude oil, natural gas, and coal; the ingredients are undisclosed; to make wood pulp solvents are used.
One of the main differences between these two formulations of the Huggies baby wipes are in the preservatives. Huggies® One & Done® Refreshing Wipes have two preservatives: sodium benzoate and caprylyl glycol. And Huggies Natural Care® Wipes uses phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol. While there is very little data available to prove that phenoxyethanol is more harmful in baby wipes than sodium benzoate, there is evidence than phenoxyethanol is harmful when ingested; while sodium benzoate is used as a preservative in food.
In addition, I do not like ingredients that are derived from substances harmful to the workers and the environment; phenoxyethanol is an example of that. It is the product of the reaction of carcinogenic ethylene oxide with phenol.
But sodium benzoate is not as effective a preservative as phenoxyethanol. So just be sure to take extra precautions. For example, avoid touching unused wipes with dirty hands and use up the package in a shorter period of time. I have not field-tested whether refrigerating the wipes would be a good idea, because I don’t like babies to scream at us when we are using wipes.
The bottom line: Huggies baby wipes are moving in the right direction, but there is still some ground to cover.
To read more about baby wipes, visit here:
Original Post About Huggies Baby Wipes
Have you ever thought what baby wipes are made of? If you are a regular reader of this blog, you know that I have done tons of research into baby wipes. One of my first posts on “Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes and Others” brought me a lot of grateful readers who took my warnings of their toxicity seriously and decided to go with less toxic options, e.g. baby wipes by Honest company. Because one of my subscribers asked me whether Huggies baby wipes are as toxic as Kirkland Signature baby wipes and because Huggies baby wipes are widely used, I thought that it would be a good idea to create a post about Huggies baby wipes. In this post, I am going to delve into the ingredients of Huggies baby wipes so we can see for ourselves how natural Huggies baby wipes are.
Typical Baby Wipes Ingredients
Before we talk about Huggies baby wipes, let me give an overview what typical baby wipes are made of. In short, most baby wipes, whether they are so called “natural” or not, contain 5 types of ingredients:
- synthetic cleansers,
- product enhancers (which are used for smooth application, skin absorption, lumpiness prevention, ph-adjusting, etc),
- synthetic preservatives (which prevent bacteria growth), and
- skin conditioners.
In each ingredient category, ingredients vary on the scale of toxicity. All baby wipes use synthetic cleansers and most of them (even plant-based ones) use toxic chemicals in their manufacture. Product enhancing ingredients are relatively ok, although some of them may be quite toxic. As for preservatives (and they have to be used in baby wipes because a moist environment is a breeding ground for bacteria), they are the most problematic group in baby wipes. There are no synthetic preservatives that are absolutely free of any concerns. Again, it is a matter of toxicity degree.
Huggies Baby Wipes Ingredients
Huggies describes their baby wipes as “Natural Care” baby wipes. But what do they mean by “Natural?” Based on what I noted above, are the Huggies baby wipes really “Natural?” Let’s take a look at Huggies baby wipes ingredients and see for ourselves if they are truly natural and if their manufacturer made choices that are in the best interests of babies. By the way, Huggies baby wipes ingredients are not disclosed anywhere online, not even on the Huggies website. Costco describes Huggies as follows, “HUGGIES Natural Care® Plus wipes are hypoallergenic and fragrance free so there’s nothing unnecessary against your baby’s skin. Made with a touch of Aloe and Vitamin E to keep baby’s skin naturally healthy.” I went to the store to take a picture of the Huggies baby wipes package to show you a list of the ingredients. Apparently, there are a few different formulations. And from what I gathered the formulation I took a picture of is not the most toxic.
Huggies Baby Wipes Cleansers
There are two synthetic cleansers in the Huggies baby wipes, which are potassium laureth phosphate and polysorbate-20. These cleansers have something in common. To produce them, a carcinogenic chemical, ethylene oxide, is used to make harsh petrochemicals less irritating to the skin. There are three problems with that: 1. The manufacturing process is toxic; 2. The cleansers remain irritating to the skin; 3. Ethylene oxide produces carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane that may remain in the final product (for more information see my “1,4-Dioxane in Cosmetics and Personal Care and Cleaning Products” post). Often manufacturers do not make an effort to remove 1,4-dioxane from the final products, even though it is not expensive to do. According to a 2008 Organic Consumer Association and EWG study, 46% of personal care products and 57 percent of baby soaps are contaminated with 1,4-dioxane, and not much has been done since then to fix this situation.
I do not recommend products that use cleansers produced with the use of ethylene oxide for two simple reasons. One is that there is no sure way for consumers to know that a manufacturer removed 1,4-dioxane. Second, I do not believe that in order to produce a simple cleaning product we have to use unsustainable petroleum resources while sustainable alternatives exist.
Huggies Baby Wipes Preservatives
There are two preservatives used in Huggies baby wipes, which are methylisothiazolinone and methylparaben. One of the main reasons I do not like to use baby wipes is that they all have to contain preservatives because their moist environment is a breeding ground for bacteria. There are no absolutely non-toxic synthetic preservatives; however, some preservatives are more toxic than others. Methylisothiazolinone and methylparaben are potent toxins. Methylisothiazolinone may cause an allergic skin reaction and lab studies in mice suggest that it may be toxic to brain cells. The major concern about methylparaben is that it mimics estrogen and disrupts the function of the hormone system.
Huggies Baby Wipes Enhancers
Tetrasodium EDTA and malic acid are two ingredients used to help Huggies baby wipes do their work. Tetrasodium EDTA is a chelating agent and malic acid is a ph-adjuster. The EWG gives a favorable rating for Tetrasodium EDTA of only 2 out 10, with 10 being the most toxic. However, there are other sources on the Internet that consider it much more toxic. I looked at the Tetrasodium EDTA MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) and what stood out for me the most was as follows, “The toxicological properties of this substance have not been fully investigated.” As for malic acid, its main concern is that it may cause skin irritation.
Huggies Baby Wipes Skin Conditioners
Lastly, there are a few ingredients in Huggies Baby Wipes that are actually good for the skin, such as glycerin, aloe barbadensis leaf extract, and tocopheryl acetate. All of them have skin conditioning properties. There are two things I want to say here. One is that tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E), if derived synthetically, might be contaminated with carcinogenic hydroquinone. And the second thing is that given the concerns I have mentioned above, any benefit is outweighed by the potential harm.
Huggies Baby Wipes Conclusion
So this is an analysis of Huggies baby wipes in a nutshell. I do not recommend Huggies baby wipes. Baby wipes by the Honest company remain my top recommendation among baby wipes (see my post here). Ideally, I recommend water, natural soap, and organic cotton reusable cloth. This is what I use on my baby.
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