What can be better than the smooth, firm, and healthy skin of a baby? Nevertheless, even the best diapers can cause irritation, which breaks our hearts because we do not want our babies to suffer. I know what it is like to face the symptoms of a severe diaper rash and have no treatment at hand. To handle the case promptly, we may be prone to grabbing the first product whose name comes to mind from an ad or a friend’s advice without even looking at the ingredients. Therefore, I have prepared this best diaper cream guide that will help you be in control both of rash and of the general safety of your baby. Keep reading to find out about safe and effective severe diaper rash treatment, and diaper creams that are, in my opinion, to be avoided.
My research method
To begin, this guide is the fruit of a baby diaper cream survey I did on Facebook and Instagram. To clarify, I asked my followers to share the names of the products they were using. As a result, I received 80 different brands and have compiled a list of those that got the most votes. Also, remember that I was extra picky because it is baby products we are talking about.
In formulating my opinions, I use multiple sources of scientific information. This allows me not only to have a broad perspective, but also to avoid biased opinions. Feel free to do your own research using the following sources:
- US National Library of Medicine National Institutes of Health PubMed
- European Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety reports
- A paid online library of scientific journals deepdyve.com
- European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) database
- Cosmetic Ingredient Review (CIR) reports
- American Contact Dermatitis Society
What is not a safe diaper cream
To understand what constitutes the best diaper cream, we will divide all the researched products into four groups. Specifically, we will look into what are, in my opinion, the worst, bad, better, and best categories. The complete information will allow you to apply it even to the products outside of the scope of this guide and find the best severe diaper rash treatment for your baby.
The worst diaper creams
Because of some concerning ingredients, I put some of the popular diaper creams suggested for the survey into the worst category. Let us briefly discuss each of these ingredients:
- Mineral oil
To begin with, let’s look at the conclusions of the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC). The agency noted an “unusually consistent” increased chance of developing ovarian cancer among women who used talcum powder in the genital area (source).
In fact, since 2014, Johnson & Johnson has lost many lawsuits to families of women who died from ovarian cancer after using their talcum powder products (source). And, on May 20, 2020, Johnson & Johnson announced it will stop selling talc-based baby powder in the US and Canada (source).
One possible reason for the risks of talc is that it may contain small amounts of asbestos. For example, recent tests by the FDA found asbestos in three talc-based Claire’s cosmetics products (source). In 2017, tests by the Scientific Analytical Institute detected asbestos in other Claire’s makeup products (source). Also, the EWG tests have found asbestos in talc-based children’s crayons (source).
Hence, in my opinion, the best diaper cream should not have talc.
This does not mean, though, that if you apply severe diaper rash treatment with talc, your baby will develop cancer. Nevertheless, I choose not to use or promote products with talc mainly because:
- First, I believe we should not use controversial ingredients in body care products.
- Second, there are many other similar products with better ingredients.
It should be noted that the FDA does not require the disclosure of fragrance ingredients. However, because some of these ingredients are associated with allergy or even cancer, we must be cautious about them. To learn more about fragrance, see my post called Is Natural Fragrance Safe?.
Just because a product has fragrance does not mean it will cause sickness. Nonetheless, I do not promote products with fragrance because:
- First, I think we have a right to know all the ingredients to make informed decisions about products.
- Second, there are plenty of other similar products with better ingredients.
- Third, in my opinion, baby products do not need any scent whatsoever.
Thus, you will not find fragrance among the ingredients of any safe severe diaper rash treatment in this best diaper cream guide.
To begin with, petrolatum is extracted from petroleum and purified. It serves as a skin protectant by forming a barrier on its surface, so the American Academy of Dermatology recommends it for dry skin.
In addition, the FDA permits the use of petrolatum along with many other questionable chemicals as a multipurpose additive to food (source). Because the FDA has assessed the safety of this ingredient, the Cosmetic Ingredient Review panel (CIR) has deferred its evaluation.
However, the EU requires manufacturers to document the full refining history for the batches of petrolatum to be used, in order to prove that the petrolatum is properly refined.
Admittedly, products with petrolatum do not automatically cause health problems. But I choose not to use or promote products with this ingredient mainly because:
- First, I believe we should not use products with ingredients made from petroleum.
- Also, there are many other similar products with better ingredient choices.
To start with, mineral oil is derived from petroleum.
Additionally, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has classified untreated and mildly treated mineral oil as “carcinogenic to humans” (source).
While mineral oil used in body products is supposed to be highly refined and treated, I choose not to use products with mineral oil mainly because:
- First, it is made of an unsustainable resource.
- Second, mineral oil production is toxic to the environment and workers.
- Last, there are many other products with better ingredient choices.
Which diaper creams are the worst?
Consequently, in my opinion, a safe severe diaper rash treatment in this best diaper cream guide should not contain talc, fragrance, petrolatum, or mineral oil.
The products that I consider the worst options, because they contain these ingredients, are:
- Vaseline® Healing Jelly Baby
- A+D Original Diaper Rash Ointment
- Desitin Maximum Strength Original Zinc Oxide Paste
The bad diaper creams
The products in the “bad” category have the following concerning ingredients:
- Mineral oil
- Ethoxylated ingredients
Additionally, it is not clear whether the zinc oxide they use is non-nano.
Since we have already talked about petrolatum and mineral oil, let us discuss ethoxylated ingredients and non-nano zinc oxide.
To begin with, to identify ethoxylated ingredients, look for the following in the ingredient names:
- PEGs with a number
- words ending with -eth with a number
- the word “polysorbate” followed by a number
As a result of their production process, ethoxylated ingredients may contain residues of carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane, if vacuum stripping is not used. Also, you can learn more about them from my post Hidden Ingredients In Best Baby Wipes.
Again, I choose not to use or promote products with ethoxylated ingredients mainly because:
- In my opinion, we should not use products with ingredients made with carcinogenic chemicals in the first place.
- Besides, there are many other similar products with better ingredients.
Therefore, you will not see ethoxylated ingredients among the ingredients of a safe severe diaper rash treatment product in this best diaper cream guide.
Non-nano zinc oxide
In terms of safety and effectiveness, non-nano zinc oxide is better than nano zinc oxide. To clarify, “nano” means one-billionth of a meter (1 meter = 3.28 feet). So, it denotes something very, very small.
In short, the reason we want non-nano zinc oxide is that some nanoparticles are so small that they can be absorbed through the skin. And we do not fully know the effects of that.
Non-nano zinc oxide is used in sunscreens, too. Please, head over to my Best Non-Toxic Face Sunscreen Guide to pick sunscreen for yourself.
What are the bad diaper cream options?
In my opinion, the following three products are the examples of “bad” diaper creams:
- Triple Paste
- Desitin Multipurpose Ointment
- Boo Bamboo Natural Diaper Cream
What constitutes a safe baby bum product
Without a doubt, the manufacturers of the products that I consider safe have made many good choices. Not all of the remaining products are in the “best” category mainly because I was extra careful and picky.
The better diaper rash cream options
For the following reasons, these products did not make it to the best diaper cream category:
- The plant oils and extracts they use are not organic.
- They use essential oils .
While I use products with essential oils on my son, and me, I know that in Europe they are included on the list of allergenic substances.
With that said, let’s look at the better diaper cream options.
What are the better baby bum products?
Here are the severe diaper rash treatment products in the “better” category:
- Pipette Baby Balm
- Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm
- Burt’s Bees Baby Diaper Rash Ointment
- California Baby Super Sensitive Diaper Rash Ointment
First, Pipette Baby Balm has a promising list of ingredients regarding nourishment and moisturization. It contains squalane and jojoba esters as well as pomegranate, which is rich in antioxidants. The balm did not make it to the best diaper cream category because some of the ingredients have no safety data. On the plus side, I believe they are natural. As a matter of fact, I use their baby balm for my feet and like it.
Second, Earth Mama Organic Diaper Balm is USDA-certified organic and has a wonderful blend of organic botanical ingredients. Specifically, it contains calendula, shea butter, and jojoba oil. But for the essential oils – lavender flower and tea tree leaf – this balm would be in the “best” category.
Third, Burt’s Bees Baby Diaper Rash Ointment’s active ingredient is 40% non-nano zinc oxide. The high amount of zinc oxide leads me to believe that the cream should work well for severe diaper rash. It did not make to the “best” category mainly because of lavender essential oil and some non-organic oils.
Last but not least, California Baby Super Sensitive Diaper Rash Ointment contains 12% zinc oxide. It is not clear whether it is non-nano zinc oxide. However, other ingredients are good and safe.
The best diaper cream suggestions
I am excited to share with you the best severe diaper rash treatment options. Here are the brands that made it into the “best” category:
- Primally Pure Baby Balm
- Honest Organic All-Purpose Balm
- Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Zinc Diaper Cream – Fragrance Free
We will look at their ingredients to see why they are in the best diaper cream category.
Primally Pure Baby Balm
Primally Pure Baby Balm: Organic Tallow from Grass-Fed Cows, Organic Extra Virgin Olive Oil, Pure Emu Oil, Organic Beeswax, Organic Calendula, Organic Marshmallow Root.
In fact, it is a multi-purpose baby balm for healing rashes. In other words, it can be used by all the family members, especially nursing moms, to heal irritated skin. Searching for the best diaper cream, I chose this balm out of many others because it contains organic botanical ingredients and has no essential oils.
Honest Organic All-Purpose Balm
Honest Organic All-Purpose Balm: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Seed Oil*, Beeswax (Cera Alba)*, Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil*, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea Butter)*, Calophyllum Tacamahaca Oil (Tamanu)*, Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract*, Anthemis Nobilis (Chamomile) Oil*, Tocopherol (Non-GMO†). *Certified Organic Ingredient
It is a certified organic plant-based hypoallergenic ointment for dry, rough, or sensitive skin. However, because it does not contain zinc oxide, it may not work as a severe diaper rash treatment. My followers report that it works well for the whole body. Just like Primally Pure balm, I chose Honest balm out of many others because it uses organic oils and extracts, and it has no essential oils.
Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Zinc Diaper Cream
Babo Botanicals Sensitive Baby Zinc Diaper Cream – Fragrance Free: Helianthus Annuus (Sunflower) Oil, Zinc Oxide, Hydrogenated Vegetable Oil, Coconut (Cocos Nucifera) Oil*, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter*, Euphorbia Cerifera (Candelilla) Wax, Rosmarinus Of Cinalis (Rosemary) Extract*, Lecithin, Theobroma Cacao (Cocoa) Seed Butter* Nutri-Soothe™ Complex [Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) Flower Extract*, Vegetable Glycerin, Chamomile (Anthemis Nobilis) Flower Extract*, Watercress (Nasturtium Officinale) Leaf Extract*, Calendula (Calendula Officinalis) Flower Extract*, Kudzu (Pueraria Lobata) Root Extract*; Meadowsweet (Spiraea Ulmaria) Extract*. *Certified Organic Ingredients
This non-toxic diaper cream contains 25% non-nano zinc oxide and calendula extract so it should be a good choice for diaper rashes. In addition, its oils and extracts are organic. Like the previous two products, I selected it out of many others due to organic ingredients and the absence of essential oils.
Conclusion about the best diaper cream
To conclude, I want to point out that it is hard to find a product that will be 100% safe because people are so different. Some people may be allergic to the most innocent ingredients, especially babies. Nevertheless, in my opinion, the severe diaper rash treatment options from the “better” and “best” categories are safer than the others because they have no harsh chemicals or concerning ingredients.
Finally, if you have questions about the safety of products you are considering using, book a phone consultation in 15-minute increments to gain instant clarity.
Thank you for making informed decisions with me!
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