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What You Need to Know About Huggies Baby Wipes

Before I began reading ingredients for a living, I assumed that if one product of a certain brand was good, all the other products were good, too.  Now I know that this is not the case.  That is why it is important to read ingredients of the products you consider buying.  In this post, you will get a quick summary of Huggies baby wipes, so you can make an informed decision about purchasing them.  I rated five kinds of Huggies wipes in my baby wipes rating list, and they all have a different safety score.  Today we will look at Huggies® Simply Clean® Fresh and Huggies Natural Care® Wipes.

What You Need to Know About Huggies Baby Wipes. A photo of a baby and a teddy bear.

Changes in Huggies baby wipes

Since I first started deciphering baby wipes ingredients in 2013, I’ve noticed that Huggies wipes have not only changed their names but also become much safer.  For example, the problematic preservatives methylparaben and methylisothiazolinone disappeared in 2014.  Therefore, now Huggies baby wipes can go on the list of baby wipes without methylisothiazolinone.  Later, in 2017, they removed the phenoxyethanol preservative from their formula.  Phenoxyethanol is a tricky ingredient, and you can learn its benefits and side effects in my post Phenoxyethanol in Skin Care.

I choose to believe that these changes happened due to our collective consumer pressure.  So, let’s keep paying attention to the ingredients and asking questions of manufacturers!

As I said earlier, today we will go over the ingredients of two kinds of Huggies wipes.  Huggies Natural Care® wipes’ score is better than that of Huggies® Simply Clean® Fresh wipes.  However, the Natural Care wipes are not the best among the five kinds of Huggies baby wipes. In turn, the Simply Clean Fresh wipes are not the worst among them either.     

Well, let’s begin with the wet wipes with the worse rating of the two.

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Huggies Simply Clean Fresh wipes ingredients

Here is the list of ingredients for Huggies® Simply Clean® Fresh baby wipes:

Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Caprylyl Glycol, Malic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, Polysorbate 20, Coco-Betaine, Fragrance, polypropylene, wood pulp (source).

Let’s go over the ingredients one by one.

The ingredients of low concern

Water and aloe leaf juice

All wet wipes contain water.  It means that they need at least one preservative to prevent bacteria and mold contamination.  Thus, water arouses no concerns as an ingredient in baby wipes as long as there are preservatives in them.  Without them, water becomes a big concern.

As for the aloe leaf juice, it is common knowledge that it is a really good skin conditioner.  Although, I wish it were organic in this formulation.

Malic acid and sodium citrate

These two ingredients are used in Huggies baby wipes in tiny quantities to adjust their acidity.  Malic acid occurs naturally in many sour or acidic foods.  While the Skin Deep database raises concerns over skin irritation, I believe this concern is applicable when higher concentrations are used.  All in all, both malic acid and sodium citrate make the Huggies simply clean wipes more in line with our natural skin pH.

Coco-betaine

This is a cleansing agent in Huggies wipes.  Unlike cocamidopropyl betaine, it is not associated with irritation or allergic contact dermatitis.  It has a rating of 1 in the Skin Deep database (with 10 as most toxic).

The ingredients of some concern

Caprylyl glycol

This ingredient helps make the Huggies simply clean wipes moist.  It has mild antimicrobial properties, so it functions as a part of the preservation system.  The  Skin Deep database rates it at 1 (with 10 as most toxic) and doesn’t regard it as having any health concerns.  However, I give it a rating of 3 because according to the Cosmetic Ingredient Review report, it enhances skin penetration.  As you read further, you will find out why we do not want that.

Sodium benzoate

It is a common preservative in food.  Many baby wipes manufacturers have switched to sodium benzoate from phenoxyethanol or benzyl alcohol or parabens.  As I mentioned above, Huggies stopped using phenoxyethanol in Huggies baby wipes in 2017.  So, now they use sodium benzoate instead.  This is a big improvement.  However, also in 2017, sodium benzoate was added to the American Contact Dermatitis Society Core Allergen Series as one of the allergens. They say that it increases the risk of an allergic reaction if used in concentrations of 5% and up, while phenoxyethanol can be allergenic in concentration as low as 1%.  I don’t have information as to how much sodium benzoate there is in the Huggies wipes.  Therefore, if you see irritation on your baby’s skin, discontinue using the wipes immediately.

Tocopheryl acetate

This is a compound consisting of acetic acid and tocopherol (vitamin E).  Tocopheryl acetate is beneficial for the skin as it has both antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.  However, tocopheryl acetate is often produced synthetically using hydroquinone.  If the manufacturer does not clean up his product, trace amounts of hydroquinone may remain in the baby wipes.  In a way, hydroquinone can be a hidden ingredient.  Keep in mind that while I don’t have any information as to whether hydroquinone is present in the Huggies baby wipes.  This is just something to bear in mind, because the Skin Deep database rates hydroquinone at 9 out of 10 (with 10 as most toxic) as it is linked to allergy and limited evidence of cancer.

The ingredients in Huggies Simply Clean Fresh wipes of high concern

Polysorbate 20

This is an emulsifier that keeps ingredients from separating.  Unfortunately, I often see this ingredient, even in products marketed as “organic” or “natural.”  It is produced by using carcinogenic ethylene oxide, which may contaminate the final product with carcinogenic 1,4-dioxane.  Manufacturers should remove any 1,4-dioxane using what they call the vacuum-stripping process.  However, as consumers, we have no way of knowing whether the manufacturer used the vacuum stripping process here.  1,4-dioxane is one of those chemicals that we want to avoid at all costs.  Please learn how to spot ingredients that may be contaminated with 1,4-dioxane in my post Hidden Ingredients in Best Baby Wipes.

Fragrance

First of all, why – why do baby wipes have to smell like something?  Think about that while you read what follows.

Let’s talk about what fragrances are.  A fragrance, including those used in Huggies wipes, is a combination of different undisclosed chemicals.  The FDA allows companies to not list fragrance ingredients so they can protect them as a trade secret.  Sadly, fragrances can contain some pretty nasty ingredients.  For example, they may 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.  Of course, we can’t know for sure if the fragrance in Huggies baby wipes contains harmful chemicals.  But if you’re reading this far, I bet you are like me and don’t want to take chances with products with unlisted fragrance ingredients.

I highly recommend avoiding fragrances in all products, especially in baby products.  Choose products without fragrance even if they claim it is natural fragrance.  In my Baby Wipes Rating List e-book, you can choose baby wipes without any fragrance or scented with essential oils.

What about so-called “natural” fragrances?  Are they safe?  The problem is that “natural” does not have a uniform definition.  Hence, what a company means by “natural fragrance” may differ greatly from what you mean by it.  I explain this issue in detail in my post about Natural Fragrance safety. 

Polypropylene and wood pulp

Finally, the fabric of Huggies wipes is a blend of polypropylene and chlorine-free wood pulp.  Polypropylene is a type of plastic with a recycle code 5.  Even though it’s a safer type of plastic, I am not a big fan of polypropylene.  For starters, it is made from crude oil, natural gas, and coal, and its ingredients are undisclosed.  In addition, it’s not biodegradable.  Moreover, the latest studies say that almost all plastic may contain estrogen-mimicking chemicals, aka hormone disruptors.

In my opinion, wood pulp alone would be a better choice for Huggies baby wipes than polypropylene.  But even wood pulp is not ideal, because the manufacturing process turning wood pulp into a soft fabric involves chemical solvents.

Summary about Huggies Simply Clean Fresh wipes

To sum up, the reason Huggies® Simply Clean® Fresh baby wipes have a bad score on my Baby Wipes Rating List is as follows.  Three of the 12 ingredients on the list are a source of high concern from a health standpoint.  They are polysorbate-20, fragrance, and polypropylene.  Also, there are ingredients of some concern such as sodium benzoate, caprylyl glycol, and tocopheryl acetate.

Now let’s look at the ingredients of Huggies Natural Care® wipes to see the difference that makes them better than Huggies® Simply Clean® Fresh wipes, yet not the best among Huggies wipes.

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Huggies Natural Care wipes ingredients

Here is the list of ingredients for Huggies® Natural Care® baby wipes:

Water, Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone, Polysorbate 20, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice, Caprylyl Glycol, Malic Acid, Sodium Benzoate, Sodium Citrate, Tocopheryl Acetate, polypropylene, wood pulp (source).

As you can see, most of the ingredients are the same as in the Huggies Simply Clean Fresh wipes.  Nevertheless, two of the ingredients are missing – coco-betaine and fragrance.  While coco-betaine is the ingredient of low concern, fragrance is not.  It is the absence of fragrance that makes these wipes slightly better than the Huggies baby wipes discussed above.

However, there is an additional ingredient in the Huggies Natural Care wipes that raises a concern.

Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone

This is an ethoxylated ingredient that has contamination concern with ethylene oxide.  Ethylene oxide is part of the production process for Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone and a potentially very dangerous chemical rated by the Skin Deep database at 8-10.  Even though the Skin deep database rates Butoxy PEG-4 PG-Amodimethicone at 1-3 depending on its usage, I rate it at 5 in my Baby Wipes Rating List.

Summary about Huggies Natural Care wipes

Thus, the absence of fragrance makes Huggies Natural Care wipes better than Huggies Simply Clean Fresh wipes.  But the presence of two ethoxylated ingredients – butoxy PEG-4 PG-amodimethicone and polysorbate 20 – makes it worse than other Huggies wipes.

Conclusion about Huggies baby wipes

The bottom line is Huggies baby wipes are moving in the right direction, but there is still some ground to cover.  The main concern I have is fragrance and ethoxylated ingredients.  I recommend choosing fragrance-free baby wipes for your baby.  (Is it really necessary for your baby’s bottom to smell like rose hips?)  As we have seen, not all Huggies wipes contain fragrance.

However, Huggies baby wipes are not the best.  For instance, Kirkland Signature Baby Wipes and Pampers Aqua Pure Wipes have a better score on my Baby Wipes rating list.  Yet, they are not the best either. 

I would like to point out that the mere fact that I included certain baby wipes in my Rating List doesn’t mean that I recommend these wipes.  The purpose of the rating list is to provide you with my opinion as far as the safety of the baby wipes ingredients.  Ultimately, I hope that this information will help you make informed decisions when you buy skincare for your baby.

Check out my Baby Wipes Rating List to choose the safest options for your baby.  You can also book a consultation with me, so I can assist you in making the best choice.   

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9 thoughts on “What You Need to Know About Huggies Baby Wipes”

  1. Thank you so much! Now I understand why my hands have been reacting strangely, and mainly my right hand…

  2. Just out of curiosity, have you tried the Baby Looney Tunes Soft & Silky baby wipes? The ingridients show 3 ingredients and are supposed to be hypoallergenic. Can you comment on these, are they safe to use?

    1. Hi Courtney! Thank you for asking. I have done it in two ways. I put my baby in the sink, supported his body with my hand, leaned him against my body, while washing him under running water with soap. I did not even need to use any cloth. Or I put warm water in a little container and wiped him with a cloth dipped in the water. That worked for pee. For poop, I used dipped in water paper towel first so I can toss it away. Does it make sense?

  3. My wife was recently diagnosed with rectal cancer. Years ago a friend of hers had convinced her that using baby wipes was better than using toilet paper because it “keeps you clean and fresh” longer. She used them for several years. I wonder if there is a connection between the baby wipes and her cancer.

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