Baby Skin Care: To Occlude or Not Occlude? by Kate Billington, edited by Filipe Muhale, PhD

Posted by Kate Billington on

In the last 40 years it is well known that, due to structural and functional differences, adult and infant skins moisturize differently. 

  • Infant skin up to the age one and beyond is structural and functionally immature. 
  • In adults, our bodies, to retain water and keep skin hydrated, specialized cells (corneocytes) produce skin humectants molecules named Natural Moisturizing Factor (NMF).
  • Curiously, compared to adults, infants skin has a significantly lower NMF concentration. 
  • Intracellular lipids in the skin are important regulators of skin hydration, but compared to adults, infant skin contains significantly less total lipids. 
  • Infant skin is 30% thinner than adults skin. 
  • Compared to adults, infants skin absorbs larger amounts of water and loses it more rapidly than adult skin. 

Despite our knowledge of these structural and functional differences, moisturizers and other babies skin care products, relies on the 140+ year old petrolatum (petroleum jelly).  As an occlusive moisturizer, petrolatum, mineral oil and silicones (all industrial chemicals), act by forming an inert physical seal or barrier to prevent skin from losing water. While this sounds great, many of these products have side effects. In addition,although utilized in many commercial baby skin products, these occlusive moisturizers like petrolatum, they are based on the "barrier" type mechanism of action. To us this appears counter indicative to the dynamic mechanisms of water retention by which the infant skin operates. 

Our baby products are made with no side effects prone plant-food-based emollients and humectants. They act by enhancing skin barrier function and by bringing hydration to the skin and by improving skin softness, flexibility, and smoothness. 

We believe in better designs of baby's skin care products that are based on the respect of the developing infant skin, utilizing plant-based emollients and humectants. 

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