Ever wondered what makes baby shampoo tear free? Surprisingly, there are entire debates and myths about these products. Baby shampoos are different from adult shampoos. Adult shampoos are a real sting to the eye. But, adults learn to cope with it; keeping their eyes shut until the shampoo washes away. Try convincing the baby.

Babies don’t have long hair. Let alone they have only lump sum hair. No matter how few, you are going to go to every nook and cranny to take the best care for your baby’s hair. First thing first, you have to know how baby shampoos are made.

There are two types of baby shampoos

  • Soap-Based shampoos are made with a combination of acid with a base to form a salt. Acids from plant oils such as coconut oil, olive oil or jojoba oil are used to make baby shampoos. An alkali, such as potassium hydroxide or sodium hydroxide, is added. Alkalis are included in the product ingredients, yet they are not part of the final product. High pH means that your baby’s eyes can be irritated.
  • Soap-Free shampoos include surfactants or synthetic foaming cleansers. One end of the surfactant molecule attracts to water, and the other end repels water and attracts oil. This allows the shampoo to spread and penetrate better and remove the layer of oil from the hair and scalp. There are numerous different surfactants. Some of them include carcinogens or allergens. A safe surfactant is one made from the glucoside family (decyl glucoside and lauryl glucoside). These shampoos have low pH levels. Ergo, they don’t hurt your baby’s eyes as much.

pH Levels

A pH level measures water on a scale of 0 to 14, with 7 being neutral. If the number drops below 7, the water is increasingly more acidic, which means it has a greater amount of free hydrogen ions.

Above 7, and the water is increasingly less acidic (or more basic), which means it has a greater number of free hydroxyl ions [source: USGS]. The pH range for human eyes is 6.5 to 7.6, with 7 being optimal.

Any variation from neutral may cause your baby’s eyes to tear, and it has little to do with the tear-free shampoo [sources: Kiechle, WHO].

Legend has it

That for shampoo to be deemed “no tears,” there has to be a numbing agent involved. That is not true. Baby shampoos do not include numbing agents.

If there was any, you could definitely tell when applying the shampoo with your hands. Numbing agents like Novocain or Lidocaine can be harmful for the baby.

Accidental ingestion or absorption of local anesthetics through the skin or eyes could be dangerous.

Tear-free formulas also leave out surfactants such sodium lauryl sulfate, which can be irritating to the eyes and scalp.

Ingredients to Avoid in Baby Washes and Shampoos

  • Fragrances and Phthalates
  • Parabens
  • 1,4-dioxane
  • Formaldehyde & Formaldehyde-Releasing Preservatives

The Bottom Line is

Non-toxic baby shampoos are being developed every day. As days go by, we’ll have better and improved products in the market.

Washing the baby hair isn’t the hard part. Choosing the right product for the wash is. Now that you know a little bit critically about baby shampoos, you’ll do a great job at selecting the right tear free shampoo.

You know what makes a baby shampoo tear free, don’t you.

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