The skin is the largest but possibly the least appreciated organ, yet it serves a host of vital functions. Your skin keeps out germs, toxins and harmful radiation, keeps in moisture and nutrition, and even makes important nutrients such as vitamin D. Although skin makes a wonderfully effective barrier against many external agents, it is nonetheless absorbent – many substances can pass through the skin and into your body. Whilst we’ve become increasingly conscious of what we’re putting in our bodies via the food in our mouths, the same concern for what we’re putting in via the products we use on our skin is lagging in comparison.
This has probably been partly due to the array of confusing claims and counter-claims in the personal care ingredients arena. One half of the argument warns against a host of ingredients found in many conventional products, and often cited scientific studies suggesting chemicals are carcinogenic or otherwise toxic and potentially linked to rising rates of diseases from cancer and diabetes to autism and auto-immune diseases. The majority of these studies, however, owe more to marketing than science – they are often badly constructed, with small sample sizes, poor controls and ropey conclusions. On the other hand, while independent, better designed, more robust studies might be more informative, they are rarely available – who would fund them if not industrial backers with an agenda? Regulatory and academic authorities generally argue that most claims about toxic and harmful ingredients are unfounded; that such ingredients are only present in minute amounts and are anyway shown to be safe partly through long and widespread use. However, this does not take into account the confounding issue that we are exposed to a cocktail of such chemicals from multiple sources. Testing the effects of such exposure and making definitive connections to health outcomes becomes almost impossible.
Parents are right to be specially concerned about their children's level of exposure to potentially harmful toxins. Being smaller (with therefore proportionally greater exposure compared to adults) and ongoing development, children are much more vulnerable to any potential harms that may impact over a much longer and more significant time frame. They also have thinner skin than adults and less ability to break down and flush out toxins and other harms.
When it comes to buying skincare for your children, the stakes are high but the risks obscure.
This conundrum was uppermost in the minds of Scrubbington’s co-founders, Emma and Karen when they came to formulate their products. Emma explains how some good old fashioned maternal pragmatism helped to navigate them through the maze, “We conducted some research with Mumsnet on the topic and one mother’s comment particularly resonated with us…”
“Not bothered about ‘organic this’ or ‘made from baby unicorn tears’ that. Just clean my kids and don’t harm their skin.”
“…so we put the jar of unicorn tears back on the shelf and tried to apply some common sense, what we, as parents felt instinctively comfortable with. I suppose you would call our approach an edible skincare mantra - if you wouldn’t put it in their mouths, you shouldn’t put it on their skin”
"So for us, that meant definitely no sulphates or parabens or other nasties. If you want to see what the ingredients in our products really means, take a look at our website, where we explain exactly what is going on (and in) your young persons skin"