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Wipes are possibly the most frequently used baby product you’re going to buy as a parent, yet we rarely stop to think about baby wipe ingredients.

Many conventional brands use various chemicals to make wipes smell nice or have a longer shelf life. However, they can often lead to rashes, skin irritation and potentially more long-term health issues.

So, is it safe to use baby wipes? Don’t worry—you don’t have to give up using these convenient towelettes if you know what to look for on product labels! Here are six ingredients to avoid.

1. Parabens

Parabens are a family of chemicals that are used as cost-effective preservatives in personal care products to protect against the growth of harmful bacteria.

These chemicals are believed to be endocrine disruptors—chemicals that interfere with the hormone system. In fact, certain parabens such as propylparaben and butylparaben have been banned in cosmetics and products designed for a baby’s diaper area by the European Commission since 2014.

To identify paraben-free wipes, avoid products with ingredients ending in “-paraben”.


June View: As part of the The June Pledge: Bath & Body, all baby wipes in our shop are paraben-free.

The sweet-smelling scents of your personal care products often contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates.

2. Fragrance

It sounds logical to mask the smell of wiping up after a poopy diaper with fragranced baby wipes. However, the sweet-smelling scents of your personal care products often contain endocrine-disrupting phthalates.

Phthalates are a group of colorless, odorless chemicals used to soften plastics. They are used in fragrances to help dissolve substances, but are often the cause of skin irritation.

Check your product’s packaging to make sure that they are fragrance-free baby wipes or use gentler, plant-based fragrance like calendula extract or lavender oil.

Did you know phthalates are found in all kinds of personal care products? Learn How Phthalates Could Be Harming Your Family.

3. Phenoxyethanol

Phenoxyethanol is another commonly used preservative that prevents bacteria growth. Its safety is the subject of much online controversy—it has been said to be linked to everything from eczema to cancer to reproductive issues.

It is generally considered safe when used at approved levels of up to 1%. While there is only limited reliable research on its effects on human health at this stage, it is classified as a moderate or low-to-moderate hazard skin and eye irritant by the EWG.

If you are concerned about this chemical, opt for baby wipes without phenoxyethanol.

Did You Know?

In 2014, the Consumer Council found 41% of baby wipes in Hong Kong were found to contain preservatives that could lead to rashes.

4. Methylisothiazolinone

Methylisothiazolinone (MIT) is a preservative found in personal care products ranging from shampoos to lotions to sunscreen—and is a known allergen.

In 2014, the Consumer Council tested for MIT and found it on 9 out of 44 types of baby wipe products available in Hong Kong!

Father wipes toddler’s face with wet wipe

Do we really know what’s coming in contact with our child’s skin with every wipe?

5. Cocamidopropyl Betaine

Cocamidopropyl betaine (CAPB) is a surfactant—an agent that reduces surface tension, allowing materials to mix that otherwise would not. It’s primarily used in personal hygiene products and cosmetics.

CAPB is derived from coconut oil, but like MIT, is a known allergen. If your child suffers from sensitive skin and rashes, you may want to skip wipes with this ingredient.

6. Propylene Glycol

Another known skin irritant is Propylene Glycol (PG)—a solvent used for its moisture-regulating, antiseptic, and preservative effects.

Even if your child doesn’t have sensitive skin, you may want to look out for this ingredient which can be toxic in high doses.

A 2014 study by the US Food and Drug Administration concluded that while PG is considered safe for use for intravenous medications, at high levels, it can accumulate and cause depression, hypoglycemia, seizures, and other health issues. They noted that additional studies in the pediatric population are warranted.

Armed with this knowledge, you can help keep your baby’s skin happy and lower your little one’s exposure to toxins with every wipe!

Are Your Diapers Toxin-free? Find out what ingredients you could avoid in this article.