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  • Writer's pictureNicole Salter

Safest Cosmetics for Children

Updated: Oct 16, 2022

Tonight my daughter will be going to the spa. Yes, she only just turned 6, but this is not her first kick at the spa can. Ever since the East York franchise of Glama Gals Tween Spa opened near our home, run by the incredibly wonderful Elisabeth Mensher, we've been regulars - and that includes my son, who wants his nails painted if his sister gets to, dammit.

Glama Gals is about more than just birthday parties and sugary sweet spa treatments for little girls (and boys) - they do a lot of work with self-esteem, empowerment, and positive self-image for children, who today more than ever can succumb to peer pressure and impossible standards of perfection. So yeah, we love Glama Gals, and today my little girl will be getting a glow in the dark manicure, among other spa treatments. It's her reward for a successful reading chart, and a Halloween kick-off party to boot.

Glama Gals East York Halloweeen Party

But what about if this was an everyday thing? What if you have the kind of 'girly girl' who wants her nails permanently painted and wants to apply full makeup, perfumes and highly scented lotions every single day? During the stay-at-home orders of 2020, home spa day became every day in some households, with all kinds of experimentation with grownup products happening. Kids often want to be just like the grownups in the room, so don't be surprised if they're reaching for your lipstick and mascara even as toddlers - but often, these prettifying products were designed with tougher adult bodies in mind. Our toxic load is already (unfortunately) built up, but kids' bodies are more delicate, and you may be concerned about what exactly is going on the largest organ of their bodies - the skin.

Chemicals to Avoid in Children's Cosmetics

Let's face it - most cosmetics do contain a little something-something, whether it's preservatives, emulsifiers, synthetic colours or fragrances. But there are some chemicals which really should be avoided, whether you have a child with a compromised immune system or are simply looking for more non-toxic skin care. Here are some of the worst nail polish offenders (also found in other products too):


-dibutylphthalate (DBP)


That doesn't mean you have to say no to treating your child to colourful nails. Try Piggy Paint or one of many other brands designed specifically for kids.

We all know that parabens and SLS (sodium lauryl or laureth sulfate) and phthalates, aren't great. But what else? Look out for:

DMDM hydantoin


Fragrance and dyes


Triclosan and triclocarbanTriethanolamine (TEA)

It's all about balance, but what if your child is experiencing some problems (headaches, allergies, sneezing, rashes) and you suspect some of these ingredients? It really may be time to take a look at cleaner, greener, more natural cosmetics for them - and maybe yourself, too!

Oatmeal face scrub from Glama Gals

Safer cosmetics for kids

With so many confusing words floating around like organic, natural, non-toxic, vegan, cruelty-free - which to be honest may not mean all that you think they mean - there are still some great options to help your kids enjoy a grown up spa day without the grown up toxins. Always try to choose cosmetic products:

  • From health food/eco-friendly/bulk/environmentally conscious stores if possible

  • That contain non-toxic colourants like micas and oxides

  • That are biodegradable

  • That do not test on animals

  • That can wash off with regular soap and water rather than chemical removers

  • That you can make yourself with regular household ingredients (example: moisturizing face mask made with yogurt and honey)

  • Fragranced with essential oils and/or phthalate-free fragrances

  • Non-petroleum based lip balms and glosses (should instead be made from beeswax, carnauba wax, candelilla wax etc.)

  • For shine, that use eco-friendly mica as opposed to glitter which ends up in the environment forever

  • That are not sold at tween-targeted stores where all the fragrances are extremely sweet, strong and intense

  • That are not very inexpensive (i.e. Dollar Store offerings, nothing against the Dollar Store, we love it, but that grape lip balm probably has few natural ingredients in it for $1.25)

Natural mica pigments for eyes and lips

So, what am I saying - no fake blood face paint for Halloween, and a bare face for the Grade 8 dance? Absolutely not! This is about making better choices overall for parent peace of mind, so kids can continue to enjoy imaginative and fun play without getting the idea that it doesn't matter at all what you put on your face and skin. When kids reach the age that cosmetics and skin care become a regular thing, talk to them about their choices and what is in the products. Just because something contains Vitamin E doesn't mean it's healthy!

Choosing natural skin care options and the purest possible bath and body care just makes sense. It's like eating a healthy diet so you can have the occasional cheat day :)

Make every day a spa day with healthy, good for you handmade skin care at Saltz&Co!

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