The Science of Newborn Skin and Why Your Baby Wash Matters

Shelly the founder rubbing product on the back of her hand over beakers

The store shelves are packed with baby shampoo options... But what does baby’s skin actually need in order to get clean and stay healthy? Here’s the no-nonsense, naturally minded breakdown.

Why babies need gentle bath products

During the first year, baby’s skin is still changing and developing-- it actually differs in structure and composition from adult skin.


Infants retain and lose water through their skin at a faster rate than adults (this is known as transepidermal water loss, or TEWL). Newborn skin needs a gentle cleanser to prevent moisture loss and to prevent changes in the pH of baby’s skin. Moisture and pH matter because they can compromise the integrity of the skin barrier. The skin barrier is extremely important-- it protects babies from toxins and water loss, so it’s not a good idea to use strong cleansers that will alter this natural barrier.

Water isn’t enough to cleanse baby’s skin, because it won’t break down milk, food, saliva, nasal secretions and feces (which need to be removed to keep baby healthy!).  Soap is effective at cleansing, but is too strong to protect the skin barrier. This is why a mild, natural product works best on babies.

What to look for in all natural baby wash

The best all natural baby wash will:

  • Be an effective cleanser: A good cleanser needs to emulsify oil, dirt and microorganisms. In order to dissolve feces and other greasy substances, you need a surfactant (“surface-acting” agent) that breaks these substances down into droplets that can be rinsed away with water, but doesn’t strip the natural oils, which will leave baby’s skin dry.
  • Not alter the skin’s pH: The pH of baby skincare products should be neutral or mildly acidic (pH 5.5-7.0). A newborn starts off with a neutral pH and then gradually becomes acidic (like adults) over the first few weeks. You want to allow baby’s skin to do what it naturally does, and not influence a change through cleansers.
  • Maintain the skin barrier: Since the skin barrier does an amazing job of protecting baby, we want to protect the skin barrier-- look for products with oils rich in linoleic acid (also known as omega 6), which can help enhance skin barrier functionality.
  • Not cause irritation to baby’s skin or eyes: Traditional soap and many adult cleansers contain perfumes and other irritants. Even tear-free baby cleansers simply contain a numbing agent, which doesn’t mean that no irritation occurs-- just that baby can’t feel it. A gentle, natural product might not be “tear-free”, but also won’t irritate baby’s eyes or skin.
  • Utilize preservatives that have proven to be safe in newborns: Preservatives are necessary to prevent the growth of microorganisms, but harsh preservatives can irritate skin and cause contact dermatitis. 

If you have questions about the safety of a specific baby product, the Environmental Working Group has a wonderful resource called Skin Deep, which rates the safety of personal care products for babies and adults.

How often to give baby a bath

How often you bathe your baby is a personal preference. Two or three times a week is enough to keep baby clean, but daily baths aren’t likely to be harmful. If you have hard water, it can dry out your baby’s skin, so pay attention to how your baby reacts after bath time. Sometimes, less is more.

Bathtime doesn’t have to be a long event-- three to five minutes in the bath is sufficient for baby. When bathtime is done, pat baby dry with a towel and avoid rubbing-- it’s an extra measure to help protect their gentle skin.

With the science of baby’s skin in mind, we developed our 3-in-1 Baby Bath Gel.

The 3-in-1 Baby Bath Gel is a massage gel + gentle cleanser + moisturizer in one. It contains oils rich in vitamin E, omega 3 and omega 6, which are known to not just maintain but improve baby’s natural skin barrier.2

After the oil-based gel is massaged onto baby’s skin, some of the nourishing oils absorb into the skin, and the gel left on the surface of baby’s skin transforms into a milk in the bath water. Sitting or lying in the warm, milky water further facilitates the absorption of oils into baby’s skin, leaving it soft and moisturized. The milk is easily rinsed off, removing dead skin cells, excess sebum, dirt and unwanted microorganisms and leaving little to no product on the surface of baby's skin. Since the 3-in-1 Baby Bath Gel contains only natural ingredients, no harsh chemicals and no water, it does not influence the pH of baby’s skin, leaving it free to breathe, change and develop as nature intended.

Simplify the nighttime routine with a product that uses only gentle, natural ingredients, selected with a mother’s care and the knowledge of an expert formulator. Every ingredient is meaningful, and there are no preservatives, irritants or toxins in sight. Order your 3-in-1 Baby Bath Gel now.

Leave a comment

Comments will be approved before showing up.

more from our Every Wink Counts

10 simple and inexpensive gift ideas for baby
10 simple and inexpensive gift ideas for baby

These fun, gift ideas are also portable, take-up little space, and are baby and momma approved. 

After having 4 babies, I realize that they really do enjoy simple pleasures.  

Read More

Avoid dry hands due to over-washing + 5 tips on how soothe your dry hands
Avoid dry hands due to over-washing + 5 tips on how soothe your dry hands

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, we are washing our hands longer and more frequently and this is leading to dry hands and hand dermatitis. Read to learn about "what causes dry hands" and "how to soothe your dry hands."

Read More

Formulating is my super power!
Formulating is my super power!

We all have a superpower (other than being a momma.)  
Founding and formulating products for Kiss Kiss Goodnight is what I was born to do, it’s what I love to do, it’s what I have trained years to do, it’s what I do well.

Read More