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Q&A with Creatures of Glow: Nontoxic Baby Products for Sensitive & Eczema Prone Skin

I caught up with Jaycee Hill, of clean beauty & vegan lifestyle blog @creaturesofglow – she is an incredible and trustworthy resource for high quality products that are nontoxic, vegan and ecofriendly. We chatted about what inspired her to go down the path of a nontoxic lifestyle, and how she was really put to the test when her little one, Miles, developed painful baby eczema.  Here, you’ll find her recommendations for products to avoid, products to consider, and caring for sensitive and eczema prone skin – all exhaustively researched and tried. She also recently launched Ranger Balm, a natural and organic multi-purpose ointment, that she created specifically to soothe and hydrate Miles’s eczema prone skin!

Seeing your baby uncomfortable or in pain is unbearably hard for parents, so I hope this article provides some helpful takeaways for parents dealing with baby eczema or sensitive skin.

The Mama Handbook: Hi Jaycee! Let’s start off with learning about you, how @creaturesofglow started and how it has evolved over the years. 

Creatures of Glow: Hi Sarah! First off, I’m very excited to collaborate with you. I love the friendly and engaged community that you’ve been building and all of the useful tips you share for new parents like myself. Between being a new mama, having a full-time job, and building The Mama Handbook community, I don’t know how you do it all, it’s so inspiring!

By way of background, I started Creatures of Glow in 2017—I had been out of law school for two years and working in finance. Creatures was my creative outlet to share beauty product recommendations with family and friends. Through networking and using Creatures as a portfolio of sorts, I ended up pivoting to pursue my lifelong dream of working in the beauty industry and joined Chanel’s beauty marketing team.

During my time at Chanel, I transitioned to a plant-based diet and later became pregnant, which caused me to deeply question both the safety and ethics of what I put in and on my body. These changes inspired me to reinstitute Creatures (which had been inactive while I was at Chanel) as a way to share tips and products relating to my philosophy on a clean and cruelty-free lifestyle.

TMH: What inspired you to go down the path of a nontoxic lifestyle? 

CoG: It was a combination of pregnancy and transitioning to a plant-based diet that led me to question ingredients…in food, skincare, cleaning products, etc. Once the seed is planted, it kind of takes off from there. You realize there’s junk hiding everywhere and you can drive yourself nuts, so it’s important to draw some lines and decide where you are and are not willing to compromise. When I was pregnant with Miles, I drew more lines because it wasn’t just about me anymore and I did not want to apply, consume, or expose myself to anything unnecessarily that could cause him harm. I swapped out almost all of my beauty products (even long-time holy grails that I was terrified to omit from my routine), I switched to mostly organic food, I replaced my cleaning products, and the rest is history.

TMH: Your little one, Miles, is a big reason why you have committed to this lifestyle. Can you talk about the process you went through to figure out what to use for his skin?

CoG: I feel like I was really put to the test with Miles. During my pregnancy I researched clean baby products incessantly and had curated my dream team—my little nontoxic baby kit with a cleanser, moisturizer, diaper cream, wipes, diapers, etc. But from day one Miles’s skin proved to be painfully sensitive and he began developing some rashes in the hospital. Around the three month mark he developed moderate to severe baby eczema. 

For anyone who has dealt with eczema, it can be physically and emotionally painful. Miles would wake up throughout the night crying and scratching his itchy skin to the point it would get infected. There were many appointments with the pediatrician and dermatologist, many sleepless nights, and an exhausting amount of research and trial and error.

My goal was to create a holistic management plan to keep his skin clean and hydrated while minimizing flares and the need for medications. Sometimes the prescriptions are unavoidable, and they have their place and the ability to provide quick and effective relief, but I was determined to find a way to make the prescriptions a backup treatment and not our primary management tool. 

I’m proud to say that we have our regimen that works for us and we’ve been sticking with it. Through our trial and error, I have learned so much along the way and I feel (and truly hope) that my journey enables me to help many others in a similar situation.

TMH: If someone is trying to manage their baby’s eczema or sensitive skin, what types of products should they consider trying or avoiding? Are there specific ingredients that parents should be aware of?

CoG: Let me preface this by saying, what may work for someone may not work for someone else. Generally speaking, there are some things that I think are worth avoiding and worth trying out. 

First, avoid unnecessary fragrance and chemicals, and think beyond your baby. 

We had been washing Miles’s clothes in a gentle free & clear detergent but not ours. As soon as someone would hold Miles, his face would flare like crazy. It took us some time to realize it was the contact his skin would make with others’ clothes that would cause these flares. We began washing our own clothes and sheets in this detergent as well and we would sometimes have people put a blanket over their clothes that we washed in our detergent before holding Miles. This made a big difference.

Second, I had this idea in my head that I had to use body wash for Miles—you don’t have to!

I struggled to find a body wash that worked for Miles’s skin. The pediatrician told me that water baths were fine, and ultimately, I discovered that oatmeal and dead sea salt baths were best. I literally add one to two handfuls of organic oat flour and a couple of handfuls of dead sea salt in the tub and it’s been wonderful for us. The oatmeal contains natural saponins which cleanse the skin and it’s known for its soothing, moisturizing, and anti-inflammatory properties. The dead sea salt is rich in mineral content and is thought to help with skin barrier function and inflammation. 

Third, keep the skin well hydrated and protected, and apply more often than you think. 

There’s something called the “soak and seal” method and I think it’s crucial—moisturize within three minutes of bathing while the skin is still damp to prevent unnecessary moisture loss. Many people moisturize only once a day after bathing, but with eczema-prone skin you need to constantly seal in moisture. I like to protect the skin from moisture loss with occlusives, like plant-based waxes (especially before going outside in cold weather), and hydrate and soften the skin with gentle emollients known for their ability to nourish eczema-prone skin, like sunflower oil, coconut oil, grapeseed oil, etc. And be aware: natural and nontoxic doesn’t automatically mean good for eczema-prone or sensitive skin! For example, olive oil is thought to be a great plant-based skin hydrator, though I’ve read studies that demonstrate that olive oil can be detrimental to skin with a compromised barrier. In other words, avoid for eczema-prone skin.

TMH: Can you summarize the nontoxic products that you’ve had success with for managing Miles’s eczema-prone and sensitive skin?

CoG:

Bath Time -There are three products that I swear by: 

After-bath / Moisturize & Protect Skin – Two words: RANGER BALM. Use code: MAMAHANDBOOK15 for 15% off your purchase (good through 1/31/2021)!

I keep it simple. This is our holy grail and I will not deviate. It was a labor of love and determination, and I am so proud to say I formulated this clean and vegan balm that hydrates and soothes Miles’s skin with gentle yet effective plant-based ingredients known for their anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and calming properties. It took me a long time to get it right, Miles and I shared many tears, but I was not going to give up. The product I sought and needed did not exist, and I was not going to stop until it did, even if I had to make it myself. Ranger Balm was affectionately named after Miles Ranger, and it has become a staple not only in our home but among our family and friends as well.

Diaper

Clothing & PJs – Breathable bamboo and organic cotton. Some of our favorites brands are Kyte Baby, Little Sleepies, MakeMake Organics, Hannah Anderson, Monica and Andy, Posh Peanut, Colored Organics

TMH: For someone who is just learning about living a nontoxic lifestyle, it can feel overwhelming and tough to figure out where to get started.  What are a few easy things that they can do or eliminate from their lifestyle or their child’s lifestyle that will make a big difference? 

CoG: First, use The Environmental Working Group (EWG) as a resource. They rate ingredients and products, have a wonderful newsletter, and generally put out such incredible, important, and well-researched information. The EWG takes a lot of guesswork and research out of the equation and gives me confidence when speaking about certain topics and making purchasing decisions.

Second, remember that the goal is progress, not perfection. If you try to live a perfectly nontoxic lifestyle, you will absolutely drive yourself crazy. Part of working towards this goal is prioritizing where you want to reduce harmful chemicals (and note that I said reduce and not eliminate). Think about where your baby spends the most time/what comes in contact the most with his/her skin and body and concentrate on those areas. For me that’s what Miles eats, where he sleeps, and where he plays. So I’ve shifted my focus to mostly: organic and wholesome plant-based foods, organic and nontoxic sheets and pajamas, safe and plant-based cleaning products, and non-toxic baby toys.

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