Generally speaking, we use only natural products on our kids' bodies...not necessarily organic (though that's ideal) but minus the chemicals and other non-natural ingredients found in most hair and skincare products. As any parent of a brown-skinned child knows, black skin needs careful and consistent maintenance in order to be at its lustrous best. Because Seth and Lizzie need such diligent skin care, I never buy body lotions or creams from local stores, preferring instead to buy all of our hair and skincare products online, from one of two places: Nandi Kids (based in the Kitchener Waterloo area of Ontario) and Africa Sleeps (based in Kelowna, B.C.).
My Ethiopian-born kids apply lotions from one of these companies to their skin every day (and I use them, too, particularly on the drier parts of my body). In fact, I just put in an order with Africa Sleeps this morning, and will need to replenish my Nandi Kids supply shortly. It's a real relief for me to have access to these companies via their online stores because even though I have to pay for shipping, the products themselves are reasonably priced (important when your kids need a lot of skin and hair care product), particularly for natural products with none of the chemicals one finds in store-bought skin and haircare products; and all of the products we've tried from these online stores have been really awesome in their effectiveness.
Because I use such good quality products on all of the kids's skin, I was surprised when, just over a week ago, Matthew developed an irritated looking rash on a smallish section of his face. It wasn't a bad rash and I wondered if he was dealing with a food intolerance, but then the rash migrated from the initial area to his jaw, and the next day to his neck and, over the next few days, down over his chest and abdomen area. It clearly wasn't contagious, and it wasn't particularly itchy in those early days and so I waited about a week before eventually deciding that it wasn't going away on its own and that I needed to get him checked out.
The doctor said that Matthew, like many other kids this time of year, had eczema...not a terrible case of it, but definitely one that was in need of healing efforts because it likely wouldn't get better on its own. He recommended that we try to fix it by applying a particular (popular) brand of body lotion designed to treat ezcema. I immediately went to the nearest drugstore and picked some up, along with the accompanying body wash for showering. Just before bedtime that night, Matthew showered with the body wash, and we then applied the cream liberally to his body.
The following morning, the rash was way worse...like 100% worse! The eczema looked angry and raw now, and it was suddenly extremely itchy; Matthew could hardly keep his nails from digging into it. I applied one more light coating of the lotion/cream and within an hour, it was even worse.
At first I was stumped.
Then I felt a little foolish.
Because I should have known better.
I (too late) looked at the labels on the two products I purchased and couldn't read most of them...they were chock full of chemicals and sulphites and parabens and all of the stuff that I normally try to avoid putting on my kids' skin. I shook my head over some of those ingredients; they were the very reasons I normally refuse to put anything but the good stuff on my kids' bodies.
I immediately decided to ignore the doctor's product advice and go back to what I should have done in the first place after we got the diagnosis. Already on my shelves and on my night table was the product that has helped so much with my own dry skin and eczema issues: Unscented Creme de la Shea. Packed full of unrefined shea butter, avocado oil, vitamin e, carrot seed oil, cedar wood oil, and ylang ylang oil, it is a dynamite, and totally natural, body butter of body butters! I applied it to Matthew's entire body. Within hours the rash lost its angry look! That evening, yesterday evening, I applied it again, along with another of my personal favourites for ultra dry skin: Maiga Shea Butter. This 100% handmade raw shea butter is a thick, almost-paste-like product that, once warmed in the hands, melts a little and sinks into ultra dry skin; it purports to be a healer of eczema, amongst other things.
This morning when I examined Matthew's skin, the rash was all but gone; I had to look hard to find faint etchings of it; only scratch marks from his fingernails remained readily visible. I'm going to continue to have him apply it after he showers, but I think it's a done issue for now.
Even though the store-bought products were opened, I'm going to try to return them to the store where I bought them because I am disturbed and annoyed by how badly Matthew's skin reacted to a product that was touted to be the thing to treat his condition. It is annoying; and it was more expensive to buy one of those lotions than it is to buy either the Creme de la Shea or the Maiga Shea Butter.
But what I'm most annoyed with is myself. I really should have known better. I know that most skincare stuff is laden with chemicals and yet I simply jumped at the doctor's advice without a second thought, simply because it was a doctor prescribing the advice.
Hopefully I've learned my lesson on this front. My kids' skin normally glows with health and life (along with dirt!), and I need to remember that one of the reasons for that is the quality natural ingredients of the things we use on their faces.
What about you? What do you use on your kids' skin? Do you buy readily available product or do you, too, go the natural route? Where do you purchase hair and skin product and which of them work for you and/or your kids?