Fresh, flawless, perfect and precious, words to describe a baby’s skin. Responsible, a word to describe how a parent feels about their baby’s skin. Choosing what to and what not to put on a baby’s skin is an anxiety-inducing task (involving time, research and headspace you probably can’t spare RN), which is why we’ve fallen head over heels for our new brand, Bunjie, and their upfront tagline: 100% junk-free. The full range of care products (shampoo, wash, moisturiser, oil) for delicate baby and children’s skin not only takes care of the day-to-day (food in hair, dirt, little bit of vom, nappy rash) but sets it up to be strong and balanced in the future. Something that’s increasingly important with the boom of skin problems and conditions occurring. “Research now shows that these skin problems are largely linked to modern lifestyle and the use of junk-filled skin products. If we can do anything to help change this, we will,” says Lianne Keymer, co-founder of Bunjie. Here she gives us more info on how to save your baby’s skin.
Skin care from day dot
The first step in a human’s skin care regime? Birth. “Vaginal birth, when possible, marks a critical step, exposing an infant to a diverse array of bacteria as they pass through the birth canal. Research suggests that babies born via caesarean don't get that same degree of exposure to microbes,” says Keymer. “But most importantly, the research also says that no matter how a baby is delivered, parents can take steps to get baby's bacterial ecosystem off to a good start and that’s where Bunjie helps.”
Say it with us, “microbiome”
Skin microbiome is the ecosystem of bacteria on the skin's surface. It’s purpose is to protect against pathogens that could affect your skin and overall health. When your skin looks good and healthy, it’s because your microbiome is balanced. “From the moment we’re conceived, until we turned 1000 days old (about 2 years, 8 months), is a once-in-lifetime window to lay the foundations for our health later in life,” says Keymer. “Setting up a balanced microbiome is one of the most important systems we can establish. It’s at the centre of our life and plays an essential role in our gut health, immune health and mental health.” We are essentially born with no microbiome and a very immature immune system. They develop together. First, microbes colonize the gut, skin and mouth which helps teach the immune system what's harmful and what's not. Your first hour of life ensures that you’re given the perfect mix of little microbes to build your first immune system and then the microbiome keeps on learning. “There is strong evidence that if the development of the microbiome is disrupted during these first years, it can mean problems later in life. Early microbiome problems have been linked to obesity, anxiety, asthma, skin conditions such as eczema and food allergies.” So, by supporting and nurturing the development of the microbiome early on, you can promote your baby’s health in a way that has long-term consequences.
All sorts of things can have an impact on the development and balance of a baby’s skin microbiome, from dry weather, to medications to the skincare products that you use. “Skincare often contains unfriendly ingredients and allergens that strip the skin microbiome and disrupt the good bacteria which then allows bad bacteria and irritants to have a party,” says Keymer. “Skin conditions like eczema are often a sign that the skin microbiome is unbalanced and once the balance of microbiome is disrupted, it can be easy for a skin condition to snowball.”
Baby’s first skin regime
Often it’s a few days before the baby's first bath, (a move that has a heap of benefits including to protect them from infection), but once you do, go lightly. “Newborn skin is soft and sensitive so it’s important not to overdo it on bath time,” says Keymer. Use lukewarm water, keep it short (three to five minutes) and consider adding some bath oil to minimise the drying effects of the water. Immediately after, while their skin is still wet, apply a suitable moisturiser to nourish their skin, then dry them by patting, not rubbing, “This minimises damage to the skin barrier.” When it comes to choosing the products, “Bunjie has been developed specifically to support the baby’s skin and its protective microbiome from day one.”
A baby’s skin is 3-5 times thinner than adult skin and loses water 5 times faster. “Research shows that regular moisturisation of baby's skin with clean (no nasties, junk-free) moisture lotion is super important,” says Keymer. “If we take good care of the skin barrier as early as three weeks, it can reduce the risk of developing eczema and skin allergies by 50 percent!”
Kids need some sun to produce vitamin D which is important for making strong bones and muscles, but this can be as little as a few minutes a day, for the vast majority of the time, children need to be protected from the sun. Sunburn, skin damage, eye damage, skin cancer and a weakened immune system can all be caused by too much sun. Sunscreen isn’t recommended for babies under six months, so keeping out of the sun, and in shade, is the best way to protect them. Beyond six months, clean, natural or sunscreen designed for sensitive skin types are best. Apply liberally (most people don’t use enough), 20 minutes before you go outside, and every 2 hours after. Then hats, sunglasses, protective clothing, and look for the shady spots.
Is your skin changing due to pregnancy? Read how to navigate this with the experts at Rationale.