I get ads for beauty products for my baby. Babies don’t need skin care, right?

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Hello ugly,

My question is about the culture of beauty that literally manifests itself in babies. My daughter is seven months old and practically since she was born I have been receiving advertisements for products to remove cradle cap (something totally normal and 100% harmless that looks like large dandruff-like flakes on the scalp) and treat her baby’s acne ( also something extremely normal and harmless among newborns).

I’m curious if you’ve come across this, the market reach of these purely cosmetic baby products, and your thoughts on the transfer of our beauty-obsessed culture to our babies.


Upset new mom

Related: Ask Ugly: Now that I’m a mom, I’m mourning my former “pretty” self. This is normal?

When I think of “baby,” I think of “ideal beauty.”

Lotions sold to adults have long promised gentleness for babies. Collagen creams claim to give plump, bouncy baby cheeks. The skin care industry boasts a best-seller called Babyfacial (an exfoliating treatment), a brand called Bejbi Skin (pronounced “baby skin”), and a column called “Operation Goo Goo Gah Gah” (an ode to anti-aging, once written by Ziwe for Into The Gloss).

Interested parties can also choose from multiple face masks inspired by vernix, the white, waxy substance that newborns emerge covered in: perhaps Mutha’s Rebirth Vernix Mask, $110, or Biologique Recherche’s Creme Masque Vernix, $209. And to think that your uterus makes something real for free!

But what the industry builds, it ultimately tears down. Lately, clients are being encouraged to surgically suction “baby fat” from the face by removing buccal fat and, as you may have noticed, annoying new moms, slathering their formerly idealized babies with serum.

This makes sense? No! And it doesn’t have to be that way, as long as it makes money. Entrants in categories such as “rejuvenating” masks for toddlers and a $115 Baby Dior “hydrating milk” moisturizer helped the baby and children’s skin care sector gain a valuation of $250 million this year. That figure is expected to rise to $380 million by 2028.

This is worrying, especially since babies do not need skin care. In fact, the opposite is true.

To address the specific issues you mentioned, New Mom: The St Louis Children’s Hospital agrees that cradle cap is “harmless” and adds that “it’s perfectly fine to leave it alone.” The Cleveland Clinic calls baby acne “a common skin condition that affects newborns…and usually goes away on its own without treatment.” As a baby’s delicate skin evolves into a fully functioning organ, it’s normal to experience (literal) bumps along the way. It is not a big thing.

While baby skin conditions are generally harmless, the opposite can be said for baby beauty products: Dermatologists agree that they can actively be harmful.

“We are doing too much to our children,” writes Dr. Sandy Skotnicki in her 2018 book Beyond Soap. “Bathing too much. Scrub too much. Lather too much.” She cites research showing that the daily application of soap and other skin care products in infancy and childhood “is now thought to have contributed to the sharp rise in cases of eczema, asthma and hay fever.”

This is because the skin is part of the body’s immune system. It is actually the immune system’s first line of defense, thanks to two central components: the skin microbiome, or the collection of a trillion microorganisms that live in and on the skin, and the skin barrier, or the outermost layer. external of the skin.

Skin care products can threaten barrier and microbiome health at any age and can eventually make users more prone to all kinds of problems: dryness, oiliness, dehydration, sensitization, dermatitis, and conditions. inflammatory conditions such as acne, eczema, psoriasis and rosacea. If this trend continues, I predict epidemic levels of inflammatory skin conditions in adolescents within about 10 years. (The science behind this is fascinating and complex; I recommend reading Beyond Soap and Clean: The New Science of Skin and the Beauty of Doing Less by Dr. James Hamblin for more detailed explanations.)

So if baby skin care is not advisable for babies – and I repeat, It is not advisable for babies – Why is it so popular? Because these products are not for babies. They are for parents.

Adults are obsessed with beauty products. Adults haven’t heeded the warnings that all these products make their skin worse. Adults have been conditioned to believe that skin care is self-care. Adults believe that basic human characteristics like pimples, wrinkles, and dead skin cells are not just physical failings, but also moral failings.


And adults project their beliefs onto their babies.

Are you familiar with “Almond Moms”? The term took off earlier this year on TikTok to describe mothers who are “obsessed with food and diet culture” and encourage this obsession in their children.

I think the boom in baby skin care suggests the emergence of a new type of mom: the Serum Mom. Like Mama Almond, Mama Serum is obsessed with achieving a certain standard of beauty and fuels the same obsession in her children.

A common defense of these offerings is something like: “It’s just lotion!” But lotion is never just lotion. Skin care also “carries the burden of what we, as a society, consider pretty, clean, and worthy of admiration,” writes author PE Moskovitz. The purpose of a product eventually informs the purpose of its user: brighten the complexion, tighten pores, be small and pretty, and never age (or look like it).

Of course, beauty culture is everywhere and children will encounter and absorb these dictates over time anyway. But I imagine they are more powerful (harder to question, harder still to reject) when applied by the hands of a parent and from the moment of birth.

To be clear: Mom Whey, like Mom Almond, is not to blame for her own existence! She is nothing more than a product of the beauty-obsessed culture that surrounds her. She probably “wants to be seen as a good mother,” as Dr. Skotnicki says. (This in itself – prioritize appearance of good parenting upon good parenting, is a side effect of beauty culture). Serum Mom Probably Thinks It’s Too protect your child preparing him to live in a world that will value and devalue him based on his adherence to a seemingly oppressive ideal. If my baby is always beautiful, he will never have to feel bad!

Unfortunately, that’s not how beauty standards work. Look at already thin people taking Ozempic cosmetics, at wrinkle-free 14-year-olds on anti-aging regimens, at Marilyn Monroe.

Whether individuals or not meet society’s standard of beauty, studies show that they are psychologically affected by the pressure to do so. Beauty standards are associated with increased cases of anxiety, depression, dysmorphia, eating disorders, and self-harm. Seeing a bottled beauty product (just the packaging, no impossibly pretty model necessary) is enough “to remind consumers of their own flaws” and “make them view themselves more negatively,” the New York reported. Times. today’s teenagers They use more skin care than ever and now also cite “skin” as their primary source of negative body image, according to a National Survey on Children’s Health from CS Mott Children’s Hospital.

The Best Thing a Parent Can Do for Their Baby’s Developing Skin and The psyche (and it sounds like you’re already doing this, annoying new mom) is to leave her skin alone. Visit a dermatologist if he is worried or confused. Reevaluate your own relationship with beauty and skincare standards. When you feel like you’re entering Serum Mom territory, stop. Smell your baby’s head (famous for the best smell in the world, even without Dior’s $230 pear-scented baby perfume) and repeat after me: I will not buy baby skin care.

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