Time for an oil change?

This is a guest post written by Jayne Russell, the lovely owner of Nom Nom, certified organic, multi-award winning pregnancy and baby skincare products.

We shared a table at the recent Clapham Pregnancy and Baby Show where she displayed her range of products.  I asked her to write an article about baby oil and skincare.


As a massage and nutritional therapist of more than twenty years, specialising in pre and postnatal care, and a skin care formulator I have been constantly researching and updating my knowledge to find out what works best for baby skin. Oils have different properties, benefits and disadvantages so which should you use and avoid in baby massage and skincare?

The International Association of Infant Massage recommends “babies be massaged with a high quality, preferably organic, unscented, cold pressed vegetable oil”.

A recent study found that “olive oil significantly damages the skin barrier, and therefore has the potential to promote the development of, and exacerbate existing, “atopic dermatitis” concluding that its use in infant massage should be discouraged. This may come as a surprise to many who are still being advised by a health practitioner to use the very same on their baby’s dry skin!

Johnson’s Baby, who were involved in funding this study, have used the finding in a recent advertorial to denigrate ALL natural oils. The truth is you do need to be careful with your choice of oils for delicate baby skin, particularly where there is a tendency to sensitivity or eczema, but mineral oils are certainly not the best alternative.

Sharon Trotter midwife and baby skincare expert advises they:

• create a greasy and sticky texture that is not a good medium for massage

• create a film or barrier on the skin which means skin cannot breath properly or eliminate toxins, which could lead to allergies or dryness

• do not absorb, leaving a layer of oil on the skin which is slippery

• provide no ‘nutritional’ value to nourish the skin

I would add that it is usually artificially fragranced, itself a cause of sensitivity and irritation.

Well-chosen plant oils by contrast can have very positive benefits for the skin. They:

  • Absorb and are chemically similar to the fats under our skin.
  • Carry fat soluble vitamins into the skin which help to nourish
  • Enhance the skin’s protective functioning without blocking the pores
  • Can help meet the body’s essential fatty acid requirements resulting in softer skin less prone to eczema.

However, you also need to wary of potentially sensitising nut oils, particularly where there is a tendency to eczema and allergies – peanut and tree nut oils such as almond and the seed oil sesame are all high on the list of sensitising ingredients.


So which are the best oils to use on your baby’s skin?

Oils which are low in oleic fatty acids (thought to be responsible for olive oils adverse effect) and high in linoleic, such as sunflower or starflower and evening primrose oil (both rich in GLA, which is particularly beneficial for dry, irritated skin and cradle cap) or coconut are the most suitable and favourable for baby skin.

Look after your oils by storing them in a cool place away from direct light and check the best before date. And use your nose – it is always a good idea to sniff an oil before use to check it still smell fresh!

I hope you enjoyed the article and if you want more information and advice on baby skincare you can download Jayne’s FREE eBook “10 Steps to Super Healthy Baby Skin” from her website www.nomnomskincare.com



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