July 07, 2023 2 min read

When it comes to choosing a shampoo for your little ones, opting for a "tear free" formula is an obvious, logical choice. Who wants their kiddo's eyes to sting during bathtime?! But you might be surprised to learn "tear free" is largely a marketing term and doesn't have a single, universal standard definition.

In general, what we want is to have a safe and gentle shampoo that won't sting, burn, or irritate baby's sensitive eyes (our Head To Toe Wash fits that bill). After all, baby's eyes don't have the same tear secretions to protect their eyes from irritants.

First, some quick background on shampoos:

  • Shampoos are formulated using surfactants which are chemical compounds that bind to oil and dirt on one end and water on the other so that you can wash off the yuck.

  • There is a wide range of surfactants with a variety of different properties. Some are harsher and strip moisture, some are gentler. Some are highly foaming, others are not. Some are biodegradable, others are not.

In general, there are 4 main ways that shampoos are formulated to be gentle on the eyes, AKA "tear free."

    1. Dilution. The shampoo will be diluted with water and other fillers (e.g. propylene glycol/propanediol).

    2. Neutral pH. Skin and hair's pH hovers between 4.5 and 5.5, and in general you'd like your skin and hair care products to be as close to that range as possible. However, when it comes to tear free shampoo, creating a formula with a pH closer to 7 (which is the pH of water) will be gentler on the eyes.

    3. Use of gentle surfactants. Opting for milder, less-stripping surfactants is easier on skin and hair, and is also gentler on eyes.

    4. Use of eye numbing ingredients. Ingredients such as synthetic alkyl polyethoxylates and/or alkyl phenol polyethoxylates are added to the formula to numb the eye so that it's not possible for your little one to feel the sting. This doesn't mean that irritation isn't happening, it just means that the irritation can't be felt.

Our nontoxic Head To Toe Wash is a shampoo and body wash in one, formulated with a neutral pH and mild surfactants to be tear free. It's handcrafted with only EWG safest rated ingredients and it's refillable, too!

Our surfactants:

  • Sodium lauroyl isethionate is a "new generation" surfactant known for its ability to offer rich, creamy lather while also being very gentle on skin. It's a mild coconut-derived biodegradable surfactant and a WholeFoods approved ingredient.
  • Decyl glucoside is a mild corn sugar-derived biodegradable surfactant with gentle foam that doesn't strip moisture. It's ECOCERT certified.
  • Disodium cocoamphodiacetate is a very mild, coconut-derived biodegradable surfactant that cleans while offering a conditioning effect. It's ECOCERT certified.

Plus, our Head To Toe Wash has a pH between 6.5 and 7.

However, with that said, we always recommend doing your best to keep shampoo out of your little one's eyes as much as possible, even with tear free formulas.

Even though it won't sting, it's best not to get anything (other than prescribed medication) in your little ones' delicate eyeballs! Just because you "can" doesn't mean you "should."

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