How to understand baby skin care ingredient labels.

Johnson's Baby
Thanks to our brand partner, Johnson's Baby

Over recent years Johnson’s baby products have gotten a bit of a bad rap. Numerous posts have popped up on my Facebook feed declaring them unsafe and full of toxic ingredients. As someone who is pretty fussy about what I put on my kid’s skin, those posts left me feeling shocked and because I’ve used Johnson’s products since my kids were born and always considered it a trustworthy brand.

As we know, social media can be littered with half-truths and flat out lies, so before I threw out my Baby Bedtime Bath and replaced it with something labelled “natural,” I decided to do a bit more investigation. Luckily a Johnson’s expert was happy to answer my curly questions.

Q: As parents, we just want what’s best for our babies. There have been reports that Johnson’s products contain harmful ingredients like mineral oils and petroleum. Are your products really safe to use on our kids?

A: Yes. When used as directed, our products are safe for babies. In fact, safe ingredients are our main focus when we make baby products. Mineral oils are commonly used in skincare products, medicines and even some foods. The highly purified mineral oils we use are compatible with babies’ skin and that’s not always the case with some plant oils.

Our safety process ensures our products meet or exceed government safety standards in Australia and around the world.

"Our safety process ensures our products meet or exceed government safety standards in Australia and around the world." Image: iStock.

Q: Can you talk me through the safety process?

A: It’s a five-step safety process and, if any step fails, we go back to the drawing board.

First, we source raw materials from suppliers who meet our rigorous quality and safety standards. Then we assess the ingredients ourselves. We review the latest scientific and medical literature and anything without a full safety profile is rejected.

Once we create product formulas, we test them in a lab for potential issues, including skin and eye irritation. We then test the product under different conditions like extreme heat, cold and humidity to ensure it is remains safe. Consumers also try our products at home and report back.


The final step involves ongoing evaluation. We keep listening to consumer feedback and reviewing the latest scientific research to find ways to make our products better.

Q: I know you’re saying you only use safe ingredients, but a lot of parents have had concerns about some of your ingredients. What has Johnson’s done to address those concerns?

A: When parents have raised concerns about a particular ingredient, we have listened. For example, we heard your concerns about parabens and we no longer add them to our products.

Our number one priority is to support the health and wellbeing of your family. If an ingredient wasn’t safe, we wouldn’t allow it in our products.

"Our number one priority is to support the health and well-being of your family." Image: iStock.

Q: Product labels can be incredibly confusing. I often find myself looking at ingredient labels and my head spins – so many long, complicated and scary words! Are they really as scary as they sound?

A: We are required by law to list the ingredients in our products according to the International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredient (INCI) system.  That means that ingredient lists are often long and overwhelming!

Just because you can’t pronounce an ingredient, doesn’t mean it’s harmful.  If we were to use the INCI system for naming the ingredients in food, a banana would have a label that included ingredients like aspartic acid, linolenic acid, palmitic acid and 3-methylbut-1-yl ethanoate.

Despite their long names, every ingredient on a Johnson’s label has been researched and evaluated to make sure it’s safe for your baby’s skin.

Q: I tend to gravitate towards anything that’s labelled ‘natural’ or ‘organic’ when it comes to baby products but I often wonder if I’m being duped. Can you tell me what ‘natural’ really means?

When we talk about ‘natural’ ingredients, they are those obtained only from plants, animals, microbiological or mineral origin, including those obtained from these materials by physical processes, fermentation and other procedures without intentional chemical modification according to the International Organization of Standard (ISO).


It’s important for parents to realise that some natural products and ingredients can be harsh on baby’s skin.

What does natural really mean? Image: iStock.

Q: I absolutely love the smell of the Johnson’s bath time products but is the use of fragrance bad for my baby’s skin?

A: We go to great lengths to make sure our fragranced products are gentle, mild and appropriate for delicate baby skin. The fragrance ingredients we use have met strict international standards.

Yes, most Johnson’s baby products in Australia contain fragrance but they are safe and can actually help with your baby’s development. Research shows that when babies bathe with a fragranced product they can show up to 30 per cent more engagement cues, and may cry up to 25 per cent less.

Q: Finally, can you sum up what parents should be looking for in a baby product?

Babies have delicate skin so make sure you choose high quality products that have been formulated specifically for babies. You want products that are gentle and mild. Choose baby products that have been rigorously tested so you know they are safe for your baby.

Finally, if your baby or your family has a history of skin problems, make sure you ask a doctor before trying any products on your baby’s skin.

So, there you have it – a detailed response to your concerns about Johnson’s products. While I know I was speaking to a Johnson’s representative, I did find the company to be extremely transparent and open to answering any questions I had.

At the end of the day, it’s up to you to decide which products to use on your baby’s skin. I’ll continue to use Johnson’s products at bath-time because my trust in the brand has been restored (and that smell is delicious!).

This post was written thanks to our brand partner Johnson's Baby.

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