Non-Toxic Skincare for Babies: Q & A with Dr. Alexis Reid

These days, so many of my close friends and family members are either pregnant or have young babies.  Coincidentally, in the last year or so, I've also worked 1-on-1 with many fantastic moms-to-be during their pregnancies. A few years ago, pregnancy and children were definitely not on my radar, but times are changing! This baby boom has definitely challenged me to learn, research and delve deeper into the topic of pre- and postnatal care for both mommas and babies. 

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Through my research, I stumbled upon a local company called Eco Chic Movement. Eco Chic is a line of skincare products developed by Ottawa-based Naturopathic Doctor (ND), Alexis Reid.  Her carefully curated line includes 100% toxin free oils, shampoos and a variety of creams for babies and a few products for adults too. With so many babies, new moms, and pregnant gals in my life, I've been attending a lot of baby showers and Eco Chic has been my go-to gift.

Since I have been in such frequent correspondence with Dr. Reid in the last year or so, I really wanted to feature her and her company on my blog.  Just to give you a little background, she is not only an ND, but she is also a trained Chemical Engineer with a Master’s Degree in Pharmacology and Toxicology with a focus on breast cancer.  Given her extensive knowledge and training, I'd been dying to pick her brain and I'm so excited to share this post!

Please read on to learn more about Dr. Reid, why she started Eco Chic Movement, the importance of choosing non-toxic ingredients, some of the things you should be wary of when choosing skincare products for babies, and much much more!

Amy: Eco Chic Movement is such a great product line. What inspired you to start this company in the first place?
Dr. Reid: Thanks Amy! I had just finished my undergrad in Chemical Engineering and was starting my Master’s in Pharmacology/Toxicology, with a focus on breast cancer research. Part of starting my master’s involved doing a lot of background reading and research into all the potential causes of breast cancer. I stumbled upon a collection of research papers dating back to the 1940’s that showed a link between parabens and an increased risk for breast cancer. That night I went home from the lab and, while having a shower, starting reading all the ingredients on my shampoo, conditioner and body wash bottles. Not surprisingly, they all had parabens and phthalates as ingredients. I decided the next day that I was going to replace all my current personal care products with better “natural” options. Upon going to the health food store, I was not happy with what was available. Keep in mind that this was 2007, and at that time, most natural products were very “earthy” and not like what I was used to at all. I swapped out most of my products and got by, but I wasn’t truly happy with the new options.

Fast forward a few years to my 3rd year of Naturopathic medical school. We were learning about different herbs for and their benefits for the skin. I got the idea that I could try to make my own products and include the herbs for the beneficial properties, which would also be a great way for me to remember which herb does what! It turns out it wasn’t as easy as I thought it was going to be. I spent the next year, in the kitchen of my condo in Toronto, formulating and re-formulating products until I finally came up with recipes I was happy with. I launched Eco Chic Movement at the Ottawa Baby Show in November 2013 shortly after I graduated and moved to Ottawa to start my Naturopathic practice.

Amy: Can you talk a bit about how you formulate your products?
Dr. Reid:
Formulating products is definitely a process. I start by deciding what I want my end goal to be for the product. Is it to: protect baby’s bum for wetness, help keep mature skin hydrated, moisturize oily skin without causing an over production of oil etc. Then I research the properties of all the fatty acids I could use to make up the oil component of the product. Next comes what will be included in the water component. I often use ingredients that help to pull moisture from the air into the skin. I like to also add herbs to the products to take advantage of their natural properties. I then determine the proportions of each ingredient in the product and start making test batches. It can often take many test batches to get the product to turn out how I want it. After that, I select a group of testers who I sent the products to along with a survey for their feedback.

Amy: What are some "red flag" ingredients that are commonly found in skincare products? 
Dr. Reid: Where do I start? The 2 biggest red flag ingredients that I have patients avoiding are parabens and phthalates. I have written a series of blog posts on the Top 10 ingredients to avoid in your skin care products, to help break things down and make it easy for you as a consumer. The one insider secret I always like to let people in on is to be very careful about fragrance in products. A loophole exists when it comes to the ingredient fragrance or parfum on skincare product labels. Since the fragrance is considered a proprietary recipe of the company making the product, they do not have to disclose what makes up the fragrance. Almost 100% of the time that fragrance is going to contain either parabens or phthalates.

Amy: Are there any known adverse affects (short and/or long term) of using products with the ingredients you listed above?
Dr. Reid: This is an area that more research is currently being conducted. We do know that exposure to endocrine (hormone) disrupting chemicals, which both parabens and phthalates are, is linked to a variety of different health conditions including: infertility, breast cancer, prostate cancer, obesity, diabetes and thyroid disorders.

For babies and children the need to avoid these “red flag” ingredients is even greater.
The reason for this is three fold:

  1. Babies/Children have a higher percentage of body fat than adults. These toxin sequester (or are pulled into) the fat cells in the body as a way of getting them out of the bloodstream. As babies grow, these toxins are released causing them to be exposed over a long period of time.
  2. Babies’/Children’s enzymes that help to breakdown toxins, called the CYP enzymes, are not yet functioning to their full capacity  
  3. Many of the red flag ingredients are considered to be neurotoxins.

Like most things when it comes to health, it may not be possible to fully eliminate our exposure to endocrine disrupting hormones, but there are many easy switches that you can make to reduce your exposure. The average woman uses 16 personal care products/day. Switching out even half of them makes a big difference. I generally recommend first replacing products that you use frequently and that stay on your skin all day. Examples of these are body lotions and facial moisturizers.

Amy: One last questions! Where can we find your products?
Dr. Reid: Eco Chic Movement products can be purchased on our website and at the following retailers.

You can stay in touch with Dr. Reid by following Eco Chic Movement on Facebook and Instagram

 The Eco Chic Movement "Baby Shower Gift Set" contains diaper cream, baby wash/shampoo, face cream, lotion & massage oil.

The Eco Chic Movement "Baby Shower Gift Set" contains diaper cream, baby wash/shampoo, face cream, lotion & massage oil.