Skip to main content

Skin cleansing in early life

Neonatal skin goes through a progressive adaptation to the extrauterine environment, and requires special care during this period.1 The immature epidermal barrier is thin, sensitive and fragile, making it particularly vulnerable to trauma, chemicals and infection.1 In addition, the composition of the infant’s skin microbiome begins to develop and evolve during this time.2

Skin-skin contact with caregivers is an important way of facilitating the normal development of the infant microbiome, through transfer of commensal microorganisms. Everyday bath routines are also ideal opportunities to interact with babies through touch, and to stimulate their multiple senses. 

While cleansing is vital to good health and hygiene,2 great care should be taken in selecting skin care products for infants, to ensure the skin’s integrity is preserved during the first months of life.1, 2 Ideally, products used on infant skin should not interfere with the skin’s natural pH,2 nor disrupt the skin barrier2 or the developing skin microbiome.3, 4 Products should also be formulated to minimise potential irritation to the skin and eyes.2

“Natural” may not be safest

Some products designed for infant use may still contain substances that are potentially harmful to the skin of infants. Labels such as “natural”, “organic”, “dermatologically tested”, “chemical free” or “pH balanced” do not necessarily guarantee the safety of the ingredients.1, 5

Certain ingredients derived from natural sources may still interact strongly with skin proteins and lipids, resulting in irritation, dryness and skin barrier damage.6 Further, cleansers with a high pH can alter the biochemical structure of the skin barrier function,6 leading to skin dehydration2 and disrupting the development of the skin microbiome.7

In addition, there is concern that the use of some ingredients, including some ‘natural’ fragrances, are not specifically tested to be safe on infant skin, and can contain fragrance allergens that may cause irritation and allergic reactions.8

JOHNSON'S® is committed to scientific research

The JOHNSON’S® approach is a standard that few others attain. We understand as well as or better than anyone, the need to maintain a fine balance between nature and science.

Our firm commitment to science is reflected by 120 years of scientific research. We partner with leading paediatric skin care experts, healthcare professionals, fragrance experts and parents, to continually advance research-based infant care and wellbeing, in alignment with our own stringent Best For Baby™ Standards. Against this strong scientific backdrop, JOHNSON’S® has carefully crafted a gentle product range that is clinically proven to meet the unique needs of newborn skin (Figures 1 & 2), while encouraging natural bonding between parents and their infant.

JOHNSON’S® skilfully balances science and nature

Our products are scientifically formulated to keep intact what nature intended, making them safe to use from the first moments of life.* We select only ultra-mild, soap-free surfactants to minimise disruption to the delicate skin barrier. We formulate our products with ultra-gentle fragrances that improve the sensory experience, but show very low potential for skin irritation, being free of fragrance allergens.†9-13 Our formulations are also free from parabens, phthalates, sulphates and dyes*.14

JOHNSON’S® products‡ are also designed to maintain an infant’s natural skin pH of 5.5, which is recommended by an evidence-based neonatal skin care guideline.15 Further, our products work to prevent transepidermal water loss through gentle, carefully selected emollients.  Finally, in light of our pioneering research into the infant skin microbiome, part of our product range§ has been tested to ensure that the microbiome can establish naturally after birth, without interference. 16, 17

Against this backdrop of strong scientific research, we remain committed to supporting the nurture and care of each precious infant.

*Newborn range only
†List of fragrance allergens as identified by the Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety of the European Commission. 2012. Refers to reformulated products only.
‡JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ products.
§JOHNSON’S® HEAD-TO-TOE™ and JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ products only.

Use all products only as directed.
© Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. 2018



1. Fernandes JC, Nozawa MR. [Effectiveness study of the universal newborn hearing screening]. Cien Saude Colet. 2010;15:353-61.
2. Telofski LS, Morello AP, 3rd, Mack Correa MC, Stamatas GN. The infant skin barrier: can we preserve, protect, and enhance the barrier? Dermatol Res Pract. 2012;2012:198789.
3. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (Bubbles I & II).
4. Prescott SL, Larcombe DL, Logan AC, West C, Burks W, Caraballo L, et al. The skin microbiome: impact of modern environments on skin ecology, barrier integrity, and systemic immune programming. World Allergy Organ J. 2017;10:29.
5. Goldberg AFG, Chemjobber CJ. A comprehensive overview of chemical-free consumer products. Nature Chemistry. 2014;6:1.
6. Ananthapadmanabhan KP, Moore DJ, Subramanyan K, Misra M, Meyer F. Cleansing without compromise: the impact of cleansers on the skin barrier and the technology of mild cleansing. Dermatol Ther. 2004;17 Suppl 1:16-25.
7. Capone KA, Dowd SE, Stamatas GN, Nikolovski J. Diversity of the human skin microbiome early in life. J Invest Dermatol. 2011;131:2026-32.
8. Pigatto P, Martelli A, Marsili C, Fiocchi A. Contact dermatitis in children. Ital J Pediatr. 2010;36:2.
9. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. Fragrance Fact Sheet.
10. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. UL Palette Screening Report. May 2016.
11. European Commission. Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. Opinion on fragrance allergens in cosmetic products, June 26- 27, 2012. Accessed March 7, 2018.
12. State of California Environmental Protection Agency Office of Environmental Health Hazard Assessment. Chemicals known to the state to cause cancer or reproductive toxicity—May 25, 2018. Available at: Accessed October 16, 2018.
13. Johnson & Johnson. CI Safety and Care Commitment Website.
14. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Global Claims Database.
15. AWHONN Guidelines 3rd Edition 2013.
16. Data on File. Johnson & Johnson Consumer Inc. (Capone KA, Tierney N, Smith H, Tian S, Horowitz P. Longitudinal development of the skin microbiome during the neonatal period. AAD 2017).
17. Data on file. JOHNSON’S® CottonTouch™ Infant Skin Microbiome US Study. Results available Q2 2018.

Importance Of Everyday Rituals

Your baby's everyday activities could help stimulate her senses and enhance her learning experience, leading to healthy, happy development. Know more, here.

Benefits Of A Bathtime Ritual

Bathtime can be so much more than just a ritual. The direct skin-to-skin contact could help stimulate her senses. Read on to see how else it benefits your little one.

Moms around the world trust JOHNSON’S® to care for their babies

We are committed to working with moms, healthcare experts and scientists to ensure our products continue achieving the highest standards in safety, quality and care.

Back to Top