Is $20 Baby Shampoo Worth It?


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It used to be that Johnson's (JNJ) was the standard baby skin-care brand, and any idea of luxury for infants meant using the line's lavender-scented products.

However, in an age of $1,000 strollers and $175 outfits newborns, upscale skin care is the latest decadence for children, and parents can choose from numerous new brands to lavish their tots with.

The catch, of course, is that these fancy lines such as Love Me Baby Me and Noodle & Boo are significantly pricier than good old Johnson's, and may leave parents wondering why their kids need $20 shampoo and body lotion.

After all, $20 stretches a lot further when it comes to the familiar baby bath names. Wal-Mart (WMT), for example, sells a Johnson's nine-product gift set for $19.95, which has full size bath and body goodies, including 9-ounce bottles of lotion and body wash.

On the other end of the spectrum, an 8-ounce bottle of shampoo from Love Me Baby Me, a California-based brand launched in 2007, is $19.95.

Behind the high cost is the claim that these products are far healthier for babies than their drugstore counterparts and are more suitable for their delicate skin.

Noodle & Boo, for example, has only hypoallergenic products -- which means they should cause fewer allergic reactions than standard lines. Many of the other brands are more expensive because of their natural ingredients and because of what they don't have, especially certain chemicals.

Burt's Bees Baby Bee line, California Baby, Nature's Organics and Love Me Baby Me, for instance, are all paraben-free. Recent studies have indicated that parabens may cause cancer, which led even some of the most budget-conscious parents to spend on the more expensive paraben-free names.

But is the hype behind these names really worth the higher cost?

Some dermatologists say yes.

"If you can avoid something that is potentially harmful such as a product with chemicals like paraben or synthetic fragrances, then why wouldn't you," says Jennifer Levine, a New York City-based dermatologist.

"Babies' skin is so much more sensitive than adults, and children are more prone to rashes, so these high-priced products aren't necessarily about being luxurious with your child, but more about being healthier."

But she says that the jury is still out on whether drugstore brands will cause children health or skin issues -- and adds that if you can't afford to splurge on the pricier names, you shouldn't feel guilty about sticking to the basics.

Many of the costly lines on the market are created by mothers who were on the hunt for high-quality products for their own children.

Here are four options:

Love Me Baby Me

Launched in 2007 by Rosemary Anthony, a mom in California who was frustrated by the lack of skin products for her two kids sensitive skin, this five product line is paraben-free, gluten-free, hypoallergenic and is made without synthetic fragrances, chemicals or preservatives.

The products such as the Smoothy Shampoo and the Butt Balm are made with organic ingredients such as sunflower seed oil. Prices start at $19.95

Noodle & Boo

Christine Burger, a mom who wanted to find products which would suit her children's skin, created this line which has expanded to add creams and other goodies which pamper women.

Coconut oil and fruit extracts are mainstays in the hypoallergenic products which include cleansing cloths and French milled soap. Prices start at $9.50.

California Baby

Since it officially launched in 1995 by mom Jessica Iclisoy, this line has grown to include 45 products.

Everything, including the Colds & Flu Massage Oil and the Calming Aromatherapy Bubble Bath is free of glutens, nut oils, soy, and almost every other allergy-causing ingredient. Prices start at $8.95

Nature's Baby Organics

This 19-product line was launched in 2006 by Adena Surabian, a mom whose two kids struggled with rashes and allergies when they were babies.

Each item such as the Vanilla-Tangerine Shampoo & Body Wash is 100% organic and uses ingredients such as macadamia and kukui nut oil. Prices start at $8.95.

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