I’ve partnered with JohnsonsBaby for this post. Thanks, JohnsonsBaby!

Annabel loves to read, but it’s only been in the last couple of months that she’s realized reading is for more than just enjoying a good story — it can also unlock all the secrets of the world! For example, Mike and I used to communicate with each other in front of the kids via text. This worked until we realized Annie’s speedy eyes could see what we wrote.

Me, in a text: When the kids are asleep do you want to finish off that ice cream?
Annie, out loud: YOU CAN’T EAT OUR ICE CREAM!!!

In addition to our texts, Annie is also really into reading labels on things because, as she says, “They tell all of their secrets!” I must confess, this is partly because of me. Ever since I started doing my sporadic Whole 30 diets, I have been much better about reading the labels on the foods I buy (even though it means I sometimes spend WAY too long stressing over labels). And since Annie goes with me to the grocery store, she’s now reading them too.

looking at the packaging

reading labels

reading labels

Unsurprisingly, this leads to a lot of questions.

“Mom, what is pyridoxine?”
“What is silicon dioxide?”
“How about oxidane?”

The truth is that, for all of my label reading, I still find them pretty confusing. In the Whole30 world, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, that usually means you shouldn’t eat it. But what do you do when these things are in, say, your child’s shampoo or body lotion? It’s easy to look at a label and go, “Oh crap, what am I putting on my baaaaaaaybeeeeeee?”

The reality is that labels don’t have to be so confusing, and JOHNSON’s has been on a mission to empower parents to better understand how to read a label. I especially love their “Behind the Label” page on their website, which tells you what all of those crazy-sounding ingredients are, and why they’re included in a product. So when Annie says to me, “What’s tocopheryl acetate?” I can be like, “That’s Vitamin E! It’s used to moisturize skin and hair.” And I sound like a freaking genius. I love sounding like a genius!

What you may not realize (I didn’t until recently) is that a lot of scary-sounding ingredient names are for totally normal things. This is because most cosmetic companies use International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI), which is a fancy way of saying they use the scientific names for their ingredients to keep consistency throughout all the different products that are out there. In the United States, the FDA requires that all cosmetics include a listing of ingredients using the standardized INCI name for each ingredient. This means that, while your eyes may bug out upon seeing “pyridoxine,” it’s actually just the official chemical name of vitamin B6, an essential nutrient. And oxidane? It’s the official chemical name for water.

Another thing that’s easy to be confused about is natural vs. non-natural ingredients. People often see the word “organic” and assume it means the product is high-quality and safe. Conversely, they see non-natural ingredients on a label and worry about their safety. The reality, though, isn’t so simple. Non-natural ingredients can be safe, and are often necessary in baby products. Babies’ skin dries out more quickly — and is more easily damaged — than adult skin, so sometimes natural ingredients that work well for adults are simply too harsh for babies’ skin. What’s most important to JOHNSON’s is that the ingredients — natural or non-natural — are safe. Out of the thousands of cosmetic ingredients used globally, less than 2% meet JOHNSON’S standards for baby products. This is because JOHNSON’S holds both natural and non-natural ingredients to the same safety standards.

Labels may be stressful, but they don’t have to be totally inscrutable. Hopefully, by talking about labels and what they mean with Annie, she will grow up to be a well-informed consumer who won’t be phased by reading labels. And who knows? Maybe Annie will grow up to be a chemist!

 

First Draft

I absolutely loved reading when I was a kid. My brother and I would devour books as fast as we could get our hands on them (which was often, thanks to my gramma taking us to the library). Annabel is a very good reader, but it wasn’t until the last year that she started to “escape” into reading. And it was only in the last couple of months that she realized reading unlocks all the secrets of the world.

Mike and I used to communicate with each other in front of the kids by texting each other. This worked well until we realized Annie’s speedy eyes could see what we wrote.

Me, in a text: When the kids are asleep do you want to finish off that ice cream?
Annie, out loud: YOU CAN’T EAT OUR ICE CREAM!!!

Besides using her reading skills to bust our post-bedtime plans, Annie is really into reading about how things work and how things are made. I must confess, this is partly because of me. Ever since I started doing my sporadic Whole 30 diets, I have been much better about reading and understand the labels on the foods I buy (even though it means I sometimes spend WAY too long stressing over labels). And since Annie goes with me to the grocery store, she sees me reading labels…and now she’s reading them, too.

looking at the packaging

reading labels

reading labels

reading labels

She also reads the labels on everything in the house.

reading labels over breakfast

reading labels
She thinks it’s funny that I think it’s funny she reads the labels.

Unsurprisingly, this leads to a lot of questions.

“Mom, what is pyridoxine?”
“What is silicon dioxide?”
“How about oxidane?”

And of course, she can’t pronounce any of them! In the Whole30 world, if you can’t pronounce an ingredient, that usually means you shouldn’t eat it. But when these things are in, say, her shampoo or body lotion? I was like, “oh crap, what am I putting on my baaaaaaaybeeeeeee?”

Annabel, though, was like, “Let’s Google it!” because duh. And after a lot of Googling and researching, we realized that there are a lot of scary-sounding words for totally normal things. Like pyridoxine is just the official chemical name of vitamin B6, an essential nutrient. Silicon dioxide is a naturally occurring compound found in plants, rocks and sand, and human bodies. And oxidane? It’s the official chemical name for water.

Through my research, I discovered that the reason for all of these weird names is because most cosmetic companies use International Nomenclature of Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI), which is a fancy way of saying they use the scientific names for their ingredients to keep consistency throughout all the different products that are out there. In the United States, the FDA requires that all cosmetics include a listing of ingredients using the standardized INCI name for each ingredient.

I was especially grateful when I found JOHNSON’s “Behind the Label” page on their website. It’s a handy guide for explaining what each ingredient is and why it’s included in the product. So now when Annie says to me, “what’s tocopheryl acetate?” I can be like, “That’s Vitamin E! It’s used to moisturize skin and hair.” And I sound like a freaking genius. I love sounding like a genius!

Hopefully, by talking about labels and what they mean, Annie will grow up to be a well-informed consumer who won’t be phased by reading labels. And who knows? Maybe Annie will grow up to be a chemist!