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Differences in Baby Wipes

5 minutes


New parents are inundated with choice when it comes to buying products for their newborn and choosing which baby wipes to use is no different. It can be tempting for them to simply pick the lowest priced option, without ever considering how the wipes are really different to each other. Given how much the chemical composition and even the number of ingredients in baby wipes can vary, this article explores these differences and the potential implications for baby skin.

Why baby’s skin can be so susceptible to added ingredients

Although it was suited to the intra-uterine environment, baby’s skin needs to continue to develop over the first year of life to form a robust barrier against the world in which we live.1,2 The incomplete barrier formed by a baby’s stratum corneum results in greater trans-epidermal water loss (TEWL) and reduced skin hydration, as well as allowing topical agents to be easily absorbed.1,3 The high ratio of baby body surface area to body weight further contributes to topical agents having a more intense effect on baby skin.1

Unsurprisingly, given the reduced epidermal barrier function of baby’s skin, the usual age of onset of atopic dermatitis (AD) is three to six months.1,4 This common skin condition affects approximately 20% of infants and is characterised by epidermal barrier dysfunction, reduced diversity of the skin microbiome, inflammation and itching.5-7 Its increasing prevalence, has led to an investigation into the importance of environmental factors and the realisation that the intrinsic barrier dysfunction and inflammatory response can be worsened by ingredients in products used on the skin.1,8,9 Higher rates of AD are even seen in areas with hard water, leading to the hypothesis that chemicals in hard water may irritate the skin.9

It is recommended that any topical agents used for bathing and cleansing newborns and infants, should not adversely alter or affect the protective skin barrier.1

Minimising ingredients and maximising purity with WaterWipes water technology

Even in wipes considered ‘pure’ or ‘natural’ the average number of ingredients can start at seven so parents should be advised to always check the ingredients list on the back of the pack. WaterWipes contain just two, 99.9% purified water and a drop of grapefruit seed extract (GSE).

The water used within WaterWipes is what makes the product unique. WaterWipes are manufactured under clean room conditions using a unique purifying technology. The water passes through a seven-step purification process that removes impurities, softens and purifies the water. This purifying process makes the water significantly purer than cooled boiled water and produces a unique product that effectively cleanses the skin, without the need for several additional cleansing ingredients.

The difference in ingredients in WaterWipes and other wipes.

Ingredients with irritancy potential that may be found in other baby wipes


Surfactants are added to many baby wipes to decrease surface tension, allowing fat-soluble impurities to be removed from the skin surface.4 The interaction of cleanser surfactants with stratum corneum proteins and lipids can be deleterious to skin. This damage can provoke scaling, dryness, tightness, roughness, erythema and swelling.4,10

The damage caused to skin barrier function by surfactants may be evidenced by an increased TEWL. Those with AD can experience a more severe increase in TEWL and suffer from irritation at a significantly lower concentration of the surfactant.8,9

WaterWipes technology means that there is no need for added surfactants. The unique water purifying technology lowers surface tension, resulting in increased wettability and access to more dirt and impurities, therefore providing a deeper and more effective clean and with just two ingredients.

The differences in the cleaning of skin surfaces when cleaned with tap water, with WaterWipes and with no cleaning at all.


Preservatives may be added to a product to prevent microbial growth from either the manufacturing process or contamination of the product during use.4 Typically more than one preservative is used in a product to provide preservation against a range of microorganisms.4 A list of acceptable preservative chemicals is maintained by the European Union, some of which can only be tolerated up until a specific concentration.11 Further ingredients may be added with a preservative to improve its function (e.g. by improving penetration into microbial cells) and allow for a reduced concentration.12

WaterWipes are manufactured under clean room conditions to prevent microbial contamination. This is a fresh product meaning they should be used within four weeks of opening and resealed after every use.


Products may still have a smell if labelled ‘fragrance-free’ but should be free of added fragrances. ‘Unscented’ means that a product has been formulated to have no scent, but ingredients may still have been added to mask the odour of the formulated product.4 Fragrances can cause and worsen itching, in both those with and those without AD—in some cases, the mechanisms behind this can be unclear.6 They can also provoke irritation or allergic skin responses on contact.4

What makes WaterWipes different to other baby wipes?

WaterWipes have been validated by the Skin Health Alliance as being purer than using cotton wool and water, therefore helping maintain the important skin barrier function of the stratum corneum, while offering the convenience of a wipe.

An explanation as to why WaterWipes is purer than cotton wool and water

WaterWipes are highly recommended by midwives and other healthcare professionals and have become the preferred wipe for many Neonatal Intensive Care Units throughout Ireland, the UK, the US, Australia and New Zealand.13

Additionally, WaterWipes is the only baby wipe to hold numerous accreditations and registrations from global skin and allergy associations including:

  • The Skin Health Alliance

  • Allergy UK

  • The National Eczema Association of America (NEA)

  • The French Association for the Prevention of Allergies (Association Française pour la Prévention des Allergies - AFPRAL)

  • Vegan Society

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1 Cooke, A. et al. Skin care for healthy babies at term: A systematic review of the evidence. Midwifery 56, 29-43, doi:10.1016/j.midw.2017.10.001 (2018).

2 Nikolovski, J., Stamatas, G. N., Kollias, N. & Wiegand, B. C. Barrier Function and Water-Holding and Transport Properties of Infant Stratum Corneum Are Different from Adult and Continue to Develop through the First Year of Life. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 128, 1728-1736, doi: (2008).

3 Oranges, T., Dini, V. & Romanelli, M. Skin Physiology of the Neonate and Infant: Clinical Implications. Adv Wound Care (New Rochelle) 4, 587-595, doi:10.1089/wound.2015.0642 (2015).

4 Kuller, J. M. Infant Skin Care Products: What Are the Issues? Adv Neonatal Care 16 Suppl 5S, S3-s12, doi:10.1097/anc.0000000000000341 (2016).

5 Chalmers, J. R. et al. Daily emollient during infancy for prevention of eczema: the BEEP randomised controlled trial. Lancet 395, 962-972, doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(19)32984-8 (2020).

6 Kamer, B., Pasowska, R., Dółka, E., Blomberg, A. & Rotsztejn, H. Prevalence of atopic dermatitis in infants during the first six months of life: authors' observations. Postepy Dermatol Alergol 30, 277-281, doi:10.5114/pdia.2013.38355 (2013).

7 Langan, S. M., Irvine, A. D. & Weidinger, S. Atopic dermatitis. Lancet 396, 345-360, doi:10.1016/s0140-6736(20)31286-1 (2020).

8 Kantor, R. & Silverberg, J. I. Environmental risk factors and their role in the management of atopic dermatitis. Expert Rev Clin Immunol 13, 15-26, doi:10.1080/1744666x.2016.1212660 (2017).

9 Cork, M. J. et al. Epidermal Barrier Dysfunction in Atopic Dermatitis. Journal of Investigative Dermatology 129, 1892-1908, doi: (2009).

10 Ananthapadmanabhan, K. P., Moore, D. J., 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 17 Suppl 1, 16-25, doi:10.1111/j.1396-0296.2004.04s1002.x (2004).

11 European Comission. Cosmetic ingredient database (Cosing) - List of preservatives allowed in cosmetic products (2016).

12 Rodriguez, K. J., Cunningham, C., Foxenberg, R., Hoffman, D. & Vongsa, R. The science behind wet wipes for infant skin: Ingredient review, safety, and efficacy. Pediatr Dermatol 37, 447-454, doi:10.1111/pde.14112 (2020).

13 WaterWipes. Data on file.

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