What the world does not need now: Lotions, potions, and oil

What you are about to read was conceived as a “she says/she says” concept, but as we finished writing it together, we concluded it might be better presented as a video. Regardless, this is what it would be like if you were sitting next to us. Except that if you were really looking at me, you might notice that I haven’t yet showered today.

Heather: About two years ago, my friend Karen told me about the no ‘poo movement and I thought it was crazy. She was considering stopping shampoo altogether in an effort to make her hair silky and shiny for her wedding. Already every-other-day shampooers, Rookie Dad Alec and I were listening with attention, but also thought she was a little gross. She mentioned some wacky vinegar potions as a substitute for hair-washing. Ick. Imagine the smell.

Since then, Alec and I have both limited our own hair washing to twice a week. The funny thing is that we didn’t talk about it again until about eight months into the experiment. He said, “After listening to Karen, I only wash my hair twice a week.” Shut up, me too!

Whitney: I don’t really soap my own body, but I have to wash my hair everyday or I go crazy. Other than that I am not a big lotions and potions girl. You’d probably find my medicine cabinet very dull. While an elegant bundle of organic baby shampoo and soap makes a cute shower gift, it’s not high on my list of things rookie moms need.

Whenever folks offer us baby skin care product samples, I usually decline. I don’t lotion my kids on a daily basis. Nor do I powder them.

And oil? What is up with that? Having a received bundles of skin care gifts, starting when Julian was born 6 years ago, we have what I would call a life-time supply of lotions and potions. And you know what NEVER runs out? Baby oil. Because I never use it. So each kit that comes with a wee bottle of oil results in one more unopened bottle on the shelf.

Is all this necessary? Don't babies already have perfect skin?

Heather: Wait! You don’t use soap? Last week, Alec read me this article about a person going cold-turkey with no soap or shampoo for a YEAR without telling his wife. He swears she can’t tell the difference.

Whitney: Bummer for her. I love the way my husband smells after a shower. He’s a rigorous soap user.

Heather: I don’t think I could throw away my bar of soap, but I have no trouble adopting this method for my kids. The boys get a soapless bath every other day. Aside from hand-washing, I don’t think their bodies need soap. They aren’t stinky (for at least a few more years).  I also don’t shampoo them — more from laziness than ideology — but I know Alec does.

Whitney: I totally agree that soap is unnecessary for the kids. Plus, washing makes bathtime no fun. But my soap-loving husband washes them thoroughly and our parenting pact is that we don’t correct each other.

So now I will make an exception to my history of not recommending lotions and say that my daughter gets eczema, especially behind her knees (?!) and this exederm brand stuff works pretty well. I put the lotion behind her knees while she’s sleeping, which is the only time she will allow me to do it.

Heather: Ok, if you’re getting specific about what you actually use, I do have a few of my favorite products to share too. We’re not just dousing each other with vinegar potions in my house. There are a few notable exceptions to my lack of skincare product consumption:

  1. We use “special lotion” as a treat for bedtime back scratches and massages. I got a sample from California Baby (California Baby Calming Every Day Lotion) that we used every night until it ran out. I finally bought more yesterday.
  2. I love this un-petroleum jelly for everything from chapped lips to dry skin. I also swear by desitin zinc for preventing and treating diaper rash.
  3. Bubble bath is a good time but probably evil for their skin. Say no to Sodium Laurel whatever-it’s-called!
  4. When my babies were infants, I massaged them with regular olive oil. Just sayin’

Whitney: Oh, we do have a new addiction: detangler is an every day thing. Ok, not every day (because I only bathe my children every other day — that’s not wrong is it?) Little Twig sent me a bundle of goodies and I love both the packaging and the product. We even used it all up. The conditioning detangler is fabulous because I can let Scarlett rinse it out herself. The fact that it’s leave-in is perfect for her half-assed rinsing process.

Heather: My curly boys get a spritz of detangler too. We like one that Noodle & Boo sent us (at one spritz per head twice a week, the bottle is going strong after 2 years). I also share my own curly-hair spritz by Ouidad.

What’s your take on soaps, lotions and potions? Best thing ever? Or something you could live without?

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RookieMoms.com co-founder Whitney lives with her husband, son, and daughter in the San Francisco Bay Area where she writes about parenting, crafts, and activities that moms can do with babies in tow. She and Heather also publish 510Families.com, a site for East Bay parents and are the authors of The Rookie Mom's Handbook and Stuff Every Mom Should Know.