As a dermatologist and soon-to-be first-time mother, I have been scouring the web (and department store shelves) for baby-friendly skincare products. The more I look into ingredients, the more products I find that would be great for adults too! Products made for babies tend to be more gentle, fragrance-free, and better suited for sensitive skin, and I think there’s a lot we can learn from the skincare we are slathering on our precious little ones. Here is a round-up of the baby products I think we as adults can incorporate into our own routines once in a while.

Zinc Oxide Diaper Rash Paste

I know what you’re thinking – why would this be recommended for adults? It turns out that just like babies get rashes on their bums, many of us get rashes in areas where we sweat or where our skin rubs together, such as under the chest area or in between the thighs. I recommend zinc oxide paste to patients daily to combat these types of rashes. Apply a thick layer to the sensitive skin and wash it off at the end of the day. This paste will protect your skin from sweat and irritation all day.


Many sunscreens formulated for babies are SPF 30-50, broad-spectrum (meaning it blocks both UVA rays which cause photoaging and UVB rays which predispose skin to developing skin cancer) and made of pure minerals, either zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.

In a nutshell, there are two types of sunscreens – physical and chemical. Put simply, physical sunscreens like zinc oxide and titanium dioxide function to protect your skin from UV radiation by deflecting rays. Chemical sunscreens absorb UV radiation and turn it into heat energy. 

Physical sunscreens, also known as mineral sunscreens, tend to cause less irritation and allergies for people with sensitive skin, and I recommend them for anyone who will be out in the sun for a long period of time as well (of course, reapplying every two hours). Baby sunscreen is a great choice for adults as well, especially adults with sensitive or irritation-prone skin!

Other features you can look for include water-resistant sunscreen for athletes or those who are planning to be swimming or near water, and you can always look for different forms that the sunscreens come in. For example, sometimes sunscreens for children come as sprays, which are easier to get onto squirming kids, and easy to get onto the backs or hard to reach spots for adults. My only tip with spray sunscreens is to refrain from using them directly on your faces to prevent inhalation of the aerosolized compounds. For children and adults, spray the aerosolized sunscreen into the palms of your hands, rub together, and then apply onto the face. 

Sunscreens for babies also come in the form of sunscreen sticks, which are easier to apply. I like using sunscreen sticks for the sensitive region around the eyes. Oftentimes my patients find that liquid or lotion sunscreens tend to run into the eyes especially on hot days with sweating or heavy physical activity. Sunscreen sticks are more oily and sticky and tend to stay put where they are applied.

Petrolatum Healing Ointment

Petrolatum is my go-to for moisturizing dry chapped or irritated skin. Petrolatum can be used as a thick fragrance-free moisturizer or on top of cuts and scrapes to protect the skin and provide it a moist environment to heal. I recommend petrolatum to adults as a moisturizer, especially for eczema-prone or dry skin patients. When you come out of the shower, while the skin is still moist, apply a layer of the jelly where you need it. You can put it anywhere – your nail cuticles, elbows, knees, or any spot on your body that tends to get a little drier and needs some extra moisturizing. I also especially love a little dab to the lips overnight; this works as a deeply hydrating mask and you’ll wake up with smooth non-chapped lips.

Foaming Hand Sanitizer

You would not believe the number of hand dryness and rash cases I see in a day! Many adults develop itchy hand rashes on the palms and fingers, usually due to irritation or exposure to allergies. One of the biggest irritants for having dry flaky itchy skin on your hands is actually frequent hand washing. As a soon-to-be new mom, I know my hands will be in water all day long, from washing the baby to doing chores. One way to avoid irritation and dryness on your hands is to use hand sanitizer as a replacement for constantly washing. 

Look for hand sanitizers that are formulated with ingredients like oat extract and aloe to soothe sensitive skin. Also, keep an eye out to buy alcohol-free hand sanitizers. Alcohol acts as a powerful irritant that also dries out the skin and therefore results in a reduced skin barrier. Avoid alcohol in all your skincare products if you can.

Baby Hand and Face Wipes 

The reason for using hand and face wipes is the same as the reason for using foaming hand sanitizer – the less you expose your skin repeatedly to water and chemicals (including soaps), the more you protect your skin from developing rashes and dry flakes. Hand and face wipes are useful for cleansing and sanitizing without over-drying your skin. Look for wipes that contain aloe, vitamin E or other soothing ingredients to help calm down inflamed skin.

Baby Wash and Shampoo 

Tear-free, hypoallergenic and free of parabens and mineral oils, ultra-gentle washes and shampoos designed for your little ones will work well to cleanse adult hair and skin as well. I like the ones that doubles as a shampoo and a body wash - its delicate formulation is gentle enough to prevent irritation on the most sensitive and irritated adult skin. An added bonus is that baby washes and shampoos do not irritate your eyes, so if you accidentally get some into your eyes, you won’t end up with that horrible painful sensation!

Baby Bar Soap

Baby bar soap, in my opinion, is superior to adult bar soap. Many adult bar soaps end up actually drying the skin because adults love that “squeaky clean” sensation after lathering up.  Baby bar soap, on the other hand, is specifically formulated to be extra hydrating, as it incorporates moisturizing cream directly within the bar. Additionally, they are made without dyes, parabens, phthalates, and are hypoallergenic and specifically formulated with a pH neutral formula, great for sensitive adult skin.

Baby Oil

Baby oil is a good multitasking product, as it can be used for dry flakes on the scalp and dry patches anywhere on the body. Many babies are born with seborrheic dermatitis, commonly called “cradle cap,” which is seen as yellow flakes on the scalp. Baby oil is a great way to moisturize away those patches of dry skin. Babies commonly develop eczema as well, and baby oil can be a gentle way to moisturize those dry patches. Adults can benefit from the gentle moisturizing effects of baby oil too, on the same areas on the body.

Incorporate these products into your daily routine, and you’ll have smooth, soft, healthy skin - just like a baby.