Is baby shampoo really no tears?
November 11, 2005 8:58 AM   Subscribe

BabyShampooFilter: No More Tears? What is in baby shampoo that makes it not sting your eyes?

When I was in high school I worked in a hair salon and one of the stylists told me that No More Tears was truly bad for babies. She said when soap gets in your eyes it stings for a shouldn't be there, and should be flushed out with water.

Now, being a mother this thought has become more important to me.

In "No More Tears" for example is it true that they put astiseptic to make you not feel the burn, but it is still doing damage and should be flushed?? If so, are there brands of kids shampoo out there that are truly "No tears" that aren't harmful?
posted by Gooney to Health & Fitness (16 answers total)
I have a feeling it's due to the pH of the shampoo which makes it sting usually. And that "No More Tears" shampoo / soap is simply pH balanced to what your eyes are used to. Hence it just feels like water.

It's possible if you got enough in your eyes the residue might cause problems, but your eyes are generally pretty moist and I expect it'd just get washed out naturally pretty fast.

Eyes are a lot of resilient than people give them credit for.
posted by alexst at 9:04 AM on November 11, 2005
posted by alexst at 9:05 AM on November 11, 2005

I can assure you it isn't antiseptic that would make it not hurt (that's for cleaning out wounds... never met an antiseptic that didn't sting at least a little!)

You are probably thinking of a topical anaesthetic. I still doubt it...
posted by shepd at 9:09 AM on November 11, 2005

I might be remembering incorrectly, but I believe a doctor actually had my dad use baby shampoo in his eyes to clean out some oils (related to rosacea) that were irritating his eyes. So no, it probably isn't hurting anyone's eyes unless you're leaving it in there.
posted by mikeh at 9:21 AM on November 11, 2005

Ever use a baby shampoo and notice that you don't get as many suds as you do with a regular one (without using more of it)? One of the reasons tearless shampoos is so mild is the foaming agents used. Most non-tearless shampoos use sodium laurel sulfate as a foaming agent which is an irritant ... drying, harsh and acidic ... and not something you want to get in your eyes (or for that matter leave on your scalp too long either). Also they are carefully balanced as far as pH goes and really are as mild on the eyes as clean water.

And yes, doctors do suggest baby shampoos for cleaning the eyes and eyelids. I have never actually done so, because the idea of it freaks me out, but I have heard from friends that it works.

Eeeew. Now I am all grossed out thinking about taking q-tips and shampoo to eyes. Yuck.
posted by Orb at 9:53 AM on November 11, 2005

I think Orb's on the right trajectory. It probably is not something added, but something missing. I suggest you go read the ingredients on your regular shampoo bottle. I bet they include formaldehyde. That's enough to bring tears to your eyes right there.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:59 AM on November 11, 2005

mikeh, your dad's condition related to rosacea was probably blepharitis. There's a sort of elaborate cleansing ritual that uses baby shampoo to clear oil and other gunk out of inflammed tear ducts.
posted by nakedcodemonkey at 12:02 PM on November 11, 2005

So if baby shampoos are so benign, why don't we all use them? Or why doesn't someone invent a baby shampoo/conditioner combination for adults? I regularly suspect that conventional shampoo is overkill for those of us who use it every day -- sometimes more than once a day. Why shouldn't I switch to baby shampoo?
posted by Faze at 12:09 PM on November 11, 2005

Faze: I used to use a kids combo from France - Petite Dop or something. It was awesome: no stipping or drying, no tangling, no residue, cute little bottle that smelled great. No tears either. I should try to find it again, actually.
posted by barnone at 12:49 PM on November 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

When I was receiving radiation treatment to my eyes, the information sheets given to me by my doctors said to use baby shampoo. I doubt they would recommend it if it were somehow more toxic than regular shampoo.
posted by duck at 1:03 PM on November 11, 2005

I am boggling at these comments.

a) I've gotten J&J's "no more tears" baby shampoo in my eyes. It hurts like BUGFUCK. It sets your damn eye on FIRE, just like any other soap.

b) No. Do not intentionally put shampoo in your eye. That would be stupid.

c) Do not intentionally put shampoo in your eye. No doctor would ever recommend that.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:02 PM on November 11, 2005

And yet I have really truly been told by a real true medical doctor to apply a solution of baby shampoo to the very margin of my eyelids (that is, including what one thinks of as the inner rim of the lid) as part of the treatment for blocked meibomian glands.* It failed to hurt like bugfuck, too. Huh.

*I feel like a fraud here, because I certainly didn't remember that this was the name of these glands. Anyway, we're talking little clogged-up bumps on the underside of my upper eyelid.
posted by redfoxtail at 3:30 PM on November 11, 2005 [1 favorite]

I recently had blepharitis, as referenced in nakedcodemonkey's link, and was advised by my optometrist to use No More Tears - putting a tiny spot of it on a damp cotton pad and wiping it very gently along the edges and inner rim of the lids, and then wiping clean with another damp cotton pad. It barely hurt at all - I was amazed. There was a little bit of stinging, but nothing like I had expected, and the feeling of my eyes being clean and non-sticky afterwards was worth any stinging. It cleared the condition right up.

I always thought the 'no more tears' was due to it having a neutral pH.
posted by andraste at 5:34 PM on November 11, 2005

Yeah, well, I have sensitive eyes. Even the all-in-one contact lens solution makes my eyes sting.

You can get a lot of things in your eye without permanent harm - I've had gasoline, dirty motor oil, carbon tetrachloride, 95% ethanol, ethidium bromide, ethyl acetate, and the like in my eye before and they still seem to see OK - but it doesn't seem like a particularly great idea. (Ethidium soaked into the edge of a scratch on my cornea, which then fluoresced under blacklight for the next couple of days. I don't recommend this.)

In med school, they taught me that saline, buffered boric acid solutions, and ophthalmic pharmaceuticals were the only things that belonged in eyes, other than normal tear fluid, which is a 3-layer aqueous-lipid-aqueous fluid, sort of like a poussé-café or whatever they're called.
posted by ikkyu2 at 6:04 PM on November 11, 2005

ikkyu, is "hurts like bugfuck" analogous to "some discomfort" in doctorspeak? Nothing personal, just wondering.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:05 PM on November 11, 2005

Faze: I've definitely seen people advocate using baby shampoo only for whatever reason. It's probably true that 80% of the effectiveness of a shampoo is there no matter what brand you use or how much you spend.
posted by dhartung at 12:51 AM on November 12, 2005

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