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Gabrielle Union shared what she wishes she knew “before becoming a mom” to her 4-year-old daughter Kaavia James, and it’s completely convicting. As she casually partakes in a little self-care, donning a face mask for Instagram, she expertly and decisively nails the problems with the infant skincare industry.
“I wish I knew that Black and Brown kids have different skincare needs,” she said in the video. “Diaper rash looks a lot different on children of color than it does on kids without melanin.”
Union goes to explain that when her daughter was a baby, and she saw her diaper rash for the first time, she thought, “She’s dying!” “Because that’s what it looked like,” she adds.
“When you look at a lot of the studies, most of those studies are done with groups of babies that are white,” the Truth Be Told actress shared. “So when you see something that is deemed, ‘the best for all kids,’ it’s not for all kids, it’s for kids who don’t have the same amount of melanin.”
She also talked about the struggles to access to childcare and work that mothers of various backgrounds experience. “It’s not about, ‘are you a good mom or not?’ but money plays a huge role in access.”
The Bring It On alum added, “If you were to center the needs of melanated needs and melanated people, everyone is covered. Center us!”
In her caption, Union shared why she wanted to post this video: “One thing about motherhood it’s full of constant surprises. To any parent second guessing or feeling lost just know you’re doing an amazing job and keep learning. 🏾”
Union and her husband Dwyane Wade founded The Proudly Co., which “uplifts, inspires, and empowers communities of color by celebrating melanated skin.”
Proudly creates “cleaner, functional baby care products specifically formulated to nourish all shades of melanated skin.” The company posted on Union’s video, “Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing this important message @gabunion! 💛✨ We’re PROUD to be centering the needs of Black & brown babies and their extra-special skin.”
Dr. Jolene Brighten, board-certified naturopathic endocrinologist, commented, “The same is true for adults too. Yeast infections aren’t always that beefy red, friends. This is so important to talk about. Thanks for normalizing the conversation 👏.”
One parent wrote, “This! My baby wasn’t responding to the typical advice for skincare needs and as a first time mama I was confused. Until I sat down and thought about it from an adult perspective. I felt so stupid as well, because my background in microbiology and health should have come into play, but I feel like I got so confused cos it was a baby and I was coming at it as a mom not a professional. Thankfully I was able to find products that worked and her skin is responding much better 🙌.”
Someone else commented, “I had to ask a Black Dermatologist for sun screen recommendations because all the ‘kid’ sunscreens were showing up ashy white on my brown baby’s skin. And then could only find it online. Glad there are more options now than 12 years ago.”
“THIS RIGHT HERE!!! Myla’s skin requires a total different care process than my own, and that’s something I had to learn and educate myself on!!” another mom wrote. “Especially because she is a child with eczema, and the treatment for her skin might not be the same as a a white child! This is why we make sure she has Black doctors- from pediatricians to therapists and any other doctor she will need! So she will feel seen + heard on all levels! Such an important topic!! 💯💯”
Just doing a quick study of journal articles on baby skin care shows how lacking the research is.
This 2019 study in the Clinical, Cosmetic and Investigational Dermatology sought to determine the difference between various infant skincare products and just using water, but it only studied babies of Chinese Asian race. In 2014, in the same journal, researchers looked at the effects of natural baby skin-care products on infants. They conducted two studies, the first included 10 Black children, 18 Hispanic children, and 12 children of multiple ethnicities compared to 50 Caucasian children and 1 Asian child. In Study 2, there were just 4 Black children, 4 Hispanic children, 1 Asian child, and 3 mixed race children to 21 Caucasian children.
A 2012 study published in BMC Pediatrics of baby wipes versus water and wool cloths on baby bottoms only used babies from 45 Black mothers compared to babies from 128 White British mothers, 14 White mothers, and 50 Asian mothers. They also used 17 babies from mothers simply labeled “other ethnicity.”
Yet, according to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, 50.2% of children under 5 were born to at least one parent of color — meaning the majority of U.S. children are melanated! This is a big deal — and the research is just not backing it up.
Good for Union for speaking out on this important topic, and reminding all parents of the importance of advocating for your children.
And if you want to shop The Proudly Co.’s amazing products for your kids, it’s now available at Target!
Proudly Soothing Baby Diaper Rash Cream
This hypoallergenic, clean and gentle diaper rash cream is made with 14% non-nano zinc oxie, which will help protect melanated skin without causing irritation. It’s made with sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil and rosehip oil.
Proudly Gentle Touch Baby Wipes
These baby wipes are made with 96% water, with shea butter and aloe vera for ultimate hydration. It even works for delicate skin around the face, hands, and body.
Proudly Baby Nourishing Oil
Smooth this light, non-greasy oil — made of sunflower seed oil, jojoba oil, rosehip oil, vitamin E, and squalene — all over babies skin and hair to lock moisture in.
Add these beautiful children’s picture books by Black authors and artists to your kids’ shelves.
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