What Exactly Are The Balmex Diaper Rash Cream Ingredients

diaper rash

I have been using Balmex on my daughter for a while. We didn’t need it all the time. Whenever her butt turns a little red during the summer times, we applied a little bit and the problem went away.

I was wondering if it was made with a bunch of chemicals that are harmful to my daughter. This probably occured to a lot of people because we usually don’t even know what the ingredients mean in the ingredient list. No more feeling confused, because I have generally explained what the ingredients are and their purpose below.

I listed them based on the order on product’s labels. If you want to find a specific ingredient just follow the order on your bottle of balmex.

Zinc Oxide – The Active Ingredient

What Is An Active Ingredient?

For those who don’t know, the term “active ingredient” refers to substances in a product that delivers the promised results. In our case, Balmex is a diaper rash cream. Technically, only zinc oxide, the active ingredient will actually protect your baby’s butt from diaper rashes. The rest of the inactive ingredients do something completely different. Of course, those inactive ingredients still has a good reason to be there.

What Does Zinc Oxide Do?

This ingredient is used to treat minor burns, very dry and chapped skin, acne, diaper rashes and other kinds of skin conditions. This might sound simple, but zinc oxide exists in more products than you can ever imagine.

What Other Products Have Zinc Oxide?

Most sunscreens have zinc oxide since it can block of UVA and UVB. These are two different harmful radiation from the sun that causes cancer, sunburns, and aging skin. Dandruff removing shampoos like head and shoulders have it. It also exists in some food products since zinc is a trace mineral that our body actually needs. It also exists in deodorant to decrease the amount of sweating. Even cigarette filters uses it to filter out some of the toxic chemicals.

Beeswax – The Inactive Ingredient

What Is An Inactive Ingredient?

Other than zinc oxide, every other ingredient is an inactive ingredient. It doesn’t mean they don’t help protect your baby’s butt. However, in terms of getting rid of diaper rashes, they don’t have that therapeutic effect. They are still very helpful though.

What Does Beeswax Do?

Beeswax is basically good at sealing up moisture. In other words, when you apply balmex liberally to your baby’s butt during the summer times, it blocks her pee from being absorbed into her skin.

What Other Products Uses Beeswax?

Plenty of lip balms, lotions, and moisturizers uses beeswax. It’s also used as a glazing agent that protects fruits or other foods from water loss and mold contamination.

Benzoic Acid – Inactive Ingredient

Uses Of Benzoic Acid

You might have heard of this substance before because it is commonly used as a preservative. That sounds scary because preservatives are normally considered bad right?

The funny thing is that benzoic acid occurs naturally. It exists in fruits, and it can be extracted in large amounts as benzoin gum from certain trees. Yogurts, and cinnamon bark naturally has it also.

Its function is to kill or prevent bacteria and fungi growth.

Side Effects Of Benzoic Acid

Theoretically, benzoic acid can be mixed with artificial vitamin C under specific light and heat conditions and turn into benzene. Benzene is something that causes cancer.

This sounds scary, but you simply have to avoid combining man-made vitamin C along with benzoic acid and you are good to go. People emphasize this “cancer scare” strongly everywhere.

However, the issue is totally avoidable. Its silly to be so paranoid. It is similar to overcooking your steak or beans. Everybody knows that overcooked meat or beans are cancerous. Does that mean you have to avoid meat and beans for the rest of  your life?

No, of course not. Just don’t overcook it.

Balmex doesn’t have artificial vitamin C (ascorbic acid) mixed in, so it doesn’t really matter anyway. However, benzoic acid can cause eye and lung damage when you are exposed to its pure form (not mixed with anything else) in ridiculously large amounts. I doubt this will happen to anyone unless you work at the factory itself.

Dimethicone – The Inactive Ingredient

Uses Of Dimethicone

This is considered an emollient which prevents flaky, chapped skin. This works because dimethicone is a silicone substance that has the ability to “spread” (like butter) and fill in microscopic gaps on the skin to prevent water loss. Dimethicone also has the ability to “smooth out” the cream itself so that it feels like a moisturizing cream.

What Other Products Uses Dimethicone?

Most moisturizers you buy out there has dimethicone. It’s also used in medicine that helps people with a lot of gas (people who farts a lot). It’s also used to treat head lice, because it can block out the lice’s airways and kill them. It’s also added to cooking oil to prevent oil splatters

Glycine Soja – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Glycine Soja

Glycine Soja is a plant that is related to soybeans. In a sense, you can consider this to be a soybean oil. Just like dimethicone, this is used as an emollient to trap moisture on the skin to help keep it moisturized. It doesn’t smooth out the cream like dimethicone does, but it has a lot of nutrients like amino acids and vitamin E which is good for the skin.

Side Effects of Glycine Soja

If you are allergic to soy, then this ingredient would be a problem for you. Other than that, be happy with it.

Magnesium Aspartate – The Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Magnesium Aspartate

Normally, the purpose of taking magnesium aspartate is to take the magnesium itself since it has played so many vital roles in our body. It helps with the heart rhythm regulation, nerves function, bones flexibility, and muscle contractions, It even helps with headaches.

There used to be a joke in nutrition school that goes like this, “You don’t know what’s wrong with your client? Give them magnesium, and figure out the source of the problem later”. In a sense, taking magnesium supplement is kind of like a “one-pill-solution” to almost everything.

However, it is a bit unclear as to what magnesium aspartate does for your baby’s butt. Nevertheless, it is perfectly safe and healthy for your baby’s bare bottom. It also gets absorbed rather easily through the skin, so your baby gets minuscule amounts of magnesium out of this cream.

Methylparaben – The Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Methylparaben

Just like benzoic acid the purpose of methylparaben is to kill fungus. In other words it is there to prevent mold. In a sense, this is kind of like a preservative. It also kills fruit flies in higher concentrations. Interestingly, this substance is secreted by insects as a pheromone to attract mates.

Side Effects of Methylparaben

This stuff causes allergic reactions for some people that swallows it. If you want to avoid that, don’t swallow it (duh). The parabens might sound scary to some people. However, methylparaben doesn’t stay in our body for long. It gets flushed out (you pee it out)  pretty easily so it’s pretty much considered non toxic currently.

It does make UVB (a form of UV light from the sun) stronger and cause more damage on the skin. However, this doesn’t apply because Balmex is applied to your baby’s butt which is shielded by diapers and clothing

In other words, I really doubt this is a concern unless you enjoy having your baby butt naked all the time. However, if your baby is butt naked all the time, then why bother applying Balmex? Balmex is used to shield your baby’s butt from the moisture in diapers.

Microcrystalline Wax – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Microcrystalline Wax

This stuff is added to Balmex cream so it is not as liquidy. In other words, it thickens up the cream. Microcrystalline wax prevents the cream from separating into their oil and water parts. It also works as a emollient that prevents water loss from the skin.

Mineral Oil – Inactive Ingredient

Uses Of Mineral Oil

Despite how fancy mineral oil sounds, it is the generic name for what we commonly call baby oil. Just like the other ingredients we have here, mineral oil is an emollient which traps water from escaping the skin.

It is a bit unclear why Balmex includes so many different types of emollients. My assumption is that they each have their own advantages and disadvantages so combining them makes a better product.

For example, dimethicone has the capability of filling in microscopic gaps on the skin, but it has never been claimed that mineral oil can do the same thing.

Controversy Surrounding Mineral Oil

There’s a lot of controversy when it comes to mineral oil. There are claims that it clogs pores and there are claims that it causes cancer. However, those claims are referring to low grade mineral oil. Low grade mineral oil has a lot of impurities from oil refinery which is horrible for health.

On the other hand highly refined mineral oil is not considered a carcinogen. The world health organization hasn’t exactly claimed that high grade mineral oil is perfectly safe.

However, there has been no problems reported so far. This issue is similar to debating the common usage of cell phones. There’s been no reports so far proving that chronic exposure to RF signals (radio frequency which is something every cell phone uses) is dangerous or not.

Oenothera Biennis – Inactive Ingredient

Uses Of Oenothera Biennis

Oenothera Biennis might sound like some chemical made by a mad scientist. However, it’s actually the scientific name for the evening primrose (a flower). Even though for Balmex, only the seed extract is being used, the whole plant itself is edible. Traditionally, it is an herb that has been used to help with skin conditions itching and red skin.

It is unclear why this would be considered an “inactive ingredient”. However, its medicinal uses haven’t been too strongly proven. It does have helpful effects on skin conditions like eczema, but it wouldn’t be as effective as other medicinal creams dedicated to treating extremely irritating skin conditions.

Olea Europaea – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Olea Europaea

Before you get freaked out by this scientific name. This is simply another name for olives. For Balmex, the ingredient being used is olive leaf extract.

Specifically, the name for the extract substance is oleuropein. This stuff gets rid of tumor, helps with heart diseases, and protects the body against oxidative damage.

Honestly, that sounds like overkill for a diaper rash cream. However, this is reassuring that your baby’s butt is nicely protected.

Potassium Aspartate – Inactive Ingredient

Uses Of Potassium Aspartate

This is skin conditioner. It gives nutrients to the skin. In this case, potassium is the nutrient being given to the skin. The aspartate is just there as support. It is unclear to me what it truly does for the skin, because normally potassium is taken orally to regulate the heart and cardiovascular system.

There are no side effects to applying potassium aspartate on anybody’s skin. However, if you take potassium orally. then it is possible to stop the heart due to overdose. The reason behind that is potassium has the ability to counteract the function of sodium in your system.

Normally too much sodium is a bad thing. However, if the function of sodium drops to zero in your body, then you are hurting yourself on the other extreme. Of course, we are just applying potassium to a baby’s butt here, so technically none of this applies when you use Balmex.

Potassium Hydroxide – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Potassium Hydroxide

This is used to regulate the pH of a product so that it can discourage germs from living there. It also has the ability to prevent bad smells from forming according to to my personal experience with bases (opposite of an acid).

Side Effects of Potassium Hydroxide

This substance will scare a lot of people because it is a strong base, which is basically the opposite of a strong acid. Normally, in its pure, unmixed, and undiluted form, it has the ability to burn through skin.

However, we don’t buy it unmixed, and undiluted. It also exists in almost every beauty product, and soaps out there. Yes, even some of Dr. Bronner’s soaps have it, and you can use it to wash food, not to mention it is environmentally friendly and almost perfectly safe for everybody’s skin.

For people who are overly paranoid about everything, keep this in mind. Some substances like potassium hydroxide is being used in really small amounts to kill off the germs in a product. Unless your child has some rare allergic reaction to this substance, it shouldn’t bother you.

Propylene Glycol – Inactive Ingredient

Uses Of Propylene Glycol

For vapers, this would be an overly familiar ingredient because it is commonly used to make theater fog. Other than its flashy smoke effects, it is used as a humectant in Balmex. This is often confused with emollients as mentioned earlier because they both protect moisture on the skin.

The mechanism these substances go through to keep the skin moisturized is completely different. An emollient like dimethicone prevents water from escaping your skin. A humectant like propylene glycol connects with the water moisture in the air, and pull it towards your skin.

In other words, emollient stops water from leaving your skin by forming a barrier. A humectant sucks water from the air and add it to your skin.

Propylparaben – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Propylparaben

Just like the methylparaben I mentioned earlier, this is a substance that acts as a preservative for Balmex. It is unclear why two different parabens are added together in the same product. Just like methylparaben you can find this substance naturally in plants and insects.

Side Effects of Propylparaben

There are claims out there that parabens might contribute to cancer. The reason people come to this conclusion is because paraben apparently imitates estrogen in our system. However, there’s no clear link that establishes this conclusion. At low concentration, this stuff is considered safe to use.

Sarcosine – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Sarcosine

If parabens increases estrogen in our system, sarcosine balances that out by increasing testosterone in our system. Sarcosine can be converted back and forth from the nonessential amino acid glycine found in our body. Typically, this stuff is also used in products to clean the skin since it’s a great surfactant.

It is also used as a substance to help people with emotional problems like depression, anxiety, OCD, etc. As you can tell, it is unclear why it is added to Balmex, because none of its beneficial properties are related to diaper rashes. Maybe it is added so that when you clean your baby’s butt, it is relatively easier since it can remove dirt and oils.

Side Effects Of Sarcosine

Sarcosine itself has a lot of helpful benefits to the body, so by itself is perfectly safe. The only concern contamination while producing  this substance. It is also considered toxic for the environment.

Sodium Cocoyl Amino Acids – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Sodium Cocoyl Amino Acids

Just like Sarcosine, this stuff is a surfactant, but milder. It is derived from coconuts (that’s why it is cocoyl). Once again, it is unclear why this is added. Maybe it becomes helpful for you to wash it off your baby’s butt.

Sorbitan Sesquioleate – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Sorbitan Sesquioleate

This stuff is an emollient (prevents water loss from skin) so it is good for dry and red skin. It is unclear why there needs to be so many different emollients in one product, but I guess they have synergy with each other.

Synthetic Beeswax – Inactive Ingredient

Uses Of Synthetic Beeswax

You might think that companies have gone nuts to combine synthetic beeswax along with natural beeswax in one product. I already mentioned what beeswax does above, so why add synthetic beeswax?

The reason is cost. Beeswax itself is rather expensive, so other stuff like fatty acids, alcohols, and esters are added to get a bigger gunk of beeswax. In a sense, it is kind of like diluting a concentrated fruit beverage with water. However, there’s no need for concern because the fatty stuff added to beeswax is still very safe.

Tocopherol – Inactive Ingredient

Uses of Tocopherol

For those who don’t already know, tocopherol is the fancy generic name of vitamin E. It has great skin, nerve, and blood vessel protection properties. It helps recover wrinkled skin, damaged skin which is perfect for diaper rashes. It also adds a bit of protection from the sun.

Side Effects Of Tocopherol

Some people may be allergic to tocopherol and develop skin rashes. If your baby has this, then don’t use Balmex.

Water (245-230) – Inactive Ingredient

Water is water. Enough said. However, I don’t know what 245-230 stands for. For those who know, please leave it in the comments section below.

Fragrance – Is It Included?

Sources like ewg.org claims that Balmex has fragrance in it. However, I can not find evidence of this ingredient anywhere else. It is unclear whether Balmex cream has fragrance. It certainly doesn’t have any alluring smell when I am applying it to my daughter. For those who know, please leave it in the comments section below.


For those who has been curious about the ingredients of Balmex diaper rash cream, I hope this was helpful. It has certainly helped my daughter a lot in terms of diaper rashes. I don’t need to use it all the time unless I see redness on her.

Other times, I simply apply aquaphor on her, and it protects her nicely during the humid summer times. Besides, I use pampers swaddlers so diaper rashes is a pretty rare occurrence for her.

There are some controversies surrounding some of the ingredients of Balmex. However, I take these “scary” scientific “discoveries” with a grain of salt. Besides, scientific news change all the time.

Back when I was little, removing your tonsils was supposedly “necessary” to prevent infection. Nowadays, we all know that our tonsils are part of our immune system and removing them is a big mistake.

If an ingredient hasn’t cause a problem to anybody I know, then there’s no need to be overly paranoid about it. If you want to give Balmex a try, you can purchase your own on Amazon here.