Refined vs. Unrefined: What's the difference & which is better for my baby?

Refined vs. Unrefined: What's the difference & which is better for my baby?

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This article has been medically reviewed by Naana Boakye, MD, MPH and Heather McGowan, MD, and scientifically reviewed by Peter Kpere-Daibo, MS.

We’ve been taught that all-natural, straight-from-the-source ingredients are best. While that may be true in some cases, a recent Stanford study(1) found that even the most “natural” soaps, lotions, and fragrances contain allergens in their ingredients. For caregivers concerned about nut allergies and other ingredients that may irritate sensitive baby skin, choosing products with the safest ingredients is your top priority. We get that. That’s why we only use refined ingredients in our products. 

You’re probably thinking, “What’s the difference between refined and unrefined ingredients? Which one is better?”

Let’s jump right in.

What are unrefined ingredients?

Unrefined ingredients are best described as raw ingredients straight from the Earth that have a rich profile of antioxidants and polyphenols (naturally occurring compounds that protect against dry skin and keep the skin barrier healthy and hydrated). This means that while all the natural nutrients and good-for-you stuff are present, nature’s natural irritants may also be present if not sourced properly. Because unrefined ingredients are raw, they may be too harsh in their natural form for sensitive baby skin. 

Unrefined ingredients may:

  • Change color, consistency, and texture
  • Become unstable or cause odor over time
  • Have residuals (AKA debris and other sketchy stuff)
  • Complicate the fragrance profile of a product (if fragrance is present)


What are refined ingredients?

Refined ingredients are ingredients sourced from nature but physically processed to remove residuals and denature proteins that could cause potential irritation or allergic reactions. Refined ingredients maintain all of nature’s quality and efficiency while doing away with the sketchy stuff. Think of the refinement process as a detox. 

The refinement process ensures products:

  • Maintain the quality and efficiency of the ingredient
  • Are always the same color, consistency, and texture
  • Don’t contain allergens, pesticides, and other naturally occurring chemicals that may be too hard for sensitive skin
  • Maintain their proper scent and performance
  • Are more stable and, as a result, have a longer shelf life 

👩🏾‍⚕️ Pediatrician Tip: It is important to note that the refinement process may not completely eliminate allergenic proteins, and some traces may remain in the final product. Therefore, individuals with nut allergies should continue to exercise caution and patch test before incorporating fully. Here’s how to properly patch test. 

How do we leverage refined ingredients here at PROUDLY?

We understand that many children develop nut allergies in adolescence, and what might be safe for adult skin may not always be the best for our littlest loves. Our stance on using refined oils and ingredients is a direct response to that. If a refined option exists, we leverage it – no questions asked.

We are proud to provide you with the peace of mind that comes from knowing we’ve done our research and only use the highest quality ingredients at the safest percentage for sensitive, melanated skin.