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Product Smackdown: Chest Rubs - Natural vs Mainstream

Product Smackdown: Chest Rubs - Natural vs Mainstream

When winter comes, colds and coughs and snuffly noses seem to follow. One of the classic home remedies for stuffy noses is the good old vapour rub chest balm. There's no denying that it works, but I want to show you why you should be switching to a natural version. Hello Charlie has two natural chest rubs in store: Little Innoscents Winter Blues Balm, and the Badger Aromatic Chest Rub. The bestselling mainstream brand is Vicks VapoRub. Let's have a look at the ingredients and compare them. 

Little Innoscents Winter Blues Balm Badger Aromatic Chest Rub

Chest Rub Ingredients - Natural vs Mainstream

Little Innoscents Winter Blues Balm ingredients: Sunflower Oil*, Shea Butter*, Beeswax*, Avocado Oil*, Spearmint Oil*, Wintergreen Oil, Lemon Oil, Lavender Oil*, Rosemary Oil, Eucalyptus Oil, Peppermint Oil.  (* ACO certified organic).

Badger Aromatic Chest Rub ingredients: *Olea Europaea (Extra Virgin Olive) Oil, *Ricinus Communis (Castor) Oil, *Cera Alba (Beeswax), Essential Oils of *Eucalyptus Globulus (Eucalyptus), *Eucalyptus Staigeriana (Eucalyptus), *Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender), *Mentha Piperita (Peppermint), *Ravensara Aromatica (Ravensara), *Citrus Tangerina (Tangerine), *Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree), *Thymus Mastichina (Wild Marjoram), and CO2 Extracts of *Zingiber Officinale (Ginger), and *Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary). (* Certified Organic - USDA). Vicks VapoRub has the active ingredients: Camphor (synthetic) 5.3%, Eucalyptus oil 1.3%, Menthol 2.8%. The inactive ingredients are Turpentine Oil, Cedar Leaf Oil, Nutmeg Oil and Thymol in a petrolatum base.

Are Chest Rubs Safe to Use on Children?

Using essential oils for babies, children and pregnant women can be cause for concern. However, both Little Innoscents and Badger use their essential oils in a low concentration (less than 2% for both) specifically so that they can be used for everyone. The rest of the ingredients used in both of these natural chest rubs are organic natural oils and beeswax, which are entirely safe.

Badger's aromatic chest rub says that it's safe for the whole family to use, and it's got an EWG Skindeep rating of 4, so we'd have to agree. Antonette Golikidis, the founder of Little Innoscents, is a qualified aromatherapist. She has confirmed that the essential oils concentration in this formula is under 2%, so it's safe to use from newborn.

The Vicks VapoRub is a different story. The pack says to keep out of reach of children, and to use only on children aged 2 years and older. The pack also says to keep out of reach of children, and if swallowed to get medical help or contact a Poison Control Center right away. Camphor is highly toxic, and is very dangerous if swallowed. Although Vicks contains only 5.3% camphor nowadays (it used to be higher), the combination of camphor, eucalyptus and menthol are irritants, and can cause respiratory problems because the body responds to these irritants by producing mucus to protect the airways.

Our take? If a product says keep out of reach of children, and has poison control warnings, we'll keep it out of reach of children by keeping it out of our house. Use a natural version of a chest rub balm and you'll find that it's not only safer, it's just as effective. Hello Charlie stocks and recommends both the Little Innoscents Winter Blues Balm and the Badger Aromatic Chest Rub.

Further reading:

Camphor toxicity and children

Vicks VapoRub Warning

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