Does Baby Shampoo Contain Eye Numbing Ingredients?

Excerpts taken from Beauty Brains

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An old urban legend that has been going around for years. People keep saying that Johnson & Johnson ‘No more tears’ baby shampoo contains secret numbing agents so that a baby’s eyes won’t sting if the shampoo gets in them. I think that any numbing agent would be required to be listed in the ingredients label.


There are no numbing agents in the J&J’s baby shampoos.

One of the key attributes in producing a no-more-tears formula is the micelle size (micelles are aggregations of surfactant molecules), the bigger they are the less irritating they are The theory is the bigger micelles can not penetrate the eye membrane and hence cause irritation. The pH of the product, salt content, and impurities in the raw materials are also critical.

Scheme of a micelle formed by phospholipids in an aqueous solution. (Author: SuperManu)

When I first heard this urban legend the “numbing” properties were attributed to the ingredient benzyl alcohol. I believe it was part of the preservative system in J&J baby shampoo at one point in time but it’s no longer used in this product. It is, however, still contained in a few of J&J’s baby lotions.  Benzyl alcohol is a colorless liquid with a mild pleasant aromatic odor. Benzyl alcohol is produced naturally by many plants and is commonly found in fruits and teas. It is also found in a variety of essential oils including jasmine, hyacinth, and ylang-ylang.

J&J No More Tears Baby Shampoo Ingredients

Water, Cocamidopropyl Betaine, PEG 80 Sorbitan Laurate, Sodium Trideceth Sulfate, PEG 150 Distearate, Fragrance, Polyquaternium 10, Tetrasodium EDTA, Quaternium 15, Citric Acid, Yellow 10, Orange 4, Sodium Hydroxide (may contain).

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