Dior sparks outrage with launch of Baby Dior luxury infant skincare range

Baby Dior campaign imagery overlaid with tweet
Photo credit: Dior / X

Amid the ongoing cost of living crisis, where many can barely afford to put food on the table, let alone shell out on self-care products, Dior has decided to release a line of luxury skincare - for babies.

The Baby Dior range, which encompasses four skincare products formulated especially for infants, has attracted heavy criticism on social media for its hefty price-point, with the line totalling US$535 - about NZ$910.

Now spanning a cleansing foam, cleansing water, scented water and moisturiser, the concept of Baby Dior was first introduced by the French fashion house in 1970, but it was eventually discontinued.

However, revisiting the range was one of the projects Dior perfume creative director, Francis Kurkdijan, had in mind upon joining the brand in October last year. Speaking to Women's Wear Daily, Kurkdijan - the perfumer behind the cult fragrance Baccarat Rouge 540 - said the revamped baby-care line would serve as a tribute to Christian Dior's "happy and joyful" childhood, which has always been "at the heart of the Dior spirit".

Described by the luxury label as "an ode to the first steps and emotions of little ones", the collection includes three products to "gently and delicately care for sensitive skin" as well as the centrepiece, Bonne Étoile scented water: an alcohol-free fragrance featuring "creative, childlike notes" of fruit, pillowy cotton and velvety petals to "evoke sweet childhood memories".

Parents are encouraged to team the scent with the three-step skincare routine to "create precious shared memories with calming scents and formulas that have the utmost respect for delicate skin".

The three skincare offerings include the L'Eau Très Fraîche, a soothing cleansing water (US$95); the Le Lait Très Tendre Hydrating Milk, a moisturiser (US$115); and the La Mousse Très Fondante, a cleansing foam for the face, body and hair (US$95).

The release of the range - plus the price-point - has faced backlash from consumers, many of whom branded the launch as "tone-deaf" amid the current financial pressures many countries are facing.

"Yeah OK. The average family can barely afford essentials for their babies but let's sell useless products for hundreds of dollars," one said on Instagram, while another declared: "Can't tell who the bigger clowns are - the makers or the buyers."

"The target audience being the Kardashians," a third deadpanned on X (formerly known as Twitter).

Others questioned whether perfumed products were suitable for babies' delicate skin, with one commenting: "Why are we obsessed with putting chemicals on infants? Leave them alone."  

"The last thing you want to use on your babies' skin is fragrances," another claimed.

According to the Children's Environmental Health Network, many synthetic chemicals in fragrances are petroleum-based and can be harmful to human health. The organisation noted that some children and adults have allergic reactions to fragrance chemicals, with asthmatic children at especially high risk.  

Professor Deshan Sebaratnam, a paediatric dermatologist at Sydney's Liverpool Hospital, told news.com.au parents should "keep [any] baby skincare bland".  

"You want to avoid unnecessary fragrances, preservatives or food products on babies' skin. These can infrequently lead to sensitisation and the development of allergies," he told the outlet.  

"Skincare for babies should be cheap and simple. A moisturiser - free of preservatives, fragrances, and food products - can be helpful in babies with dry skin or eczema. A bland soap-free cleanser can be used for bath time. A barrier cream can be helpful for nappy rash. That's really all that's needed."  

An online resource from the Nationwide Children's Hospital in the US added that it's generally advised to "avoid use of fragrant products inside your newborn's nursery or sleeping environment", noting their lungs are "still developing and exposure to aerosol irritants won't provide any benefit".