Make silky soft play dough for children with sensitive skin using this super simple, 2 ingredient recipe!
If you don’t know already, we are HUGE lovers of play dough and there are over 100 variations, recipes and ways to play and learn with it on this blog! However, following feedback from readers here on the blog and over on my Facebook page, I wanted to make a play dough that could be used by all children, including those with sensitive skin and eczema, as this is an area we haven’t tried before.
I know lots of kids find the salt content too harsh on their skin in the original play dough recipe, so I wanted to make one without any salt at all. The initial inspiration for trying this new type of play dough combination came from Play Create Explore’s Ice Cream Dough (which is awesome, you must click to read more about it!) She was the first person I saw to experiment with making dough using only two simple ingredients, with cornflour (cornstarch) and hair conditioner being the unlikely couple, with lovely results!
However hair conditioner isn’t conducive with little sensitive hands so wouldn’t do for this particular recipe. I looked around and found a huge jar of aqueous cream that we purchased when my eldest first showed signs of dry skin and eczema patches and thought it would be perfect to experiment with as it’s moisturising and advised for the purpose.
It took a few attempts to get the quantities just right, but the recipe ended up being so very simple!
How to make soft play dough for sensitive skin:
1 cup of corn flour (corn starch)
5 tablespoons emollient cream. We used aqueous cream, but any skin cream or moisturiser for sensitive skin should work.
EDITED update for ezcema sufferers:
[We used aqueous cream (Sorbolene in AUS and possibly Aquaphor in the US.) This was fine for us but I’m grateful to a couple of readers who have fed back that this still wouldn’t be gentle enough for kids with bad eczema, so my advice is to use ANY cream that is tolerated by your own child’s skin, that you already have at home. You will be the best judge of this as you know what does and doesn’t work for your own child. Some examples of a good alternative are Diprobase and Epaderm cream. Let me know what works as I would truly love to add in some tried and tested recommended alternatives too!]
* Tip the cornflour into a bowl and add the cream a spoon at a time. Mix it until it starts to look fluffy and crumbly, then use your hands to work it together until it’s evenly combined. At this stage it can seem too dry, but keep going! Once it’s holding together, take it out of the bowl and knead it on a surface until it becomes soft, silky and pliable in your hands. [I think the heat of your hands helps in this process as cornflour has such strange properties when combined with other materials!]
* It should feel softer than normal play dough and so silky. If it is still too dry, just dip your fingertips into the cream and add a teeny tiny amount until it’s perfect.
* If your child is sensitive to colouring, then leave it as it is and play! If colours are desired, we simply added a tiny dot of gel food colouring on the tip of a cotton bud and fold the edges in before kneading. I split ours into 4 small balls before colouring.
Then of course just play with it like usual! We set out rolling pins and cookie cutters for simple squeezing, pinching, rolling and exploration with nearly 2 year old Bean. I played too of course- play dough is great therapy and so releasing for all ages! Plus, these pastel clouds and the silkiness of the dough made it irresistible to touch!
A couple of important things to note:
* This is not like ordinary play dough because it has no preservative ingredients, therefore it will not last. I treated it as a one-day play type activity and so wasn’t disappointed when we threw it away later. It might be possible to find a way to store it. Let me know if you do!
* Because of the cornflour content, it becomes chalky and more crumbly than standard play dough, when it has been out for a while. I found that by squeezing it back into a ball and kneading it again to warm it up and work it together, this really improved the crumbling and revived it. Have a go and I hope you enjoy it!
If you love play dough then you really need to read this post of over 100 play dough recipes and ideas (and pin it too!)
These 10 Natural Play Dough recipes are lovely too!
Here’s our best ever no-cook play dough that lasts at least 6 months!
I’ve made this with regular lotion and happened to store it in a plastic zip bag in the fridge so it would be cold since we were pretending it was snow. It’s been in there for a few weeks and was still OK when we played with it a few days ago. Not sure if the fridge preserves it or if it’d be the same if I left the bag on the counter though!
thank you so much for this, I haven’t got any aqueous, sp, cream so I’m going to try E45 instead, there are so many different activities on your blog that I want to try but just haven’t had the time or chance
What about petroleum jelly and cornstarch? I haven’t done any experiments but just throwing out an idea.
I have no idea what aqueous cream is, but maybe a cream like Vanicream would work? I’ll have to try this.
Hi, I thought I’d share my two cents-try coconut oil with a drop of essential oil (lavender is a fave around here) or commercial “baby oil” instead.
As a childminder i love these ideas, everyone has to use there common sense though. You have made the effort to try these things out. And if it lets a little boy or girl have fun with something they can’t normally play with brilliant. Cheers for sharing all your ideas.
In Australia we have a very widely used, non-irritating moisturising lotion called sorbolene that most mums use on their babies from birth and is recommended to moisturise eczema prone skin. I’ve seen the original recipe for corn flour and conditioner and wanted to try it with sorbolene for my daughter who has very sensitive skin. She has recently reached the age of not eating play dough so its probably time to give it a go!
Hi Anna, nice idea. I’m going to try it with the assortment of eczema-friendly lotions and potions we have in our eczema-ridden house. Will let you know if I have any success 🙂
In the USA, we don’t have this product, or at least not the worrisome ingredients as mentioned by other readers. There are 2 types of similar creams here. Cetaphil cream and Eucerin Original Healing Soothing Repair Cream. There are also generic versions. However, I would recommend just using petroleum jelly. Would have the same effectiveness and is super cheap.
Ingredients include: Water, petrolatum, glyceryl polymethacrylate, dicaprylyl ether, glycerin, dimethicone, glyceryl stearate, cetyl alcohol, Prunus amygdalus dulcis (sweet almond) oil, PEG-30 glyceryl stearate, tocopheryl acetate, benzyl alcohol, phenoxyethanol, sodium hydroxide, acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, dimethiconol, disodium EDTA, propylene glycol.
Eucerin Original Healing Soothing Repair Cream.
Ingredients: Water, Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Methylchloroisothiazolinone, Methylisothiazolinone.
Hi Anna, fabulous idea… Not only for sensitive skin but children with allergies to wheat and gluten. As most play dough recipes are made with flour, I know they don’t eat play dough, but my children who have multiple allergies get skin reactions just from touching things with allergens in. Def worth a try for any child with allergies.
I wonder if aqueous cream is the same as Aquaphor (brand name) here in the US? We also use it for dry skin and eczema.
Coconut Oil is the best natural ingredient for sensitive skin playdough (and still keeps the recipe edible!)
Oil of clove bud is a wonderful addition to your playdoh… mold can’t grow. Remember it is very strong so one drop will do. My kids love the smell of clove but if you put to much in it tends to be overpowering and it starts to smell like the dentist!!
A lot of people are allergic to cloves so be careful; it is still widely used in dental offices because of its ability to fight germs. Lavender is also anticipated septic, calming, used to treat boo-boos and will not change the color of the dough. The FDA only considers wheat gluten to be a “bad” gluten. I am also allergic to rice and potato gluten tapioca starch is good also. Clean hands go a long way toward keeping the dough safe for reuse. Otherwise, consider making new each time to prevent the spread of infections. Rosemary is highly antiseptic. I have enjoyed reading up on how much this has changed since I did this with my children. I am going to have fun with my grandchildren now. Thanks everyone.
Hi there, I am loving everything here on your site, hats off to you! I did want to give my own two cents, everytime I read anything that is play intended with some “food” ingredients I worry of mold. Now I understand what you are saying re: tossing after use, and that is brilliant, but lets say you do want to make along lasting batch…hmmm. My thoughts are as follows.. Forst, we don’t want to use any cream that has water/aqua as an ingredient, water plus cornstarch=mold. So I would only use oil based or non water ingredients. Next, someone mentioned petroleum jelly,I understand this is still a widely used product however if you google the dangers of it it is quite frightening. I love the idea of coconut oil by one reader, but then again it also seams to have a strangely large amount of folks that claim allergies to it, luckilywe have no allergies to it and I do plan on using it in our lotion base. I am going to attempt making this, I will be using an all natural lotion with oil base no water, I will also be adding grapeseed and Vit E oil, both which are preservatives, and also to the cornstarch some COT powder, again as a preservative. I will let you know our results. It is important to remember even though it seams or appears fine that doesn’t mean it is, Mold doesn’t always smell and cannot always be seen, and it is definitely not something we want on our little ones hands 🙂 Thanks again!
Wow! I am sooo very interested in hearing more about your experience with making this recipe, as you’ve described here!!! Your explanations and choice products to use sound very intriguing. Maybe you could please send me a copy of your final recipe when you do try this (if it works); so that I might try with my littles? We all have a slight sensitivity in the skin level in our family group. Thank you very much for your enlightenment on this subject! The Best way to send me a mssg that won’t be considered ‘junk’ would be through my blogs “Contact..” Page via main link is my highlighted name above my comment here– THANX Again!
Grow grow grow says
Just made this with Sanex kids body wash and it worked like a charm 🙂 Thank you very much!
Julie M says
I’ve been looking at ideas for playdough with essential oils, specifically to make something which would be good as a stress-reliever to help combat older children’s travel sickness (I wouldn’t have thought it would be a good idea to give to younger kids in the car, unsupervised) . I know there is a “putty” already available for such purposes, but I can’t see that lasting more than five minutes before it gets dropped and all furry and dirty (and that’s probably just me)! Which is why I’m looking to make something myself so I can make it fresh each time. I knew that a silkier-type of playdough could be made with hair conditioner, which is what led me here in the first place. Reading through, the suggestions people have made about what variations to try are amazing. I just wondered if anyone had tried making this kind of playdough with essential oils? On paper, it seems like it could be dead easy! Also, does anyone have any experience of aromatherapy oils and could suggest what I might use (and have any idea what colour would you make it so that it didn’t make you feel more vomity!)? Thank you! Julie
Love it!! says
Um could I use Cera ve???
It’s a wonderful cream that sinks deep into your skin and makes it so soft and smooth.
Hi there I love your site and was really excited to try the play dough for sensitive skin. I used Doublebase cream and cornflour, didn’t turn out very well. I kneaded for ages but it was very crumbly. I added a little more cream and kneaded again but to no avail. Any thoughts on how I can achieve soft silky dough? Am I doing something wrong? Many thanks Kitty x
Cornflour is not the same as cornstarch, that is probably the problem.
I just tried this with my 4 year old having made it using E45 cream and it worked well. It feels different to playdough and she’s been enjoying standing on it as she says it feels silky between her toes. Thanks for the recipe!
I tried this with coconut oil…. It sort of works.. the dough is soft until you squeeze it. then it just crumbles slightly and feels a bit like squeezing condensed cotton wool. I tried adding more oil, it just goes too liquidy.
Any suggestions anyone. want to keep it edible.