Is Baby Powder Safe? The Answer Might Surprise You

As a parent, you’re probably familiar with Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder. It’s one of those things that every mom seems to use – and for a good reason! The powder can help keep your baby safe, clean, and dry.

Most mothers use it after changing a wet diaper, and these powders seem to fly around in the flurry. It doesn’t seem harmful, especially when we feel the softness of our babies skin. But is it safe? The answer might surprise you.

What Is Baby Powder?

Baby powder is a fine, white powder that absorbs moisture and keeps skin dry. It is often used after bathing or diaper changes to prevent diaper rash. It is usually made from cornstarch or talc and can also be scented with lavender or other essential oils.

Adults, especially females, also use this powder on their genitals to reduce odors. It’s also helpful in easing rashes or reducing friction on other body parts. Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder has been a popular choice for parents wanting to keep their baby’s skin dry and soft.

However, recent controversy has risen over the potential health risks of using the product. As a result, the company has stopped selling the famous powder in the US and Canada and will soon permanently pull it out of shelves worldwide.

Understanding The Controversy

Studies in the 1970s suggested a correlation between the long-term use of talc-based products and ovarian cancer. The females in the study described using Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based baby powder in their genitals.

While there is no strong evidence of talc powder cancer risks, thousands of lawsuits have been filed against the company by women diagnosed with the disease. It is alleged that Johnson & Johnson knew about the potential link between talcum powder and cancer but failed to warn consumers.

As a result, many women are now suing the company, with some winning their lawsuits. Another significant issue is the presence of small amounts of asbestos, a known carcinogen, in these talc powders. Asbestos is a natural mineral present near mineral reserves where talc is mined.

Exposure to asbestos through inhalation is known to cause lung cancer. Johnson & Johnson denies that their products contain asbestos, and product tests have shown zero detectable amounts of the questionable mineral.

While the jury is still out on whether or not talcum powder is hazardous, the controversy has led many parents to reconsider using the product. As sales dwindled, Johnson & Johnson decided to recall their talc-based powders.

Other Alternatives To Consider

Most pediatricians don’t recommend using any form of powder near babies. No matter how safe the ingredients are, inhaling powders can cause respiratory failure in very young children (such as infants). If you need to use powder, avoid putting it directly on babies and shake it away from their faces.

Instead of talcum powder, use arrowroot powder or cornstarch powder. Other alternatives to talc powder are oat flour and baking soda. You can also opt for a diaper cream to prevent diaper rash. 

Is Talcum Powder Bad?

Talc is the softest mineral on the planet and comes in two forms: industrial talc and cosmetic talc. Industrial talc is used in automotive plastics, while cosmetic talc is used for various personal care products like baby powder and cosmetic products like eye shadows, foundation, and blush.

Talc absorbs moisture creating a smooth feel. However, talc with asbestos has been found in most cosmetic talcs, causing cosmetic companies to put the ingredient on a “Red List.”

Companies that still use talc in their products must have a warning label. However, the safety of talc is not a significant concern for the FDA, and talc regulations are generally lax. 

The absence of control studies that show clinical evidence of the dangers of baby powder makes these products safe for the time being. In the end, only time will tell if Talc-Based Baby Powder is safe for use. 

For more helpful resources about child safety, check out our blogs at Be Safe.