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Baby powder has been a staple lifesaver in every new parent's arsenal for many years. But surprisingly, the American Academy of Pediatrics has been warning about the potential danger of talc-based baby powders since 1969.
We took a deep dive into the 16 most popular baby powders on the market to judge them on ingredients and safety.
Inside you'll find our compiled list of great talc-free and organic baby powders that you can trust.
Today we'll be answering questions like:
- Why is talc-based baby powder dangerous?.
- What goes into a safe, organic, non-talc powder?
- What brands can you trust?.
Talc has been found to have asbestos in it.
In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, an extremely carcinogenic substance that, when inhaled into the lungs, can cause deadly lung cancer. Asbestos used to be used in many industries, mainly relating to construction.
Horrifyingly, Johnson & Johnson, the largest manufacturers of talcum-based powders recently recalled their popular baby powder due to trace amounts of asbestos being found in it.
This has lead to the company finding themselves the midst of several legal battles stemming from the claim that use of their product can potentially lead to ovarian and lung cancer.
In fact, in February 2020, they were ordered by a jury to pay out $750 million dollars to four plaintiffs.
Johnson & Johnson has not taken this lightly and have continued to assert that their products harbor no danger and that they intend to appeal the decision.
The European Union, which is known to be much more strict and protective of consumer health, has banned talc in beauty and health products.
But surprisingly, even after all of the lawsuits, there has been no scientific study that implicitly links talcum-based powders to cancer. And because of this, manufacturers are free to use talc in baby powders and cosmetics in the USA.
But we're not convinced that it's safe, and you shouldn't be, either.
Inhaling talc baby powder can be dangerous.
It's actually not even the risk of cancer that's troubling to pediatricians. It's the fact that talc powder is very easily inhaled, which can lead to a number of lung issues.
This isn't a new concern. In fact, in 1981, a study concluded after looking at 25 cases of talc powder inhalation, there was a 25% mortality rate.
Non-talc powders, like the ones we recommend, use much heavier starches that are comprised of much larger particles, making inhalation very unlikely.
However, non-talc baby powders can cause rashes.
Please be aware that there is a risk of your little one developing a rash from the use of these powders.
Some children are simply just sensitive to the ingredients and may have a small allergic reaction that results in a rash.
While it's not a serious risk and not very likely to happen, if it does happen, stop using the powder immediately.
The best talc-free powders.
Thankfully, there are a number of baby powders that are completely talc-free.
The most common main ingredients you'll find in a talc-free powder are:
Cornstarch - The starch derived from corn, often used in cooking recipes, mainly for thickening sauces or soups. Cornstarch particles are much bigger than those in talcum powder, making them much less likely to be inhaled.
Arrowroot - Often used as a paleo alternative to cornstarch, arrowroot powder is also used a lot in non-talc powders. It's made from the ground up root stock of several South American plants.
Tapioca - Another starch found in many paleo baker's kitchens, tapioca starch is a safe, natural alternative to talc that is derived from the roots of the cassava plant.
To compile our list of the best talc-free powders, we looked at social media, online clean beauty stores, and online magazines.
All of these baby powders are advertised as being clean, safer alternatives. We found that while many of the products we looked at were good in terms of ingredients, some of them had ingredients that we wouldn't recommend.
We reviewed 15+ of the most popular baby powders on the market and rated them as follows:
Best – These products are the best of the best. They contain all-clean ingredients, are non-toxic and are often the best choice for our environment.
Good – These products are typically quite good, but don’t go above and beyond like our best choices.
Iffy – These products are typically okay, but have some issues that make us unable to give them a “Good” rating. Often times they contain ingredients that are questionable.
Bad – These products typically have toxic ingredients or issues that make them dangerous or unsuitable to use. These products should typically be avoided.
Organic, non-talc baby powders you can trust.
Below you'll find our selections for safe, organic non-talc powders.
Every one of these are a safe purchase, and you can rest assured that they contain only natural, safe and organic ingredients. Absolutely no talc whatsoever.
Swanson’s talc-free baby powder is a lesser-known product that’s a great choice for parents in search of a safe and non-toxic baby powder. Every single ingredient they use is organic, and it’s also USDA certified.
It only comes in one version—a version scented with lavender essential oils. While we would prefer a version without any kind of fragrance, essential oils are generally safe for this purpose.
Other than the expensive price, this is a great talc-free baby powder that you can feel safe using.
Hello Bello is a brand started by a celebrity couple, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard.
All of the ingredients that can be certified organic are organic, including the main ingredient, corn starch.
Other than that, this is a good talc-free baby powder. The price is much better than most other talc-free powders and the ingredients list is good.
This powder is 94% organic and 6% natural—the kaolin clay is the natural ingredient.
Although the ingredient list would suggest that kaolin clay is the main ingredient, it appears that corn starch is actually the main ingredient.
It’s fragrance-free and contains aloe vera and argan oil as a moisturizer. It’s also certified cruelty-free by Leaping Bunny.
Another talc-free powder that should get the job done without any nasty ingredients.
A 100% USDA certified organic and talc-free powder made in the USA and certified cruelty-free by PETA.
All of the ingredients that can be organic are organic, and there are no fragrances of any kind. A great option for anyone looking for a talc-free and organic baby powder.
A 100% USDA-certified organic powder that’s made in the USA. For the animal lovers, they’re also certified cruelty-free by PETA.
This isn’t a fragrance-free powder, but the scent at least comes from essential oils of tea tree, clearly sage and lavender.
The biggest downside to this product is that it’s expensive. It’s a good enough powder in terms of ingredients, but unless you’re a ride or die fan of California Baby, there are cheaper alternatives.
Bee All Natural
A USDA-certified organic powder that’s made in Michigan, USA.
This talc-free powder’s main ingredient is organic arrowroot powder, and it comes in both unscented and scented versions. The scented versions use organic essential oils, but we recommend the unscented version.
It has few ingredients, and they’re all organic. The product itself is USDA organic certified as well.
This organic and talc-free powder is a great choice, especially if you’d like to support a smaller brand.
Ora’s Amazing Herbal
Ora’s Amazing Herbal makes a line of great kaolin clay powder based products. They’re natural but aren’t organic and contain fewer ingredients than many others on our list.
You can choose from either our recommendation, the unscented version, or a few that are scented with essential oils. The ones with fragrance good reviews from users based on the scent, which is reported to be a soft scent that doesn’t linger.
Nature's Baby Organics
This 100% USDA-certified baby powder is made in the USA and certified cruelty-free by PETA.
It’s free of all fragrances and the main ingredient in it is organic tapioca starch. The aloe and chamomile is meant to be moisturizing and eliminate chafing.
There’s only good ingredients in here so it’s worth a shot if you’re looking for a talc-free powder.
Non-talc baby powders that have some issues.
These non-talc powders are generally okay, but they have some issues that make us unable to recommend these over better options.
Johnson & Johnson
Like other talc-free Johnson & Johnson baby powders, this one still has some harmful ingredients that make us unable to recommend it.
The main issue we have with this powder is that it’s made with fragrance. Since fragrance is an umbrella term for any number of chemicals, it’s obvious why we can’t recommend baby products with this ingredient.
Caldesene’s baby powder is made with cornstarch and 15% zinc oxide. It also includes aloe vera and chamomile.
It unfortunately contains fragrance without any explanation of what the ingredients are in it. It also has tricalcium phosphate, which is probably a safe ingredient, but there are many talc-free powders that don’t have this ingredient.
Especially because of the fragrance, we can’t recommend this powder over others with better ingredients.
Baby powders that should be avoided at all costs.
These baby powders either have talc or have other ingredients that are dangerous and should be avoided. Avoid these baby baby powders.
Noodle & Boo
Walmart’s Equate brand of baby powder is a talc-free product with the same issue most other big brand’s baby powders have.
It contains mystery fragrance.
While it’s cheap and easy to find at any Walmart store, the fact that it has fragrance makes it a no-go over better brands that don’t have this issue.
Up & Up (Target)
Target’s in-house brand of baby powder is talc-free but has fragrance. Since fragrance can contain a number of mystery chemicals, we can’t give it a good rating.
This baby powder is supposed to be a direct clone of the Johnson & Johnson Aloe + VItamin E baby powder.
It is extremely cheap, though. While there are better products available, many of them are a lot more expensive than this one.
Gold Bond’s baby powder is talc-free, but it has a major issue that makes us unable to recommend it at all.
It contains silicon dioxide. In 2018, the European Food Safety Authority asked the European Union to impose restrictions on this ingredient until further testing could be done. Their worry is that silicon dioxide can contain nano-sized particles which could cause negative health effects.
It also contains fragrance, which is always a no-go in terms of safety.
Because of this, we strongly recommend avoiding this product.
Johnson & Johnson
While Johnson & Johnson’s aloe & vitamin E powder is talc-free, it still contains some ingredients we’d rather not have near our babies.
It’s primarily a cornstarch based powder and also has fragrance. There aren’t more details on what the fragrance is, but that’s never a good thing.
While this powder is talc-free, it’s still questionable because of the other ingredients. We give it an “Iffy” rating because of this reason.
Johnson & Johnson
A talc-based powder that you should avoid at all costs. While Johnson & Johnson is synonymous with baby powder, they’ve had several lawsuits over their powder causing cancer and other issues.
They were also accused of hiding the presence of asbestos in their baby powder for years.
Burt's Bees Baby
This powder from Burt’s Bees is talc-free but has a few issues.
First of all, it’s not an organic powder. Secondly, it’s a corn starch powder, which not everyone is going to be happy with. Lastly, it contains fragrance but they don’t disclose what exactly it is other than that it’s “natural”.
It’s still a much better alternative to talc-based powders but we would have liked it more if it wasn’t for these issues.
Potential irritants: 1*
Summing it up: The Talc-Free Baby Powders
Here are the talc-free baby powders we recommend:
- Best Cornstarch-Based Powder: Hello Bello's Organic Baby Powder is a great choice. It's made form 100% organic corn starch and bamboo powder as the main ingredient, and also has betonite clay and arrowroot powder. At $7.99 for a 6oz bottle, it's also a great deal.
- Best Kaolin Clay Powder: Made Of Calming Baby Powder ($13.99 / 3.4 oz) is made from 94% natural ingredients—only the kaolin clay is not certified organic (because it's can't be.) Fragrance-free and non-scented, it's a great choice.
- Best Tapioca Starch Powder: Nature's Baby Organics Silky Dusting Powder ($12 / 4oz) is made from organic tapioca starch, and the rest of the ingredients are 100% organic, too.