Sure enough, I’m not alone with my mum telling me that baby powder is a must. I should use it after bath in the evening and in the morning to help to maintain dry skin and avoid rashes. Especially in the summer months. And the wonderful “baby” smell of it! Throughout decades the baby powder’s smell was the very definition how an actual baby smells. And I obediently used it for a little while with Bobcat. Until I’ve learned, that almost all my mum’s (and my mother-in-law’s, who’s a trained midwife btw) advises can go straight to the bin from putting babies down to sleep on their tummy to using baby powder.
So I’ve done my own research and here’s what I found
The short answer is: no, you should better not. There’s no need for it anyway. If you want to know why, keep reading. Let’s talk about first that we can differentiate talc based baby powder and corn starch based baby powder. And some others too, but let’s stick to these two. In light of the recent news about the Johnson&Johnson Talcum Powder Scandal let’s see why talc is dangerous. (Jurors found Johnson & Johnson liable for fraud, negligence and conspiracy. Which I’m sure will eventually do a huge damage for the brand itself. Understandably.) And this isn’t a new thing!
Talc is a mineral containing elements of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen. We know it as a crushed version, powder and it absorbs moisture and helps cut down on friction, so it keeps skin dry and helps prevent rashes. (It is also widely used in other cosmetic products like facial powder and eyeshadow just to name a few.) Talc that contain asbestos can cause cancer if it is inhaled. All talcum products have been (should be) asbestos-free since the 1970s. There is less clear evidence about the asbestos-free talc. Turns out, that inhaling it, just one form of damaging yours and the baby’s health. It has been suggested that talcum powder might cause cancer in the ovaries if the powder particles (applied to the genital area or on sanitary napkins, diaphragms, or condoms) were to travel through the vagina, uterus, and fallopian tubes to the ovary. (According to the American Cancer Society) However, experts argue over the potential risk is being small.
There is still a lot of research going on. But I, for one rather ditch talcum powder. The other option is cornstarch based baby powder, or any other talc-free baby powder. But these ones can also be inhaled and like any concentration of the finest particles in the air, can cause breathing trouble and lung damage if we inhale the particles. It’s also hard to keep them out of the air during use. Also, yeast (which can cause nappy rash) feed on corn starch.
In case you decide to use baby powder, go for the talc-free ones. Still, use it sparingly. First, put the powder on your hands, then apply it. Never put it directly on your baby by squeezing the tub. Keep the powder container well out of reach of children. To prevent skin irritation, don’t allow powder to build up. If your baby’s face does become covered in talc, take her to the A&E. No brainers, I know.
As Ob-gyn Dr. Carmit Archibald, M.D., co-owner of Upper East Side Gynecology and an assistant clinical professor at the Mount Sinai School of Medicine, said it in this Vogue interview recently: “Powders should really only be used in preventing or treating specific conditions if directed by a doctor; they are not otherwise recommended as part of a daily hygiene routine.” (Vogue: Could Talcum Powder Cause Cancer? Here’s What You Need to Know )
Bottomline? The good news is you don’t need them. Drying well with a towel will do. In case of rashes you will need to use a cream based product anyway and not powder. Bobcat has a sensitive skin, can go dry very easily so that’s another reason for me not use any.
What do you use? What do you think? Let me know in the comments.