Talcum powder has been in the news often over the last few years, pushing many people to question their personal routines. And for good reason — it's a confusing array of sometimes contradictory information.
It's been linked to ovarian cancer and concerns that it can contain asbestos, which can cause a rare cancer called mesothelioma. Although the most recent study has found no statistically significant link between talc powder and ovarian cancer, there are plenty of safe options to use instead of talc powder:
Cornstarch: Found in the baking aisle of your local grocery store, cornstarch is a great natural alternative to talc. The consistency is exactly the same, so it'll help soak up wetness just as well. Cornstarch is derived from the endosperm of a corn kernel and is often used to help thicken sauces.
Arrowroot starch or tapioca starch: Both staples in a paleo baker's kitchen, these starches are all-natural alternatives to talc. Arrowroot is derived from several tropical South American plants. Tapioca starch is derived from the crushed-up pulp of the South American cassava plant, a woody shrub. Both are used in paleo recipes as alternatives to flour and cornstarch. If you're using it on your baby's sore bottom, try this recipe for homemade baby powder.
Baking soda: You thought sodium bicarbonate, otherwise known as baking soda, only had 100 uses. Well, here's one more: This common pantry item can be used in place of baby powder. Some people even use it as deodorant, applying some to their underarms each morning. It can also deodorize the air.
Oat flour: Try this if you're looking for a slightly coarser powder than the ones mentioned above.
Commercial baby powder alternatives: These products are talc-free and some combine the items listed above with essential oils. There are fragrance-free options available as well. To name just a few:
- Burt's Bee's Baby Dusting Powder
- Honeybee Gardens Deodorant Powder
- Nature's Baby Dusting Powder (fragrance-free)
Here's one last reason to consider the all-natural route: Talc is poisonous when inhaled or swallowed. It can cause breathing problems, which is why the American Academy of Pediatrics urges caution when it comes to using talc powder on babies.
Editor's note: This story has been updated since it was originally published in November 2016.