7 Alternatives to Talcum Powder that Don’t Cause Cancer

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Woman pouring talcum powder

When most people think of talcum powder, chances are they think of babies and personal hygiene. Lately, studies and lawsuits have connected it to something more threatening: cancer.

Thousands of lawsuits say Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder and Shower to Shower led to ovarian cancer and mesothelioma.

A handful of studies also found a cancer link. For example, one study found women who used talcum powder for personal hygiene had a 20 percent to 30 percent increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

In addition, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration cannot guarantee that talc products in the U.S. are asbestos-free. Inhaling asbestos can cause mesothelioma.

The American Academy of Pediatrics has also warned that talcum powder can cause respiratory issues in babies.

People who are concerned about talcum powder’s safety can use talc-free substitutes.

Some options are readily available on the shelves of local grocery stores and drugstores, or online. Others such as silk powder, boron nitride or zinc oxide may be more difficult to find.

You can also make homemade baby powders with a combination of the following ingredients.

Diagnosed with mesothelioma or ovarian cancer after talcum powder use? Get a Free Case Review
  1. Cornstarch

    Cornstarch is the most widely used alternative to talcum powder. You can find this in the bakery isle of grocery stores, in drugstores, online and at other general merchandise stores like Target or Walmart. Commercial cornstarch blends are also available. Prices range from $1.50 for pure cornstarch to $9.00 for some commercial powder blends.

    Commercial brands that use cornstarch blends include:

    • Burt’s Bee’s Baby Dusting Powder
    • The Honest Company Organic Baby Powder
    • Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Pure
  2. Baking Soda

    Baking soda isn’t just for baking or deodorizing your fridge. It is safe to use as an alternative to baby powder. But, using pure baking soda can be abrasive for sensitive skin. Opt for a blend of baking soda and cornstarch or kaolin clay. Most stores carry baking soda. Prices range from $0.79 for pure baking soda to $9.00 for some commercial blends.

    Commercial brands that use baking soda blends include:

    • Honeybee Gardens Deodorant Powder
    • Avalon Organics Silky Cornstarch Baby Powder
  3. Tapioca Starch

    Most people know tapioca as a pudding-like treat. It comes from the cassava plant. Tapioca starch absorbs moisture and oil. You can find tapioca starch in some grocery stores, on Amazon and in specialty groceries such as Whole Foods. Prices range from $1.96 for pure cornstarch to $17.00 for some commercial powder blends.

    Commercial brands that use tapioca starch blends include:

    • Nature’s Baby Dusting Powder
    • Peas in a Pod Sweet Cheeks Baby Bum Powder
    • California Baby Calming Organic Powder
  4. Arrowroot Starch

    Similar to tapioca, arrowroot powder comes from South American plants. It is a great alternative for people who are allergic to corn. You will find it in some grocery stores. The best place to find it is at a natural or health food store. You can also order it online. Prices range from $2.50 for pure arrowroot to $14.00 for commercial powder blends.

    Commercial brands that use arrowroot starch blends include:

    • Ora’s Amazing Herbal Baby Powder
    • Ora’s Amazing Herbal Pure and Simple Body Powder
    • Bee All Natural Organic Baby Powder
  5. Kaolin Clay

    Kaolin clay, also known as cosmetic clay, is in many cosmetics, soaps, scrubs and deodorants. It is naturally absorbent and gentle on sensitive skin. People usually buy it online, but some health stores and general merchandise stores sell it. You can buy pure clay from $0.89 a pound in bulk. Some commercial powder blends start at $9.00.

    Commercial brands that use kaolin clay blends include:

    • Era Organics Baby Powder
    • Ora’s Amazing Herbal Pure and Simple Body Powder
    • Country Comfort Baby Powder
  6. Rice starch

    Rice starch is ground up rice. People used it in face powders before talc. One of the downsides to rice starch is its tendency to cake. It is also not easy to find unless you order it online. Prices range from $4.50 for pure rice starch to $11.00 for some commercial powder blends.

    Commercial brands that use rice starch blends include:

    • Organic Eve Rice Baby Powder
    • Reiscare Rice Baby Powder
  7. Oat flour

    Like rice starch, out flour is made of ground up oats. It is coarser than many of the other flours mentioned above. Oats are available in most stores. Oat flour is available already in flour form or you can grind it yourself. Prices range from $2.50 for pure oats to $16.00 for commercial powder blends.

    Commercial brands that use oat flour blends include:

    • Noodle and Boo Delicate Baby Powder
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Michelle Llamas, Senior Content Writer
Written By Michelle Llamas Senior Writer

Michelle Llamas has been writing articles and producing podcasts about drugs, medical devices and the FDA for seven years. She specializes in fluoroquinolone antibiotics, vaccines and products that affect women’s health such as Essure birth control, transvaginal mesh and talcum powder. Michelle collaborates with experts, including board-certified doctors, patients and advocates, to provide trusted health information to the public. Some of her qualifications include:

  • American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) Engage Committee and Membership Committee member
  • Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Health Literacy certificates
  • Original works published or cited in The Lancet, British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and the Journal for Palliative Medicine

5 Cited Research Articles

  1. The Institute for Natural Healing. (2017, August 22). 3 Safe Alternatives to Talcum Powder. Retrieved from https://www.institutefornaturalhealing.com/2017/08/3-safe-alternatives-to-talcum-powder/
  2. Kirschner, C. (2017, October 25). 5 alternatives to talc powder. Retrieved from https://www.mnn.com/health/fitness-well-being/stories/5-alternatives-talc-powder
  3. Mountain Rose Herbs. (n.d.). White Cosmetic Clay. Retrieved from https://www.mountainroseherbs.com/products/cosmetic-clay/profile
  4. Bob’s Red Mill. (n.d.). Corn Starch. Retrieved from https://www.bobsredmill.com/corn-starch.html
  5. Cooperative Purchasers. (n.d.). About Rice Starch: The Basics. Retrieved from https://cooperativepurchasers.com/Ingredients/Starches/Rice-Starch.html
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