Updated January 2022
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Buying guide for best baby powder

Baby powder is an inexpensive and effective way to keep your baby happy by preventing diaper rash, chafing, and irritation. It does its job by absorbing moisture, which in turn keeps the delicate skin in the diaper area dry and smooth. Baby powder is often used by adults to keep their feet and hands dry and to absorb sweat and odor.

When it comes to baby powder, talc is an ingredient that some parents want on the ingredients list while others push it away. In this buying guide, we explore talc-based baby powders and their alternatives, explaining the aspects of each so you can make an informed decision. We also examine some of the other key components that you may be interested in, like aloe vera and vitamin E.

Whether you’re shopping for a baby or yourself, baby powder is a handy item to have around the house. Read our buying guide for a deep dive into this topic, and be sure to check out the favorite products we spotlight.

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A light dusting of baby powder inside your diaper bag can eliminate any odor buildup in there.

Key considerations


Many baby powder products are advertised as talc-free. Talc is a clay mineral that been in use for decades to absorb moisture and odor, but there have been claims over time that the use of talc may be linked to the development of cancer. There have only been a few properly done clinical trials concerning talc, and none have established a causal link just a correlation. That said, if you’re concerned about exposing your baby or yourself to talc, it’s easy to find a baby powder that doesn’t contain it.

Scented or unscented

You can choose between unscented and scented baby powder. If you want scented baby powder, be aware that the manufacturer will have to add chemicals to produce the scent. The added ingredients may be substances that irritate your little one’s skin. Therefore, it’s best to perform a patch test first. Apply just a little bit of scented powder to one leg and wait a few hours. If no negative reaction occurs, you can continue to use the powder.

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Did you know?
Athletes often use baby powder in their shoes and boots to keep their feet dry.



The degree of absorbency in baby powder depends, in large part, on whether in contains talc or a talc substitute. Talc has astringent properties, meaning it causes body tissues to constrict. This prevents the skin from releasing sweat. As we’ve mentioned, talc also absorbs moisture directly from the skin, like a sponge.

Talc-free baby powder contains cornstarch or tapioca starch instead of talc. These substances don’t have astringent properties. Therefore, they only absorb moisture; they don’t prevent the release of sweat.

By absorbing moisture, baby powder also absorbs odors. This helps keep your baby smelling clean and fresh.


The star ingredient in baby powder may be cornstarch, tapioca starch, or talc, but there are additional ingredients to be aware of. These may include aloe vera, chamomile, and vitamin E. They’re added to soften your child’s skin and relieve irritation and chafing.

Why would you want a baby powder that contains these additional ingredients? Here’s a look at the potential benefits.

  • Aloe vera, known in ancient Egypt as the “plant of immortality,” has been used for over 6,000 years to treat burns, cuts, rashes, scrapes, and wounds. Many caregivers have found it to be a safe and effective treatment for diaper rash in babies. Due to its widespread use, aloe vera has many names in dozens of different cultures, but nearly all of them include some version of the word aloe.

  • Chamomile has natural soothing effects when applied to the skin. However, a word of caution: chamomile should not be used on babies less than three months old. Wait until they’ve grown a little, and never use it on broken skin, regardless of age. 

  • Vitamin E naturally occurs in fruits and vegetables. It is required for human health, either through our diet or man-made supplements. Vitamin E is necessary for proper skin nutrition and health. It can protect a baby’s skin from UV rays as well as environmental pollutants. It stabilizes the cell membranes in the skin and promotes the growth of healthy hair. It’s a vital antioxidant vitamin that is safe for a baby’s sensitive skin.

  • Zinc, or zinc oxide, is a mineral commonly used in organic baby sunscreen formulas as well as in baby powders. It’s been in use for more than 2,000 years as a treatment for burns and wounds. It contains electrolytes that are beneficial for babies as well as adults. It is white and powdery in appearance and acts as a gentle astringent when used on the skin. It also contains antiseptic properties and is used to treat chapped skin and diaper rash.

It’s important to make note of one important distinction between talc and cornstarch or tapioca starch. Talc is a soft mineral made from finely ground magnesium sulfate. It is so finely ground that the tiny particles can easily get into your lungs. Cornstarch and tapioca starch have bigger particles that aren’t so easily inhaled.

A note about baby powder application

Once you’ve cleaned your baby, dry the skin gently before applying baby powder. Otherwise, the powder may absorb even more moisture and ball up, creating irritation as well as a mess.

When applying powder, sprinkle it gently from the container or apply a small amount ot your hands and rub the powder onto your baby’s skin. Some people like to diaper their baby while they still have powder on their hands, as a little bit of powder stays on the diaper and further helps prevent the chafing and rubbing that can occur.


Baby powder shakers: SIGNORA WARE Salt and Pepper Shakers
These camping salt and pepper shakers with plastic lids from SIGNORA WARE can be repurposed as baby powder containers and are the perfect sizes for caretakers on the go. Fill them with baby powder from a large container, and toss them in your diaper bag or purse to be used at a moment’s notice. The tough plastic lids are airtight, so you won’t have to worry about spills. A word of caution: if you intend to use these shakers for baby powder instead of salt, mark them as such so nobody accidentally pours baby powder on their dinner!

Protective gloves: MedPride Powder-Free Nitrile Exam Gloves
Repeated use of baby powder can dry out your hands. These powder-free gloves from MedPride come 100 to a box and fit either hand. You can use them to perform other chores around the house, as well.

Baby powder prices

Low-cost baby powder starts around $0.32/ounce and goes up to about $1/ounce. In this lower range, you’ll find talc as the main or only ingredient. Talc is less expensive than other ingredients, so the prices on products containing talc will naturally be lower than products with other ingredients.

Baby powder that is organic or contains specialty ingredients could cost anywhere from $1/ounce to $8/ounce. That said, the majority of these “higher-end” baby powders cost from $1/ounce to $3.50/ounce. 


  • Keep air quality in mind. Baby powder will blow around the room if you use it near an AC vent or fan. Keep your changing station comfortably far away from these appliances, or turn them off before using baby powder.

  • Baby powder has sometimes been used to keep floorboards and stairs from squeaking.

  • Baby powder can be used in latex gloves to absorb sweat when you’re working.

Other products we considered

We like the Caldesene Medicated Protecting Powder. It contains cornstarch and zinc to soothe chafed skin, absorb moisture and odors, and protect your baby against diaper rash. It's also good for the rest of the family. After a day at the beach, sand and seawater (or murky lake water) can create chafing and irritation. Use this powder to stop those problems in their tracks. 

We also like Era Organics USDA Certified Organic Baby Powder, even though its price puts it in the upper price range of products. It's made from calendula extract, cornstarch, kaolin clay, organic arrowroot powder, and rosemary extract, so it's fragrance-free, non-toxic, and 100% natural. It works great with cloth diapers to keep babies dry and protected against diaper rash.

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If your child is suffering from diaper rash, it may be too late for simple baby powder treatment. Consider investing in some quality diaper rash ointment. If the problem persists, your child should see a doctor.


Q. Where did baby powder come from?
A. Baby powder was originally a product name created by Johnson & Johnson for their talcum powder product, which as intended to be used on babies.

Q. When should I start using baby powder on my child?
A. You can begin using it the day they’re born. Newborn babies have skin that is especially sensitive. Using baby powder can help avoid rashes and painful skin irritations.

Q. Does baby powder reduce friction?
A. Yes. Parents often use baby powder as a dry lubricant when babies get their hands or arms stuck in something. It’s very effective.

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