Baby powder can prevent moisture getting trapped in-between folds of skin which can cause odour, irritation, chafing and the inevitable diaper rash. Popular talc based products are no longer recommended for use due to toxicity concerns. In response there have been some great natural baby powders released on the market. Here is our guide to choosing and using these natural baby powders.
The problem with talc
Once a baby care staple Talc has become well known for being toxic. It is no longer recommended to use talc based powders for any personal care use, particularly on babies. There are two main concerns with talc. The first is respiratory toxicity, the more alarming concern is the link between using talc and cancer. Talc has known contamination concerns with asbestos fibers. Asbestos fibers are known to be carcinogenic with strong evidence. They are also bio-accumulative meaning a small amount of exposure overtime from using talcum powder can lead to a build-up of these carcinogen fibers in your body.
Natural alternatives to talc baby powder
There are two main alternatives to talc when it comes to baby powder. Starch based powders and mineral based powders. Some products use a blend of both.
♠Starch based powders
The most commonly known and used starch based powder is corn-starch. You will find many corn-starch based baby powders on the market. Other starch based powders I have seen around use tapioca powder/starch or arrowroot powder/starch. These powders have no major toxicity concerns and are widely used in both skincare and cooking. As with any powdered product we still recommend you avoid breathing it in. There are some low-level concerns for respiratory irritation, particularly for those with pre-existing respiratory conditions.
Unfortunately, these starchy powders have one major drawback. If used on top of a yeast rash corn-starch can potentially cause the problem to get worse and require fungal cream for treatment. A mineral based powder, such as kaolin which we will talk more about below, on the other hand can keep the area dry and prevent the yeast from spreading.
♠Mineral based powders
Your other alternative is mineral based powders. Keeping the sensitive nature of babies skin in mind Kaolin (aka white clay) is the mineral powder of choice as it is very mild yet silky and effective at preventing friction and moisture. It has a long history of being used by aboriginal tribes for healing. There are no major toxicity concerns but as with any powdered product avoid breathing it in. There are low-level concerns for respiratory irritation.
Natural Baby Powder Products Reviewed
♦ Baby Organics - starch based
Ingredients: Corn Starch, Safflower Oil, Avocado Extract, Rosehip Oil, Calcium Powder, Lavender Essential Oil, Chamomile Essential Oil.
Baby Organics baby powder is a great product if you are looking for a cornstarch based natural baby powder. It has a subtle pleasant fragrance with the lavender and chamomile providing a earthy-floral-herbal twist. Safflower oil and avocado extract are added to nourish and soothe the skin. It comes in a wide top powder bottle for easy application. Avoid using on top of a yeast rash.
♦Little Innoscents - mineral based
Ingredients: Kaolin (Australian White Clay), Lavender Essential Oil, Spearmint Essential Oil.
Little Innoscents mineral baby powder uses kaolin (white clay) sourced from our own backyard here in Australia. Kaolin provides effective moisture and friction control while also being extremely gentle on sensitive skin. Little Innoscents baby powder comes packaged in a convenient standard powder bottle. The minty fragrance is a little stronger than I personally prefer but it is by no means unpleasant. Little Innoscents are Australian made and owned.
♦Little Bairn - mineral based
Natural Baby Powder | $14.95 120g
Ingredients: Kaolin (White Australian Clay), Chamomile Powder, Lavender French Oil, Mandarin Red Oil.
Little Bairn offers a luxury mum and baby skin care range that is indulgent and stylish. Their baby powder is no exception. Made with silky Australian white clay, kaolin, to provide effective moisture control and a pleasant blend of essential oils providing a light fragrance this powder is highly appealing. Setting it apart from other brands is their choice to package the powder in a jar instead of a powder bottle. You can use a powdering tool to apply it or just take a pinch with your fingers.
♦Gaia - starch based
Ingredients: Cornstarch, lavender essential oil, sweet orange essential oil, chamomile essential oil.
Gaia Natural baby powder is cornstarch based a with a subtle floral-citrus fragrance derived from essential oils. The cornstarch helps effectively provide moisture control but be careful not to use on any yeast rash for the reasons we discussed above. It comes packaged in a standard powder bottle that is easy to use. It is a solid and affordable option for a natural baby powder. We like that it comes in a larger 200g size.
♦Nature's Child - starch and mineral based
Ingredients: Certified Organic Tapioca starch, Kaolin (Australian white clay), Certified Organic Lavender Essential Oil.
Natures Child uses a blend of starch and mineral powders in their organic baby powder combining tapioca and kaolin. This blend provides effective moisture control with tapioca acting as smoother alternative to the more popularly used corn starch. The addition of kaolin (white clay) helps the product glide even smoother against the skin. Lavender soothes and gives off a subtle pleasant floral scent. Natures Child organic baby powder is also certified organic, vegan and made in Australia.
♦Redmond - mineral based
Ingredients: unrefined Redmond clay (bentonite clay)
Redmond clay baby powder is a mineral based baby powder consisting of unrefined bentonite clay. Bentonite clay is well known for its healing properties. It also works effectively to absorb moisture and reduce friction. It is an ideal option for those looking for an unscented mineral based baby powder as it contains no added fragrance ingredients. Redmond’s baby powder has a slightly gritty texture due to being unrefined and is not as smooth as a kaolin/white clay based mineral powder. Bentonite may not be the first clay of choice for sensitive skin, but it is still relatively gentle and should still be suitable for most, even with sensitive skin. As always, a test patch to check for any reaction is a good idea when trying out a new product.
♦Burt's Bees - starch and mineral based
Ingredients: Zea mays (corn) starch, sodium bicarbonate, montmorillonite, bentonite, commiphora myrrha (myrrh) leaf cell extract, ulmus fulva (slippery elm) bark powder, rosa centifolia (rose) flower extract, parfum (natural fragrance), limonene.
Burt's Bees combines starch powder (corn), mineral powder (bentonite and montmorillonite clay), slippery elm and sodium bicarbonate providing an effective blend of highly absorbent ingredints. The remaining ingredinets of rose centifolia powder, commiphora myrrha extract, 'natural fragrance' and limonene are used to provide a subtle slightly sweet honey-rose scent. I personally like the scent as it is light and not overpowering. All these ingredients natural, safe and non-toxic.
Sadly I don't like the fact that they list 'natural fragrance' instead of disclosing all fragrance ingredinets. Limonene is also considered a potential allergen and has low level irritation concerns. Sodium bicarbonate can also be harsh on sensitive skin. Because of the inclusion of limonene and baking soda I wouldn't recommend Burt's Bees natural baby powder for any person or child with sensitive skin or eczema. I am surprised they included these ingredients as most baby skin is highly sensitive. You also want to avoid using on top of any kind of yeast rash. Otherwise Burt's Bees is an effective and affordable natural baby powder. We like how they offer a larger size compared to other brands, which is helpful when you are going through a lot of baby powder quickly.
What you should know about using baby powder
Not all kids will have the same risk of diaper rash for all stages of diaper use. Risk can depend on climate, diet, what diaper/nappies and wipes you are using, how often they are changed, stage of development and your kid’s individual needs. Consider using a natural baby powder if you have trouble keeping things dry but keep in mind you may go through periods you don't need it and others where you will use it a lot.
When using baby powder make sure not to let it build up between folds of skin and wipe away any old powder next diaper change. Remember that baby powder is more for prevention than treating a diaper rash. When a rash does occur switch to a diaper cream to soothe and treat. If it doesn't go away in a few days get it checked out by a doctor.
Baby powder should not be used on babies, small children or by anyone who has asthma or any other kind respiratory issues. This is a good general rule to follow for most powdered products. Use sparingly and take precautions to avoid inhalation. Apply close to the body and not near the face. A good idea is to apply the powder to your own hands first and not directly onto baby’s skin.
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