I was watching one of those lifestyle talk shows last week and saw a segment with a beauty expert giving out tips on multiple use beauty products. One of her tips was to have baby powder on hand because it can be used for many things, not just diapering our infants.
Since it is also easy to find and economical, this seemed like a good suggestion. What this “expert” failed to point out, however, was that most baby and body powders contain talc, which is an ingredient that should set off alarm bells in your head. Talc is hazardous and toxic.
Talc is a mineral called Magnesium Silicate Hydroxide that is produced by mining talc rocks and crushing, drying and milling them into a fine powder. Talc is used industrially in home and garden pesticides, insulating materials, paints, asphalt and paper. It is sometimes found in pharmaceuticals and could be used in food processing.
These areas of use are fine, according to toxic substance professionals. What is of concern is their use in the cosmetic and body care industry. When talc is used in baby or body powders, eye shadow, face powder or loose-mineral cosmetics, it becomes dangerous. Its asbestos-like fibres are a serious hazard.
There are many high brow organizations out there that consider talc to be a toxic ingredient and have placed it on their hot lists with warnings against using it. Health Canada, Environment Canada, the Environment Working Group (USA) and the Cancer Prevention Coalition (USA) all advise against using body products that contain talc.
When we use them, the talc can become airborne and if inhaled, it puts us at risk of respiratory cancers. When powder is used in our girlie areas (sorry guys), our risk of ovarian cancer is increased. It would stand to reason that using it on a baby during a diaper change can be doubly dangerous, and should be avoided also.
Not every powder product out there contains talc, but you need to be on the lookout and do your research. There is no warning label for talc, no explosion or skeletal hand to alert you. Read the ingredient list. It will be listed as either talc or talcum and if you see it, don't buy the product.
This bums me out severely and I will have to break my secret addiction to baby and body powders. I love having a shower at bedtime, sprinkling on some powder and heading off to bed for a cozy, comfy sleep.
As nice as this is though, I can't justify the risk. I will have to tough it out and stop using it.
In the coming weeks, Anne and I will be experimenting with some talc-free body powder recipes. Keep reading this blog for an update on how our finished product turns out!