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Talcum Powder Versus Corn Starch (Which Powder is Best for Baby?)

When our little ones develop diaper rash, we just want to take their pain away and make them feel more comfortable. But choosing the right product can be a bit of a minefield.

Many years ago when I was a baby, talcum powder would have been the go-to product to not only help clear up diaper rash, but to help prevent it from the start.

But in the last few years, the safety surrounding the use of baby powder on little ones has been brought into question. With conflicting advice about it causing respiratory problems and even being linked to increased rates of cancer.

This has pushed many brands and parents to look for safer, more natural alternatives to help keep baby’s skin dry and rash free.

We are going to look into one of these alternatives products. Cornstarch is an ingredient that you are more likely to find in your kitchen rather than your bathroom or diaper bag.

But it has some amazing properties that make it a fantastic alternative to talcum powder without any of the potentially nasty side effects.

What Is Talcum Powder?

Talcum powder is made from talc which is a mineral made up of other minerals such as magnesium, oxygen, and silicon. It is often used in different types of cosmetic products such as makeup.

But talc is also the main ingredient in baby powder which has been used for many years as a way to keep baby’s skin dry and free from rashes.

This is because it has fantastic moisture absorption properties and can help reduce friction where skin rubs together. But in the last few years, there has been a great deal of controversy surrounding the use of talcum powder on a baby.

In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics does not recommend the use of baby powder on your baby as it can cause respiratory problems and lung disorders if breathed in.

talcum powder in hand

There are further doubts about its safe use on babies after Johnson and Johnson’s powder was linked to an increased risk of developing ovarian cancer.

Due to this, many parents have simply avoided using talcum powder on their children and instead have looked for a safer alternative.

What Is Cornstarch?

Cornstarch is one of these safer alternatives that many parents are now using. Cornstarch is made of a food substance and not a mineral and so it contains no talc.

Cornstarch is just the starch that is extracted from the kernel of the corn plant. It has a very similar appearance to talc except that it has slightly larger particles and it has similar absorption properties to talcum powder.

Used in its intended capacity, cornstarch is found in many soups, gravies, and sauces.

But it can also be used as an alternative to traditional talcum powder, mainly due to its great absorption and anti-friction properties. These properties have also helped it to make its way into many commercial baby powders and diaper rash remedies.

Is Baby Powder Safe To Use?

As we have said, in the last few years, a huge number of lawsuits were brought against one of the biggest baby brands, Johnson and Johnson for selling a baby powder that has been linked to ovarian cancer in adults.

While the link to cancer can be very frightening, there is further controversy surrounding talcum powder. This controversy stems from the other ingredients added to baby powders.

In years gone by, the baby powder that was made from talc also contained a small amount of Asbestos. Asbestos is the term used for a group of minerals that are made of microscopic fibers.

Before we knew the dangers of Asbestos, it was widely used in building construction. When Asbestos is breathed in, it can cause permanent damage to the lungs and has been linked to cancer. Baby powder is no longer made using Asbestos.


Do Any Baby Powders Contain Cornstarch?

Due to the controversy surrounding baby powders, many companies have developed products that contain cornstarch. Johnson and Johnson now make a cornstarch baby powder. It also contains aloe vera and vitamin E.

Both of these ingredients are known for their healing and soothing properties. It also states that the cornstarch powder that they use is free of parabens, phthalates, dyes, and sulfates. This corn starch alternative is quite affordable so it won’t break the bank.

If you are looking to avoid the Johnson and Johnson brand, there are many alternative brands that also produce a cornstarch-based baby powder. One of these is Burt’s Bees dusting powder.

Burt’s Bee states that its formula is 100% talc-free. It uses cornstarch and contains no phthalate and paraben-free. This is also another affordable option for diaper rash.

How To Make Your Own Cornstarch Baby Powder

If you want to go even more natural and are looking to make your own cornstarch baby powder, it is quite easy and can be made with ingredients that you would find in your kitchen cupboards.

It will also take you less than five minutes and can be stored for future use. This is great for busy parents in our hectic world.


  • 1/4 Cup of Cornstarch
  • 1/4 Cup of Baking Soda
  • 2 Drops of Essential Oil, this is completely optional.


Place all the ingredients in a bowl and stir. Make sure that all ingredients are well mixed. The optional essential oil is added in order to add a scent to the powder.

If you research the countless essential oils, many of them have additional health benefits. Adding tea tree can help with diaper rash due to its natural antimicrobial and anti-fungal properties.

Mandarin can be added when using your baby powder just before bed and has similar effects to Lavender of calming and sedative effects.

Your homemade baby powder can then be stored in a mason jar or something similar that has an airtight seal. These are great as they keep your powder dry and prevent them from clumping together.

Can Cornstarch Be Used Safely Instead Of Baby Powder?

Cornstarch and baby powder has been used for many years in the treatment of diaper rash. Both present similar issues for use, especially in very young babies.

In both cases, make sure that neither your baby nor you breathe in the cornstarch or baby powder. The main concern here is that both cornstarch and baby powder can cause respiratory issues, according to the Academy of American Pediatrics. 

Cornstarch On Diaper Rash: Is It Safe?

As we have said, cornstarch has been used as a home remedy for diaper rash for many years. Generally, cornstarch is considered a safe treatment. In fact, it can relieve the pain and discomfort of diaper rash very quickly.

However, if the rash is caused by yeast, then cornstarch is not going to be an effective treatment and you will need to consult a doctor or pediatrician.

When using cornstarch to treat diaper rash, you do need to be very careful and ensure that the powder only goes in the diaper area.

You need to keep the cornstarch away from your baby’s face so as to avoid any chance of causing respiratory issues that have been associated with inhaling the powder into their lungs.

So as long as you can prevent your baby from inhaling the powder by keeping it away from their face, cornstarch is a safe alternative to traditional baby powder.

Can Cornstarch Be Used On Yeast Infections?

Cornstarch powder is not effective in the treatment of yeast infections. In fact, it will make the rash much worse. This will be your first clue that the diaper rash you thought your baby had is not the standard rash, but is a yeast infection.

Cornstarch makes yeast infections worse as the yeast will feed off the cornstarch. 

If you find yourself in this position, it is best to seek the help and advice of a doctor or pediatrician who can provide the correct treatment to get rid of the yeast infection quickly and effectively.

baby powder

Other Use For Cornstarch Baby Powder

Cornstarch baby powder has many uses besides in its treatment of diaper rash. Many of its alternative uses will not only save you time but money as well. Here are some of the best alternative uses for cornstarch baby powder:

Dry shampoo for your pets

Simply sprinkle some cornstarch powder into your pet’s fur to absorb oil and dirt and then just give them a good brush. They will look like they have just come from the groomers.

If you have used essential oil, they will also smell great! Do check that any essential oils that you have used are safe for your pets.

Take care of grease stains on clothes

Children are dirty little creatures and often ruin their clothes by getting stains on them. Grease stains were sure to ruin clothes before you used cornstarch powder.

Simply sprinkle the stain with the powder and rub vigorously. This will often get the stain out and potentially save you a  great deal of money.

Get rid of bad odor

Smelly shoes are a pain as the odor is very difficult to get rid of. But by sprinkling a small amount of cornstarch powder in the shoe it will remove the sweaty odor.

You can also sprinkle some in the shoes before putting them on and this should avoid the smell from returning.

Dry up excess moisture

Children come off the beach covered in sand. Using the cornstarch powder can dry up the excess moisture and then allows the sand to be easily removed from their skin.

The Final Word

Cornstarch baby powder is a great alternative to traditional baby powder. It has great healing properties for diaper rash and this is why many of the bigger brands have now altered their baby powder formulas to include cornstarch instead of talc.

As with talcum powder, there are some issues with the use of cornstarch powder on babies. With careful use and ensuring that the powder is kept away from their face to avoid inhaling the powder, there should be no reason why it is not safe to use.

The ability to make your own custom powder, where you can add your own essential oils is a great way to save money and be a little more environmentally friendly!