Talcum Powder Brands at a Glance
Talcum powder played a big role in health care throughout the 20th century. It was marketed for use on people of all ages, including newborns, children and adults. Talcum powder became very popular due to its moisture-absorbing abilities.
In the present day, talcum powder is still produced and sold around the world by many high-profile companies. In the United States, the most popular brands include Johnson & Johnson and Gold Bond.
The main ingredient of talcum powder is talc. Talc is a mineral that is very soft and absorbent when ground up. In addition to studies concluding that talc can cause cancer, other cancerous materials can often be found near it during the mining process. This can lead to contamination of the talc and increase risk of exposure to cancer-causing materials.
Most talcum powder brands now make alternatives with cornstarch instead. This is likely due to the potential cancer risk associated with talc as recent lawsuits have shown. Some products, such as Shower to Shower powder, also contain a blend of cornstarch and talc.
Johnson & Johnson’s Baby Powder
Johnson & Johnson was founded in 1886 and began selling its baby powder in 1894. Its baby powder became one of its most important products. Talcum powder helped prevent newborns’ skin from irritation, friction and diaper rash.
Talc is the core ingredient in Johnson & Johnson’s original baby powder. Johnson & Johnson profited greatly because they successfully convinced the public that their talcum powder was not only safe—it was an essential part of caring for newborns.
Documents released during recent lawsuits revealed trace amounts of cancerous materials were found in samples of Johnson & Johnson’s talcum powder throughout the 20th century. The company ignored the claims, but lawsuits in the early 21st century have further linked the company’s baby powder to cancer.
Today, Johnson & Johnson sells 4 different versions of its baby powder. Although 3 of these are made with cornstarch and other ingredients, its standard baby powder is still made with talc.
Shower to Shower® Powder
Though baby powder was initially advertised for use on babies, over time Johnson & Johnson marketed it as something to be used throughout a lifetime. Later on, the company created talcum powders specifically targeted for adults.
The most successful of these was their Shower to Shower powder, which hit the market in the 1960s. Shower to Shower powder was designed to keep skin fresh and dry by absorbing moisture and odors. For this reason, many used it as a deodorant.
In 2012, Johnson & Johnson sold its Shower to Shower brand to Valeant Pharmaceuticals, now known as Bausch Health. However, the new company did not change the formula, which includes a combination of talc and cornstarch.
Shower to Shower powder is recommended to be used:
- As a deodorant
- On feet to reduce sweat/smell
- On hair to absorb oil
- On bedsheets to make sleeping more comfortable
- To cool skin that is hot to the touch
However, women who used Shower to Shower powder while it was owned by Johnson & Johnson are now suing the company. They claim that the product caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
Gold Bond Men’s Body Powder
While Johnson & Johnson has been a dominant force in the baby powder market, Gold Bond found success marketing talcum powder to medical and male-oriented audiences.
Gold Bond was founded in 1908. Their talcum powder was marketed in the New England area for decades before the company was bought by Chattem Incorporated® in the 1990s. From there, it became a widely recognized product.
Today, Gold Bond’s most popular products are its body powders. Many of Gold Bond’s powders use talc as a major ingredient. However, unlike Johnson & Johnson, there have not been any highly publicized lawsuits that link Gold Bond’s products to any form of cancer.
Gold Bond’s body powders include:
- Medicated Body Powder: According to the company’s official website, this powder can help relieve itchy skin and pain from sunburns, cuts, insect bites and burns.
- Men’s Essentials Body Powder: This powder is designed as a deodorant for active men. It promotes dry, cool skin and, according to the company’s website, has a refreshing scent.
- Maximum Strength Foot Powder: Gold Bond’s foot powder reduces skin irritation, odors and discomfort that commonly affect the feet. The company recommends applying it several times depending on symptoms.
All 3 of these powders use talc as their core ingredient. However, Gold Bond’s baby powder uses cornstarch instead of talc.
Body Powder Spray
Gold Bond also sells its powders in a spray can form. This allows the powders to be applied more easily. The company advertises the use of the spray on any part of the body. The company offers 3 types of powder sprays, all of which include talc.
Gold Bond’s powder sprays include:
- No Mess Powder Spray: This is similar to the company’s medicated body powder, but is more of an odor remover rather than a pain reliever. It promotes cooling and drying.
- Men’s Essentials™ Body Powder Spray: This male-oriented body spray absorbs moisture and odors. The company recommends using it before exercise or social outings.
- No Mess Foot Powder Spray: Gold Bond recommends using its foot powder spray to keep feet from getting hot, smelly and moist.
Talcum Powder Brands and You
Though talcum powder has been used for decades, recent lawsuits have caused people to question its safety. Juries in recent years have awarded billions to women who claimed that Johnson & Johnson’s talc-based products caused them to develop ovarian cancer.
If you are concerned about the products you use, a good precaution is to check the ingredients. Though talcum powder products are still being sold in stores, most companies now use cornstarch in baby powders. Store-brand Walmart®, Target®, Walgreens and Rite-Aid® baby powders do not contain any talc.
However, diseases like cancer may not appear until years after you first used talcum powder products. If you are concerned about your health, reach out to a doctor. Doctors can keep a close watch for cancer symptoms if they know your risk is higher.