With plenty of naysayers and believers, what is the truth about the benefits or harm of the ubiquitous talcum powder we so love to use?
Let’s start with what the main ingredient of talc is. Talc is a soft rock, if you remember geology 101, mainly made up of magnesium, oxygen, and silica. In its natural form, talc contains a little asbestos as well, but the talc used in cosmetics is asbestos free, at least in developed countries. Now if that is the case, why is talc so controversial? In recent years, there have been plenty of lawsuits filed against a very famous talc brand manufacturer with plaintiffs claiming that the talc was causal in giving them cancer. Why? Because it was found adulterated with asbestos, which when inhaled, can cause many ugly forms of cancer. The reason? Mining mix-ups at the site, leading to asbestos-contaminated talc going into cosmetic use.
So, what is talc good for?
The good thing about talc is that it is an inert chemical—which means in itself it creates no chemical reaction when applied, inhaled, or even ingested. So talc, if not adulterated with any other harmful chemical, is not a bad thing at all in most cases, particularly if applied. It’s a great absorbent so it reduces friction and lessens the possibility of skin rashes and irritations. Which is why mothers all over the world use it on their babies, and why it is also used for reducing prickly heat in hot and humid climates. Talc is also an ingredient in many cosmetics like powders, compacts, eye shadows, and powder blush.
But there have been plenty of talc-related cancers, skin lesions, and other rare cases of diseases being increasingly reported all over the world, which means the safety of talc needs far more research than there is now. Since talc brand manufacturers have a lot to lose if this mineral is suddenly declared unfit for human use, it is mostly declared to be safe. If you are getting more and more doubtful about the veracity of this statement, there’s a simple way out. Switch to using homemade talcum powder, minus the talc and the asbestos, that is!
Homemade Baby Powder
Baby powders need to be soft, soothing, and good for the little one you so cherish. If there is even a micro percentage that the store-bought talc you use might turn out to be detrimental to the little one’s health, it’s time you whipped up some homemade talc.
All you need is 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch, and 2 tablespoons dried and crushed flower petals (think chamomile or rose). Run this in the mixer well till it all blends down into a smooth powder. Transfer into a jar and use with a cotton pad or puff to avoid too much of the powder flying about and getting into the baby’s lungs.
Homemade Prickly Heat Powder
In medical terms, prickly heat is called miliaria, and it’s also known as sweat rash or heat rash. It typically happens on hot and humid days, especially if you are wearing synthetic fibers that don’t let your skin breathe. It starts with red bumps or welts on the skin that turn itchy or slightly painful to touch. While there are plenty home remedies for it, one of the easiest ways to prevent prickly heat is by wearing cotton fibers that let your skin breathe. And before you dress yourself up in cotton; apply a homemade talc to your body to avoid those itchy skin rashes in the first place.
To make summer-suitable homemade talc, you need 1/2 cup arrowroot powder or cornstarch, to begin with. To this base, you can add a few different things, depending on availability or choice. Choose any one of the following:
- 1/2 cup dry oatmeal
- 1/4 cup sandalwood powder
- 1/4 cup cinnamon powder
Give both your ingredients a good zap in the mixer to achieve a fine powder and store in a jar with a powder puff or cotton pad in place to apply.
If you have any homemade talc recipes up your sleeve, we’d love to hear from you in the comments section below. On that note, wishing you happy and safe summers! And don’t forget that SPF!