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The Best Baby Powders for Soft Skin

Mother preparing baby powder in her hand and four month old baby as a background
tomkawila/Shutterstock

Baby powder is one of many items that all parents of an infant under a year old should have on hand. This white, sweet-smelling powder is a regular part of many diaper-changing routines as it helps prevent babies from developing diaper rash and leaves them smelling fresh and clean after a change. This is the most common use for baby powder, but it has several other mainly cosmetic uses as well. Baby powder also acts as a freshener for shoes and prevents odor and perspiration in adults; unbeknownst to many, it can be used to remove grease stains from clothing. It can also double as a dry shampoo for humans and pets due to its oil-removing tendencies. Some people find baby powder a useful way to clean their feet of sand after a day at the beach, untangle necklace chains, and prevent chafing on people of all ages, not just babies. Therefore, even if you don’t have an infant in your house, you may still want to invest in some baby powder, thanks to its multiple uses.

What to Consider in Baby Powder

These are some good things to look for when choosing a baby powder:

  • Talcum Powder vs. Talc-Free: Baby powder may be made from talcum powder or cornstarch. Both bases are equally effective at preventing rashes. However, talcum powder can have some adverse health side effects if it’s inhaled by mistake. Cornstarch particles are a lot bigger and thus harder to inhale, so many people prefer to buy talc-free baby powders since they’re considered safer. However, a cornstarch-based powder doesn’t have the same sweat-prevention capabilities. If you do buy a baby powder that has talcum powder as a base, check the labels and make sure it’s listed as purified talc, as this form of talc doesn’t carry the same health risks.
  • Hypoallergenic: Depending on your intended use for the baby powder you buy, you want to make sure you invest in a brand that’s hypoallergenic. Babies have much softer and more sensitive skin than adults, which means that it’s more likely to become irritated. Preventing diaper rash won’t do them much good if the baby powder causes a different kind of reaction, so consider choosing a powder labeled as hypoallergenic to prevent this issue. If you or someone in your family has sensitive skin and you plan to use the baby powder to freshen shoes or clean grease stains, a hypoallergenic brand might also be worth the purchase.
  • Scented vs. Unscented: Scented baby powders can be a pleasant way to leave behind a fresher and more appealing odor after a diaper change or in a sweaty pair of sneakers. However, scented baby powders may also contain chemicals that can irritate the skin. If you plan to use your baby powder on your infant, you may be safer opting for an unscented option or, at the very least, doing a spot check with the powder before using it fully.

Best Talc-Free: Caldesene Medicated Protecting Powder

Here’s a new and improved baby powder formula with all the traditional benefits that come with it: soothing and protecting chafed skin, absorbing moisture, preventing and treating diaper rash, and more. It’s also completely free of talcum, so you won’t have to worry about your baby’s safety if they inhale some by accident. The cornstarch base enhanced by zinc oxide works to repel moisture and absorb sweat that causes diaper rash. If your baby already has either condition, this powder can help it to heal faster. It also contains aloe and chamomile to soothe your baby’s sensitive skin and make it even softer. The powder won’t cause a sticky, sloppy mess the way a gel or cream might, and it is safe for regular, daily use. While originally designed for use on infants, it can be utilized for the benefit of the whole family. This powder is also great for preventing chafing in areas like the inner thighs or armpits. It’s also great for removing sand stuck to your skin, hair, towels, and clothing.

Best Talc-Free

Caldesene Medicated Protecting Powder, Cornstarch & Zinc Oxide, Talc Free, 5oz

A talcum-free baby powder that has multiple uses for the entire household, not just infant care.

Best Bang for Your Buck: Burt’s Bees Baby Dusting Powder

If you use baby powder daily, this pediatrician-tested and approved powder is an excellent value pack that will last you that much longer. For one price, you get three 7.5-ounce bottles of this all-natural baby powder for a total of 22.5 ounces. The powder itself is hypoallergenic and thus non-irritating; it’s talc-free with an absorbent cornstarch and bark powder base that is also free of parabens, phthalates, petrolatum, or SLS, so you know it’s safe, nourishing, and won’t irritate your baby’s delicate skin. The myrrh leaf extract provides additional soothing and nourishment as well. The powder has a mild, light scent that keeps your baby smelling fresh and clean in between diaper changes or reduces the odor from workout clothes or sneakers and absorbs the sweat and moisture from them. It works as both a preventative for diaper rash or a calming relief if your infant already has one.

Best Bang for Your Buck

Best Hypoallergenic: Johnson’s Hypoallergenic Baby Powder

Babies have much softer and far more sensitive, delicate skin than adults or even young children. As a result, you have to be extra careful about what fabrics, lotions, and powders you rub into or rest against their skin. This means that when picking a baby powder to use on your infant, one that is hypoallergenic is an ideal choice. This gentle, clinically tested baby powder is both hypoallergenic and free of parabens, dyes, phthalates, and sulfates, so you don’t have to worry about it irritating or harming your baby. It quickly soaks up all kinds of moisture, leaving your infant’s skin even softer and smoother than before. This powder has been dermatologist tested and approved, designed specifically for the delicate skin of babies. This also means that it’s an excellent choice for older children, teenagers, or adults with sensitive skins as well. It makes a great dry shampoo or sand removal method after a day at the beach or lake. For safest, most effective use, shake the baby powder into your hand away from your face before smoothing it onto the skin or desired surface.

Best Hypoallergenic

Johnson's Baby Powder, Hypoallergenic and Paraben Free, 22 oz

A hypoallergenic baby powder that is free of parabens and sulfates for clinically proven safety.

Best Travel Pack: Johnson’s Baby Powder 1.7 Ounce (Pack of 8)

Traveling with a young baby can be quite a hassle, and that’s even before you consider airplane substance quantity restrictions and limited space. Baby powder is one of those items that you can’t bring onto an airplane in containers of more than 3 ounces at a time. Even if you’re taking a road trip, a full-sized bottle may be too big and clunky to easily fit into your luggage and take up more space than you’re willing to spare. It’s possible that you can transfer baby powder from your regular sized container into a smaller one by hand, but this would be a time-consuming and potentially very messy process; powder is harder to pour uniformly than liquid, so you may find yourself spilling and wasting plenty of powder during the transfer process. In any of these situations, a baby powder that comes pre-packaged in travel-sized bottles is an ideal solution, and this pack of eight will cover all your travel baby powder needs. Each bottle is less than 2 ounces, plenty small enough to pass the muster of airport security and easily fit into any carry-on suitcase, backpack, satchel, duffel, or shoulder bag. They can even fit into a handbag, so they may not even have to take up any room in your luggage at all, whether you’re flying, driving, taking the bus, or traveling by train. The powder itself is dermatologist tested and clinically proven to be gentle on your baby’s skin. It’s hypoallergenic and will gently soak up any excess moisture for a more comfortable, drier feel. Whether you plan to use it on your baby or yourself, it will leave skin feeling silky smooth and fresh.

Best Travel Pack

Johnson's Baby Powder, 50 Gram / 1.7 Ounce (Pack of 8) International Version

A pack of eight baby powder bottles that are 1.7 ounces, small enough to bring on a plane.

Meghan Herlihy Meghan Herlihy
Meghan Herlihy is a full-time writer for LifeSavvy and has written across a wide variety of topics, genres, and formats, including radio talk shows, local sports journalism, and creative original fiction. She received her bachelor's degree in communications from Ithaca College and a master's in writing from Johns Hopkins University. When she's not writing, you're most likely to find her reading a book, petting every dog within eyesight, and indulging in her love of travel. Read Full Bio »
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