We want all the information we can get. We seek out the guidance of experts and we monitor the latest science to see if it impacts any of our products. We also listen to the people who use our products so we can take their experiences into account. Safety is a priority for all of our consumer products because they go into your home and into ours. Safety is a value we all share.
With all the types of information we use to make products, there is no information more important than our research on scientific data and safety. We go beyond the findings of a single study because we must ensure we’ve assembled all of the available data from multiple scientific areas to reach conclusions based on evidence. One opinion or study can’t outweigh decades of conclusive, scientific, evidence-based findings. As a scientist and, equally important, as a parent myself, I can tell you the science is clear: Cosmetic talc is, and has been, safe for use in consumer products.
We are all mothers, fathers, and consumers ourselves; we understand and take seriously our responsibility to give you the information you need to make your own decisions. We created this site to help you find the facts about talc more easily. You’ll learn where talc comes from, how it is used in everyday products, and why it is safe to use as part of your personal care routine. We first offered JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder as a product choice more than 100 years ago. Today, our consumer division continues to manufacture and sell JOHNSON’S® Baby Powders with ingredients like talc and cornstarch. We choose to include these ingredients not simply because we’ve used them for decades. We include them because decades of scientific work support their safety. We hope that by reviewing this collection of facts about talc, you’ll feel as confident in its safety and efficacy as we do.
Vice President of Research & Development
Johnson & Johnson Consumer, Inc.
While it’s one of the most commonly used ingredients in cosmetic products today, the use of talc in cosmetics stretches as far back as ancient Egypt. Talc was also used by ancient Assyrians and Native Americans for a variety of applications.
Talcum powder was used in the 19th century to soothe skin irritation from medicated plasters. Consumers discovered that it also helped diaper rash, which led to the birth of JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder in 1893.5
Although it is one of the most well-known uses, only a very small fraction of the world’s talc is used for baby powder. The following are some other common uses for talc:
prevents caking, coats tablets and used in extended-release formulas6
helps treat fluid buildup (pleural effusion) between the lungs and the chest wall6
also useful to help prevent fluid buildup in the lungs of cystic fibrosis patients7
We continue to use talc in our products because decades of science have reaffirmed its safety. Because of its safety and effectiveness, we confidently include pharmaceutical grade talc in our products. Your trust in our products and your confidence using them every day is a huge responsibility — that’s why we only use ingredients in our products deemed safe by the latest science.
Science, research, clinical evidence and 30 years of studies by medical experts around the world continue to support the safety of cosmetic talc. Health authorities in the U.S. and around the world have reviewed the data. Talc is accepted for use in countries around the world, including the United States, European Union, Canada, Argentina, Brazil, China, India, Israel, South Africa, Turkey, and Indonesia.
If you’ve ever cared for a baby, you’ve probably had JOHNSON’S® Baby Powder in your home. Baby powder made from cosmetic talc is one of the JOHNSON’S® brand's oldest products and a longtime part of baby care rituals. It is hypoallergenic, helps eliminate friction and is clinically proven to be gentle and mild for your baby’s skin. The clean, classic scent is comforting and familiar for parents and children alike.
The Nurses’ Health Study (NHS) is the largest women’s health study ever conducted. This U.S. government-funded cohort study has looked into risk factors for major chronic diseases in women since 1976. Among many other breakthroughs, research from the NHS helped expose the link between smoking and heart diseases in women, and led to the development of hormonal therapies for breast cancer treatment.
The talc-use portion of the NHS included 78,630 women who were followed for 24 years, in total.8,9 They were asked whether they had ever used talcum powder on their genital area or on sanitary napkins. About 40 percent of women answered yes and were included in the talc-user group.8,9
SHOWED NO OVERALL INCREASE
in the risk of ovarian cancer
The study data showed no increase in the overall rate of ovarian cancer among the talc users, regardless of how often they used talc. There was no difference in the rate of ovarian cancer among women who used the powder directly on their bodies or on sanitary products.8,9
The Women’s Health Initiative (WHI) was established by the U.S. National Institutes of Health in 1991 to study the health of postmenopausal women. Among the many issues this cohort study investigated were the link between hormone therapy and breast cancer and the effects of diet on cancer and heart disease. The talc-use portion of the WHI included 61,576 women, 53 percent of whom said they used powder on their genitals, sanitary napkins or diaphragms. The women in this study were followed between 1993 and 2012.
Showed no OVERALL increase
in the risk of ovarian cancer
The study data showed no increased risk of ovarian cancer in women who used talcum powder, regardless of the type of use. There was also no increase in risk among women who used powder for longer periods of time.10
In other studies, such as case-control studies, groups of people are identified with the history of disease of interest and then they are asked questions about different possible risk factors, including use of certain products in their past. While some case-control studies have shown a statistical association between ovarian cancer and powder users, this association is not found in large, prospective studies. One potential reason that some case-control studies have found slight statistical associations is the potential for an overestimation of the true association due to recall bias, because the participants are aware of their ovarian cancer status when reporting powder exposure.11