Update: This article, originally published July 29, 2022, was updated January 6, 2023 with more information about Johnson & Johnson continuing to supply some countries with talc baby powder.
For decades, Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder was one of the most popular health products on the U.S. market.
In 2020, though, Johnson & Johnson ended the manufacturing and sale of the talc Baby Powder due to ongoing legal issues related to cancer. The product can cause three types of cancer.
Many consumers ask how talc products cause cancer, and the answer is due to asbestos contamination. Here is a summary of what happened to Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder and where the brand goes from here.
Why Is Talc No Longer Used?
Talc is no longer used because it is often contaminated with a cancerous mineral that irritates tissue linings years after it enters the body. The talcum powder can be contaminated easily with asbestos since both talc and asbestos are minerals.
Talcum powder with asbestos can cause mesothelioma, lung cancer and ovarian cancer for anyone who uses the powder on themselves or their child. Cancer from Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder is especially troublesome for women since they are the majority of users, applying the powder on their young children and sometimes even themselves.
Talcum powders like Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder absorb moisture and keep skin healthy. The issue with talcum powder is the potential contamination of asbestos.
So where does Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder stand now? Is talc powder safe to use? Is it even available to purchase anymore? If so, does Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder still include the controversial ingredient talc?
The answer to all of these questions is, “It depends on where you live.” In some countries, Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder is safe since it no longer includes talc as an ingredient. In other countries without the legal pressure on the company to change practices, the Baby Powder may still be dangerous.
Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Recall
Before the health and beauty conglomerate ended the sale of its Baby Powder brand, there was a major headline that signaled the possible end. In October 2019, Johnson & Johnson recalled approximately 33,000 bottles of the talcum powder product. The reason is the effects of talcum powder on the lungs and ovaries when it’s contaminated with asbestos.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found evidence of chrysotile asbestos in a bottle from an online retailer. Johnson & Johnson decided to recall all bottles from the lot with the contaminated bottle.
Johnson & Johnson later said multiple tests of the same bottle did not show any signs of asbestos. This indicates Johnson & Johnson’s tests and proclamations that its talcum powder is asbestos-free might be faulty.
Johnson & Johnson Introduces New Baby Powder
Johnson & Johnson unveiled a new baby powder brand in July 2022. The brand is called Vivvi & Bloom. There are three products within the Vivvi & Bloom brand:
- 2-in-1 wash and shampoo cleansing gel
- 2-in-1 face and body whip lotion
- 2-in-1 scalp and body massage oil
Vivvi & Bloom is described as a “skin and hair care brand for babies and toddlers.” The company said in a press release it was designed to meet the needs and wants of “millennial and Gen-Z parents and caregivers.”
One of the trademark features is trustworthy “natural ingredients.” All are verified by the Environmental Working Group, which regularly tests for and criticizes cosmetics with unhealthy ingredients. Talc, which the original Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder contained, is not one of the ingredients in Vivvi & Bloom.
The unveiling of this new baby powder is a comfort for anyone in the United States who wants to use Johnson & Johnson’s products on their child’s skin. They shouldn’t have to worry about loose asbestos fibers in the powder.
Does Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder Still Include Talc?
The answer is, unfortunately, yes and no. Johnson & Johnson stopped producing talc versions of its Baby Powder for North America. This decision was made in May 2020 due to the onslaught of cancer lawsuits from people who used Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder. Johnson & Johnson at one point faced more than 30,000 lawsuits from cancer victims. The number is still in the tens of thousands.
If you go to the product page on the Johnson & Johnson website for Baby Powder made with talc, the item is listed as “discontinued.” The main ingredient in the ingredients section on the product page is talc.
Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder sold in the United States, Mexico and Canada now includes cornstarch instead of talcum powder. The other ingredients listed include tricalcium phosphate, vitamin E, and aloe barbadensis leaf juice. Johnson & Johnson is one of many cosmetic and health companies swapping out talc for cornstarch and other substitutes.
The non-talc, cornstarch version of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder is available on Amazon and other online retailers. Cornstarch is a common talcum powder alternative ingredient for baby powders, talc-free makeup, and more. As far as we know, cornstarch baby powder does not cause cancer.
The answer to the question “Does Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder still include talc?” is complicated. Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder with talc is still available in other countries. Johnson & Johnson’s investors rejected a plan to end worldwide sales of the talcum powder brand. Some news articles have reported the Baby Powder being sold at stores in some countries.
For instance, an article reported at the end of 2022 that Johnson & Johnson continues to supply South African countries with the talc version of the powder. Some countries in South America and Asia have the same issue. People in those markets are using a potentially unsafe and cancer-causing product on themselves or their children.
Therefore, the talc version of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder is still available worldwide, just not in North America or most European countries.
Frequently Asked Questions About Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder
- What is baby powder?
- What is baby powder made of?
- Why is talc bad for your skin?
- When did Johnson & Johnson stop using talc?
Baby powder is a white powder product originally invented to prevent and treat diaper rashes for babies. Once the powder became more well-known, adults began using baby powder as a beauty product, personal hygiene product and household cleaning product.
Baby powder is made from a naturally occurring mineral called talc. The mineral is the softest on earth and can be crushed into a fine white dust. Once crushed, talc becomes baby powder, and it’s bottled up for distribution and sale.
Talc is bad for your skin because of where the mineral forms within the earth. Talc is a natural mineral that often forms in close proximity to asbestos, which is a cancer-causing substance. When talc is mined, the talc extract can often contain traces of asbestos.
Johnson & Johnson’s original baby powder formula used talc as the key ingredient. It was revealed J&J knew its talc was often contaminated with asbestos and continued to sell it. The pharmaceutical company pulled the talc product from North American shelves in 2020 and recently announced it will end the sale of Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder worldwide by the end of 2023.
Sources & Author
- Johnson & Johnson investors reject proposal to end global talc sales. New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2022/04/28/business/johnson-johnson-baby-powder.html. Accessed: 07/21/2022.
Sources & Author