Dusting powder is available in the form of baby powders, deodorants and foot powders. Typically it is used as an absorbent, but prescribed formulations of dusting powder are used as a fungicide. The ingredients in many dusting powders include talc or cornstarch, depending on the manufacturer. More natural products no longer use talc in their dusting powder formulations. Other dusting powder ingredients may include fragrance, magnesium carbonate, baking soda (sodium bicarbonate), methylparaben, quartenium-15 and antifungal agents like Nyastatin.
Talc or Cornflour
Most natural dusting powders do not use talc due to the potential hazards believed to result after inhalation. Talc is the softest known mineral and it is water repellent, making it useful as a dusting powder to absorb moisture. It has very little chemical activity and is not explosive or flammable. Cornflour is derived from corn, as its name implies. Typically it is used as a thickener for sauces and stews and also in baking for puddings. Cornflour replaces talc in many body dusting products such as baby powder and many prefer it due to concerns that talc may cause some cancers. However, the Federal Drug Administration has listed talc as generally recognised as safe.
Many dusting powders, such as those used for deodorant or foot powders, add fragrance. These fragrances are typically added in either powdered form (like lavender or vanilla) or as essential oils (like tea tree.)
Some dusting powders include kaolin clay as an ingredient to help with adhesion. Kaolin is a soft white clay, which is a powder in its natural state. It is commonly used in the manufacturing of china and porcelain, paper, rubber and paint.
Magnesium carbonate is salt of carbonic acid. It is a white powder used in bath products, cosmetics, oral care products as well as dusting powders. More natural or homemade formulations of dusting powders use baking soda instead of magnesium carbonate. The FDA considers magnesium carbonate as safe and it has approved it as one of the active ingredients in antacid drugs. Magnesium carbonate is used in dusting powders because of its drying properties. It's often used as a component of chalk used for drying hands in rock climbing.
Methylparaben is a preservative (part of a group called parabens) used in beauty products and food because of its antifungal properties. Methylparaben is absorbed by the skin but it doesn't accumulate in your body because it is released through your urine. It is considered non-irritating when applied to normal, unbroken skin.
Quarternium-15 is a preservative and biocide used in many cosmetic products and baby powders. It belongs to a group of chemicals known as formaldehyde-releasing agents. Formaldehyde acts as a preservative. Releasing agents such as quaternium-15 are often used in foods and cosmetics for this purpose.
Nyastatin is an antibiotic used in prescription dusting powders. Nyastin is fungistatic and fungicidal, so it is used against yeasts and other such fungi like Candida albicans.
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