When I was growing up, every bathroom had a bottle of baby powder in it whether there was a baby in the house or not. Although these days there are ointments, creams, and balms that can help soothe diaper rash, baby powder (or dusting powder as some brands prefer to be called) is still the best way to prevent it altogether.
So, does baby powder expire? Depending on the primary ingredient, modern baby powders may or may not have an expiration date printed on the package. Either way, if your baby powder is exposed to moisture or has been open for more than 18 months, you should replace it. Unopened baby powder should be disposed of after 3 years.
Keep reading for the difference between talc- and cornstarch-based baby powders, and how long the baby powder is good for, both unopened and in use. I’ve also included a couple of tips on how to keep your open baby powder from going bad.
Does baby powder have an expiration date or go bad?
The two most common bases for baby powder are cornstarch and talc. Both are used to absorb moisture and reduce friction in your baby’s diaper and sensitive areas, but you are likely to see a variation in the shelf life and expiration dates between the two.
Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is a common ingredient in cosmetics, deodorants, and some baby powders. Because it is non-organic, talc itself does not have an expiration date, although it is common to find a three year limit on talc-based products.
Cornstarch, as its name suggests, is derived from corn. If you do much cooking, you may recognize it as a thickening agent common in, among other things, casseroles and pies. When kept properly stored, cornstarch does not go bad, but the package may include an expiration date.
With both products, the expiration date is more likely to be an indicator either of a brand’s internal standards or the potency of any other ingredients (scent, for example).
Is it OK to use expired baby powder?
Since both of the primary ingredients of baby powder are shelf-stable, it is likely that you can use your baby powder, even if it has expired – especially if it is a single ingredient product.
After the expiration date, the biggest change that you will probably notice is that it will begin to lose its scent. If it has been exposed to the air, then it has also likely started to clump up due to the moisture. It is important to keep in mind that some products will include other ingredients that may not last so well, but if the baby powder still smells right and has not developed any clumps, it is probably okay to use.
Does cornstarch baby powder expire?
The cornstarch that is used in baking and you probably have in your kitchen is very stable and likely does not have a printed expiration date on the tin. In fact, unopened cornstarch actually never goes bad!
That same ingredient is the primary absorbent element in many baby powders, including Johnson’s Pure Cornstarch Baby Powder, Gold Bond Cornstarch Baby Powder, and Burt’s Bees Baby Dusting Powder. Depending on the brand’s internal standards and any other ingredients in the powder, the expiration date, if there is one, may be up to three years from manufacture.
However, some sources claim that cornstarch-containing products should be replaced after 18 months of being opened.
Does talc baby powder expire?
Although they are growing less common, talc used to be the standard in baby powder. Talc, or talcum powder, is a soft mineral that is used in many types of cosmetics because of its moisture absorption and soft, smooth feel. Depending on the brand’s internal standards and any other ingredients in the powder, the expiration date, if there is one, may be up to three years from manufacture.
Special care should be taken not to allow the inhalation of any baby powder that includes talcum powder as it could cause irritation and other problems.
Does Johnson’s baby powder expire?
Johnson’s classic baby powder is talc-based, and includes an expiration date on the package. Johnson’s website recommends that products be replaced after a year for “the best experience.”
Johnson’s also has four cornstarch-based baby powders available: Pure Cornstarch Baby Powder, Aloe & Vitamin E Powder, Lavender Powder, and Medicated Baby Powder with Zinc Oxide. Despite the shelf stability of cornstarch, each of these powders will have an expiration date printed on the package, primarily because of the additional ingredients. T
his expiration date will typically be listed as a year, again to ensure that the product quality is high.
Does Burt’s Bees baby powder expire?
Burt’s Bees Baby Dusting Powder is a cornstarch-based powder and does not include an expiration date on the product, although it does have a production date. The dusting powder is considered a cosmetic product, and, according to the Burt’s Bees website, it will be good for three years from the date of manufacture. After it has been opened, the powder should be replaced after one year.
How to properly store baby powder
No matter which type of baby powder you choose, all types should be stored in the same basic way. When not in use, the baby powder bottle should be closed tightly and stored in a cool, dry place to keep moisture from getting in and causing the powder to clump.
If moisture gets trapped in the powder, it could lead to the growth of bacteria so you should dispose of any baby powder that has started to clump.
Although it may be tempting to keep your baby powder in the bathroom, that is probably the worst place possible since it will be both warm and damp. A better option is to store the open baby powder along with your diapers and other similar items at your baby changing station.
Unopened baby powder is less susceptible because the seal is unbroken and can be stored in a bathroom cabinet (or pretty much anywhere else it will be out of the way and not actually get wet).