Beauty for Dummies: Ode to Baby Powder

Now here’s an investment piece.


I feel like we spend a lot of time talking about how easy and rewarding it is to wear a dress or skirt or blouse or sweater or one particular pair of shoes several different ways, creating the illusion of completely disparate uses, and therefore eliciting a sense of victory for having purchased the items in question.

What we don’t do enough is dive into our medicine cabinets and consider the equally multifunctional nature of some of those cheaper-to-obtain items.

Today’s Beauty for Dummies started as a race against (the) time (it takes to reapply lipstick that is constantly fading) in the form of learning and subsequently teaching a frequently used beauty secret: that if you dab a bit of powder between two layers of applied lipstick, the color stays on perfectly through the duration of however long your night/day wants to be. However, this concept quickly became a larger conversation about the vast ways in which one can use baby powder.

I am told that the last time I took baby powder this seriously, I had diaper rash.

Though the pharmaceutical dust and I have come upon one another several times since its plastic perforated head and my uni-crack first met (once because I knew a guy who did not wear underwear and thus used baby powder to keep his penis from chafing when hung up against his jeans, another time because I dressed up as a George Whipple for Halloween), never has it seemed as evergreen, fruitful and valuable to the course of my enhanced-being as it does now.


Well, what started as my craving for a new dry shampoo quickly parlayed into my forgoing the traditionally marketed-as-shampoo-for-dry hair talc and instead taking the new-age, highly popular concept back to its place of birth: the Johnson & JohnsonΒ aisle at Duane Reade. When I landed there to pick up the baby powder, it occurred to me that the powder would also, as aforementioned, function as the bridge between my layers of lipstick to ensure it practically never came off (which I first applied on Sunday evening and, mind you, still kind of hasn’t).

After that, the flood gates opened. Amelia shared why she uses baby powder: to stop her eyeshadow from gathering in the creases of her eyelids. She also remembered that makeup artists have been known to lightly dust the powder onto their clients’ lashes in between layers of mascara to create the illusion of a thicker, longer set.

Then we got more utilitarian about its prolific uses.

Sometimes I wear New Balance sneakers without socks. I know, it’s gross, I just hate when they show above the sneakers. Often and obviously, my feet smell post-shoe removal. I’m clearly not about to throw out a pair of sneakers that make me look Scandinavian so what do I do? Either suck it up or blast the shoes with powder. It a. cuts the odor like a scissor to my hair, a1. smells like nostalgia in the form of cute infants, and b. makes me feel like an Olympic gymnast.

A trick we culled from Charlotte decrees that baby powder will do a fantastic job at absorbing oil stains on clothing. While the spots don’t always disappear completely, the talc does an astonishingly better job than the combination of detergent plus washing machine alone.

Much more interesting, however, was the final sliver of knowledge she bequeathed us regarding the powder’s breadth of capabilities:

I wear a lot of necklaces — like six at any given time. I rarely take them off, so what will often happen is that I’ll wake up in a state of panic because the chains around my neck have clearly submitted that they planned to choke me the night before. So far they haven’t won (this may upset some of you) but where their attempts fail a messy tangle arises, and I inevitably have to find the clasps, unhook them one by one and slowly take all of the necklaces off.

Once they’re off, the knotted chains find themselves betrothed to one another in a capacity that seems incapable of divorce. This is where the baby powder comes in — to function as annulment papers and make the metal tethered to its own kind near impossible to stay that way. It’s not that different from dry flour forcibly partitioning a cutting board and wet dough.

I’d recommend keeping the necklaces on while you detangle because it’s a sufficiently more fun challenge, and then you get to walk around with a huge white spot on your chest all day! Cool!

How do you use your baby powder?

Vanessa Bruno sweater, Delfina Delettrez choker, Khai Khai Jewelry necklaces. Leopard print flats by Valentino, red lipstick by Armani.

While you’re thinking about beauty tricks; get skin like a supermodel, learn how to fix those split ends, and improve your life with meditation and exercise.

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  • I don’t have any special uses for baby powder, but I did just realize that Amelia and I are hair color twins. Represent, girl!

    • Right …this is best powder for baby..i agree.

  • seriously

    i use it as a shave powder for my armpits. i find it much more smooth to glide my razors compared to icky shaving gel/cream.

    • Dry or in the shower? I loathe shaving gel!

      • RebeccaBaezaVillegas


  • Bianca

    I have the teensiest bit of wisdom to impart: beware of the frequency with which you use baby powder in your hair!
    I have a friend who used it nearly every day (she loved the volume it gave her), and then one day – I’m not lying – her hair broke. She had a chunk of hair on the crown of her head fall out. It was enough to give her a little halo of baby hairs for a while. It eventually grew back, but BEWARE!

    • Worried Guest

      This comment catapulted me into such a state of panic I took the leap and am making my first post – how?!? What?!? Was this truly caused by baby powder? I honestly use it daily and I am having to tether myself down to my seat not to go home and shower immediately. Help.

      • Bianca

        My friend is convinced that it was the baby powder that did her in… I would recommend making the switch to dry shampoo. Batiste makes one that is heavenly and is sold at drugstores!

  • L

    How does everyone apply it to your hair? Flip your hair over and shake? Just dump it in? Scrunch it? The method is really important and I’m just so bad at doing it neatly.

    • Leandra Medine

      I personally rub it between my hands and then using my fingers comb it through my part

      • L

        I’m going to try that tomorrow. Last week I tried dumping it in (i was a tad tipsy) and it turned my black sweater and jeans into a Beetlejuice outfit! Talk about a great snapchat.

  • brunetteletters

    I’ve never tried using it on my hair because I feel that people would be able to see white stuff on my head and that is probably worst haha…
    funny post.

  • Liza Matchell

    Ugh! what a great idea to put it on your feet before wearing shoes! I can’t express enough how frustrating it is to have a sexy pair of shoes smell like feet (even though I keep them clean – so frustrating πŸ˜‰ I’ll have to try the lipstick truck too :-* thank you

    • Maiken

      This really has been a problem for me too up till recently when I finally told my mom about it!
      She told me to use Rodalon and follow the instructions on the bottle – here in Denmark Rodalon can be bought in like every supermarket, but I just checked online and it looks like you can buy it in USA too?
      Anyway, it worked perfectly – no more ugly-feet smell for me πŸ™‚

  • Jacq

    For your barefoot running shoe dilemma, try Uniqlo’s thin ‘no-show’ socks for men. They are a hidden sneaker sock godsend!

  • Mollie

    Just this weekend I ran out of my usual dry shampoo and intrinsically reached for the baby powder under my sink (which my boyfriend sprinkles in his underwear). It may work even better than said dry shampoo and the smell is nostalgic.

    I’ve been using make up powder between my layers of lipstick. Maybe I’ll try the baby powder next time and let you know if there is any difference. I’m all about the life hacks.

  • Wait, baby powder before or after eyeshadow?

    • Amelia Diamond

      Right before! What I do is put foundation or coverup on my lid (my lids tend to be a bit reddish/blue…so cute!…so I first like to even out there color). Then right before I add eyeshadow, I dust a very fine amount of baby powder on with a blush brush, then add shadow. (Also, some days I just do the coverup and still add a bit of baby powder because the foundation will crease on its own)

      • I can vouch for this. This lasted through three classes, waitressing in a restaurant (hot kitchen to patio and back again) and then to the gym, because why take off a good smokey eye amirite? Thanks! πŸ™‚

  • Jess

    My husband & I use baby powder in the summer in areas that tend to get uncomfortably sweaty, like he on his junk and me under my annoyingly large boobs. I’ve tried it in the past as a dry shampoo but didn’t like the white tinge it left on my hair (maybe I was using too much, I applied it to my hands and went that way). Baby powder often goes in husband’s shoes when they stink. I may have to use it next time I wear lipstick (it definitely ain’t an everyday occurrence); how well do you think it might work on cream lipstick applied the same way as gloss?

    • Girl…42/44H here…I know the struggle with boobs, it helps a great deal.

  • Mr Bean

    I love talcum powder! I use it to slip my feet into tricky high heels. Plus, I dust it on my bare legs during the summer to ban unsightly leg perspiration after sitting cross-legged for too long. Wehoo!

  • mmaexetoile

    dawn dish soap is also a cheap alternative to stain removers and does an even better job of getting out grease stains, makeup, blood, oil, whatever. Not so much a beauty product, but worth it!

    • Cassandra

      Oui! Discovered this little trick in a grocery aisle in Paris: “vous avez le Tide-2-go?” Clear-colored Dawn after pretreatment with corn starch on silks works wonders!

  • I tried the baby-powder-in-my-hair-look once or twice, but whether it was due to my lack of skills or another equally annoying reason, I was less than thrilled with the effect {not to mention the overpowering stench}. Besides, the fact that something that is meant for the crack is now on top of my head doesn’t exactly give me warm, fuzzy feelings, if you know what I mean. So I’m sticking to dry shampoo. Unless, of course, you care to impart a bit of your wisdom as to how exactly you use it so it doesn’t look like dandruff and smell like a baby’s crack. XOXO

  • Thamsa

    If my underarms are too sensitive for deodorant after hair removal, I will usually use baby powder instead.

  • Amanda

    Baby powder can be used to lengthen your eye lashes before mascara application. I love how it helps give that fake eye lash look. I don’t use baby powder in my hair but since I have highlights, once my highlights have grown out a bit and I feel my roots are dark and I’m headed somewhere nice, I will brush my mineral makeup powder on my roots to lighten them up. It works really well!

    • Courtney Cartier

      how do you apply it to your lashes? sounds tricky!


      • Pia Schwaiger

        i m just using an old mascara brush

  • Emily Golding

    I love these new ways to use baby powder oh my! I’m going to try the lipstick on out tomorrow morning for work. I tend to use baby powder as a dry shampoo or to remove sweat patches after a rather hot tube journey.


  • AshleyOlivia

    Ah! A way to stop my eyeshadow from collecting in the crease! Finally! The Gods have delivered!

    Does Amelia simply dust some baby powder on before applying the shadow? Is this how it works?

    • Amelia Diamond

      I put foundation or cover up on my eyelids first, then a little bit of powder (I use a clean bronzer brush) and then the eyeshadow over!

      • AshleyOlivia

        Thanks!!! Buh-bye nasty eyeshadow clumping in the crease. I thought you were simply an unavoidable fact of nature, but behold the saving power of Baby Powder. πŸ™‚

  • If you ever tire of smelling like baby literal, Yardley London makes inexpensive perfumed talc powders. English rose is my favorite, and they come in these sweet little colored tins. I use it as dry shampoo a couple times a week! Tip a little pile into your hand then sprinkle it on your hairline, flip your head, and sprinkle the rest from your crown forward, and shake with your fingers.

    Baby powder is also great for breaking in new shoes and avoiding blisters in tighter heels. Just rub some on your feet before sliding into a pair.

  • Dana Name Necklace

    some how i always a little bit afraid to “cross-use” pharma stuff for other proposes than it was meant to.
    but there shouldn’t be any issues with baby powered i assume

    • I don’t think so…I mean people are putting yeast infection cream in their hair for help their hair grow. It kills bacteria on the scalp, when it comes to the ‘science” of some products they really do have multiple uses. I don’t think baby powder is one of those things that will give you any sore of issues with your health.

  • Well I have 43H Boobs…I go through Baby Powder like it’s going out of style! Also for my wigs, if they’re too shiny dust it with powder so it looks realistic. The rest of these uses are doing down on my list, especially for the eye make up and lash tips.

  • Kathleen
  • I dap some baby powder on my t-zone to keep me from oiling up too much! Also, I add it between my thighs to keep me from chafing πŸ™‚


  • jas

    haha i love this! can’t use it as dry shampoo for my hair cos it’s black… but definitely going to try it on my lips and feet!

    reckless abandon blog

  • thechicndamned

    Will definitely be dumping it into my shoes!

    x karen

  • I was offered Chanel No 5 talcum powder once, it smelled so nice.
    I’m sorry but now I have this thought about a chafed penis, it’s gross. You’re all about details Leandra, and I love it!

    Mafalda ❀

  • Laura Stanley-Bratley

    I use it on my eyelids too! and it’s a godsend when you run out of dry shampoo! definitely my favourite bathroom product!


  • StΓ©phanie Rousseau

    I really should try those tips!


  • Kelseylately

    I use it to help squish my toes into ill-fitting pumps! Very effective

  • T. S. Swedish

    The necklace trick is one i’ve never heard of before, but sadly I don’t think I can pull off the multiple necklace look. Too bad!

  • Sarah

    You can also use arrowroot powder or cornstarch. I use cornstarch instead of buying a translucent powder to set my makeup!

  • Sammi McKelley

    Baby powder is magical when I really don’t feel like washing my hair. I love it!

  • Never used it on my hair. I feel you with the socks situation. I just got a pair of Vans and even with my low socks I wear with Converse the Vans don’t look right. I am gonna have to go without socks. Ugh.

  • thebloginista

    Baby powder has been a staple in my beauty supply cabinet my entire life. I don’t know what I’d do without it!

  • Hereshoping Themayanswereright

    I don’t use it but just wanted to point out that you look really good in choker style necklaces, the kind that go higher up on the neck, like in the pic with you holding the powder over your head.

  • Erin

    My husband makes fun of me for putting powder in my hair (always J&J), so I chuckled when I saw this post. And the old fashioned baby powder works way better than all of dry shampoo products on the market. I saw this tip on a Saturday am beauty tip show for teens when I was 10 or 12 yrs old, and have taught other girlfriends the magic of J&J. So happy this is now validated on a fashion blog.

  • Byeo

    Wow this is so cool. This is the first article of yours I have looked at. I saw you on the Social and I loved you. πŸ™‚ This blog is very cool and I can’t wait to read more of your stuff. Thanks so much for sharing your beauty wisdom. I am a very little upkeep low maitanence type gal and a lot of what you said spoke to me, considering I can’t stand listening to many other fashion or beauty experts, that is a very rare thing. Very cool.

  • This sentence, “once because I knew a guy who did not wear underwear and thus used baby powder to keep his penis from chafing when hung up against his jeans,” mortified me when I read it. Wow.
    Thanks for the great baby powder tricks!

  • pikkypie

    the 16 year old goth in me would say it is perfect for getting that deathly pale look, no long go for that look but might bring it back for halloween πŸ˜›

  • Kirsten

    ummm i’d hate to burst your bubble, but as someone who works in clinical trials cancer research I can assert that Talc is really bad for you. Continuous exposure is linked to cancer. If you’re going to use powder you should opt for one without talc, hopefully it will have the same results.

    • LauraWL

      I concur with this. My partner is a motorcyclist and uses powders for “crotch rot” and stuff with talc is a strict no no.

  • Qchop

    I feel your hatred of not wanting your socks to be seen in sneakers – but dude there’s an easier/less stinky solution than bare feet. Seriously, these puppies are the best

  • Tammie Reed

    I’m pretty busty, so I love to sprinkle baby powder underneath my breast to prevent chaffing and sweating. Works everytime!

  • Debi

    Wow don’t understand why such a fuss about baby powder … For the hair … Really look at the ingredients.. First one is oil .. And it will make creases if used for eye find all these quite interesting..

  • catp

    For dry shampoo, even better than baby powder, try one part corn starch to 2 parts good quality, stone-ground corn meal. Absorbs tons of oil, gives great volume, leaves less white residue, and doesn’t smell like an infant, if that’s not your thing. Put some in your hand, rub it into greasy spots with your fingertips, and brush out. I’ve tried so many dry shampoos, including some very pricey salon brands, and this works the best. Sorry to hijack the baby powder love. Baby powder is great, but most things talc can do, corn starch can do better.

  • This is best popular and best powder for baby’s..

  • Malene

    I loved: “I’m clearly not about to throw out a pair of sneakers that make me look Scandinavian so what do I do?” hihi – but you can use these small socks you also can use i ballerinas, you don’t show. πŸ™‚ I use them often.

  • Jerzy Mike

    I am a bartender who works outside all day, I do not wear an under garment but I’ve always used baby powder so I do not chafe-it only lasts about 15 min, is there a better powder or even soloution?

  • Melanie

    It’s also good to remove the sand what sticks on your legs during a day at the beach. When you put baby powder on it at the End of the day the sand removed..

  • Baby powder is not good replacing dry shampoo, I found that maize do a better job, very natural and thinner than baby powder.

  • Restless Blonde

    I use it for my tights – when it’s super super hot outside and you sit in a restaurant outdoors, you don’t want to have a wet stain on your butt :p

    And also the ways you described above πŸ™‚

  • Jmw

    I’m not so sure on this one. Talcum powder, used in baby powder has been suggested to be a link to ovarian cancer, as well as lung cancer. Think I’ll bypass this one.

  • Lucy
  • Dianablues

    The is a lawsuit against J&J about talcum powder (ie baby powder) causing ovarian cancer following long term use ongoing in the US at the moment. I’d be careful of too much use…

  • EllieG

    You can add cocoa powder to the baby powder when using it on darker hair to prevent it from appearing grey. I prefer to use corn starch instead of baby powder.

  • Leigh

    I’ve got fat inner thighs so I rub baby powder between my legs in the summer to prevent chaffing when I wear skirts. Also when Im leaving a day at the beach and my feet are covered in sand, I dust baby powder on my feet and the sand falls right off without using a towel. It absorbs the oil from your skin and suntan lotion and the sand comes right off so you can put your nice sandals back on.

  • Amber Rickert

    This article is so funny to me. For years I used baby powder as dry shampoo (when I had bangs) and I thought it was my little secret! Little did I know…I preferred sprinkling a little on directly to my hair (as close to the scalp as possible) and then rubbing it in pretty thoroughly. Yay baby powder!

  • Laura

    you should probably check this out, published a few days ago; baby powder is probably not something you want to promote