Why do barbers use talc powder after a haircut?

barbers use talc powder

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As I was writing an article “Why do barbers use alcohol after a haircut” I thought to myself… Well, why do barbers use talc powder after a haircut? Honestly, I never thought about the topic until I wrote the previous article. What I do remember my old rule of black T-shirt at the barbershop because my barber always got powder on my shirts.

I am sure, you all are as curious as I am. Let’s tackle the topic at hand, why do barbers use talc powder? The reason barbers use talc powder is to absorb moisture from sweat and skin oils. Talcum powder helps calms irritations and Talcum powder helps make brushing cut hairs easier from the back of the neck.

Through my research, I discovered that barbers use the powder in order to decrease chafing caused by wearing collared shirts. Irritation caused by shards of hair rubbing against the collar is likely because barber didn’t powder to bush hair off the neck.

Now that you know why barbers use powder after a haircut, Let’s dive into what talc powder is. In this article, I’ll go over some tips, concerns, and alternatives for talc powder.

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What is talc powder?

So, what is the powdery fine white substance that your barber put on your hair after every haircut? Though it may look like the large pile of white powder on Tony Montana desk in Scarface, it is not the same. There’s a huge difference trust me!

Talcum powder is much safer than the other white powder and is made from talc. Talc is a mineral that is largely made of elements like silicon, magnesium, and oxygen. The talc mineral could be found in products such as facial, body and baby powder.

Though most of your daily personal uses powder product contains talc, there are some concerns about one ingredient. In its pure form, there is some talc that contains asbestos. The asbestos substance is known to cause cancers in the lungs when inhaled repeatedly.

  • According to org, “In 1976, the Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association (CTFA), which is the trade association representing the cosmetic and personal care products industry, issued voluntary guidelines stating that all talc used in cosmetic products in the United States should be free from detectable amounts of asbestos according to their standards.”


The CTFA took the bull by the horn and made a valiant effort to tackle the issues presented. In my opinion, this is a noble action by them. I’m sure you’re wondering if the talc powder that your barber use causes cancer… Let’s talk about it!

Does talcum powder cause cancer?

Talc powder itself does not cause cancer. However, one of the elements ‘Asbestos” contained in some talcum powder causes cancer. Powders that have asbestos have shown to cause cancer in the lungs when directly inhaled and cervical cancer in women.

Does talcum powder contain asbestos?

talc powder with asbestos

So, I’m sure you’re thinking to yourself “Am I at risk each time my barber uses talc powder on my head?”. Honestly, that’s a fair question. Before I get to whether or not talcum powder contains asbestos, let’s looks at what asbestos is.

  • Asbestos – When you look up the term “Asbestos” you’ll see it refer to six naturally occurring silicate minerals. It is composed of long and narrow fibrous crystals, each of these fibers is composed of several microscopic ‘fibrils’ that can be released in the atmosphere by abrasion and or being airborne.

Now that we know what Asbestos is, do all talcum powder have asbestos? No, not all talcum powder contains asbestos. It should be noted that some talc powder contains asbestos which can cause cancer. Some of the talc sourced in talcum powder is naturally contaminated with asbestos.

This means, some talcum powder products are contaminated with asbestos and may cause risk of cancer if exposed to it. In such a case, you should check brands of talcum powder to see if they have tested positive for asbestos in the past.


What about the talc powder barbers use after a haircut?

Most barbers use talc powder brand “Pinaud Clubman Powder”. I’m sure you’ve seen the green box of powder in your barber’s workstation. Does the popular barber powder contain asbestos? Through my research, I found that Pinaud Clubman powder contain was contaminated in the past. Currently, as of today, the popular barber powder Clubman is asbestos-free.

You can wipe the nerves sweats off your forehead and ease your mind. I’ll be honest, I was a little nervous while researching. The last I want to worry about during a haircut is the product my barber is using will cause harm.

How can you tell if the talcum powder barbers use is asbestos-free?

There’s no secret that asbestos talc powder is harmful, but how do you know if the one you’re using is asbestos-free? There are multiple options to check if your barber powder is free of asbestos.

  • The most effective way to ensure your hair powder is asbestos free is to read the label. The label should contain the ingredient of the product you’re using. What better way to get the information than from the horse’s mouth…? Right?!
  • If you are unable to the label on the container, try looking up the product in google search. You can find detailed information about the product by searching the brand and whether the brand contains asbestos. Google search is a great resource for valuable information on just about anything… Best of all it super convenient!!
  • Finally, ask your barber! I feel this option is so underrated, your barber is more informed about topics pertaining to hair than you think. I mean for dang sakes your barber has a license to cut hair, give them some credit!

The options listed should answer whether the talc powder barbers use contains asbestos or not. Now that we have the concerns out of the way, let’s look at the benefits of barber powder.

What is talcum powder used for?

So, what is talc powder used for? I briefly mentioned it in the intro, talc powder helps avoid skin irritation after a haircut. Let get into the nit grit of what it really does.

When talc powder is applied, it absorbs moisture and helps cut down on friction especially against high collars. This is beneficial because the powder adds a layer of protection by keeping skin dry and help prevent rashes.

The powder is broadly used in cosmetic products such as baby powder and adult body and facial powders, as well as in several other consumer products. With the wide uses of powder there no surprise, your barbers use talc powder after your haircut.

How is talc powder applied?

So, what is the most practicable way to apply talc powder after a haircut? I promise there’s a method to the madness… Imagine your barber squeezing a bottle of talc powder on your head? To others watch this scenario would be hilarious, it would be a mess and you wouldn’t be happy about it. Just take a look at the video below!

If your barber did this You would be highly upset!!!

Your barber is in the business of getting you to come back not running you off. Your barber will either use a barber powder bush or a napkin to apply powder on your head. By using these tools to apply talc powder they’ll avoid a mess and clumps of powder on the head.

Talcum powder alternative

Let’s say after reading this article you no longer want your barber to use talc powder, are there alternatives? Yes, there are a few actually. The best part is they are just affective without the risk. Let’s look at some other safe options to use instead of talc powder:

Natural alternatives

  • Oat flour
  • Baking soda
  • Cornstarch
  • tapioca starch

Commercial alternatives

  • Honeybee Gardens Deodorant Powder
  • Burt’s Bee’s Baby Dusting Powder
  • Nature’s Baby Dusting Powder

If you notice I provided options for both natural and commercial alternatives. You can go right into your kitchen and find natural replacements to talc powder.

The commercial alternatives offer products the same powder but are talc-free. There are even commercial options that are fragrance-free as well. It is not necessary that your barbers use talc powder when there are other options on the market figuratively and literally.


Okay, let’s do a quick recap of why barbers use talc powder on your head. Talc powder is used by barbers to absorb moisture and protect against rashes from friction.

Though, talc powder is beneficial after a haircut there are some concerns about the product. Talcum powder that is contaminated with asbestos has shown to have links to lung and ovarian cancer. The Clubman powder that barbers commonly use is asbestos-free. There are several alternatives on the market that could be used as a replacement for talc powder.

Now that we know why barbers use talc powder after your haircut, what do you think? Give me some feedback guys!

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