A dusting powder is a fine powder formulated to be spread, or dusted, over a person’s body. The powder may be unscented or may be perfumed. Historically, dusting powders were used by both men and women to absorb perspiration and help prevent body odor. Many people still use dusting powder as a way of enjoying a favorite fragrance, to absorb perspiration and skin oils, and to prevent skin chafing. Many cosmetics and fragrance manufacturers produce scented powders and often include them in cosmetic or perfume gift sets. In addition to using dusting powder on the body, some individuals use it as a dry shampoo for when they do not have the time or ability to wash their hair.
Manufacturers of dusting powders may use one of several ingredients to prepare the powder, although many use talc, a natural mineral. While there has been some controversy over the use of talc in dusting powders and other cosmetics and personal care products, some major cancer research organizations have stated that there is no conclusive proof that asbestos-free talc contributes to cancer. Research into this matter is ongoing. Some companies use ingredients other than talc in their formulations, and many people make their own dusting powder at home using cornstarch or other absorbent powders.
Many companies sell their dusting powders with a large powder puff so that it can be applied easily and quickly all over the wearer's body. For individuals who are fond of wearing a particular scent, using dusting powder in conjunction with a perfume and a body wash or lotion can make the scent last longer. In addition to smelling nicely, many people believe that dusting powder keeps their skin feeling smooth. Individuals with dry or rough skin report that powdering the skin can keep delicate fabrics from catching on their skin, making them more comfortable in their clothes.
Dusting powders have other uses beyond scenting and smoothing the skin. Barbers will sometimes dust powder on the back of their customers' necks after a haircut, as the powder can catch stray hairs and make them easy to remove. Those who experience sunburn on the backs of their knees or on the inside of their elbows may use powder to prevent chafing against this sensitive skin. Individuals who have folds of skin on their bodies may also use dusting powder to prevent chafing and to absorb moisture that could lead to skin rashes.