Why I stopped buying baby powder in Vienna, Austria and what I use instead

Baby powder in Austria is expensive compared to the United States

One of the minor things that has irritated me since I moved to Austria going on for eight years ago is the high cost of baby powder compared to what I have paid in the U.S. or Thailand for decades.

So much so, the cost of baby powder in Austria is over four times more expensive than in the United States, where I can buy a huge container of Walmart’s own brand of powder (425g) for the paltry sum of $2.28 — versus the 100 grams I buy in Austria at the cheapest place I have found it for the exact same price.

But, for seven and a bit years, I have bought baby powder at one of a couple of Austrian pharmacies only to discover a few weeks ago that the baby powder that used to be €1.39 not that long ago had gone up to €1.69 for a few months, and is now being sold for €1.99.

Considering that is a massive price hike in a short amount of time, I decided enough was enough as, short of bringing a year’s supply of baby powder back to Austria with me every time I visit the U.S., I needed to figure out a way of buying it cheaper.

Corn starch is a superb substitute for baby powder in Austria

If you have spent any time in the U.S. and watched the news, you will likely know by now that all baby powder in America now comprises corn starch and not the talcum powder that it did for decades before.

That is due to several law suits claiming talcum powder causes ovarian cancer (which has yet to be properly proven, but it is cause for thought).

Baby powder manufacturers, however, decided it made more sense to avoid any potential lawsuits in a society that is the most litigious on the planet.

Even if it turned out talcum powder was no more to blame for ovarian cancer than the coffee you drink daily.

Hence why corn starch is now used in the U.S. for American babies’ bottoms, and for ourselves.

And that is why it suddenly dawned on me while in the baking aisle at my favorite Vienna supermarket — Penny Markt – after leaving a local drug store after refusing to pay the now much higher price for baby powder “What the hell, I can substitute corn starch for baby powder”.

So I bought a box of the Maizena brand of corn starch, brought it home and put some of it in the now-empty baby powder container I still had standing in my bathroom.

The result?

Two and a half times the amount of corn starch (250g) for the exact same price (€1.99) as the baby powder I have bought for years.

Now I know why my grandmother used corn starch on her children’s bottoms for years. It is cheap, easy to find in any supermarket in Austria, is as easy to put on as baby powder, and absorbs moisture.

In other words, it does the exact same job.

About Michelle Topham

I'm a journalist, and the founder of Oh My Vienna. I have been living in Vienna since 2016 as an immigrant, because 'expat' is just a fancy word that means exactly that.