Johnson's Baby

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Johnson's Baby products at a Kroger store
Johnson's Baby products at a Chinese store

Johnson's Baby is an American brand of baby cosmetics and skin care products owned by Johnson & Johnson. The brand dates back to 1893 when Johnson's Baby Powder was introduced. Product line consists of baby powder, shampoos, body lotions, massage oil, shower gels and baby wipes. The brand has had a reputation for making baby products that are "exceptionally pure and safe" since at least the 1980s.[1]


Johnson's Baby Powder and sanitary napkins (1893)[edit]

Johnson's Baby Powder (50s)
Johnson's Baby Powder (2014)

Johnson's Baby Powder was an invention of Dr. Frederick B. Kilmer, company's first director of scientific affairs.[2] In 1892 he got a letter from a physician noting that patient suffered skin irritations after using medicated plasters. Kilmer suggested to use scented Italian talcum powder to mitigate the irritation and sent a can to the doctor.[3]

Baby Powder debuted in 1893 and went to the market in 1894.[4] The earliest Baby Powder was in a yellow and red tin with a label "For Toilet and Nursery”.[4]

According to Robert Shook, sanitary napkins were included in the young mother's kit but never considered a separate product until customers asked the company for it.

In 1893 the talc was packaged in a box that was originally distributed to midwives and given to mothers following childbirth. The mothers liked it so much, the company started to sell it in drugstores. Also in the midwife's box were twelve sanitary napkins. Prior to this, there was no such product available to purchase. After the company received hundreds of letter from women wanting to know where they could buy these products, the company started to manufacture them – the first company to make sanitary napkins in the United States.[5]

The first baby to appear on Johnson's Baby powder label was Mary Lea Johnson Richards, granddaughter of Robert Wood Johnson I (co-founder of Johnson & Johnson).[6][7]

Johnson's Baby Powder has a particular scent that for many Americans is associated with the smell of the baby itself. According to Johnson & Johnson's representative Fred Tewell, baby powder-scented cleaning products became almost a standard not only to cosmetics, but to diapers as well.[8]

After over 100 years, the company announced on May 20, 2020 that its talc-based Baby Powder would be discontinued in the United States and Canada, following declining sales and backlash from recent lawsuits over allegations that the product contained asbestos, which can cause cancer. However, cornstarch-based Baby Powder will continue to be sold in both the United States and Canada.[9]

Johnson's Baby Cream (1921)[edit]

Johnson's Baby cream was introduced in 1921.[10]

The Gift Box (1921)[edit]

According to Margaret Gurowitz, Johnson & Johnson's corporate historian, in 1921 the company released its first "Baby Gift Box" that contained small packages of Baby Powder, Baby Cream and Baby Soap and "was designed as a small gift that people could take when visiting a family with a new baby".[4]

Johnson's Baby oil (1938)[edit]

Introduced in 1938[11][12] Johnson's Baby massage oil was heavily advertised nationwide ("Life" magazine[13]) since 1943 as a complementary product to Baby Powder.[14]

Johnson's Baby Lotion (1942)[edit]

Often referred as the "Pink Brand"[15] (after the color of the bottle), Johnson's Baby Lotion appeared in 1942.[8][15]

Johnson's Baby Shampoo (1953)[edit]

"No More Tears" Johnson's Baby shampoo advertising from the "Family Circle" magazine (1956)

"No More Tears" shampoo was introduced in 1953.[16]

As noted by Nunes and Johnson:

In 1953 Johnson & Johnson introduced its No More Tears baby shampoo. Targeting this particular use involved a real soap breakthrough, however, with the company introducing amphoteric cleansing agents to consumer use. Though these agents are not as effective as traditional soaps, they are extremely mild, which makes them quite literally easy on the eyes and perfect for a baby's sensitive but presumably not-too-dirty skin. Designing this new category of cleaners for this user segment enabled Johnson & Johnson to capture a category it still dominates today, more than fifty years later. Within six months of its introduction, Johnson & Johnson had captured 75 percent of the baby shampoo market, a share it held as recently as 1995.[17]

In 1955 Johnson & Johnson placed advertising at the "Adventures of Robin Hood TV series for Band-Aid and Johnson's baby shampoo. The later was advertised with the tagline "Johnson's can't burn eyes".[18]

"No More Tears" has been registered as a trademark only since 1959.[19]

A persistent myth holds that this should in fact be read as "no more tears (/tɛə/)", in the sense meaning a rip in hair, but the correct reading is in fact "no more tears (/tɪə/)" in the sense of ocular secretion, in this case meaning it does not sting eyes if a small amount accidentally enters them, due to the molecular structure of the formula.[20]

No More Tangles (1971)[edit]

"No More Tangles" shampoo (named after popular "No More Tears" shampoo) debuted in 1971.[21]

Book publishing (1976)[edit]

In 1976 the brand entered publishing business with the book "Infant development program: birth-12 months" by Richard A. Chase,[22] followed by "The First wondrous year: you and your baby" (1979) by Chase and Richard R. Rubin.[23]

Johnson's Baby Wipes (1980)[edit]

Johnson's baby wipes appeared in 1980 as Johnson's Baby Wash Cloths.[24]

The product was renamed "wipes" sometime during 90s (the product has already been present as early as 1990[25]). In 1994 it was advertised as a better option for cleansing baby skin than water due to mild, pH-neutral cleansing lotion that wipes contain.[26]

Sun Screen (1991)[edit]

Sun screen was introduced in Spring 1991.[27]

Head-To-Toe Cleanser (1997)[edit]

Head-To-Toe ultra mild cleanser was introduced in 1997.[28][29]

Bedtime range (2000)[edit]

Bedtime Bath introduced in 2000[30] was the first of products later known as Johnson’s Baby Bedtime range with four products (Bedtime Bath, Bedtime Lotion, Bedtime Wash and Bedtime Oil) that contain lavender and camomile.[31]

In 2001 Bedtime Lotion was advertised in magazines like "Working Mom Magazine" as "The world's first lullaby in a lotion".[32]

"So much more" campaign (2015)[edit]

In 2015 the brand launched the "So much more" campaign focused on multi-sensory experiences (such as a massage during bathing[33]) highlighting the benefits of such experiences for baby's development.[34]

Marketing baby products to adults[edit]

The company has been using "Best for the Baby – Best for You" tagline since the early days. Some examples of such advertising can be spotted as early as 1913, when only Johnson's Baby Powder existed.[35]

Sometime in the beginning of 70s[36] Johnson & Johnson started marketing baby products to families, promoting so-called "family usage".

The strategy has been a success. By the 80s Johnson's Baby grew market share in the adult market due to the perception that "baby products are milder than others".[37] In 1985, for instance, 70 percent of Johnson's Baby powder in the United States was used by adults.[37]

Non-infant use[edit]

Johnson's Baby products are widely used for non-baby-related purposes. For example, Johnson's Baby Oil is used as a facial cleanser (it has been reported by the "New York" magazine that popular TV talk show host Martha Stewart uses it this way[38]), by male strippers[39] as well as a lubricant in some sexual practices.

Health risk issues[edit]

In December 1985 two physicians urged parents not to use baby powder, stating that it was unsafe to inhale and Johnson & Johnson responded with an official statement that "product is safe when used as it is intended".[40]

In February 2016, J&J was ordered to pay $72 million in damages to the family of Jackie Fox, a 62-year-old woman who died of ovarian cancer in 2015. She had used Johnson's Baby Powder for many years. J&J claimed that the safety of cosmetic talc is supported by decades of scientific evidence and it plans to appeal the verdict. The British charity, Ovacome was quoted as saying that while there were 16 studies which showed that using talc increased the risk of ovarian cancer by around a third, and a 2013 review of US studies had similar results for genital, but not general, talcum powder use they were not convinced that the results were reliable. Furthermore, they said, "Ovarian cancer is a rare disease, and increasing a small risk by a third still gives a small risk."[41]

Clinical studies[edit]

In 2007 Johnson & Johnson sponsored "1st European Round Table meeting on 'Best Practice for Infant Cleansing" (a panel of expert dermatologists and paediatricians from across Europe) focused on the use of liquid cleansers in bathing as opposed to washing with water. It has been concluded that "bathing is generally superior to washing, provided basic safety procedures are followed, and has psychological benefits for the infant and parents".[42]

A randomized clinical trial, sponsored by Johnson's baby brand in 2010 studied the effectiveness of using moisturizer as part of a standardized skin care regimen, for improving moisture levels in baby skin. Research showed that using baby lotion is effective for maintaining favorable moisture levels in baby skin (in comparison to not using baby lotion).[43]

In February 2013 Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic, & Neonatal Nursing published a research by academics at The University of Manchester that showed that washing newborn babies with Johnson’s Baby Top-to-Toe wash is just as safe as using water alone.[44] Research has been sponsored by Johnson & Johnson "but carried out under strict, independent scientific protocols, including blind testing and peer review".[45]


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  2. ^ Turner, Tyya (2007). Vault Guide to the Top Consumer Products Employers. Vault. p. 185. ISBN 978-1-58131-323-9. Retrieved August 3, 2014.
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  14. ^ "Page 4". The Evening News from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. February 25, 1943. Retrieved August 3, 2014. JOHNSON'S BABY GIFT SET For any lucky baby! Contain. John' son. Baby powder, oil, cream, soap
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  20. ^ "THIS is What Tear-Free Shampoo Actually Means".
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