Why is Talcum Powder in Makeup?

For decades, talc has been used in cosmetics and personal products. Early on, talc users valued the mineral for its ability to absorb moisture and reduce the appearance of oily skin. Since talc is the softest mineral on earth, it was included in cosmetics because it prevents caking, keeps cosmetic products soft and silky and makes makeup less sheer.  Talc was also found to be a good filler product in cosmetics.

In 2020, after the FDA and watchdog groups confirmed the dangers of talc, major cosmetic brands began shifting away from using the mineral in their products. L’Oreal, Chanel and Revlon were the first to make the move.

For Claire’s and Justice, the move to eliminate talc in products came more slowly. Claire’s didn’t announce a recall on its asbestos-containing cosmetics until months after the FDA found problems. Justice only recalled its makeup after an independent investigation and private testing found asbestos in the products.

Makeup Brands with Asbestos

Since 2017, children’s and adult makeup brands have tested positive for asbestos, including those sold in tween-favorite stores Claire’s and Justice. Scientists found asbestos in makeup products extended further to other brands:

  • Beauty Glazed Gorgeous Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette
  • Beauty Plus Global Contour Effects Palette 2 – Batch No. S1603002/PD-C1179
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Bronzer (Sunset) – Lot No. 160634/PD-P712M
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Collection Matte Blush (Fuchsia) – Lot No. 1605020/PD-840
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Cosmetics Timeless Beauty Palette – Lot No. 1510068/PD-C864R
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Shimmer Bronzer (Caramel) – Lot No. 1612112/PD-840
  • Claire’s Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15
  • Claire’s Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17
  • Claire’s Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17
  • Claire’s JoJo Siwa Makeup Set – Batch/Lot No. S180109
  • IQ Toys’ Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette
  • Jmkcoz 120 Colors Eyeshadow Palette
  • Jmkcoz’s 120 Colors Eyeshadow Palette Makeup Kit
  • Jmkcoz’s Beauty Glazed Gorgeous Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette
  • Johnson’s Baby Powder
  • Just Shine Shimmer Powder sold by Justice

Children’s Brands with Asbestos

In the past decade alone, asbestos has been detected in children’s toys and cosmetics. Children are more susceptible to health problems from chemicals and asbestos due to thin and sensitive skin. There is no safe level of asbestos exposure for children and adults alike. In 2015, asbestos was found in children’s toys such as crayons and toy fingerprint kits. In 2017, asbestos was discovered in cosmetics sold at Claire’s and Justice – two stores marketed exclusively to children and tweens. And even more recently, in 2019, the FDA announced asbestos in other makeup brands.

  • Claire’s Bedazzled Rainbow Heart Makeup Set
  • Claire’s JoJo Siwa Makeup Set
  • Claire’s Metallic Hot Pink Glitter 48 Piece Makeup Set
  • Claire’s Mint Glitter Makeup Set
  • Claire’s Pink Glitter Cellphone Makeup Compact
  • Claire’s Pink Glitter Palette with Eyeshadow & Lip Gloss
  • Claire’s Professional Eye Makeup Kit
  • Claire’s Rainbow Bedazzled Rectangle Makeup Set
  • Claire’s Rainbow Bedazzled Star Makeup Set
  • Claire’s Rainbow Glitter Heart Shaped Makeup Set
  • Claire’s Ultimate Mega Makeup Set
  • Justice Just Shine Shimmer Powder

How Does Asbestos End Up in Makeup?

In geological settings, talc and asbestos occur naturally together in the same rocks. When talc is commercially mined for use in cosmetics or any other products, it is easily contaminated with asbestos.

Talc is widely used in cosmetics because it’s a cheap filler that makes products smooth and silky. Asbestos has not purposely been added to talc, but the Environmental Working Group watchdog organization found asbestos in about 15% of cosmetics sampled.

Cosmetics companies have known about the risks associated with asbestos in talc since the 1950s but convinced the FDA to allow self-regulation. Currently, no laws or regulations stop talc from being used in consumer products.

Dangers of Asbestos in Cosmetics

For decades, scientists, doctors and industry experts have known that long-term exposure to asbestos in talcum powder causes mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases. Asbestos-laden talc has also been linked to ovarian cancer. Since talc remains unregulated across the United States, there continues to be a high chance that asbestos will be present in cosmetics.

Asbestos dangers are particularly acute in cosmetics that come in a loose powder form, such as finishing powder, compact foundation, eye shadow and baby powder. When the powder products become airborne, asbestos fibers are easily inhaled and lodge in the lungs or other organs.

For the unsuspecting consumer, cosmetics with asbestos may seem harmless initially. However, any associated illnesses may take years to develop. Most people who develop mesothelioma don’t know they have an illness until the late disease stages when treatments are limited. 

Avoiding Asbestos in Makeup

Consumers have been duped into thinking that products with “all-natural” or “organic” labeling mean asbestos-free. Cosmetic companies use the jargon knowing that talc is a naturally occurring substance, so they aren’t technically lying. Consumers can combat the trickery by staying current on the research being conducted into the talc-asbestos connection.

Some companies have taken the threat seriously enough to eliminate talc in their products:

  • Affordable Mineral Makeup
  • Ecco Bella
  • Everyday Minerals
  • Honest Beauty
  • Juice Beauty
  • Pacifica
  • Shea Moisture
  • Smashbox

Since the federal government has been doing little to regulate asbestos use, it’s ultimately up to the consumer to pressure cosmetic companies to stop talc use. Consumers should be cautious of all powder cosmetics, look for clear talc-free labeling and stay current on product recalls.  If you or a loved one has been exposed to talc or asbestos and developed an asbestos-related disease, contact us now to see if you qualify for compensation.

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Written by Richard Stewart

Writer, Content Coordinator and Outreach Director

Richard Stewart is a writer, content coordinator and outreach director with over 12 years of experience covering asbestos exposure, mesothelioma, and treatment options. He is passionate about spreading awareness for asbestos and mesothelioma and helping victims find the information and resources they need online.

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