Expert Fact Checked

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Jennifer Lucarelli Lawyer and Legal Advisor

For decades, Avon products may have contained asbestos-contaminated talc. This put workers and consumers at risk of asbestos exposure. After exposure, some people developed mesothelioma and other cancers. Avon has been facing litigation for knowingly selling products made with asbestos-contaminated talc.

01. History of Asbestos Use

Avon History of Asbestos Use

Avon Products Inc. (Avon) is a global cosmetics company that goes back more than 100 years. The company is well known for its products like talc-based cosmetics and body powders. In recent years, Avon has faced lawsuits for asbestos contamination in its talc.

Quick Facts
  • Years in Operation: 1886 – Present
  • Location: New York, New York
  • Production: Cosmetics, personal care products, costume jewelry
  • Asbestos Trust: No

Avon’s roots began in 1886 when David H. McConnell founded the California Perfume Company in New York. By 1939, the company had expanded into New Jersey and was renamed Avon Products Inc. From the 1940s to the 1950s, Avon’s sales market spread throughout the country. Shortly after, the company entered international markets like Brazil, Germany and the United Kingdom (UK). In the UK, it has become one of the top three beauty brands. In total, more than 100 countries have sold Avon products.

In the 2000s, Avon’s sales began to drop. By 2014, its global sales had fallen for five years straight.

In 2016, the company’s North American sales fell 18%. As a result, Avon went through various leadership changes and company acquisitions. That same year, the company spun off its North American operations into a new division called New Avon LLC. In 2019, South Korean consumer goods giant LG Household & Health Care, Ltd. and New Avon LLC entered a purchase agreement. This branch of the company is now named The Avon Company.

At this time, Avon began facing lawsuits for asbestos contamination in its talc-based products. Victims say its talc caused their asbestos exposure and related cancers, like mesothelioma. In 2020, Avon removed talc from its products marketed in the United States. However, their talc-based products had still been sold for at least 80 years. Avon continues selling its talc products globally.

02. Asbestos Products

Avon Asbestos Products

Avon has used talc in its products since at least the 1940s. It is a popular additive to cosmetics because it softens powders and other products. Talc is a naturally occurring mineral and is not harmful on its own. But it often develops near asbestos and can easily be contaminated during mining. Exposure to asbestos may lead to mesothelioma and other cancers.

Testing shows some Avon talc-based products contain asbestos. One of Avon’s talc suppliers, called Imerys, is facing more than 16,000 asbestos lawsuits. Imerys also supplied talc to Johnson & Johnson (J&J). Asbestos exposure victims have filed more than 40,000 lawsuits against J&J.

Some asbestos products sold by Avon include:

  • Bird of Paradise Perfumed Talc Powder
  • Imari Perfumed Talc Powder
  • Night Magic Talcum Powder
  • Skin So Soft Satin Talc Powder
  • Unforgettable Perfumed Talc Powder
  • Wild Country Talc Powder
03. Occupational Exposure

Avon and Occupational Exposure

Asbestos-contaminated talc poses an exposure risk at every stage of production and use. When mining for talc, there is generally a risk of asbestos contamination. Testing shows asbestos in some of Avon’s talc-based cosmetics. Any workers involved with manufacturing or distributing these products face occupational exposure risks.

Avon sells products in more than 100 countries and has 39,000 direct employees. The company is also known for its independent sales force. Globally, Avon counts 3.5 million people as Avon sales representatives. These people may be at risk of asbestos exposure through its talc-based products.

Consumers and workers in other industries, like cosmetology, may also use these products. This puts them at risk of asbestos exposure from Avon’s talc-based makeup and personal care products.

Occupations Impacted by Avon’s Asbestos Use
  • Asbestos miners
  • Coal miners
  • Cosmetic manufacturers
  • Cosmetic store personnel
  • Cosmetologists
  • Crane operators
  • Drilling engineers
  • Engineering geologists
  • Equipment operators
  • Excavators
  • Factory workers
  • Freight workers
  • Geologists
04. Asbestos Litigation

Asbestos Litigation Against Avon

By 2020, Avon faced almost 130 lawsuits claiming its talc products were contaminated with asbestos. That same year, Avon stopped using talc in its U.S. product lines. The company still uses talc in many of its products around the world.

Lawyers have shown evidence of various types of asbestos in Avon’s talc products. They provided Avon’s reports for talc testing in the early 1970s, which found:

  • Chrysotile asbestos fibers
  • Tremolite in “significant quantities”

In 2022, evidence in a mesothelioma case showed Avon hid these concerns from the public. The California jury said Avon executives acted maliciously in doing so.

In that case, the mesothelioma victim had used Avon’s talcum powder for decades. Her mesothelioma lawyers presented evidence that this product led to her diagnosis. They also showed evidence that Avon knew about asbestos risks but did not warn consumers.

The jury issued a verdict in the victim’s favor. Avon was ordered to pay her $50 million in compensation. This compensation is intended to help provide financial security and cover mesothelioma treatment costs.

Some mesothelioma patients may have worked for companies that manufactured or sold Avon products. Or they may have been consumers who used Avon’s talcum products. If so, they can contact a mesothelioma law firm to discuss their legal options. These may include lawsuits or other mesothelioma claims. Lawyers can help their clients through each step, like gathering evidence of exposure. They will work towards a settlement or verdict that offers justice for victims and holds negligent asbestos companies accountable.