01. Asbestos Use in Makeup
Why Is Asbestos in Makeup?
Many makeup products contain talcum powder. Talcum powder is made of talc, a mineral found naturally near asbestos. When talc is mined for use in makeup, asbestos fibers may be disturbed. As a result, talcum powder products can be contaminated with asbestos.
Asbestos Makeup History At-a-Glance
- Contaminated Ingredient Names: Talcum powder, talcum, talc, cosmetic talc, magnesium silicate
- Currently Used? Yes
- Places Used: Blush, contour palettes, eyeshadow, face powder, powder foundation
- Asbestos Use Banned: No
- Noteworthy Brands: Beauty Plus Global Inc., Claire’s©, Johnson & Johnson
Talc is currently an ingredient in many popular products. It can be found in baby powder, makeup palettes and other cosmetic goods. Talc contaminated with asbestos can pose a serious health threat. Individuals who manufactured or used these products may be at risk of developing illnesses such as mesothelioma.
Dangers of Asbestos in Makeup
Asbestos exposure can lead to the development of serious asbestos-related diseases. Studies have found several forms of cancer may be caused by exposure to talc.
Researchers in 2014 recorded several illnesses resulting from cosmetic talc exposure, including:
- Gynecological tumors
- Lung fibrosis, in the form of nodules called talcosis
- Ovarian cancers
The same study also tested the inhalability of asbestos fibers in talc products. Researchers tested 50 samples of talc-based products produced over 50 years. Results confirmed talcum powder application would result in airborne asbestos.
Further research from 2020 tested 21 talc products for asbestos. The study authors found asbestos in 14% of the products, including one marketed expressly for children.
“The presence of asbestos found in products demonstrates the urgency to revise cosmetics policy. Further, talc-based cosmetics may be an overlooked and difficult to characterize source of exposure to asbestos, a known carcinogen.”
The nature of contaminated makeup makes it especially dangerous. Many cosmetic goods are placed around the face, nose and mouth. This makes inhalation and ingestion especially likely.
02. Talc in Cosmetics
Talcum Powder Use in Makeup
Talc is a common ingredient used in makeup. It is most common in powder-based products, such as eyeshadows, blush and powder foundation. On ingredient lists, talcum powder may also be listed as talcum, talc, cosmetic talc or magnesium silicate. Companies use talc in makeup for a variety of reasons.
Why Is Talc Used in Makeup?
- To absorb moisture
- To add color to products
- To enhance makeup visibility
- To help makeup stay in place
- To prevent caking or thick layering
- To smooth or soften the product
- To improve the feel of the product
Is Talc Safe?
Studies have shown talc is a safe ingredient if it is free of asbestos. Testing and purification processes can remove asbestos fibers from talc. However, in the United States, there are limited cosmetic talc regulations. As a result, many asbestos-contaminated, talc-based products continue to reach consumers.
In 1976, researchers tested 20 talc products. These included body powders, baby powders, facial talcums and pharmaceutical talc. Half of these products contained tremolite and anthophyllite asbestos. Some of the products contained up to 14% asbestos by weight.
The use of asbestos-contaminated talcum powder in consumer products has been a building issue in recent years. In October 2019, Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace levels of asbestos in the product.
The discovery of asbestos in a popular household brand sparked research, lawsuits and awareness around the dangers of contaminated talc. In May 2020, Johnson & Johnson said it would no longer sell the talc-based baby powder in North America.
Are There Talcum Powder Alternatives?
Cosmetic formulas continue to evolve, incorporating alternatives for talcum powder.
Ingredients that may provide similar benefits include:
- Corn starch
- Rice powder
- Rice starch
- Tapioca starch
- Zinc oxide
The safety of these alternatives still requires further testing.
Some brands offer both talc and talc-free products. Other brands are completely talc-free. These talc-free products may be a good alternative for consumers wishing to avoid talc altogether.
Cosmetic Brands Offering Talc-Free Products
- Affordable Mineral Makeup
- Burt’s Bees®
- Ecco Bella
- Everyday Minerals
- Honest® Beauty
- ILIA Beauty
- IT Cosmetics™
- jane iredale®
- Juice Beauty
- Milk Makeup
- PÜR Cosmetics
- theBalm Cosmetics
- W3LL PEOPLE
03. List of Asbestos Makeup
Makeup Products Containing Asbestos
As claims of asbestos in cosmetics emerge, the FDA actively investigates these products. For instance, the FDA has performed testing for beauty products sold at Claire’s© and Justice® to confirm the presence of asbestos.
Makeup products confirmed to contain asbestos include:
Asbestos Makeup Products
|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 Bronzer (Sunset) – Lot No. 160634/PD-P712M|
|Beauty Plus Global Inc. City Color Shimmer Bronzer (Caramel) – Lot No. 1612112/PD-840|
|Beauty Plus Global Contour Effects Palette 2 – Batch No. S1603002/PD-C1179|
|Claire’s© Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17|
|Claire’s© Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15|
|Claire’s© Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17|
|Claire’s© JoJo Siwa Makeup Set – Batch/Lot No. S180109|
|IQ Toys’ Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette|
|Jmkcoz’s 120 Colors Eyeshadow Palette Makeup Kit|
|Jmkcoz’s Beauty Glazed Gorgeous Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette|
|Justice®’s Just Shine Shimmer Powder|
The FDA is investigating other products to determine the presence of asbestos. Those items are not listed. New cases of asbestos in makeup continue to emerge.
Asbestos-contaminated cosmetic products have been produced by a variety of companies. Many of these brands are household names. Several are also marketed directly to children, such as Claire’s©.
04. Asbestos in Children’s Makeup
Asbestos in Children’s Makeup Products
No level of asbestos exposure is safe. However, long-term exposure may increase the risk of developing illnesses such as asbestosis.
Asbestos in children’s makeup and other products may be especially dangerous. Children have thinner skin, making them more susceptible to health risks from harmful chemicals. Mesothelioma’s long latency period would also affect exposed children earlier in life than exposed adults.
Within the last few years, several different children’s products have been found to contain asbestos, such as those sold at Claire’s© and Justice®. Kids’ makeup has been one of the biggest issues because it is frequently made with talc.
Current regulations do not require every product be tested for asbestos. As a result, there could be other contaminated products being marketed to children. While federal agencies and consumer watchdog groups continue to investigate products, parents may find it easier to cut out talc products entirely.
Why Is Asbestos in Children’s Makeup?
Retailers often have contracts with specific suppliers to create their makeup products. Despite the well-known dangers of asbestos, talc suppliers continue to deliver contaminated products. This includes suppliers in the United States and overseas.
Children's Makeup That Tested Positive for Asbestos
- Claire’s© Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17
- Claire’s© Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15
- Claire’s© Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17
- Claire’s© JoJo Siwa Makeup Set – Batch/Lot No. S180109
- IQ Toys’ Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette
- Justice®’s Just Shine Shimmer Powder
Activist group Environmental Working Group (EWG) warns toy makeup kits are often made with cheap ingredients. These are more likely to contain asbestos. EWG’s Vice President for Healthy Living Science, Nneka Leiba, voiced her concerns. She stated profits are not as important as protecting children from a carcinogen such as asbestos.
05. Asbestos Cosmetics News
News on Asbestos in Cosmetics
December 2020: California Court Orders Closing of Asbestos Loophole
A ruling from a Northern District of California court ordered the EPA to close asbestos reporting loopholes in the Chemical Data Reporting Rule (CDR). The court identified several loopholes in the CDR which should be closed to prevent inconsistencies in data. Final rules and appeals on the court order will be decided throughout 2021 and 2022.
November 2020: EWG Finds Asbestos in Nearly 15% of Samples
Laboratory tests of 21 powder-based cosmetic products found several instances of asbestos contamination. Nearly 15% of the studied samples found traces of amphibole asbestos. Though the study did not publish the brand names of the tested products, it did disclose one of the products is expressly marketed for children.
May 2020: Asbestos Found in Makeup Products Sold on Amazon & eBay
Scientific Analytical Institute, Inc. found up to 3.9 million asbestos fiber structures per gram of eyeshadow in two separate eyeshadow palettes sold under the Jmkcoz brand. Amazon and eBay have since removed the two products. Of the 45 shades in the Jmkcoz 120 Colors Eyeshadow Palette, 40% contained asbestos fibers. 20% of the shades within the second 25-shade palette (Beauty Glazed Gorgeous Me Eye Shadow Tray Palette) contained asbestos.
March 2020: FDA Releases Results of Year-Long Talc-Sampling Program
In March 2020, the FDA posted a Constituent Update detailing the results of talc cosmetics testing. The year-long project focused on identifying any asbestos fibers in the tested products. The products were selected to include a range of variables. These included type of cosmetic product, price range, popular products on social media and advertisements, children’s products and previously reported asbestos-containing products. Of these products, 21% were found to contain asbestos. 50 new products were selected for blind testing, with results to be released in 2021.
January 2020: Millions of Asbestos Fibers Found in IQ Toys’ Makeup Kit
Tests financed by the EWG found more than 4 million asbestos fibers in every gram of the eyeshadow in IQ Toys’ Princess Girl’s All-in-One Deluxe Makeup Palette. The children’s makeup palette was previously sold on Amazon and eBay.
June and September 2019: Beauty Global Plus Recalls Asbestos Cosmetics
December 2017: Claire’s© Pulls Asbestos-Contaminated Products From Shelves
Testing was done on 17 different products from Claire’s© stores across the United States after concerns emerged about potential asbestos in their makeup. Every product tested was contaminated with asbestos, which was later confirmed by the FDA. Claire’s© issued a voluntary recall of their products but continued to deny asbestos claims. The company began to file for bankruptcy in March 2018.
September 2017: Asbestos Found in Children’s Makeup Sold at Justice®
A sample of Just Shine Shimmer Powder from Justice® was sent to the Scientific Analytical Institute, Inc. in Greensboro, North Carolina, for analysis. Asbestos and four heavy metals were found in the makeup. The store voluntarily recalled the product, and the FDA later confirmed the asbestos contamination.
06. Makeup & Asbestos Exposure
Who Is at Risk of Asbestos Exposure From Makeup?
Asbestos exposure can affect individuals at work, home and school. Occupational exposure is commonly associated with industrial workers and veterans. However, non-occupational exposure is a leading cause of mesothelioma in women.
Exposure can have serious health implications at any age or level of exposure.
Individuals at Risk of Exposure From Asbestos Makeup
- Cosmetic manufacturers
- Cosmetic store personnel
- Makeup artists
Any individual who suspects they have been exposed to asbestos may be at risk of developing an asbestos disease, including lung cancer or mesothelioma.
07. Asbestos Regulations
Regulations for Cosmetics With Asbestos
The dangers of asbestos have been well known since the 1960s. In the late 1970s, federal agencies began to regulate asbestos use. However, attempts to ban the mineral entirely have not been successful.
Awareness of the need for stricter talc regulations emerged in the late 1970s. Until recently, little progress has been made to establish federal legislation ensuring talc products are asbestos free.
Cosmetic Talc and Asbestos Legislation
There are very few cosmetic industry regulations around talc and contaminated products.
The events surrounding Johnson & Johnson baby powder and Claire’s© makeup have sparked conversations with advocates and key stakeholders. Concerns surrounding federal legislation and inadequate FDA standards for asbestos testing have led to recent calls for action.
Talc Cosmetic Regulations Timeline
- 1938: The United States Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetics Act was passed. This law allowed the FDA to oversee the safety of cosmetics, along with food, drugs and medical devices.
- 1976: The Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CTFA), now the Personal Care Products Council (PCPC), called for all talc-based cosmetic products in the United States to be free of detectable amounts of asbestos. Their attempts were unsuccessful.
- February 2018: Michigan Congresswoman Debbie Dingell proposed the Children’s Product Warning Label Act. This would require proper labeling of children’s products with testing to prove they are asbestos free.
- October 2019: The FDA issued a new Constituent Update warning against the use of contaminated talc cosmetics.
- December 2019: Congressional hearings began to discuss talc cosmetic safety.
- February 2020: The FDA announced a public meeting to discuss testing for asbestos in talcum powder and talc cosmetics.
- March 2020: The FDA released Constituent Updates on the results from its year-long sampling assignment with AMA Analytical Services, Inc. (AMA). The assignment tested talc-containing cosmetic products for the presence of asbestos. Results found 21% of the sampled products contained asbestos.
- December 2020: A Northern District of California court ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to close asbestos reporting loopholes in the Chemical Data Reporting Rule (CDR). Finals rules and hearings are scheduled throughout 2021 and 2022.
Advocacy groups hope these actions will encourage stricter regulations for cosmetic testing. Proper testing laws may require manufacturers to clearly label if their product may contain trace levels of asbestos.
What Are Asbestos-Free Cosmetics?
The United States is one of several countries without a full ban on asbestos. Lacking such a ban, low levels of asbestos use continue.
Products in the United States can be labeled “asbestos free” if they contain up to 1% of the mineral. However, 1% of asbestos can still include hundreds of thousands of fibers.
Multiple organizations, including the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the American Cancer Society, assert no level of asbestos is safe.
Who Is Responsible for Cosmetic Safety?
Three primary organizations are responsible for general asbestos safety, including the EPA, OSHA and Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC).
For cosmetics specifically, the FDA maintains responsibility. The FDA has been called into question for failing to ensure cosmetic safety.
Cosmetic products and their ingredients aren’t required to undergo FDA approval and review. The FDA also does not strictly regulate proper labeling or require the disclosure of safety information.
The FDA does not routinely conduct product testing unless precipitated by a large event. For example, the Claire’s© recall helped spark recent testing.
Consumer watchdog groups are also instrumental in cosmetic safety. Though they have no power to change regulations, these groups often act as whistleblowers to alert consumers to dangerous products.
08. Asbestos Testing
Testing for Asbestos in Cosmetics
Asbestos fibers are microscopic and are not visible to the naked eye. Three of the most common methods used to test for asbestos include:
- Phase Contrast Microscopy (PCM)
- Polarized Light Microscopy (PLM)
- Transmission Electron Microscopy (TEM)
The EPA asserts TEM is the best method to use. TEM uses extreme magnification to conduct morphology, crystalline structure and elemental analysis. This method can identify asbestos fibers in the air and products, such as makeup.
Stores such as Claire’s© and Justice® use labs certified by the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) to test their products. However, the organization does not necessarily use TEM testing. When labs use PCM or PLM methods, they may not identify low levels of asbestos. This could lead labs to deem a product asbestos free when there are still harmful fibers present.
09. Safety Precautions
Safety Precautions for Asbestos Cosmetics
Individuals should always be aware of the dangers of asbestos exposure and what products could contain the mineral. The FDA and EWG will occasionally issue warnings when there are concerns around consumer products.
The EWG asserts parents and guardians are entitled to make their own decisions regarding whether their children should use makeup. However, parents should exercise caution when purchasing a talc-based product.
Precautions can be taken to protect children and adults from the dangers of asbestos in cosmetics.
Steps to Safely Using Cosmetics
- Consider brands labeled talc-free, phthalate-free and paraben-free.
- Keep in mind the lack of regulations and monitoring of cosmetics.
- Stay up to date on product recalls and consumer safety reports.
- Understand children have thinner skin than adults and are more vulnerable to harmful ingredients.
- Be cautious of powder cosmetics that are more likely to contain talc.
- Stop use immediately if a product’s safety is in question.
Consumers should be aware of what ingredients are in their products. They should also understand not all ingredients are disclosed.
If there is asbestos in a product and an individual has been exposed, symptoms of an asbestos illness could take years to develop. If symptoms of mesothelioma or another asbestos condition arise, seek medical care as soon as possible to aid early diagnosis.
10. Asbestos Lawsuits
Asbestos Lawsuits, Settlements & Other Compensation
Successful compensation lawsuits can serve many purposes, including:
- Assisting with medical costs
- Covering wages lost due to an asbestos disability
- Holding negligent asbestos companies responsible
- Setting precedent for future asbestos exposure cases
Asbestos victims can contact a mesothelioma lawyer to determine their eligibility and file a case.