Wednesday, February 5, 2020

GREEN LIVING :: Talc in Cosmetics

I was blown away by the news last night.  In an unprecedented move, the FDA is considering testing for asbestos in cosmetics and talc powders.  Trace amounts of asbestos have been found in baby powder and in make-up.  As a carcinogen, any small exposure to asbestos can be detrimental to health and result in cancer.  

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. Asbestos is also a naturally occurring silicate mineral, but with a different crystal structure. Talc and asbestos may be found in close proximity in the earth so talc can easily become contaminated with asbestos.  

Talc has been used in cosmetics for centuries.  It is not just found in baby powder.  Indeed, it is a common ingredient in blush, eyeshadows, foundation and many other beauty products.  It's part of the formulation for two reasons:  its silky texture easens application and it also helps absorb oil, making facial makeup more translucent.

If talc can be contaminated with asbestos, is its use in cosmetics regulated?  No.  We are lacking regulation in cosmetic industry. Although talc and asbestos are similar minerals often found together in the ground, the FDA has never required manufacturers to test for the carcinogen.  Yes, you read that right.

It's scary.  Talc use is widespread and it has the potential to be contaminated with asbestos which is a known carcinogen.  Companies don't test for it so the products we use that have talc are not necessarily safe.  There is evidence to suggest that the use of talcum powder is associated with an increased risk of ovarian cancer and it may very well have detrimental effects in the lungs too.

As a consumer, it's essential that you protect yourself and look for companies that are being diligent about the safety of their ingredients.  Beautycounter does include talc in its products but it tests for asbestos beforehand.  As a consumer, this gives me peace of mind. 

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