Talc is just one of thousands of ingredients we’ll never use in our formulas. We vet every ingredient to ensure it’s clean, vegan, sustainably and ethically sourced, and nourishing and beneficial for your skin. Keep reading to find out all the tea on talc and why we’ll never use it at ĀTHR Beauty.
What is talc and why is it used?
Talc is the softest mineral on the planet – it’s used in beauty products to dilute pigments, to absorb moisture and oil, and to create a soft, velvety texture. It’s found in many powder products like blush, bronzer, eyeshadows, face powders, and also in foundations, creams, and hair products.
What’s wrong with Talc?
Talc naturally grows alongside asbestos – a known cause of lung cancer and mesothelioma. When talc is mined, it often contains traces of asbestos. Since brands aren’t required to test for asbestos contamination (or they may only test a very small sample of their talc), you never know when your talc comes with a side of asbestos.
Raw talc mineral
The lawsuits against talc
You’ve probably heard about the asbestos and lead outbreaks in Claire’s and Justice in the last few years, not to mention the ongoing lawsuits against Johnson and Johnson. Johnson & Johnson have paid over $2 billion to settle more than a thousand lawsuits – mostly from women with ovarian cancer or mesothelioma who used their baby powder for years.
Revlon, Chanel, and Avon have also faced lawsuits for their talc-based products. A former Revlon employee with mesothelioma (a rare and aggressive cancer caused almost exclusively from asbestos exposure) is suing the brand for $60 million. In response to public concern, Chanel has discontinued a talc-based body powder they’ve been selling since the 1920’s, and Revlon has removed talc from their body products.
Is all Talc contaminated with asbestos?
In 2019, the FDA found asbestos in almost 20% of the 52 beauty products tested from all over the U.S. Another FDA study in November 2020 tested talc-containing makeup and found 14% of the products also contained asbestos.
Despite all the lawsuit and public concern, there are still no regulations when it comes to talc in cosmetics. In fact, the FDA doesn’t review any cosmetic products or their ingredients (with the exception of color additives).
Check the labels of most conventional face powders, eyeshadows, blushes, and bronzers and you'll likely find talc as the first or second ingredient. Ingredient labels are listed in order of concentration and the first five ingredients make up the majority of the formula.
Is Talc bad for your skin?
Beyond the health concerns of potential asbestos contamination, talc can dry out the skin, making wrinkles/fine lines look more noticeable.
What can brands use besides Talc?
If you check the labels of truly clean brands, you'll find alternatives like kaolin, silica, rice powder, or mica. Side note on mica: most of the world's mica is produced using child labor which is why we use synthetic mica unless we can verify it's child-labor-free. Learn more about mica here.
So, what can you do?
Since it’s impossible to know if talc-based products are contaminated with asbestos, the safest option is to avoid talc-based products altogether. If products you love contain talc, reach out to the brands and share your concern. There are many talc alternatives and these products can be reformulated with safer ingredients that achieve the same effects.
For more on Talc and the countless other questionable ingredients used in the largely unregulated beauty industry, check out the docuseries Not So Pretty on HBO Max - it's being called "the first-ever comprehensive large-scale investigative expose of the trillion-dollar cosmetics, beauty and personal care industry”. It's a must-watch for all of us beauty lovers.