Is Talc Bad to Have in Makeup?
Lately, talc is the talk of the town. And for good reason.
There’s a lot of controversy over whether or not talc belongs in cosmetics. And really, there isn’t a straight answer to the question (but don’t worry because we’re here to clear some things up!).
Although there are a lot of opinions out there, there are some important things you may want to take into account when it comes to talc… it may not be as harmless as some people think. Spoiler alert: Kinder Beauty doesn’t believe talc should have a place in your beauty products.
And TBH, by the end of this, you’ll probably agree. Let’s get into it.
What is talc?
Talc, or talcum powder (meaning the ground-up version of the mineral), is the softest natural mineral we know of. It’s pretty common in cosmetics because of its ability to soak up moisture (like excess oil) and prevent caking. It also has the ability to make powders smoother, protect the skin, and make application easier overall.
Talcum powder has actually been around for a super long time. But it became universally commercialized in the late 1800s when Johnson & Johnson realized it prevented diaper rash and talc-based baby powder was born. It’s only gained popularity since then as people started to find more and more uses for the mineral.
Because of its unique qualities (not to mention that it’s quite affordable and relatively easy to get), its role in cosmetics is a big one.
These days, talc is most commonly found in:
- Baby powder
- Face masks
Colored cosmetics—like eyeshadow and blush—are usually a mixture of talc and pigments. Because pigments by themselves are incredibly concentrated, using them alone isn’t really an option.
Talc isn’t only used in cosmetics. It can also be used to make things like paper, tailor chalk, medications, and paint. No wonder this mineral is so popular, right?
But just because it seems like you can find it anywhere, that doesn’t mean it’s necessarily safe or healthy for you. Especially when it comes to your beauty products.
Is talc dangerous?
Short answer? Yes, talc can be dangerous (in fact, we suggest swapping this chemical out of your beauty routine entirely).
But unfortunately, it’s a little more complicated than that.
Because talc is mined directly from the earth, it’s exposed to contaminants—namely asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen and considered dangerous to human health at any concentration.
These two minerals have a nasty habit of naturally forming together, so when talc is mined, there’s always a chance it’s laced with asbestos.
The problem? The only way to test for asbestos in talc is to go batch-by-batch. But consistent testing like that takes ages, not to mention it’s hella expensive. So, most cosmetics companies don’t bother with routine testing. Meaning when it comes to talc in cosmetics, there is almost always a risk of asbestos exposure.
Just to be clear, generally speaking, the talc itself isn’t really the issue here: it’s the potential of asbestos contamination.
There have been multiple cases where asbestos was found in products that had already hit the shelves. And in one case, some of the asbestos-containing products were being sold at qa youth clothing store—meaning young children were at risk of exposure.
Cases like this only happen because the FDA doesn’t currently have any restrictions or regulations on the use of talc. Since products containing talc don’t have to undergo asbestos testing before they’re released to consumers, the risk for contamination is way higher than it should be.
Side effects of talc in cosmetics
A lot of these side effects apply to talc-containing powders that can be accidentally inhaled. But it should be noted that talc, asbestos or not, can irritate sensitive skin.
Potential side effects of using talc include:
- Respiratory issues
- Lung disease
Also, using products with talc in the pelvic area is considered very dangerous, as it has been linked to ovarian cancer. And there has been some serious trouble with Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder because of this.
Some people who’ve used J&J’s baby powder have been diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Due to traces of talc in their ovaries, it was determined that the baby powder was to blame. And naturally, thousands of people have sued J&J because of this.
After a ton of lawsuits and lost money, Johnson & Johnson recently decided to stop selling talc-based baby powder (but still deny their product was the cause of any health issues).
How to avoid talc
We know: it’s all a little scary and overwhelming. But thankfully, avoiding talc may not be as tricky as it seems.
There are a couple of ways to ensure your cosmetics don’t come with the risk of asbestos contamination (as they shouldn’t).
Some cosmetics companies use asbestos-free talc which, if you’re going to use talc at all, is the safest option. These brands test their talc consistently to ensure that no asbestos ends up in their products.
Of course, the most obvious way to avoid potential asbestos exposure is avoiding talc altogether. In fact, we here at Kinder Beauty don’t allow talc because we consider it too risky (and our top priority is, of course, your health!).
A lot of brands, especially ones in the clean beauty world, are committed to making talc-free products. Plus, there are alternatives to talc, like cornstarch, tapioca starch, baking powder, arrowroot starch, and oat flour. While none of these is “the softest mineral known to man,” they’re a lot safer because, well, there’s no risk of asbestos exposure. And when it comes down to it, they get the job done just as well.
There are some people and brands out there that don’t think talc is all that bad. And sure, maybe the talc itself doesn’t pose any health risks. But the reality is when talc is involved, there’s always a chance asbestos is lurking nearby.
And the last thing you want to take a chance on is your health.
One surefire way to make sure no talc ends up in your routine is signing up for Kinder Beauty Box, where we do the label-deciphering for you. Not only will you receive 5 talc-free beauty products, but they’ll also be 100% vegan, cruelty-free, and clean, too!
Makeup Sold at Popular Youth Clothing Store Tested Positive for Asbestos | Bailey Cowan Heckaman
Talc | Campaign for Safe Cosmetics
Johnson & Johnson Stops Selling Talc-Based Baby Powder in US and Canada | NPR
Get our Kinder Beauty Box