History of Asbestos in Makeup

Did you know that when you are applying makeup to your face, you could be potentially breathing in asbestos fibres? Probably not! It’s not two things that you would associate with each other. However, this I unfortunately true and has been the case for decades. In this article, we take a look at asbestos in makeup including where it came from, why it is included in it, and other important information. 

How Asbestos Got Into Makeup – Talcum Powder

Asbestos in ONLY found in makeup that contains talc. You will know talc as talcum powder – but that’s just a branded product.

Talc is a natural clay mineral which contains hydrated magnesium silicate. It doesn’t naturally contain asbestos. So what’s the connection?

The issue is that talc is commonly found with asbestos deposits. Therefore, historically, when talc has been mined, there was the potential that asbestos fibres would be disturbed and become attached to the talc. Therefore, you can get asbestos-contaminated talc. 

Talc, like Asbestos has been mined since the 1800s and it is widely used in makeup. The texture of talc when broken down into a power is silky and soft. This is ideal as an additive for makeup products and has many benefits including:

  • Dilutes pigmented products.
  • It can absorb moisture from the skin.
  • Reduce oily appearance of skin.
  • Helps things like foundations “set” properly. 

Due to these benefits, many makeup manufacturers have used talc (and therefore potentially asbestos) for years. In recent history, this has become a significant issue as people are becoming more concerned with what is going into the products they use. It has actually resulted in some manufacturers recalling their products and re-designing entire makeup lines to remove any use of talc.

The main issue is that cosmetic-grade talc is not regulated by the US Food and Drug Administration. Therefore, it is still possible for manufacturers to include it in their products. However, due to the negative publicity, many companies are attempting to change their ways and image.

Quick Facts and Useful Info For Asbestos in Makeup

Now that you understand why makeup may contain asbestos, lets get some general info locked in so you can make more informed decisions going forward: 

  • Potentially contaminated ingredients: Talc, Talcum Powder, Cosmetic Talc, Magnesium Silicate
  • Commonly contaminated products: Bronzer, blusher, contours, eye shadow, foundation 

Basically, any makeup product that contains talc has a chance of also containing asbestos. Talc is also used in baby powder to so that’s something else to consider. In terms of the types of products, you are essentially looking for powder-based items like eye shadow and foundation.

Notable Findings for Asbestos in Makeup in the USA

In recent decades and indeed in the last few years, there has been a concerted effort by the US Government and various agencies to uncover the extent of asbestos in makeup. The following are some notable tests and findings that have been discovered recently:

  • 2017: The US Government enforced a variety of tests and found that makeup for children sold by Claire’s and Justice contained asbestos.
  • 2018: The US Public Interest Research Group carried out a range of tests specifically on makeup products supplied by Claire’s. They found traces of asbestos in four different products, and a high concentration of asbestos in three more.
  • 2019: A nationwide testing sample was done by the US Food and Drug Administration in 2018. They found that from the 52 samples collected, 20% contained some trace of asbestos.
  • 2020: More samples were taken by the Environmental Working Group in November 2020. From 21 samples taken, three contained asbestos.

As you can see, this is something that is still happening today and there are still companies that are selling products with asbestos in them. 

Companies That Were Proven To Sell Asbestos-Based Makeup

You may have heard in the news about companies that have been selling asbestos-based makeup. Indeed, it is welp documented that there are a host of businesses that are still doing this practice. We have listed some of the most notable ones below:

  • Avon
  • Beauty Plus Global Inc.
  • Claire’s
  • Colgate-Palmolive
  • IQ Toys
  • Jmkcoz
  • Johnson & Johnson
  • Justice
  • Shulton, Inc.

Johnson & Johnson is an obvious inclusion due to their association with talcum powder but as you can see, there are many other brands too.

Claire’s who are a well-known makeup and jewellery company are one of the most notorious inclusions in this list. This is mainly because many of their children’s makeup has been found to contain asbestos. Obviously, the thought of children interacting with potentially dangerous asbestos fibres is horrifying and the company has come under major criticism for it.

The Dangers of Using Makeup That Contains Asbestos

As you are probably aware, asbestos is potentially incredibly dangerous. Specifically, if you inhale asbestos fibres, it can result in serious breathing conditions. In worst-case scenarios it has been documented to cause lung cancer.

Furthermore, it can cause the debilitating condition mesothelioma. Essentially, prolonged inhalation of asbestos fibres can severely damage your lungs and there is no real cure.

Obviously, when you add this dangerous fibre in the form of talcum powder into makeup it can cause issues. This is because typically you are applying makeup to your face and around your nose and mouth. Therefore, there is a likelihood that you could breath it in. 

Be Vigilant and Check Your Makeup Ingredients! 

We wouldn’t be surprised if you were quite shocked that your makeup could contain asbestos. Who would think that the products you apply to your face and body may contain a potentially lethal mineral that causes lung cancer and other breathing complications?

Obviously, the health hazards are minimum and people have been using these products for years. Regardless, we advise vigilance. If you have concerns, you can just read the ingredients on your makeup products and look for the inclusion of talcum powder. Furthermore, there are plenty of companies who are known to only produce asbestos-free makeup including bareMinerals, Ecco Bella, Honest Beauty, IT Cosmetics, and Pacifica.