If you watched the HBO documentary Not So Pretty, you may be freaking out about whether your makeup contains talc. The documentary covers how talc, a popular cosmetic ingredient, often contains traces of of asbestos, which can cause cancer. Not so pretty indeed…
Talc is a natural mineral that often occurs near asbestos, another natural mineral. When talc is mined, it will often be contaminated with asbestos. If that contaminated talc ends up in your makeup, it can be easily ingested or inhaled into your lungs.
How Common Is Asbestos Contamination in Makeup?
The Environmental Working Group (EGW) commissioned tests that found asbestos in 3 of 21 cosmetics products, including two eye shadow palettes and one toy makeup kit marketed to children. Other surveillance studies have found similar prevalence of asbestos in makeup. On the label, potentially-contaminated ingredients may be called: talcum powder, talcum, talc, cosmetic talc, magnesium silicate.
Talc-Free Makeup Powder
Thanks to public lawsuits, you may be aware that Johnson & Johnson Baby Powder contained contaminated talc. But talc also shows up in our makeup too, and powdered makeup is especially easy to ingest or inhale.
Not every powder that has talc necessarily has asbestos, but if you’d rather not take the risk, here are talc-free powders that get a safe rating of 1 or 2 on EWG’s Skin Deep Database.