Is Talc In Makeup Safe

makeup palette

When using makeup products in your daily routine – you may have wondered whether the products are safe and healthy for your skin. It can be challenging to navigate what beauty product ingredients are healthy and which ones are best to avoid. There’s a common misconception that natural ingredients are healthier than no-natural ones, but that’s not always the case.

In this article, we weigh in on talc,  a common ingredient in many cosmetic products, from foundation to eye shadows. Talc remains a constant source of controversy in the cosmetics industry. Keep reading to find out whether talc is safe in makeup and what you should know before using products containing the ingredient.

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What Is Talcum Powder?

Talcum powder is made from talc, a naturally occurring silicate mineral of magnesium, silicon, and oxygen mined from rock deposits. It’s a soft, naturally occurring mineral often used in baby powders, makeup, deodorant, ceramics, and paint. Talcum powder is a lubricant that adds softness and shine to products. It has been used as far back as ancient Egypt for various purposes.

Why Talc Is Used In Cosmetics

woman applying makeup
Photo by Adrienn on

You may wonder why talc is used in cosmetics if there is so much uncertainty and controversy surrounding the ingredient. Talc gives powders the desired consistency and quality. It’s often touted as being the softest mineral and can give personal care products a silky texture and the ability to be easily applied and spread. Talc also absorbs moisture well to help keep skin dry, prevent rashes, and stop caking before it starts.

In powder form, talc is used to absorb oil and reduce unwanted shine on the skin – which is why it is so commonly used in cosmetics. It’s also an excellent binding agent for pigments because it makes them the desired color. When used in liquid, talc works as a great bulking agent.

Another reason that talc is used so commonly in cosmetics is its availability. Since talc is a naturally mined compound that is abundant, inexpensive, and easy to process, it’s very convenient.

Talc is commonly used in cosmetics, including lipstick, blush, shadow, foundation, loose powder, and eyeliner. The amount of talc used in each product varies on the cosmetic and its formulation.

Why Is There A Concern About Talc In Makeup?

Talc has garnered a lot of attention and controversy about whether or not it’s safe to use in makeup.

The ingredient was recently featured in HBO Max’s docuseries “Not So Pretty,” a series that investigates the potential hidden dangers of cosmetic products in the beauty industry.

The first episode featured talc and investigated its prevalence in makeup and body products despite the connection to asbestos – a cancer-causing ingredient. After airing, it stirred up a concern in the beauty community, with many people throwing their products containing talc into the trash. The episode left many people wondering whether talc is safe in makeup products.

In its natural form, some talc contains asbestos, a substance known to cause cancer, especially in and around the lungs when inhaled. The presence of asbestos is the primary reason that people are concerned about talc being in cosmetics and other personal care products. 

In 2018, 22 women sued Johnson & Johnson for developing ovarian cancers after using the company’s baby powder which contained asbestos-contaminated talc. Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay over $2 billion in damages for not warning customers of the dangers of asbestos, leading the product to be taken off shelves in the United States. After the order, talcum became an ingredient on many people’s radars.

Is Talc In Makeup Safe

You may think it’s time to toss all of your products with talc into the bin, but there is some good news. Talc in cosmetics is generally considered to be safe. In its purest form, asbestos-free talc is not harmful to the skin because it’s noncarcinogenic and not known to be an irritant or allergen when applied in moderation.

Most skin types can tolerate talc however, those with sensitive skin may be better off avoiding the ingredient. People with sensitive skin who use talc may find that their skin becomes irritated and should be careful when using the ingredient.

Dangers Of Talc In Makeup

Although talc is generally considered safe in makeup, there are some dangers to be mindful of. If talc is inhaled, ingested, or contaminated with asbestos – it can lead to health adversities. If talc is absorbed into the lungs, it can cause respiratory problems like asthma, bronchitis, or lung disease. If ingested, it can cause talcosis. It’s important to avoid applying talc to open wounds or areas with any broken skin, as this can cause inflammation and irritation.

Does Talc In Makeup Cause Cancer

The debate about whether talc in makeup causes cancer is an ongoing one. Talc contaminated with asbestos may cause cancer. Asbestos is a substance known to cause cancers in and around the lungs when inhaled. It may sound unnerving, but not all talc contains asbestos. The FDA regularly does ongoing tests to identify potentially harmful products and rarely finds asbestos.

According to the American Cancer Society, talc can be dangerous for talc miners as well as other workers who come into contact with natural, asbestos-contaminated talc fibers but it hasn’t been established as a concern for cosmetics.

Is All Talc Bad?

Since talc is generally considered safe in makeup, the answer is no – not all talc is terrible.

There are exceptions to this, like talc contaminated with asbestos which can cause cancer when inhaled, ingested, or applied to open wounds. Most people look for and prioritize having natural ingredients in their makeup. However, it’s best to consider each ingredient’s effects on the skin and body to determine whether it’s safe.

If you’re still unsure about the ingredient or are concerned about the risks of talc in your cosmetics, you can opt to use products that don’t contain the ingredient. Fortunately, many brands use alternative ingredients and are entirely talc-free.

Great Brands That Offer Some Talc Free Products

Most makeup brands are at least partially talc free due to the talc powder controversies. Here are some fantastic brands to check out if you’re searching for talc-free products: 

In Conclusion

Talc is commonly found in makeup products that have faced much criticism and controversy. Although there are risks and side effects to using products containing asbestos, not all talc is contaminated with the cancer-causing ingredient.

If you have any concerns about the presence of talc in your makeup products, the best thing to do is to use talc-free products.

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