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Why Is Talc Bad in Makeup?

 Talc is a key ingredient in a laundry list of beauty and personal hygiene products from blushes, foundation, and eye shadow to baby powders, creams, and even lipstick due to its outstanding anti-caking and moisture-wicking properties. But little do its loyal users know is that the apparently inoffensive naturally occurring mineral can pose some serious health risks over the long haul.

What Is Talc and How Safe Is It? 

Talc is a naturally occurring clay mineral made of hydrated magnesium silicate. Its key elements are magnesium, silicon, and oxygen, but talcum powder may also contain contaminants such as asbestos which can pose serious health risks.

Talcum powder is usually deemed safe for external use as long as it is not swallowed or breathed in. It is also not recommended that you apply any talc-based products to your pelvic or genital area as thousands of women diagnosed with ovarian cancer have reportedly developed the condition after dutifully applying talc-based baby powder to their genital areas for many years.

Talc powder in cosmetic and skin care products has drawn a lot of heat lately after multiple studies and dozens of lawsuits have revealed that a particular American talc-based baby powder brand has caused ovarian cancer in women who had routinely used the product in the genital area for decades.

What’s more, if talc gets inhaled on a regular basis, it may lead to respiratory illnesses and talcosis which may cause irreversible lung damage and failure; it may also make asthma and other pre-existing respiratory conditions worse.

Asbestos-tainted talcum powder has also been linked to a rare but highly deadly form of cancer known as mesothelioma which affects the lining of various internal organs, including the lungs or the abdomen.

Most Dangerous Talc-Based Beauty Products 

Despite its many adverse effects, talcum powder is still being used on a large scale by the beauty industry due to its many properties. The soft mineral is a powerful but natural anti-caking and moisture-wicking agent, it gives makeup products a smooth silky texture, and makes beauty products a breeze to apply. It also keeps oil in check and offers makeup a beautiful, translucent finish.

Talcum powder has been used on its own or in various blends of natural ingredients since ancient times for the same beauty perks, but its health risks have surfaced only recently following some high-profile baby powder lawsuits in North America.

Currently, while many baby powder manufacturers have replaced the talcum powder in their products with corn starch, clay, and other natural ingredients, the beauty industry still lags behind. Talc can still be found in many beauty, skin care, and personal hygiene products under various names: talcum, talc, talcum powder, and magnesium silicate.

You’ll most likely encounter talc in blushes, face powder, eye shadow, foundation, concealer, mascara, lotions, moisturizing creams, and lipstick. The most hazardous beauty products when it comes to talc exposure are face powders, which may be made entirely out of talc, mattifying makeup bases, which may be made of up to 40% talc, and blushes, which may come with up to 60% talcum content.

Does Talc Cause Cancer? 

The jury is still out on the talcum powder-cancer link, but many experts agree that talc can be a carcinogen and users would be better off minimizing their exposure to the ingredient.

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) has issued warnings mainly against talcum powder contaminated with asbestos for being “carcinogenic to humans”. The agency also warned against the use of talc-based baby powders in the genital area as it may lead to ovarian cancer. IARC experts do not consider asbestos-free talc to be cancer-causing in humans.

Since asbestos is the only known cause of mesothelioma, an aggressive form of cancer, it is highly recommended to use only certified asbestos-free talc-based beauty products.

To Wrap It Up 

Unless slapped with billion-dollar lawsuits, cosmetics companies don't always prioritize consumers' health, and talcum powder is one of the most common ingredients posing threats you should be wary about. Unfortunately, many makeup products still contain the risky ingredient which has been linked to a sizable cancer risk especially when contaminated with asbestos. To stay on the safe side, limit the exposure to the ingredient and opt for safer alternatives whenever you can.

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