Should I use talc-free beauty products?

There is a common misconception in clean beauty that natural ingredients are healthier ingredients. But if this is sometimes the case, it is not always true. Just look at talc, which is used in beauty products, from foundation to dry shampoo. It is a natural clay mineral that is found all over the world and could be dangerous to the point of being carcinogenic.

This is an issue that dates back decades, but is currently gaining attention due to the release of the HBO Max docuseries not so pretty, directed by Amy Ziering and Kirby Dick, and narrated by Keke Palmer. The four-part series explores some of the potential dangers of the (largely unregulated) beauty industry. The first episode investigates the prevalence of talc in makeup and body products, despite a link between the ingredient and carcinogenic asbestos.

not so pretty focuses primarily on the link between talc-containing products and mesothelioma, a deadly form of cancer found in the lungs and abdomen. But that may not be the only risk. “Several studies have shown a possible positive association between talcum powder and ovarian cancer,” says a board-certified dermatologist. Naana Boakyewhich notes that “these studies were small and their statistical significance was low”.

However, the link notably prompted a $4.7 billion lawsuit against Johnson & Johnson, which was accused of failing to warn customers of the dangers of asbestos in its talc-based baby powder, a product that is no longer on the market in the United States. Additionally, Boakye notes that talc “can also be found in aerosols, which can cause respiratory diseases such as fibrosis and possibly malignancy.”

The risk of dangerous side effects may be relatively low, but Boakye says, “I would encourage all individuals to check their ingredient list and not use any products that contain talc. Again, the studies had small sample sizes, but I wouldn’t take that risk personally. Yet many brands continue to use talc in their products, often claiming that it is batch tested for asbestos. But according to some experts (and not so pretty), where there is talc, there is asbestos. “Even talc that claims to be asbestos-free is not safe to use because the testing methods used to detect the absence of asbestos are flawed and inaccurate,” Crunchi Cosmetics co-founder and board-certified family nurse practitioner. ‘administration Melanie Petschke said. “This explains why the studies carried out by the National Toxicology Group have shown that even talc without asbestos can be carcinogenic.

Yet there is a dispute over the presence of asbestos in all talc. Own cosmetic chemist and founder of KKT Consultants Krupa Koestline says the ingredient can be safe to use, “provided the brand has chosen that mindset and put checks and balances in place in the supply chain.” Sephora, which distinguishes “clean” products with its “Clean at Sephora“, even allows a “restricted use” of talc according to its current guidelines, with the caveat that “only talc without detection of asbestos according to the specifications of the raw material can be used”.

There is also the matter of which ingredients to use instead of talc, which has a variety of applications across all product categories. “It can be used as a bulking agent, to improve skin feel, to help fill in lines, or to alter adhesion or color expression,” says Koestline, who says a few options used instead include silica, kaolin, arrowroot, rice powder. , and zinc oxide. But they can come with their own problems. “Alternatives are much more difficult to formulate, especially if the brand is not willing to compromise on skin feel,” says Koestline. They also cost more. “Ingredients that have higher safety profiles are more expensive than their conventional alternatives,” says Petschke.

If you’re concerned about the effects of talc, the best thing to do is to use products that don’t contain the ingredient. Fortunately, many brands have invested in using alternatives, and their products are not only fun to apply, they’re available for every budget. Here are 15 of our favorite talc-free beauty products to try.

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