Is Talc Bad for Skin? Side Effects of Talc in Cosmetics

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You’ve probably come across this component in your makeup products but, is talc bad for skin?

Talc has been used in makeup products way before some of us were born. Five thousand years ago, people in Egypt and northwest India used the mineral to make their skin lighter.

Talc is used in a lot of beauty products today, including blush, eyeshadow, foundation, and a lot more.

It gives a velvety touch to makeup, making it easy to apply.

Talc also absorbs oil, prevents caking, and works perfectly in making powders translucent.

But there’s always been that unresolved issue as to the safety of this ingredient.

What is Talc?

Talc is a naturally-occurring mineral, it is the softest mineral on earth.

It is gotten from open-pit mines in the U.S and of course globally. What you should know is that talc is a dilutant that’s used together with pigment to provide the desired effect.

“Take some of that pigment and put it on your hand. It’s very strong. It has to be diluted,” says chemist Dr. King.

Related: What Causes of Skin Cancer? Types, Treatment, and Prevention

Is talc bad for skin?

Asbestos, a well-known carcinogen, is closely linked to the mineral talc.

Talc is extracted from the earth at talc mines that are naturally close to asbestos mines.

Due to their closeness, talc particles are often found to contain asbestos, according to research.

While talc poses a risk to talc miners and other employees who come into contact with natural, asbestos-contaminated talc fibers, the American Cancer Society notes that it has not been shown as an issue for cosmetics.

The quantity of talc in cosmetics varies depending on the product.

According to a safety study from the Cosmetic Ingredient Review Expert Panel, face powders often contain up to 100 percent talc.

Other products, such as aerosol cosmetics bases, may include up to 35% talc.

Is talc safe for makeup?

While there is still debate about whether talc-containing products like feminine hygiene products and baby powder could cause cancer, makeup products that contain talc haven’t been subject to the same legal rules.

There has been an increasing number of cases where ovarian cancer patients sue talcum powder companies for failing to disclose that their products might contain asbestos.

Juries have awarded millions of dollars to the families of those affected.

Thing is, you only apply a little makeup to your face but with talcum powders, you’ll put a lot of it on your body.

It’s possible that using talcum powder in the genital area could be carcinogenic but you don’t use makeup products in your genitals.

Related: How to Repair Skin Barrier Naturally

Why is talc used in makeup?

We already said talc acts as a dilutant in makeup. It’s used to dilute pigments in makeup. Talc is water-absorbent, meaning it helps bind water in our makeup products.

Plus, it absorbs oil and shines.

Is talc bad for skin? What FDA says

In 2009, the FDA decided to investigate the safety of cosmetic talc and requested samples from nine talc vendors.

The agency also examined 34 cosmetic goods, including blush, foundation, face powder, body powder, and eye shadow.

The FDA described the findings as “informative,” but noted that they do not show that most or all talc or talc-containing cosmetic items now marketed in the United States are likely to be asbestos-free.

This is because the study was limited to only 9 vendors out of which 4 complied.

Plus, 34 products which were examined are too small a fraction of products to draw conclusions from.

Talc-free makeup

With everything that’s going on, some people want to avoid talc completely. They won’t take chances.

If you want to avoid talc completely, make it a habit to read labels. If the ingredients are not clear enough, find another product.

Though some companies still use this ingredient in their makeup, more brands are looking for alternatives.

Related: What Does Niacinamide Do For Skin?

Alternatives to talc for skin

Some brands are seeking alternatives to talc in makeup so now we have makeup products that are talc-free but still deliver the moisture-absorbing or anti-chafing characteristics of talc.

Among the skin-friendly alternatives to talc are:

  • Tapioca starch
  • Kaolin clay
  • Cornstarch
  • Baking soda
  • Rice starch
  • Oat flour blends
  • Mica

Is talc safe for skin? Side effects of talc on skin

According to Dr. Jones, talc is safe for most skin types, but it might irritate people with sensitive skin when applied to certain parts of the face.

“Those with sensitive skin may experience irritation if this product is applied to the folds of their skin.”

Because of the rubbing, they may be more sensitive to the particles.

According to him, inhalation of the powder is the most dangerous part of talc usage.

It can cause respiratory problems.

Does Talc cause cancer?

It is often found in cosmetic items such as infant powder, adult body and face powders, and a variety of other consumer products.

Some talc includes asbestos in its natural form, which is known to cause malignancies in and around the lungs when breathed.

What about Asbestos-Tainted Makeup?

There have been reports of asbestos-tainted cosmetic-grade talc since the 1970s. Since then, all cosmetic-grade talc has to be free of asbestos.

Is talc safe to use now?

Talc is now widely acknowledged as a safe ingredient in cosmetics and personal care products.

Is talc pore clogging?

Talc is a known comedogenic component.

Acne and other skin irritations might result from this since it has the tendency of clogging pores.

Is Asbestos in Cosmetics dangerous?

Asbestos fibers may be deadly when inhaled, causing mesothelioma to develop decades after the first exposure.


Our health and well-being always will be of primary concern to us. Part of caring for our health is caring for our skins.

The products we use on our skins should not only add beauty but should also keep it healthy.

Skin cancer has always been a health issue and because of this, our skincare products have to be tested to meet FDA standards.

Talc in itself isn’t cancerous, it’s just that it is closely associated with asbestos, a carcinogen.

But, if you like, you can totally avoid talc.

If you still have questions about this article? Kindly drop it in the comment box below, we will be happy to help you.

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