what is talc?

what is talc? - Cosmetic Composition.png

the concern about talc

Earlier this year Johnson & Johnson lost $72 million in a lawsuit against a Missouri family who claimed that the consistent use of the company’s baby powder was the cause of their mother’s ovarian cancer. This case has caused speculation within the beauty and science industries as the link between talc and cancer has not yet been proven. Many consumer, environmental and safety groups such as the EWG, have been urging the FDA and cosmetics brands to ban the use of talc in their products. The reason for this petition is due to talc’s similar composition to asbestos.

Asbestos is a known human carcinogen. Up until 1989 asbestos was still legally allowed to be used in construction and industrial projects, which is why people are still concerned about its presences in buildings and factories. Extended or extravagant exposure to asbestos has been directly linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma.

According to the American Cancer Society, the concern with talc is the links to ovarian and lung cancer. Much like asbestos, when talc is inhaled or put into the body it has been shown to have links towards these cancers. However, the American Cancer Society warns that there has not been enough evidence to come out of research studies to show a direct link. While consumers may want to be hesitant, there is no direct evidence to say that “talc causes lung and/or ovarian cancer”. There use to be a time where trace amounts of asbestos were found in talc, due to their origins, however, the talc used on the market today is pure and clean of asbestos.

the chemical composition of talc

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen and hydrogen, and is given the general formula Mg3Si4O10(OH)2  (also known as hydrous magnesium silicate). Asbestos is also a naturally occurring silicon mineral but has a different crystal structure than talc. However, their similarity is the reason for all of this concern.

talc composition - Cosmetic Composition

talc use in cosmetics

Talc has a long history of being used in traditional cosmetic formulas. It’s consistency and ability to blend well with other ingredients made it a common product ingredient. Today talc is still used in blush, eye and face primers, dry shampoo, bronzers, “mineral” cosmetics and of course baby powder. Talc’s natural powder texture makes it a great addition to formulations.

should you use products containing talc?

Go ahead and check out the ingredient lists of some of the products I listed above. Chances are there’s talc in at least one of those. The concentration is most likely not enormous nor will you use enough on a daily basis to cause concern. However, yes the continuous use of these products, especially baby powder, could cause one to worry and wonder about its safety. If you’re concerned with using talc-heavy products, a lot of companies now produce products talc-free. Look for ones that include cornstarch instead, however, it may not be very common due to corn starch’s tendency to gelatinize during production.

Any comments or questions? Please list them below!


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