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These Common Products Contain Talcum Powder

Author
Alicia Betz
June 9, 2022

You may have heard that baby powder is not safe to use because it has been found to cause cancer. What you may not know, however, is that the cancer-causing ingredient — talcum powder — is found in many other products as well.

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Talcum powder has long been a common ingredient in baby powder, but its safety has recently come into question. The presence of asbestos-contaminated talc in Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder even led to a recall in 2020. Now, the company no longer makes baby powder containing talc or talcum powder.

However, many other products still widely use the mineral as main ingredients in their products. Common products containing talcum powder include body powder, makeup, and paint. 

Body Powder with Talcum Powder

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has long advised against baby powder use, even before the 2020 Johnson & Johnson recall. The fine powder can cause babies to choke if they inhale it.

Baby powders and similar body products remain popular among adults, however. People often use the powders to soak up moisture, reduce friction, and mask smells. For these reasons, many women use body powder on their genital area. 

Many body powders have recently removed talc from their ingredients due to safety concerns. Some, like Anti Monkey Butt Powder, still use talcum powder. 

Makeup with Talcum Powder

Talcum powder is also found in many makeup products, including face powder, eye shadow, blush, mascara, lipstick, and foundation. It’s a coveted ingredient for manufacturers because it makes products feel smooth and silky, absorbs moisture, prevents caking, and provides opacity.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate cosmetics, so it’s up to you as a consumer to research ingredients and decide what you do and don’t want in the products you buy. The Cosmetic, Toiletry, and Fragrances Association (CTFA), which represents personal care products and cosmetics, took a stance on talc in 1976. Their standards state that talcum powder used in cosmetics shouldn’t contain asbestos. 

Unlike body powder manufacturers, most makeup and cosmetics manufacturers have not removed talc from their products. Some brands that currently use talc in their makeup include NARS, Physician’s formula, Urban Decay, Cover Girl, Laura Mercier, Revlon, Wet n Wild, Clinique, and Maybelline. Talcum powder is also in many makeup sets marketed to children. 

Other Products with Talcum Powder

Talc is not just found in powders and makeup. Talcum powder has been used in supplements, chewing gum, food, crayons, toys, paint, and deodorant. 

Talc is used in many vitamins and supplements as a caking agent. In paint, it can be used as a filler and to improve the overall quality of the paint. Similar to its effect in makeup and body powders, talcum powder in deodorant creates a silky texture and absorbs moisture. 

Read Five Risk-Free Alternatives to Talcum Powder >>

It’s shocking as a parent to realize that this dangerous ingredient is often found in makeup sets marketed to children. It’s perhaps even more shocking to find that it’s routinely used in toys. The mineral is sometimes used as a filler in plastic toys and modeling clay. In the past, talcum powder was commonly found in crayons. In 2000, however, many popular crayon manufacturers including Crayola and Rose Art stopped using talc in their crayons. 

If you want to find out if a product you are using contains talcum powder, look for any of the following in the ingredient list: 

  • Talc
  • Talcum powder
  • Cosmetic talc
  • Magnesium silicate 

For products that don’t have an ingredient list, like toys and crayons, try contacting the manufacturer to inquire about their use of talc. If they don’t use the ingredient, they will likely be happy to tell you so. 

Many brands also now label their products as “talc-free” because they know consumers are concerned about the mineral. 

Why is Talcum Powder Dangerous? 

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral made up of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen. It’s often found alongside asbestos in the earth. Because of this, talcum powder can be contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos is a known carcinogen, and no level of exposure to the mineral is considered safe. Its use was banned in the United States in 1989, and the material is routinely removed from buildings today. 

In powder form, talc can release small fibers that can be inhaled. These small fibers can also travel into the ovaries when baby powder is used in the genital area. Inside the body, they can cause inflammation and scarring that can lead to tissue damage. 

Especially when it’s contaminated with asbestos, talcum powder can cause ovarian cancer and mesothelioma, a cancer in the lining of the lungs, abdomen, and/or heart. When it’s inhaled, it can cause choking, coughing, and permanent lung damage. 

The safety of asbestos-free talc is not yet clear, and talc alone may cause cancer as well. According to the American Cancer Society, controlled studies in labs, as well as studies in people, have not yet definitively concluded that talcum powder alone can cause cancer. “Until more information is available, people concerned about using talcum powder may want to avoid or limit their use of consumer products that contain it,” the American Cancer Society advises. 

What To Do if You’ve Been Exposed to Talcum Powder 

For many of us, we’ve unknowingly used products containing talcum powder our whole lives. If you’re just learning about the potential dangers of the mineral, this is unsettling news. It’s normal to be concerned about your exposure. People who are concerned should of course stop using any products containing talc immediately. You can also talk to your primary care provider regarding any health concerns related to talcum powder and asbestos exposure. 

If you’ve developed ovarian cancer or mesothelioma after using baby powder, you can talk to a lawyer regarding building a case to seek justice. Some cases alleging Johnson & Johnson was negligent and failed to warn consumers about the dangers of their baby powder have already gone to court, and the company has paid out millions of dollars to affected individuals.

Free Case Evaluation

If you or a loved one were diagnosed with ovarian cancer after using talcum powder, we can help you fight for your rights and compensation.

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