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Women's Beauty

Asbestos in Makeup: Have You Been Exposed?

Explore the dangers of asbestos in makeup, how it even gets there in the first place, and how you can avoid it with our helpful guide & information from The Mesothelioma Center.

3 glass cosmetic bottles sitting on small rounds of wood in front of a yellow backdrop

by Ellen Hill

Asbestos in makeup is not a happy accident - in fact, it can have serious health consequences. We explore the dangers of asbestos in makeup, how it even gets there in the first place, and how you can avoid it.

What You’ll Learn

What is Asbestos?

Asbestos is a substance made up of flexible fibres that offer resistance to heat, electricity and corrosion. Asbestos is a known human carcinogen (a substance that causes cancer), as classified by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC)

You may have heard of asbestos in home insulation in the past, but not thought of the risks of asbestos in makeup. Construction materials used to contain asbestos because of its role as an effective insulator. 

Asbestos in cloth, paper, cement, plastic and other materials makes them stronger. Whilst commercial use of asbestos is heavily regulated in construction materials, these same stringent regulations do not apply to other products, which is why asbestos has been found in makeup products

How Does Asbestos End Up in Makeup?

Makeup companies don’t add asbestos to their makeup products intentionally. In fact, the ingredients won’t list asbestos. The reason asbestos may appear in your makeup is because of the talcum powder, or ‘talc’ which is often added. 

a flat lay image of various cosmetic bottles lined up on a rouge pink backdrop

Powder makeup products such as a loose setting powder, compact foundation, eye shadows, blushes, and some creams often contain talc in order to provide a mattifying effect to your finished look. 

Talc and asbestos are chemically very similar (both are a form of hydrous magnesium silicate), which means when talc is mined, it may contain trace amounts of asbestos. Unfortunately, there aren’t stringent enough regulations to ensure that the talc added to cosmetic products does not contain asbestos.

How to Find Asbestos-Free Cosmetic Products?

You might not always be able to trust a label! Although a product does not say it contains asbestos, there is the risk if talcum powder has been included. It’s also a good idea that you don’t assume brands that claim to be asbestos-free, organic or natural are totally free of asbestos. 

Check the Label for Talc

There isn’t a simple way to know if the talcum powder in a product is truly asbestos-free without extensive chemical testing of that product. 

In order to stay clear of asbestos in makeup as much as possible, you should:

  1. Check the product label to see if it contains talc.
  2. If the makeup contains talc, avoid this product. 

Check the Product Online

There are handy websites which exist to help you identify the safety of your favourite slow beauty brands and vegan skincare products

EWG Skin Deep - can help you check for asbestos in makeup:

  • EWG reviews, tests, and evaluates the ingredients and claims of individual products. 
  • When a product is EWG VERIFIED™, it means it meets EWG’s strict, scientific standards for transparency and health. 
  • Their team of toxicologists, chemists and epidemiologists check every product closely, empowering you to purchase the products which are safer for you.

flat lay image of cream and powder makeup products with brushes dipped in them

MADE SAFE can also help you make better choices when choosing your makeup:

  • MADE SAFE is a product certification program that helps to connect you to brands that reflect their values for a healthier life and planet. 
  • Their aim is to eliminate the use of harmful chemicals from the marketplace to ensure a safe and sustainable future. 
  • Their focus is not only on human health but also the health of the entire planet.
  • They have specially curated collections of products they have deemed safe, including Made Safe certified makeup products.  

What Are the Dangers of Asbestos Exposure?

Asbestos can cause severe medical issues, especially when inhaled. This is particularly likely in those loose powder products in your makeup routine. 

Long-term exposure to asbestos through talcum powder is known to cause:

  • Mesothelioma - a cancer of mesothelial tissue (the layer of cells that covers and protects organs and tissue in the body).
  • Ovarian cancer - a cancer of the ovaries (the organ responsible for production and storage of eggs in the female reproductive system). 
  • Asbestosis - a chronic lung condition caused by prolonged asbestos exposure.

The presence of asbestos within makeup has not yet been known to cause any serious medical issues, because not enough investigation has gone into the effects of its exposure. The risks remain as long as the chemical exists in these products. 

The side effects of asbestos exposure take a long time to appear - it could take between 20 and 60 years. Therefore, there are no immediate side effects, meaning you might not know you have been exposed.  

Should you want to learn more, you can find more about the risks of asbestos from The Mesothelioma Center - an advocacy group dedicated to helping people impacted by mesothelioma. They can connect you with information, treatment, legal services and more. They’re passionate about spreading awareness of asbestos risks, including highlighting the potential presence of asbestos in makeup. 

Safer Products for the Future

The safety of our community and the planet is so important to us at The One Edit. Whether you’re searching for sustainable food box options to fuel your body, or the best eco-friendly baby products to care for your little one, we’re on hand to help. Join us on our mission to protect the planet with every purchase!