Is There Asbestos in Your Makeup? Why Women With Cancer Are Suing Big Beauty Brands

June 10, 2024 | Source: The Guardian | by Anne Karpf

Mention asbestos and disease, and most people’s thoughts turn to old, unstable floor tiles or insulation in homes or offices, or jobs in shipbuilding or construction – the kind of heavy industries that employ men in hi-vis jackets and hard hats. One place we don’t tend to think of it is in the beauty industry; rarely do we consider nude eye-shadow palettes or peachy pink blushers as health hazards.

Yet scores of British women are taking leading cosmetic companies to court in the United States, claiming that they contracted mesothelioma – a particularly nasty, treatable, but incurable cancer of the lining of the lung, heart or stomach – through their use of beauty products.

The ingredient they hold responsible is talcum powder, which is ubiquitous in makeup. You’ll find it in bronzer, blusher, eye shadow, foundation, mascara, lipstick and even dry shampoo, because it does an excellent job in absorbing moisture and preventing caking. Talc is a mineral that is mined from underground clay deposits – but it can also often have veins of asbestos present in it.

Almost all of the big brands use talc in their cosmetics, and they reject any suggestion that they may be tainted. The Estée Lauder Companies group, which includes Clinique and Bobbi Brown as well as Estée Lauder itself, said: “We only use talc that is tested and certified as asbestos free. Additionally, all our ingredients undergo a comprehensive safety review and evaluation, and our products are safe for their intended use.”