Titans of Cosmetics, Concerned Over Cancer Lawsuits, Have Quietly Removed Talc

Consumer Goods

Three of the leading cosmetic manufacturers — Chanel, L’Oreal and Revlon — have discontinued using talc in some of their beauty products. The move comes after Johnson & Johnson (J & J) announced that it would stop selling its baby powder in North America. J & J currently faces thousands of lawsuits that allege that talc, which is a mineral, can become contaminated with asbestos, another mineral which has been linked to certain cancers such as ovarian cancer and mesothelioma. 

Talc itself does not pose a threat to human health. However, asbestos is sometimes found in the same chunk of rocks as talc. 

The move by the three cosmetic brands is no doubt due to the recent negative publicity surrounding talc and the J & J lawsuits. Despite the negative publicity, however, talc is an ingredient in several consumer products, including mattresses, curtains, dish towels, carpets and toys, and much more. 

According to this report by Reuters, Chanel has removed talc from a face powder and a body powder. Revlon has removed the controversial mineral from all of its body products while L’Oreal is examining alternative options for talc, which is used as a moisture-absorbing, softening caking agent. 

While the J & J lawsuits have received much of the media’s attention, court documents obtained by Reuters reveal Chanel, L’Oreal and Revlon all are facing lawsuits over asbestos-tainted talc. 

In 2017, Chanel discontinued a talc-based body powder(After Bath Powder), which had been scented with the brand’s iconic No. 5 perfume.  

Despite removing talc from its body powder, Chanel still includes the mineral in other products, including blush, eyeshadow and pressed powder. The brand maintains that the talc used in these products is pure and safe for cosmetic use. 

A report by Aljazeera says that other personal care brands have stopped or will stop using talc. In 2018, the German manufacturer of Nivea baby powder, Beiersdorf, replaced talc with cornstarch.  

Bausch Health, maker of Shower to Shower powder, changed the formula for the product, and has stopped selling talc-based powder for over a year. The company, however, has been named in 165 lawsuits. 

The multi-level marketing beauty brand, Avon, faces 128 talc lawsuits.  

Not all manufacturers are moving away from talc. Sanofi, maker of Gold Bond powder insists the talc in its products is safe and is “vigorously” contesting talc lawsuits. 

Talc, because it may contain asbestos, may be harmful for both men and women if inhaled. The mineral may also cause ovarian cancer in women if the mineral is applied longterm to the genital area.

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