Health & Beauty

Asbestos in Makeup: A Toxic Ingredient in your Children’s playtime

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Being an Enviromom can be exhausting! Sometimes, the list of ‘things I need to research and find alternatives for’ feels endless! 

Asbestos in makeup
Makeup is a lot of fun but is it safe?

I wrote in the past about my hunt to find sandbox alternatives for my sandpit loving kids! My main motivation then was to find sand that was free of tremolite (a type of asbestos). 

Well, who would have thought that the risk of asbestos in makeup is also a thing?

I love makeup and my kids love it too – my pre-teen is starting to show interest in lip gloss and the younger ones love a good dress-up! 

Let’s unpack this! 

Making environmentally healthy choices can be difficult and exhausting, if you don’t know where to begin. We typically think of green living and safer options in terms of reducing our carbon footprint, living sustainably, and eating a more plant-based diet. 

While all of these examples are beneficial, there are some not-so-obvious risks that may also require smaller steps for you and your family to take.  

If, like me, you wear makeup, you may want to consider (if you haven’t already) clean makeup. This means beauty without noxious chemicals. In your home, you may already be mindful of non-toxic makeup. However, if you have kids, especially pre-teens, who are interested in experimenting or playing with makeup, you should also be careful about what products you are letting them use. 

Asbestos in makeup for kids is a big problem
Most kids love to play with dress up and makeup

There are a variety of brands targeted towards adults who purchase their own makeup. For children, cheap makeup kits or non-professional starter kits may not have the same qualities or requirements as cosmetics marketed for adults. 

As a mom, I have been guilty myself of telling my kids not to play with my [expensive] makeup! Ooops!

A recurring toxin in beauty products that you and your family should be aware of is asbestos. We want to provide you with the best information on what asbestos is, how it’s used in makeup, and what you can do to protect yourselves. 

Asbestos in Makeup 

You may be wondering why asbestos in makeup is an issue. Asbestos is a mined resource that has microscopic fibers. When talc (which is a common ingredient in makeup) is mined, it can mix with asbestos deposits, as the two occur naturally close together, and the chances of cross-contamination are possible.

In October 2019, the FDA released a new warning concerning the use of cosmetics containing talc. This mineral has not had strict government regulations in the past, and the latest FDA talc news came in February 2020. The administration planned a public meeting for further review of asbestos and talc in cosmetics, but nothing has been done yet. 

The largest issue is that any traces of asbestos in talc can cause critical health impacts like lung cancer. Even though this is rare, other respiratory diseases can happen due the extended use of toxic makeup. Anyone can be affected by inhaling or ingesting asbestos fibers, but children are usually more susceptible to toxins and irritants as their skin is thinner and more sensitive. 

asbestos in makeup for kids
Talc – a common ingredient in makeup – can contain traces of asbestos!

When you are exposed to asbestos fibers, they can enter your lungs or stick to the lining of your heart or stomach. Embedded asbestos fibers can irritate these linings, and develop into tumors over a period of anywhere from 10 to 50 years. Patients experience coughing, tiredness, tightness in the chest, or fever. These types of symptoms can be an indicator for serious cancers such as mesothelioma. 

Beauty Recalls and News 

If you do start purchasing makeup kits for your kids, you should know about any manufacturers or brands that have had asbestos contaminations in the past. 

Most notably a makeup set sold at Claire’s was voluntarily recalled after the product tested positive for asbestos by the FDA. This is a brand geared towards young girls and pre-teens. In addition, Claire’s provided a full refund to customers who purchased this particular product. 

Unfortunately, asbestos was not only found in this brand, but the FDA discovered asbestos in three other products too

  • Claire’s Eye Shadows
  • Claire’s Compact Powder 
  • Claire’s Contour Palette

Asbestos contamination happens more in powder-based makeup.

makeup recall due to asbestos
Asbestos is more common in powder-based makeup

Last December, researchers at the Environmental Working Group examined and conducted research on several brands of  makeup and discovered asbestos in “samples of 21 cosmetic products made from talc, including eye shadow, face and body powder, and children’s makeup kits.” Three of these samples were positive for asbestos. Researchers noted that this has an adverse effect on children, as their lungs are still developing in comparison to adults. 

Safe Makeup for Kids

It is evident that asbestos in makeup is an ongoing problem.

It is not an ingredient that will be listed on labels, but you can help protect your children by understanding the potential issues with using products containing talc and vetting your cosmetics better. Even understanding the past history of asbestos in makeup and what brands have had recalls can guard you against making risky purchases. 

As a parent, you want to give your children the best, in every sense of the word. Due to the prevalence and threat of asbestos in makeup, it is best to steer clear of all talc-based products. You can’t always avoid every danger, however searching for brands with transparent labeling is important in order to mitigate toxins like these. 

kids makeup can contain asbestos products
It is important to be extra-careful when buying makeup for kids

Although beauty labeled as “cruelty-free,” “vegan,” and “natural,” does not always mean that it is safe, environmentally focused brands show they care about what goes into creating their products. 

Final Thoughts

Be cautious about where you buy your makeup, especially if the product does not give a lot of information about the ingredients used. You can always look up an ingredient to better understand what it means or what can do to the body.

Asbestos is a scary toxin, but not all makeup has asbestos. We hope that the FDA implements increased regulations on what can go into makeup and that talc standards are more controlled. For now, education is a prime prevention to guide you through finding safer makeup for your kids.

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