Plus, why you should be wary of the ingredient.
These were the lawsuits that rocked the beauty industry: hundreds of people sued giant beauty conglomerate, Johnson & Johnson, over asbestos contamination in its beloved baby powder.
Johnson’s White Baby Powder has been a staple in beauty and cleansing regimens for decades. You most likely have grown up with it in your home or at the very least seen it everywhere in drugstores. The ingredient in its formula that many people have claimed caused serious illness is talc.
Talc, a natural mineral that is composed of magnesium, silicon, oxygen, and hydrogen, can be found in many cosmetic and personal care products. According to the FDA, talc may be used in cosmetics to absorb moisture, prevent makeup from caking, make facial makeup opaque, or improve the feel of a product.
But the use of talc in makeup has been questionable since the 1960s when some studies linked its use to cancer. Recent studies, however, dispute those claims and the FDA is continuously researching whether links to cancer are conclusive. It also has been testing talc for asbestos in cosmetics, with questions about possible contamination ongoing since the 1970s.
This all came to a head when in 2018 when Reuters reported that the beauty company was aware that its baby powder sometimes tested positive for small amounts of asbestos from 1971 to the early 2000s. Executives along with doctors, lawyers, and scientists failed to disclose these findings to the public and continued selling it. More beauty lovers are now aware, thanks to HBO Max’s Not So Pretty docuseries that debuted in April 2022.
After multiple lawsuits, it was then reported by NPR that Johnson & Johnson was ordered to pay $4.7 billion to 22 women (and their families) who claimed the powder contributed to their ovarian cancer. In 2019, NPR also reported that the company had to pay a woman in California $29 million after she claimed that the baby powder caused her mesothelioma. The company has denied any link and still faces thousands of other similar lawsuits. In 2021, the company announced that the White Baby Powder will no longer be made with talc in the U.S. and Canada. (Though it may still be found in products sold globally).
If this has given you some pause on using makeup products containing talc, you’re not alone. Many brands have been going the talc-free route to ensure cleaner formulations and safer use. (Though it is important to note, there is no FDA regulation on “clean” beauty. Most brands are conducting their own research and setting these clean standards for themselves.)
Interested in learning more about alternatives? You’ve come to the right place. See below for 10 talc-free makeup brands.
Saie has its own clean beauty standards and it’s one of the most rigorous out there. It promises to never use talc and other known harmful ingredients like alcohol-based preservative phenoxyethanol, sulfates, synthetic fragrance, parabens, and so much more. What’s most impressive is that its products don’t sacrifice efficacy in exchange for being “clean.”
Aptly named, 100% Pure has one of — if not the most — pure formulations in the market. Its products are only made with ingredients and formulas composed of plant, mineral, and marine vegetation that will only go through chemical changes due to biological processes (i.e. fermentation, distillation, and cold processing). Even its color pigments are sourced from only fruit, vegetables, tea, and cocoa.
Kosas was made with sensitive skin in mind. It bans over 2,700 ingredients for its clean standards, which include talc, parabens, sulfates, aluminum, and formaldehyde, and it aims to use as few ingredients as possible.
ILIA has been a favorite clean beauty option among makeup lovers for years. Along with talc, its products are also not formulated with gluten, parabens, phthalates, petroleum, and mineral oil.
CoverFX reformulated its products a few years ago to go completely talc-free. It also does not use parabens, fragrance, gluten, mineral oil, and coal tar. It uses mica, a clean alternative to talc, in its powder products. (The brand also ensures that the mica is ethically sourced).
Including talc, Honest Beauty bans over 2,500 ingredients in its products to ensure safe use for its consumers. The list is also always growing as everyone continues to learn the different effects ingredients have on our skin and overall health.
One of the most fun and magical makeup brands out there, Rituel de Fille gives you fun shimmery finishes and bold colors in products while also using natural ingredients. Each ingredient is never tested on animals and comes from sources that use ethical labor practices.
Pacifica is 100% vegan and cruelty-free. It offers an array of talc-free eyeshadows that still have the intense color payoff and glittery finishes you look for in traditional eye products.
Milk Makeup values transparency and lays out a comprehensive list of all the ingredients it will not use in its products. Its “blacklist” includes talc, hydroquinone, and synthetic fragrances.
Vapour’s products leave out over 1,400 ingredients that it deems as harmful. (It also abides by the same standards set by the European Union). It also ensures responsibly sourced ingredients that will have the lowest environmental impact.
Choose an edition: