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In a rare move for Johnson & Johnson, the company ended its latest talc trial in California with a midtrial settlement on Jan. 6, 2020. The company pulled the plug on the trial before a California jury had the chance to hear about asbestos findings from a random sampling of the company’s baby powder from an expert the company used.

According to Bloomberg, Johnson & Johnson agreed to pay a woman more than $2 million to resolve her claims that asbestos-contaminated baby powder caused her ovarian cancer.

Since news began emerging about talc’s link to ovarian cancer, many people have begun side-eyeing baby powder. While many are moving away from baby powder, many of us continue to use makeup products that contain talc. While there is little to worry about ovarian cancer wise while applying face makeup, there is some concern between talc and lung disease. When you look at the label of your powdered makeup products, you’ll likely see talc listed as an ingredient. 

Generally, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration says talc in makeup as safe. However, there continues to be a debate about whether or not, in some cases, makeup may be contaminated with asbestos. Asbestos, when inhaled, can lead to mesothelioma. 

What makeup products contain talc?

As consumers become more obsessed with natural and organic products, it’s important to remember that talc is a soft mineral that has been used in cosmetics for thousands of years. Talc is the softest mineral on Earth. It’s used in everything from textiles to cosmetics. Because of its versatility and benefits, the mineral has been used in ancient cultures, such as Egypt and India. For example, at least five thousand years ago, Egyptians and Indians used naturally occurring minerals to reduce skin irritations. 

Do cosmetic companies have list ingredients on makeup?

According to the FDA, cosmetics on the U.S. market must have an ingredient list. However, as the law is written, “the list cannot be used to make a company disclose ‘trade secrets.’” This means that while the FDA required cosmetics to have an ingredient declaration for consumers to have the information they can use to compare products. But not all ingredients have to be disclosed. 

For example, fragrance and flavor ingredients do not need to be listed individually on cosmetic labels because they are likely to be “trade secrets.” Instead, these ingredients can be listed as fragrance or flavor. 

How is talc used in cosmetics?

Talc has several uses in cosmetics and other personal care products. In addition, it’s used in food, such as rice and chewing gum, and in the manufacture of tablets. Talc can be found in the following makeup products:

  • Foundation
  • Mascara
  • Concealer
  • Blush
  • Lotion
  • Face masks
  • Lipstick
  • Eye shadow
  • Brow pencils
  • Face powder
  • Eyeliner

Is talc safe to use on skin?

In most cases, talc doesn’t irritate the skin. And for topical applications, there are rarely negative reactions. In cases of open wounds, however, talc may get under the skin and may cause an infection or inflammation. 

Should I be concerned about asbestos-contaminated makeup?

Asbestos and talc are silicate minerals that form near each other in the Earth’s crust. Because of their proximity, this can lead to asbestos contamination in talc products. For the last five decades, talc has been required to be asbestos-free. 

Asbestos fibers are deadly when inhaled. Asbestos fibers inhaled can embed into the lungs which can lead to mesothelioma decades after the initial exposure. 

What happens if I inhale talc?

The inhalation of talc can cause serious respiratory problems. Often, reports involve children or babies who accidentally inhale or swallow baby powder. However, poisoning from asbestos-contaminated powdered makeup can also occur. 

Symptoms of face powder poisoning include the following:

  • Difficulty breathing
  • Coughing
  • Eye irritation
  • Burning sensation in the throat

Does talc cause cancer?

Several studies and lawsuits suggest there is a link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer. In fact, studies conclude that women who use talc on their genitals may boost a woman’s risk to developing ovarian cancer by 30-60%. 

Women who use talcum powder on or near their genitals are at risk of the talcum powder traveling up to the reproductive organs. Researchers have found talcum powder embedded in the tissue of ovarian and cervical tumors. 

There is also evidence that talc powder can lead to mesothelioma, uterine cancer, and other asbestos-related diseases.

How much authority does the FDA have over cosmetics?

The law does not require cosmetic products and ingredients to have FDA approval before they go on the market. However, there are laws and regulations relevant to cosmetics on the market in interstate commerce. There are two main laws pertaining to cosmetics in the United States. 

The Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act. This defines cosmetics by their intended use. Products that are intended to be “rubbed, poured, sprinkled or sprayed on, introduced into, or otherwise applied to the human body… for cleansing, beautifying, promoting attractiveness, or altering the appearance.” Products that included in this definition include:

  • Moisturizers
  • Perfume
  • Lipstick
  • Fingernail polishes
  • eye/face makeup
  • Cleansing shampoos
  • Permanent waves
  • Hair dye
  • Deodorants
  • Any substance intended for use as a cosmetic product

Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). When it comes to cosmetics, the FPLA simply governs the labels on packages with the goal to keep consumers informed. 

Interestingly, soaps are regulated differently. Typically soaps don’t need FDA approval, except for the color additives. 

The Carlson Law Firm Can Help

Developing a serious illness after using talc products can have long-lasting consequences on your life. The product liability attorneys at The Carlson Law Firm can help you determine if you are eligible for compensation for your injuries. There are many claims against Johnson & Johnson alleging the company was aware of the cancer risks from its talc products. Our firm has been representing injured victims across the country since 1976. We have years of experience with product liability cases and have helped clients recover millions of dollars.

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