Asbestos in Cosmetics: Advocates Call for Stricter Manufacturing Practices to Protect Consumers

make up brush held up with particles in the air

For years, experts and consumers have been concerned about the number of popular cosmetics that contain asbestos, a substance known to cause cancers like mesothelioma.

Concerns were raised over the loose regulations and testing standards surrounding the use of talc, a mineral that absorbs moisture and reduces friction — but often contains asbestos.

Talc naturally forms near asbestos in mineral deposits. When mined, even just one fiber of asbestos can easily contaminate talc, potentially leading to severe health issues decades later. As a result, victims of asbestos-contaminated talc products have faced lengthy legal battles to pursue justice.

Perhaps the most notable is the ongoing fight against Johnson & Johnson over the company’s talcum baby powder potentially causing mesothelioma and ovarian cancer.

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However, many consumers may be unaware of the asbestos hiding in the cosmetics they use every day.

A study from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found asbestos in nearly 20% of popular cosmetics in 2018. Other tests from the Environmental Working Group found asbestos in a makeup kit marketed to children.

In 2022, the FDA made its first move since 1938 to improve consumer protections in cosmetics by passing the Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act. The act gives the FDA more authority to regulate cosmetic manufacturing — but the agency has not yet implemented new guidelines, due to lobbying from cosmetic companies.

As cosmetic industry leaders stall, advocates are urging the FDA to enforce stricter regulations on asbestos and talc use in cosmetics.

Advocates Believe Testing is Not Enough to Reduce Risk of Asbestos in Cosmetics

On June 1, 2023, nearly 100 cosmetic industry leaders and advocates participated in the FDA’s virtual listening session to share their feedback about the development of new manufacturing practices for cosmetics.

Many cosmetic industry leaders asked the FDA for flexible compliance timelines for any new regulations and raised concerns about the costs of increased testing protocols, citing their products are always held to high standards.

Despite a Reuters investigation finding J&J was concerned about asbestos in its talc products for years, the company continues to argue in court that its talc products were safe and free from asbestos.

When sharing her comments, Linda Reinstein, president and cofounder of the Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization (ADAO), showed the disconnect between industry leaders and public health organizations. She urged the FDA to enforce strict testing and transparency protocols to keep people safe from dangerous ingredients.

“Standardized testing, transparency, and enforcement to keep consumers safe from asbestos-contaminated talc are lacking,” said Reinstein. “Using the existing testing processes and safety protocols, ADAO confirmed that five products, including a child’s toy, were contaminated with asbestos.

Sadly, she believes that even with new protocols to carefully examine talc-containing products for asbestos, consumers may still be at risk.

“While testing is necessary and prudent, it alone will not eliminate asbestos exposure,” said Reinstein. “As long as asbestos is not banned in the United States, consumers and people who work in cosmetic manufacturing factories may risk exposure to this horrible carcinogen.”

She urged the FDA and all cosmetic industry leaders present to support the Alan Reinstein Ban Asbestos Now (ARBAN) Act to help manufacturers embrace non-asbestos alternatives and keep American workers safe from asbestos-related diseases.

Fighting for Those Impacted by Asbestos in Cosmetics

Asbestos continues to lurk in cosmetics used in daily routines. Each year, more and more people are impacted by the carcinogen with an estimated 40,000 people around the world losing their lives due to asbestos-related cancers and illnesses.

As a result, some cosmetic companies have silently removed talc from their products to save legal fees. Publicly, however, they continue to claim the safety of talc — even while some experts warn the mineral may be no different than asbestos.

If you or a loved one has been diagnosed with mesothelioma or another asbestos-related disease, contact Sokolove Law now.

With over 40 years of experience holding corporations accountable and more than $9.3 Billion in total results, our asbestos law firm is here for you.

Sokolove Law Team

Contributing Authors

The Sokolove Law Content Team is made up of writers, editors, and journalists. We work with case managers and attorneys to keep site information up to date and accurate. Our site has a wealth of resources available for victims of wrongdoing and their families.

Last modified: June 7, 2023

  1. Asbestos Disease Awareness Organization. “Ensuring Consumer Safety: ADAO’s Linda Reinstein Advocates for Stronger FDA Cosmetic Regulations at Public Meeting.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 1, 2023.
  2. Environmental Working Group. “Cosmetics companies face major concern over asbestos contamination of talc.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 1, 2023.
  3. Environmental Working Group. “FDA Tests Find Asbestos in Nearly 20 Percent of Cosmetics Products.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 1, 2023.
  4. Food and Drug Administration. “Modernization of Cosmetics Regulation Act of 2022.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 1, 2023.
  5. Reuters. “Government experts urge new talc testing standards amid asbestos worries.” Retrieved from: Accessed on June 1, 2023.