Many people think that asbestos is only found in older building materials like drywall and insulation. However, it’s been identified in everything from crayons to baby powder. It’s also been found in some makeup products — at least according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
This month, the FDA issued a consumer warning regarding specific makeup products sold by Claire’s stores. The warning to consumers not to purchase the products follows test results that the agency says indicated the presence of asbestos fibers.
The FDA ordered the testing after a study by a non-profit consumer watchdog group two years ago found asbestos in makeup sold by Claire’s. Like baby powder, makeup products commonly contain talc, which can contain traces of asbestos.
The FDA doesn’t have the authority to order the retailer, which is popular with teenage girls, to recall the products in question. However, Claire’s — despite the fact that it has publicly disputed that the fibers in question were asbestos — issued its own voluntary recall. It’s no longer selling them and has cautioned consumers who have them at home not to use them. The retailer says it will issue refunds for any of the products returned by customers.
In a statement, Claire’s said, “We initiated this voluntary recall after testing by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration indicated the possible presence of asbestos fibers in product samples from one lot of each product.” The three products in question are eye shadows, compact powder and a “contour palette,” all sold under the retailer’s name. Claire’s also said it was taking all of its talc-based products off the shelves. No Claire’s products have been blamed for any illnesses or injuries.
The FDA doesn’t have a mandate to review or approve cosmetic products. However, it recently said that it intends to seek feedback from companies that make and sell these products regarding what steps they’re taking to keep asbestos out of them.
The small amounts of asbestos that could be present in some talc-based makeups likely aren’t significant enough to cause harm. However, it’s important for consumers to be aware that asbestos is not entirely a thing of the past.