Talc or talcum powder as some may call it, has been used as an ingredient in cosmetics for a very long time, in fact, for centuries. Being a popular ingredient in cosmetic powders, nobody thought twice about using face powder products on a daily basis. Well, that was until the ingredient made a recent headline about its involvement in baby powder which was associated with ovarian cancer. Our beloved shoppers have since been sharing with us their concerns of using talcum powder for years, on themselves and their children.
Since Worthee Cosmetics is a science-based company, we’ll be sharing with you some essential research-based facts on talcum powder and its link to cancer as well as some precautions to take when using talc containing products. Read on if you’re interested!
What is Talc?
Let’s get a little scientific shall we? As some of you may know, talc, or talcum powder, is a naturally occurring mineral. The main elements that form talc are Magnesium, Silicon, and Oxygen (chemical formula: Mg3Si4O10(OH)2).
Talc should be recognized as different from asbestos, which is also a naturally occurring silicate mineral. Generally, in the cosmetic industry, asbestos is classified as carcinogenic/cancer-causing and cannot be included in the formulations of cosmetics. Talc on the other hand, is permitted to be used in cosmetic products by all health agencies and regulators worldwide. It is known to be highly stable (non-reactive to other chemicals) and odourless.
Try grabbing any of your cosmetics in the form of powder, like your powder foundation for instance. Now take a look at the list of ingredients on it. Talc is highly likely to be one of the listed ingredients. Talc is undoubtedly a crucial ingredient in face powders and is frequently used as an absorbent in skincare products. The only reason face powders help control oil is because of the inclusion of talc. But that’s not all, because talc also helps absorb water and sweat as well. This is what makes it a favourite ingredient for a lot of products.
If Talc is Legally Allowed in Cosmetics, Why Does the Media Say It is Cancer-Causing?
Believe it or not, the debate about the link between talcum powder and ovarian cancer have actually been around for more than 40 years. Due to this controversy, there have been several research done to bring light to the truth. Some of these studies reported that talc provided a slightly increased risk of ovarian cancer while others reported no such increased risk. Since there are no clear cut answer whether talc causes cancer, health authorities worldwide still regard it as a safe ingredient to be used in cosmetics.
As a result, based on the limited evidence from research on humans, the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), part of World Health Organization (WHO), lists the use of talc-based body powder as “possibly carcinogenic to humans.”
To put it differently, in terms of research, the risk that talc causes cancer is similarly low to that of cell phone causes cancer through electromagnetic waves.
So, are ALL Cosmetic Products with Talc Safe Then?
To be honest, we can’t guarantee! Aside from the results obtained by research, there are still anecdotes from ovarian cancer patients regarding frequent use of talcum powder as their source of cancer.
We should keep in mind that the cosmetic industry is enormous. It is extremely important for cosmetic brands to constantly test the purity of talcum powder that is extracted from raw talc in relation to the location where the talc was mined. However, we are not sure if certain disheartening and inhumane dirty brands out there are using talc containing asbestos in their products (IARC lists asbestos as cancer-causing).
With all the controversy around this subject, it is important to know that there are countless news regarding pirated or fake cosmetic brands copying the products of well-known brands. The issue with this is, these fake brands are known to use ingredients from unknown sources that do not match the purity that is safe for us. Therefore, we should always be mindful with what products we buy and remember that you can never be too cautious when it comes to your wellbeing!
What are the Precautions When Using Talc Containing Products?
The use of talcum powder as an ingredient in beauty products has existed for decades now. For external uses like on your face or body to absorb oil and sweat, you can rest assured that talc is absolutely safe. If it’s really necessary to use it around your genital area, here are some safety tips you can follow:
- Make sure that you’re purchasing the product from a genuine and well-known brand. Long standing brands are more likely to get their products routinely evaluated with a sophisticated battery of tests, to make sure the quality and safety of their products are in compliance with global standards.
- Avoid using talcum powder in excess on your genital area. Use it only if it is necessary, once in a while. If you are too worried or concerned about using talcum powder, consider switching to starch containing products. Starch containing products are an alternative to talc containing products. Do take note that starch, unlike talc, can get easily damp and go mouldy. So store it in a cool and dry place.
Your Sharing: Do you use any talc containing products?