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Why are some cosmetics companies reformulating their products?

Some of the largest cosmetics companies, such as Chanel, Revlon and L'Oreal, are discontinuing or reformulating many of their signature products. The goal of these changes is to remove talc from their products.

According to media reports, this change isn't necessarily being put in motion because the companies consider talc to be dangerous. However, these changes follow on the heels of numerous lawsuits involving the mineral. Instead, it appears that these cosmetics companies are phasing out their use of talc because of the negative perceptions consumers have about the mineral.

Are consumers' negative perceptions warranted?

Talc is a naturally occurring mineral with properties that make it a useful ingredient in many cosmetics. For example, talc may be most widely recognized for its use in baby powder. However, talc is also used in blush, eye shadow, lipstick, mascara and other products.

Unfortunately, talc and asbestos form in the same environments, and we have found asbestos in the products sold by large body powder and makeup companies.  

Last year, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) discovered asbestos in nine out of the 52 talc-based products it tested, and over the past few years, thousands of lawsuits have been filed regarding the safety of talc-based products. Many of these lawsuits allege that the talc in a product was contaminated with asbestos and that exposure to that asbestos caused someone to develop cancer.

We have filed lawsuits against Johnson & Johnson, Revlon, Chanel, Avon and others. Although many companies that sell talc-based products insist on the purity of their talc, many consumers no longer trust the talc products' safety. This change in perception is expected to cause a .6% decrease in talc sales this year.

Those who have regularly used talc-based products and are worried about their potential exposure to asbestos may consider sharing their concerns with their doctor. It can take decades after someone's initial exposure before they begin to develop a related disease. However, a doctor can help someone assess their risk and monitor their health for associated changes.

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