Naturally occurring magnesium silicate mineral that is typically the main ingredient in face powders and is also used as an absorbent in skincare products. It is considered safe to use in cosmetics. The U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) has granted talc “GRAS” (generally recognized as safe) status. 

Older studies identified talc samples as containing traces of asbestos; however, modern-day testing of talc samples as used in cosmetics has either revealed zero asbestos or an amount so low that the risk from exposure is considered insignificant. Talc in cosmetics does not present a health hazard.

Talc made headlines a while back due a series of class action lawsuits due to the presence of talc in baby powder and its association with ovarian cancer when talcum powder is used for personal hygiene; however, despite the legal fracas, the evidence isn’t in support of this association, as summed up here:
“When applied to the context of a proposed talc/ovarian cancer association, we conclude that the weak statistical associations observed in a number of epidemiological studies do not support a causal association.”

Reference for this information:
Risk Analysis, July 2016, ePublication
International Journal of Toxicology, July-August 2015, Supplement, pages 66S-129S
European Journal of Cancer Prevention, November 2011, pages 501-507; and April 2008, pages 139-146

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About the Experts

Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books about skincare and makeup. She is known worldwide as The Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula’s Choice Skincare. Paula’s expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international radio, print, and television including:

The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and providing expert advice that solves your skincare frustrations so you can have the best skin of your life!