4. Ingredients of Interest: Talc

Naturally, spending hours researching every brand and product you are considering purchasing can appear a daunting and time consuming task which, in turn, puts off a lot of people from doing it. Which is why, I am here to help! Even if you do not have the time to do a background check on every single product, a quick and effective way to regulate what substances and chemicals you apply on, and consequently under, your skin, is simply to look at the ingredients. Just throw a cursory glance over that list on the back of the packaging and if you see any of the substances that I will be covering in this series of “Ingredients of Interest”, place that product right back where you found it!

Talc

Etymology

Originates from the Persian word “talk” and from the Arab word “talq”, both of which were used to describe various minerals such as talc, mica and selenite.

Otherwise known as:

Talcum powder

Cosmetic Talc

French Chalk

Beaver White 200

Agalite

Non – fibrous talc

What is talc?

First up is TALC! This frequently recurring substance is a mineral clay consisting of hydrous magnesium silicate and is reputed as being the softest mineral on earth. It is included in a variety of personal care products as it has the ability to absorb moisture, lubricate, refine the texture of products, prevent product caking as well as lend an opaque quality to makeup.

The main issue with talc is that, when developing, it often finds itself in close proximity to a similarly naturally occurring mineral called asbestos. Unfortunately, this substance is a potent human carcinogen, heavily prone to building up within the body and all around a thoroughly nasty element. The fact that the two minerals coexist so close to one another means that it is very difficult to avoid talc being contaminated by its unpleasant neighbour. In the instance that this does happen and that the contaminated talc then finds it way inside the body, the chances of developing inflammation, respiratory issues and organ system failure are incredibly high. However, the scariest part is, that these issues can, in turn, lead to various cancers (Ovarian Cancer, Endometrial cancer, Lung cancer, Mesothelioma).

While mining companies are now obligated to test their talc for contamination before selling it to other brands, this law is not as foolproof as one would hope. Occasionally traces of asbestos are ignored and the information disclosed is somehow distorted.

Talc is an ingredient shrouded in controversy. Tests have been conducted in the effort to discover whether or not the mineral does indeed intensify risks of cancer. The general conclusion of these tests is precisely what I mentioned above, that this increase is only possible when asbestos is involved. However, the more I read, the more I see that scientists continue to state that there are still huge gaps in talc related data. Meaning that while this result is a huge breakthrough, it by no means qualifies as a conclusion. Certainly plenty of research has been carried out concerning the connection between talc and cancer, but very little has been done to discover its tendency to accumulate in the body. Some scientists mention that traces of talc, both with and without asbestos, were found in women’s ovaries and pelvic lymph nodes but appear to dismiss this information as though it were of secondary importance. Whether or not this build up is a direct cause of cancer, if the mineral has found itself within the body and doesn’t seem too eager to be filtered out, long term repercussions are inevitable.

Moreover, lengthy experiments have been conducted in an effort to discover the long term effects of non-asbestos contaminated talc, experiments which led to the surfacing of some alarming results. After extensive exposure to the mineral (which was delivered through aerosols), groups of rats and mice were found to be suffering from a whole spectrum of negative outcomes such as increasingly severe lung inflammation, blocked lung arteries and evidence of carcinogenic activity. I feel I should emphasise that these experiments were conducted with the talc which is currently regarded as safe and is frequently used. Why these last test results are not as widely spread as those I mentioned earlier is beyond me. Perhaps they are considered insufficient, incomplete, weak etc. However, the fact remains that, after spending a relatively short period of time with supposedly safe talc, a group of rodents became very, very sick.

How does talc get into the body?

Inhalation

Direct, topical application

Where can talc be found?

Mineral Makeup: As talc is a mineral, companies can easily include it as a component in their 100% mineral, 100% natural products. It is most frequently added to powdered makeup, loose and pressed alike, but is likewise regularly incorporated in products of other consistencies. Therefore, keep an eye out for it in your foundations, concealers, blushes, eyeshadows etc.

Feminine Hygiene Products: Since talc absorbs moisture it is has the happy ability of preventing body odour and, thanks to its lubricative properties, it is similarly effective in diminishing skin irritation. Thus, it is very popular with feminine hygiene companies. Unfortunately, such products give talc direct access to some of our most sensitive and delicate areas, skyrocketing our chances of developing Ovarian and Endometrial cancer.

Deodorants and other Aerosols, Body Moisturisers and Face Masks, Baby Powders

What next?

Although there is plenty of clashing and contradicting talc related information floating about the internet, the overall conclusion to draw from all of it is that talc is BAD. It really is! And for any individuals or brands who claim to use it because there is no other alternative, then I am happy to inform you that you are incorrect! While this specific combination of properties may indeed be unique to talc, separately, every single one of the mineral’s assets can be contributed by a different, better substance. For instance, if you need to absorb moisture or lubricate something then a few easy substitutes are corn starch, baking powder, rice flour, oat flour, powdered lavender, powdered chamomile, powdered chickpeas… the list is endless! Therefore, avoiding talc by no means limits your choice of beauty products, in fact, it opens up a whole exciting world of new ones!

For a short list of natural brands that do not use talc in any of their products, take a peek at my last post all about greenwashing.

I hope very much that you enjoyed this post and that you will be back, eager to read more about how to be healthy minded in the world of pharmaceutics! Nicky xx

 

My research was conducted with help from these websites:

http://www.safecosmetics.org/get-the-facts/chemicals-of-concern/talc/#_edn21

http://www.ewg.org/skindeep/ingredient/726333/ASBESTIFORM_FIBERS/

http://www.minerals.net/mineral/talc.aspx

https://www.cancer.gov/about-cancer/causes-prevention/risk/substances/asbestos/asbestos-fact-sheet

https://ntp.niehs.nih.gov/results/pubs/longterm/reports/longterm/tr400499/abstracts/tr421/index.html

http://www.etymonline.com/index.php?term=talc

http://www.nichetopics.info/natural-talcum-powder-alternatives.html

 

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