Independent lab results confirm that makeup sold at Claire’s retail stores across the country is contaminated with asbestos, which causes cancer. Parents and consumers need to know about these asbestos-laden makeup products, especially because even though we alerted Claire's to our test results, they have refused to remove these items from the shelves.
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Tested for 84,746 fibers of asbestos per gram of product.
Price: $9.99. Note: The top left pink blush was tested.
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The negative health effects of asbestos are well-known. Most people associate asbestos contamination with the workplace or decades-old construction material, but alarmingly, recent media reports have found asbestos contamination in kids’ makeup from popular stores like Claire’s and Justice.
U.S. PIRG Education Fund (PIRG) decided to do its own asbestos testing at an accredited laboratory. PIRG tested more than a dozen makeup products that contained talc from a variety of stores and brands, including children’s and teen’s products as well as adult’s products, and found three products containing asbestos currently sold by Claire's retail company.
PIRG calls on Claire’s to immediately recall the three makeup products and investigate how such high levels of asbestos were found in these products. Also, we call on the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to conduct regular testing on makeup products for asbestos contamination, especially those that contain talc.
Negative Health Effects Of Asbestos
Asbestos is not used commercially in makeup, but can be found as a contaminant in talc, a common ingredient in cosmetics. Sparkly, shimmery, and powdery makeup often contains talc as a major ingredient. Inhaling or ingesting any form of asbestos can lead to serious health conditions, including lung cancer and mesothelioma.
While asbestos may be considered a trace contaminant, there is a known risk that these mineral fibers can lead to several pulmonary diseases and lung cancers, such as malignant mesothelioma, when they are inhaled. Research has shown that asbestos fibers can disrupt DNA and lead to tissue damage. There are currently no effective means to predict which individuals exposed to asbestos will develop disease. Repeated topical exposure to asbestos may result in increased skin cancer risk over time. Short term increased risk of developing rashes would also be expected with use of asbestos containing products.
While the FDA considers it “unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos” , there is currently no national agency charged with testing kids' makeup for asbestos. While the FDA does occasionally test makeup for chemicals like lead and mercury, it does not do so regularly. Congress should take action to ensure that there's no asbestos contamination in cosmetics, and FDA should conduct regular tests on cosmetics for asbestos.
Asbestos Found In Claire’s Makeup
After reading media reports purporting that some children’s makeup contains asbestos, we did our own testing. PIRG tested over a dozen makeup products from a variety of stores and found three products containing asbestos (tremolite) currently sold by Claire's. The laboratory tests were done by STAT Analysis Corporation, an independent laboratory that is accredited for asbestos testing. We first conducted a PLM (polarized light microscopy) test for asbestos and found that three products testing positive for asbestos. We then did the TEM (transmission electron microscopy) test to determine how many fibers per gram of asbestos each product contained. We then did a re-test of the TEM test to confirm the results, and those results are listed above. FDA has also used both TEM and PLM methods in tests it conducted for asbestos in cosmetics.
Claire's is a national retailer of cosmetics, jewelry, and novelties aimed at children, tweens, and young adults. We found three "shimmery" makeup products at Claire's which contain asbestos. Our report and test results come after Claire’s issued a recall of nine makeup products in December 2017 when those products tested positive for asbestos. Claire’s first announced the recall on Twitter and later released a statement on its website. The company released an updated statement that, according to its internal testing, it did not find any asbestos in its products. Despite Claire's assurances, we found asbestos in products that we purchased after Claire's voluntarily pulled those nine items off the shelf. This shows that the asbestos problem at Claire's is pervasive and ongoing. Families need greater assurances that the products they buy are safe.
We alerted Claire’s to these test results and a company representative told us that Claire’s is investigating the issue. We are waiting to hear if Claire's will pull these other three products off the shelves after we shared this information with the company, and we are waiting to hear if Claire's is willing to do additional work to ensure that their consumers are safeguarded from asbestos contamination in their products.
- Consumers should stop using the three products listed above immediately.
- Parents should avoid buying children’s makeup products containing talc. Cosmetic talc can be contaminated with asbestos. FDA says that companies can prevent contamination of talc with asbestos, by selecting talc mining sites carefully and taking steps to purify the ore sufficiently. However, consumers have to contact companies directly to find out if their products’ talc is sourced safely.
- Join us in calling on policymakers to conduct thorough tests on makeup containing talc for asbestos contamination and remove contaminated products from store shelves.
- Immediately recall these three products and remove from store shelves.
- Issue a public statement about the recall due to asbestos contamination.
- Investigate how these makeup products came to contain such high levels of asbestos and make findings public.
- Ensure that other products sold or manufactured do not contain asbestos.
- Notify customers who purchased these products, where contact information is available, that they should stop using them due to asbestos contamination and offer a return for full refund.
For Policymakers and FDA:
- Policymakers should require makeup companies to test products for asbestos prior to selling them.
- FDA should conduct testing for other makeup products containing talc for asbestos.