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Understanding Skincare Ingredients – Talc

Talc is a common skincare ingredient that has been used for decades, but there is an issue with its effects on the body that has recently surfaced. As a user of products containing talc, I find myself worried that I could be getting sick because of something that I thought was harmless. After all, talc is present even in baby products, right? So what is the issue with talc and why is it supposed to be scary?

Apparently, it can cause cancers.

Talc is often used on the skin because of its powdery form that has a silky feel and helps absorb perspiration. It is an inexpensive addition to beauty and skin care products. I found this in most products which I will admit gave me the idea that it was the safest or at least harmless ingredient out there, but apparently it is not. According to some studies, it can cause lung cancer and, in fact, can even be contaminated by asbestos, a known carcinogen.

Now don’t get scared of talc just yet. Yes, these allegations do exist, but I have been using talc unknowingly for many years and I don’t see any damaging effects on my body. Moreover, the research saying that it can cause lung cancer has been done on rats, and according to a source these rats were forced to inhale large amounts of talc in a span of two years. Does anyone else think that is inhumane? I certainly do. This kind of research is also not enough to prove that talc is dangerous because of the large amounts forced on the rats’ lungs. The research exists, but it has not progressed to human trials, and simply basing the results on studies done on rats to say that it is bad for humans is not enough. Could it be possible that a human could inhale that much talc from skincare products? Unless he intentionally inhales large amounts of talk, I don’t think that it’s possible. I’m no expert though, so feel free to get back to me with evidence of a person who has had lung problems because of talc.

Another thing that got people scared of using talc is the fact that it can be contaminated by asbestos. Talc and asbestos are closely related and could be mined in the same location, but what you have to know is that it is not allowed for skincare products to use asbestos-contaminated talc. If you ask me, that sort of eliminates the problem even before it can be worrisome, right? If the talc approved in the skincare industry has to be devoid of any asbestos, then the fear that it will be contaminated with the known carcinogen is already out of the question. Banning the use of asbestos-contaminated talc in skincare products had started in the 1970s, so since then we really haven’t had a product that could have caused the scary things that people are saying. It had been many years since the incident that asbestos fibers were found in mined talc, and I think that the scare came from there, but again I will reiterate, that was several years ago. Today cosmetic companies are required to use asbestos filters. Yes, they are required. They don’t just use it because they want to or because they are wise enough to do so. The law requires them to do that.

The FDA also checks for raw talc even before it can be added to cosmetics, although to be fair they don’t test every single company’s talc composition. On the ones that they have tested, however, no asbestos contamination has been seen.

Some think that talc is being painted as a scary product so that products can advertise not using it and say that their products are chemical-free. I will agree, there is a certain ring to that claim that makes me want to buy the product, but if it is only making me feel scared about a product that I have already been using, that is not a very nice strategy. But this is how companies make money. This is how the world goes around. Find an ingredient, paint it either in good or bad light, and reap the rewards. It just so happened that talc didn’t have so many wonderful features that could be exploited, and it was linked with asbestos in the past, so the route for it was clear. For companies to advertise their products that didn’t have talc, they had to make it look bad.

It really pays to be mindful of the facts before you believe in rumors.

Now with these misconceptions about talc out of the way, is it okay to use products with this ingredient? Talc isn’t just found in beauty products. Many skin products have this because it can help cool one’s skin and even absorb perspiration. I personally use talc powder to help make it easier to slip out my ring on days when I’m feeling fat, and it also helps a lot in wearing clothes that are too tight. I sometimes even use talc to absorb the oil on my hair when I don’t have time to properly shampoo. Trust me, if you are pressed for time and don’t want it to be so obvious that you haven’t showered yet, talc is your best friend. It can also be used on foot and body powders. Meanwhile, companies use talc to improve the consistency of their product, and it is also useful in giving a silky finish to a certain product.

However, talc is not without side effects. While it is really helpful and not as scary as one might think, you should still know that this product can cause dryness on the skin. It can also enlarge pores, and if your pores are enlarged they can easily get clogged up, which will result in an acne breakout. Products using talc also has a cakey or chalky finish. If you look at it, the possible side effect of having acne breakout from enlarged pores is not so bad when compared with the dangers that were apparently related to talc. I’m glad that I read more about this topic instead of just deciding to stop using it because now I know that I am not being scared about something that is still useful.

I’d still be mindful of the amount of talc I use on the skin though. After all, anything in excess can cause problems.

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