Here’s a warning for all parents: Check your daughter’s makeup drawer! A recent investigation found an alarming ingredient in a makeup product marketed to young girls, and the health risk to children could last decades.
According to a lab test completed by the Scientific Analytical Institute in Greensboro, North Carolina, there are traces of asbestos in “Just Shine Shimmer Powder,” sold by the retailer Justice. Justice is a national chain known for selling clothes and accessories to young girls.
These lab test outcomes started as an investigation into labels on children’s makeup by WTVD, an ABC affiliate in Durham, North Carolina. The station took samples of children’s makeup products to the independent lab, which claims the glimmer-filled powder tested positive for asbestos.
“I would treat it like a deadly poison, because it is,” said Sean Fitzgerald, the Director of Research and Analytical Services.
The lab says that the seven other products tested did not contain asbestos, but word spread like wildfire.
Great to see @TeenVogue @goodhousemag @BuzzFeed @WomansDay @DailyMailUK @ScaryMommy sharing our investigation. https://t.co/gCFPRTHHiy
— Diane Wilson (@DWilsonABC11) July 17, 2017
Justice originally responded to the claim by pulling the product from store shelves, offering full refunds to customers and promising its own investigation. It made this statement on its Facebook page, “We are deeply committed to the safety and integrity of our products.”
Days later, Justice claimed a third party testing lab found no asbestos in its products, posting, “Reports suggesting that the product contains asbestos are simply inaccurate.”
As the investigation continued, Justice created a customer service webpage specifically for new information about its “Just Shine Shimmer Powder.” Customers can call 1-866-246-5822 or email [email protected] with concerns.
The Dangers Of Asbestos In Makeup
This is not the first report of asbestos in makeup products, for adults or children. Asbestos is a naturally occurring mineral and a known carcinogen. For that reason the U.S. Food and Drug Administration considers it “unacceptable for cosmetic talc to be contaminated with asbestos,” according to the agency’s website.
Fitzgerald says talc is a common ingredient in makeup. According to his research into “Just Shine Shimmer Powder,” the talc that was used to manufacture the product was contaminated with asbestos. “Talc is a mineral, but it also forms in the earth with other minerals and some of those minerals are asbestos,” Fitzgerald told WTVD.
In 2009 and 2010, the FDA tested samples of talc from four suppliers and 34 makeup samples. It found no asbestos at all, indicating that contamination is rare.
But it can happen, and no amount of asbestos is safe. One consumer group says that when asbestos becomes airborne, it’s broken into the tiniest of pieces. Then it settles onto the linings of the lungs, which can cause deadly diseases like cancer.
Fitzgerald says the effects of breathing in asbestos don’t show up right away. “Children should not be allowed to breathe it. If a 10 year old inhaled this fiber today, when he’s 50 years old, it’s still there,” he told WTVD.
Is Makeup Ever Safe?
The FDA holds manufacturers responsible for making sure products are safe to use. Health complaints about makeup, hair and skin products are at an all-time high since the agency started keeping track years ago, with more than 5,000 complaints occurring over the course of a 12-year period.
But getting unsafe products off the market is challenging, as manufacturers have no legal obligation to report health problems to the FDA, even when there are valid concerns from customers. There’s also no pre-approval process, so it’s up to us (the consumers) to keep stores and companies in line.
Parents and customers should utilize resources that monitor the safety of beauty and makeup products. You can regularly check the FDA’s website for recalls and alerts about cosmetic products, and also check with the Environmental Working Group to verify that products are toxic-free.
Vanessa Cunningham is a nutrition and wellness expert. Here’s her list of the 10 ingredients to always avoid in beauty products. Some you’ll recognize. Some just sound scary:
- Synthetic colors
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) and Sodium laureth sulfate (SLES)
- Propylene glycol
- Sunscreen chemicals
Perhaps in an ideal world, women and girls might scratch makeup altogether. Since we know that won’t happen in the near future, we’ll just have to be mindful about protecting ourselves from the potentially damaging effects of makeup. Always wash makeup brushes to avoid skin problems. Know the expiration date of your makeup. And keep on monitoring those ingredient and product lists.
[h/t: Woman’s Day]