Talc is a naturally occurring mineral that is used on its own as talcum powder and as an ingredient in a range of personal care products.
The use of talcum powder dates back to the 1890’s when it was first used for baby care. It is now used in many cosmetic products around the world and has a number of benefits. It works well as a body powder because it is very good at absorbing moisture. In face powders it gently fills tiny spaces on the skin surface, helping to create a soft, even feel. It is also a very good base material for colour cosmetics like eye shadow and blusher.
Unilever only uses cosmetic grade talc. There are many grades of talc, categorised according to levels of purity. At the top of this purity scale is cosmetic grade talc, which meets the highest levels of quality and safety. Cosmetic grade talc is prepared by milling talc from mines that have been specifically selected for the high quality and purity of the talc seams. We use cosmetic grade talc in some of our personal care products such as skin care products and deodorants. When talc is present in one of our products it is included in the ingredient list on pack.
Are products containing cosmetic grade talc safe to use?
Yes. The safety of cosmetic grade talc is backed by decades of scientific evidence from authorities around the world including the US Food and Drug Administration and the European Commission’s Scientific Committee on Consumer Safety. In addition to complying with applicable laws and regulations, we also conduct our own safety assessments and monitor emerging scientific research.
I heard there can be asbestos in talc, is that correct?
There is no asbestos in the cosmetic talc that Unilever uses. We only use the purest grade talc which is the highest quality available.
Do your products cause cancer?
No, we would not put a product onto the market if we thought its use would cause cancer. We look at the safety of our products very carefully, and our Safety and Environmental Assurance Centre keeps up-to-date with new scientific information on our ingredients to help keep our consumers safe.
There has been recent discussion on whether talc itself can cause cancer because some human observational studies have shown that use of talc in the genital area correlates with a slightly higher risk of ovarian cancer. However, other studies have shown there is no correlation. These correlations do not mean that talc can cause cancer and there is no plausible biological explanation as to how cosmetic grade talc applied to the genitals could lead to the development of ovarian or any other cancer.
We have evaluated all the available evidence and have determined that the use of talc in our products continues to be safe.