In light of the recent multimillion dollar verdict against Johnson & Johnson for their use of potentially cancer-linked talc in their feminine hygiene products, we present this week's ingredient swap-out: arrowroot powder in place of talc.
What is talc & why should we swap it out?
Talc, a naturally occurring mineral and the main ingredient in talcum powder, is a huge no-no in personal care products because of its potential link to cancer and its risk to the lungs. Talc absorbs oil and offers a matte finish to the complexion, so it's used widely in baby powders; makeup, including foundation, blush, lipstick, and eyeshadow; deodorants; and other household products.
Now, is it safe? In the natural beauty industry we say no, it is not safe and should not be used in our products. When it comes to product, admittedly, we are purists here and are not into even potential risks--for ourselves, families, kiddos, clients--ESPECIALLY when there's a viable, easy-to-access alternative like arrowroot powder. (More on arrowroot below.)
There is a ton of info available on talc; and to be fair, the consensus is that talc has not yet been definitively linked to cancer. Having said that, for us, there's just enough evidence that makes our decision to avoid talc conclusive. Here's a wee bit more on why talc is a no-go for us...
There is asbestos-containing talc and asbestos-free talc. The former should be avoided for the obvious reason that asbestos is a known carcinogen; and the latter, although it poses less risk to the lungs, should be avoided in the pelvic area as it is linked to ovarian and endometrial cancer.
The main risk with talc is acute or chronic lung disease when inhaled. More specifically, talc inhalation can lead to Pneumoconiosis. The CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) acknowledges that talc is not a known carcinogen; but they advise against inhaling it. The International Agency for Research on Cancer classifies talc-containing products as "potentially carcinogenic to humans". And further to this point, dating back to the 1960's, the American Academy of Pediatrics has advised against the use of baby powders that contain talc due to the potential risk to the lungs.
Lastly, and perhaps most importantly when it comes to this debate: why choose talc?
Our answer: we won't and there's no need to. We've yet to see a purpose for talc that cannot be replicated by a safer, nontoxic alternative, which is where arrowroot powder comes in...
Arrowroot powder is entirely safe and noncontroversial. It is derived from a South American plant, and gets its name from its original use as a treatment for wounds from poisonous arrows. It is moisture-wicking, silky & soft on the skin, and works perfectly in place of talc in baby and body powders. Arrowroot powder has many other uses in personal care products as well as in food, but as a replacement for talc we think it is one of the best options out there. Arrowroot powder also pairs beautifully with fragrant, antibacterial lavender, hence the pretty lavender stems pictured alongside the arrowroot powder above. :)
Is there an ingredient you're curious and/or confused about? Leave a comment or shoot it to us via email, we'd love to put our two cents in! Michele@TheFifthOm.com