Skip to Content
Free Consultations 888-918-9890

Asbestos Found in Makeup Products


The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) recently warned consumers that three of Claire’s makeup products have tested positive for asbestos. Although the government agency does not have enough information to issue a recall yet, outgoing FDA commissioner Scott Gotlieb has announced that Claire’s is complying with a recall request.

While the Clarrie’s announcement may be the most public issue with a makeup company of this kind, it is not the first time experts have voiced concern about the market. The cosmetic molecules found in makeup shine and luminescence have been found to be derivatives of PFAS (perfluorooctanesulfonic acid) and PFOAS (perfluorooctanoic acid.) These are chemicals known in the medical field as endocrine disruptors, which can make small changes to how our bodies work by affecting hormones. This is serious, given that hormone disrupters have been linked to a range of health issues, from low sperm counts in men, to early menopause in women, to reduced brain power and greater chances of premature birth in infants.

Leo Trasande of NYU’s Langone Health network has stated that he thinks the Clarie’s recall is just the latest piece of evidence to indicate widespread issues with chemicals in makeup. "This is quite late in the game for FDA to rush out and insist that this is a problem," Trasande, who has written a book on endocrine-disrupting chemicals, believes the FDA should actually be doing more to limit the sale of similar products. "They've known that this is a problem for some time. There is no level of asbestos that is safe."

While the U.S. does regulate the sale of makeup under the Federal Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, they have not made significant changes in policy since 1938. This stands in stark contrast to Europe, which has banned the sale of 1,300-plus chemicals, compared to the 11 which have been banned in the U.S. Congress did craft new legislation for the regulation of cosmetics in 2011 and 2018, though it was never passed.

"Cosmetics have largely fallen into a regulatory black hole," senior vice president of government affairs at the Environmental Working Group, Scott Faber, told the House Subcommittee on Economic and Consumer Policy. Faber went on to note that, "Cosmetics manufacturers do not have to register with FDA, do not have to report ingredients, do not have to report adverse events."

This also stands in contrast to the way the U.S. regulates food, drugs, and medical products. While the FDA places severe restrictions on these items, makeup, shampoos, lotions, and other body and hygiene products are allowed to contain any number of dangerous chemicals, including coal tar, formaldehyde, lead, and other compounds known to increase the risk of cancer. These risks are exacerbated by the fact that cosmetics makers are not forced to label specific ingredients in their products. The exact components in a given fragrance are considered a trade secret, so rather than disclosing potentially toxic ingredients on the bottle, manufacturers are allowed to simply list ingredients as "fragrance" or "parfum."

Many types of makeup attempt to give women a “glow,” aka the look they get when they are pregnant.  However, research is still needed on whether the properties in makeup that give women this look are safe. Researchers are currently examining what effect the compounds in these glowing, anti-aging products have on women’s bodies. In addition to early onset menopause, there is some research that points to women who heavily use cosmetics as more likely to experience increased hot flashes and endometriosis (a uterine lining disorder,) as well as trouble with their metabolism, obesity, and fertility issues. Some research has found that the chemicals in makeup may even be harmful to a person’s DNA, thereby increasing the risk of cancer.

While some scientists have suggested the solution to this issue may simply be for women to use less beauty products, the lack of transparency on the part of cosmetics companies makes this a challenge. Supposed “natural” beauty products have often been found to have as many fragrances and plasticizers as their mainstream counterparts. While PFAS and PFOAS and are known for leaving the body fairly quickly, the bigger issue at this point may be whether women who have been using certain products for years could be at risk of serious health issues—especially if the FDA’s suspicion about asbestos levels leads to more revelations.

Protect Yourself Against Defective Products, Hire an Attorney Today

At Belushin Law Firm, P.C., our Brooklyn defective product lawyer has the skills you need to take on big companies. We have years of experience dealing with a range of defective products lawsuits, securing a long list of favorable case results along the way. If you or someone you know has gotten sick because of a cosmetics’ company or other major retailer, call Belushin Law Firm, and take the first steps towards justice today.

We are available by phone at (888) 918-9890, or you can contact us online to secure a consultation.

Share To: