The Unethical Defense of Talc

Why women are holding companies accountable and demanding further study into this toxic ingredient.
Talc and links to ovarian cancer

The Unethical Defense of Talc


Ruth Crystal intern at Women's Voices for the Earth

Ruth Crystal
Intern at Women’s Voices for the Earth

Why women are holding companies accountable and demanding further study into this toxic ingredient.

There’s a lot of talc talk floating around the internet these days. Most notably, stemming from the numerous lawsuits filed against multinational company, Johnson & Johnson. The lawsuits allege that long-term talc use (particularly when used for feminine hygiene) leads to ovarian cancer. Recently, Johnson & Johnson has begun losing those lawsuits, resulting in multi-million dollar judgments against the company.

Health concerns about talc first arose back in 1971 when British researchers found talc particles deeply embedded in ovarian tumors. Since then there have been numerous studies published that have linked talc use to increased risk of ovarian cancer, alongside a few studies which have found no such increased risk. From the start, however, many major cosmetic companies, chose to put their energy into defending the use of talc, and raising doubts about new evidence, rather than taking a precautionary approach of warning their customers of the potential risks and seeking out a safer alternative. Over the years they have continued defending the use of talc, denying any risks, despite the ever increasing evidence of its potential harm.

History will be the judge, but we believe they have chosen unwisely. There is certainly more research that can and should be done to understand the links between talc use and cancer. (In fact the U.S. Food and Drug Administration thinks so too – and has recently funded new research on the topic.) But in the meantime, there is plenty of evidence to validate concerns about the potential harms of talc. And given that there are safer alternatives (such as products made with corn starch or forgoing feminine powders all together) we highly recommend staying on the safe side and avoiding talc-containing products until we know more.

Here is a list of currently marketed products to avoid that still contain talc:

Note: This list is not exhaustive. Data was collected from retailer websites in January 2017. Formulations can change overtime.

Brand/ Manufacturer Product Name Type of Fem Care Retailer found/ingredient links
Ammens Ammens Medicated Deoderant Powder Body powder Walgreens
Ammens Ammens Medicated Deoderant Powder Shower Fresh Body powder Walgreens
Shower to Shower Absorbent Body Powder Morning Fresh Lavender Body Powder Walgreens
Shower to Shower Absorbent Body Powder Original Fresh Body powder Walgreens
Anti Monkey Butt Anti Friction Powder Body Powder Walgreens
Johnson & Johnson Johnson’s Baby Powder Original Baby Powder Walgreens
Johnson & Johnson Johnson’s Baby Powder Baby Powder Walgreens
Zeasorb Super Absorbent Powder Body Powder Walgreens
Arden Beauty Elizabeth Arden White Shoulders Body Radiance Perfumed Body Powder Body Powder Walgreens
Arden Beauty Elizabeth Arden Red Door Body Powder for Women Body Powder Walgreens
Elizabeth Taylor Passion Body Powder for Women Body Powder Walgreens
Dana Chantilly Dana Chantilly Dusting Powder Body Powder Walgreens
Shower to Shower Sport Absorbant Body Powder Body Powder Walmart
Shower to Shower Absorbant Body Powder, Breeze Fresh with Vanilla Essence Body Powder Walmart
Shower to Shower Absorbant Body Powder, Island Fresh Body Powder Walmart
Equate Mild Baby Powder Baby Powder Walmart
Personal Care Pure Baby Powder Baby Powder Walmart
Caldesene Protecting Powder Fresh Scent Talc Body Powder Walmart
Angel of Mine Angel of Mine Baby Powder Baby Powder Dollar Tree
Perfect Purity Soft and Silky Baby Powder Baby Powder Walmart
Perfect Purity After shower depderant body powder with talc- lavender scent Body powder Amazon
Assured Lavender & Fresh Scent shower & bath body powder Body powder Dollar Tree
Assured Shower & Bath body powder with chamomile Body powder Dollar Tree
Yardley London Lily of the Valley Perfumed Talc Body Powder Amazon
Yardley London Scented Talc Powder, English Rose Body powder Amazon
My Fair Baby Premium Baby Powder Baby Powder Amazon
Well Beginnings Baby Powder Walgreens