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Chanel, Revlon, L'Oreal pivoting away from talc in some products

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CHANEL, Revlon and L'Oreal, three of the biggest brands in cosmetics, are quietly moving away from using talc in some products as US cancer lawsuits and consumer concerns mount.

Luxury beauty company Chanel has removed talc from a loose face powder and dropped a talc body powder because of negative perceptions around the mineral, court documents reviewed by Reuters show.

Revlon Inc removed talc from its body products, and L'Oreal SA is exploring alternatives for the mineral, those companies told Reuters.

The moves come amid a reappraisal of talc in body powders and cosmetics by consumers, regulators and manufacturers. Talc - which is sometimes found in the same rock as asbestos, a potent carcinogen - is used in thousands of cosmetic and personal care products to absorb moisture, prevent caking and add softness.

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Thousands of cancer lawsuits, some dating back to 2013, have been filed against body-powder market leader Johnson & Johnson. Allegations that asbestos contamination caused plaintiffs' cancers began in 2017. Other makers of talc powders also face suits, including Revlon, Chanel and Avon, securities filings and court records show.

Scrutiny of talc products intensified after a 2018 Reuters investigation reported that J&J knew for decades that asbestos lurked in its talc and powders. The company has disputed Reuters' report and maintains its powders are safe and asbestos free.

J&J announced last month that it would stop selling talc Baby Powder in the United States and Canada, attributing the decision to declining sales and negative publicity.

Other personal care companies have also stopped selling talc powder. Germany's Beiersdorf said it switched to corn starch in its Nivea baby powder in 2018. Bausch Health changed the formula of its Shower to Shower powder in 2018 "to keep the product in line with market trends and customer preferences", and not because of safety concerns, a spokeswoman said.

Globally, consumers are expected to purchase 139,350 tonnes of talc this year, down 0.6 per cent from last year, according to Euromonitor International.

Last year, during an analysis of 52 talc-containing cosmetic products, the US Food and Drug Administration found asbestos in nine products, including three sold by tween retailer Claire's and one bottle of Johnson's Baby Powder. All products were voluntarily recalled.

The FDA is analysing 50 more samples this year and is considering establishing an asbestos testing standard. Canada's Health Ministry tentatively concluded in 2018 that talc itself may cause lung problems if inhaled, and ovarian cancer if used in the genital area. A final decision, expected next year, could lead to a ban or restriction on the use of talc in certain products in Canada. REUTERS

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