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Some Claire's makeup contains asbestos and shouldn't be used, FDA says

Some Claire's makeup products tested positive for asbestos, a mineral linked with cancer, the Food and Drug Administration said. The regulator warned consumers not to use the products, although Claire's disputed the findings. 

The Food and Drug Administration said it issued the warning because it said Claire's refused to comply with its request for a recall, and that the agency doesn't have the power to force one.

In a statement, Claire's noted that it removed the three products identified by the FDA from its stores "out of an abundance of caution," and that it's also removing any remaining talc-based cosmetics. But the company said the FDA's test results mischaracterize fibers as asbestos. It said it tried to discuss the matter with the FDA, but the agency moved ahead with its warning.

The FDA conducted the tests after learning of reports of asbestos in products sold by retailers Claire's and Justice in 2017. Talc is commonly found in makeup and personal care products, including baby powder and eyeshadow, and can be contaminated with asbestos, the FDA says.

Last year, the U.S. Public Interest Research Group (PIRG), a non-profit group, said it commissioned tests from a laboratory of 15 makeup products containing talc, including four from Claire's. Three of the Claire's products were found to contain "high levels of asbestos," the group said.

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A look at the three products from Claire's that were tested for asbestos by U.S. PIRG. The red arrow indicates the specific color in those two products that were tested. CBS News

The FDA said the following products tested positive for asbestos:

  • Claire's Eye Shadows – Batch No/Lot No: 08/17
  • Claire's Compact Powder – Batch No/Lot No: 07/15
  • Claire's Contour Palette – Batch No/Lot No: 04/17

"Consumers who have these batches/lots of Claire's Eye Shadow, Compact Powder, and Contour in their home should stop using them," the FDA said. "Claire's has informed us that it does not believe that affected products are still available for sale."

Justice recall

A Justice representative noted that it quickly recalled products in 2017. Justice said one set of its tests showed no evidence of asbestos, while a second round of testing showed trace amounts. 

Claire's removed products from stores but didn't issue a recall. The FDA said Tuesday its tests, conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and AMA Analytical Services, confirmed asbestos in three Claire's products and one Justice product.

The agency said it was not aware of anyone being sickened by the makeup. Asbestos fibers can get stuck in the lungs and it can cause cancer, but the greatest risk is to people with frequent, long term exposure to it.

Cosmetics do not have to be reviewed or approved by the FDA. On Tuesday, the agency said it plans to collect information on how companies ensure the talc they use is free from asbestos.

The FDA also asked companies to register their products and ingredient lists on its website, but noted that doing so is not required.