Asbestos found in Claire’s makeup products, FDA warns

The cosmetic, jewelry and accessory retailer Claire's faced pressure to issue a voluntary recall after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found certain makeup products from the store may contain dangerous asbestos fibers, the federal agency announced this week.

At least three products — including Claire's Eye Shadows, Compact Powder and Contour Palette — have tested positive for tremolite asbestos, the FDA said Tuesday.

The federal agency decided to conduct tests on Claire’s products as well as some from teen retailer Justice after FDA officials “became aware of reports of asbestos contamination in certain cosmetic products sold by Claire’s and Justice retailers,” in 2017, the agency said.

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In 2017, a local news station reported the presence of asbestos in Justice’s Just Shine Shimmer Powder, which later led the teen retailer to issue a recall. Claire’s was prompted to remove multiple makeup products from stores the same year after a family claimed to have found asbestos in their 6-year-old daughter's makeup. However, the company did not issue a recall at that time.

“Because the 2017 testing was done by third-party laboratories, the agency believed it was important to scientifically confirm that these reports were accurate. That’s why after Claire’s withdrew and Justice recalled suspect products from the market, the FDA began the process of conducting independent tests to determine if some of these products did, in fact, contain asbestos,” the FDA explained, noting the tests “confirmed the presence of asbestos in three of the product samples collected from Claire’s and one of the product samples collected from Justice.”

On the other hand, Claire’s — which filed for bankruptcy in March 2018 but emerged in October of that same year — said the FDA’s findings “show significant errors" and noted there is "no evidence that any products sold by Claire’s are unsafe," a company spokesperson said in a statement to Fox News.

The company said the FDA's test results “mischaracterized fibers in the products as asbestos.” It also noted it tried to discuss the matter with the FDA, but the agency moved ahead with its warning.

That said, Claire’s removed the three products identified by the FDA from its stores "out of an abundance of caution” and said it's also removing any remaining talc-based cosmetics.

"There is no evidence that any products sold by Claire’s are unsafe."

— Claire's

However, the company refused to comply with the FDA’s request to formally recall the items. The agency does “not have the authority to mandate a recall,” it said.

Asbestos is a “naturally occurring mineral that is often found near talc, an ingredient in many cosmetic products,” according to the FDA. But in some cases — typically if the fibers are released into the air — they can enter a person’s body and subsequently become trapped in the lungs or in the digestive tract if swallowed, according to Oregon State University.

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The body cannot break down these fibers once they are stuck, which is why exposure to it can cause serious health issues including asbestosis, lung cancer and mesothelioma, the university states.

While cosmetics do not have to be reviewed or approved by the FDA, the agency said Tuesday it plans to collect information on how companies ensure the talc they use is free of asbestos. The FDA also urged companies to register their products and ingredient lists on their websites but noted that doing so is not required.

You can find the affected Claire's products here.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.