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Is Talc Powder Bad For Me

Tre Spa Is Talc Powder Bad for me

No hype, is Talc powder bad for me?

I know there are lots of articles out there and at times there seems to be a great deal of hype and blustering around talc powder, alarmist and extremist. I try to sift through it and present you with information so you can make your own decision.

Talc powder has been around and in use for a very long time and has been widely used for a very long time. It is found all around the globe in veins of deposits. It is a mineral that was formed when magmatic rock, rich in magnesium, experienced a hydrothermal reaction. When liquid rock meets super heated water and pressure? Transformation! Talc a very soft mineral. In fact, it is the softest measuring, only 1 on the mohs scale. You can flake it away with your fingernail; so, you can imagine, it doesn’t take much to mine and gather talc powder. However, there are some things to note here.


Mineral deposits are rarely pure. There is usually some cross-contamination from other deposits and minerals seeping over. For example, many of the talc veins run very close to asbestos, a known carcinogen. Now, not all veins do and there is pure talc, you just need to trust that the suppliers have properly processed and tested the purity. Call me a cynic, but I think this might be problematic.

Cancer link and Pulmonary Disease

In all fairness to talc, there is no conclusive evidence linking pure talc to cancer. Last time I checked the American Cancer Society page on talc, there were no conclusions on links to cancer when the talc did not have asbestos. OK, but you can make the leap: asbestos might be present if the talc was not tested properly.

Having said that, I will note one major US brand has been hit with several major lawsuits sighting a direct link to their powder (talc) and ovarian cancer. I have not read the cases all the way through but the company and their supplier were fined. This makes me think there must be something amiss. Like some testing was done wrong or ignored. They lost three major cases (and more are on the way) but recently won one so you be the judge. You can read the cases for yourself and let me know what you find. Seems to me that each time the winner declared the science was on their side!?

As far as lung disease, miners and millers are the most at risk because they can be exposed to trace amounts of carcinogens when they handle the material in its raw, unrefined state. Miners are also exposed to radon so it’s difficult to find a conclusive, direct link. Also, due to it’s ultra fine powder it is very easy to unintentionally inhale talc powder. Talc powder in the lungs can cause pulmonary disease. This is the key reason that most if not all doctors caution it’s use around infants.


Talc powder is a mineral that does have a finite supply. Any item that is mined or pumped from the earth is not sustainable, plain and simple. The geothermal reactions that created the deposits happened long before we showed up and they aren’t going to be repeated. Once it runs out, it is gone forever.

Naturally designed for living organisms

I don’t know how else to say it: Our bodies are not designed to process talc powder. It is not a mineral that has any advantages to the human organism. It is not digestible or biodegradable so if it gets in, there is no way to convert talc powder into anything usable for the body. So if it cannot be converted what’s it going to do. Perhaps your body, with it’s natural defenders, may be able to flush it out somehow, but what if some gets stuck. On a molecular level it would be like inviting an invader into your home that just stays and festers…forever. You hope it never causes trouble, but there is always a chance.

So why use it when you can use plant powders to do the same thing? This is my biggest hang up about talc powder; it offers no additional value, it is not sustainable, it acts as a foreign invader if it ever gets inside the body. We know that plant starches can do the job of helping to keep us dry and cool almost as well. Our bodies know what to do with plant starches and we will either use it to our advantage, convert it to something we need, or purge it out. So why risk using talc powder? To save a few bucks?

What would you rather use?

For those of us at Tres Spa, we would much rather use a pure botanical solution. One that the body naturally knows what to do with.

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What Is The Best Body Powder To Use

Vegetable vs. Mineral, What’s The Best Body Powder To Use?

What is the Best Body Powder To Use, Tres Spa Organic PowderThe whole purpose of any powder is to cover the skin with a light silky coating. The goal is to create a protective layer and to wick water away from the surface.  This is how powders work no matter what their chemical structure is.  But they don’t all work exactly the same and some of them have some pretty big caution flags for personal care use.

Traditional Talc

This is a Talc MineTraditionally, powders were made with mined  minerals or clays. The most common mined mineral is Talc and you can find the use far and wide from industrial to pharmaceutical to cosmetic. Talc is  hydrated magnesium silicate, a very fine substance and rates only a 1 on the MOHS scale of hardness for minerals. That means it is so soft you can actually flake it with your finger nail. It can be found in veins  all over the globe and was formed hydrothermal alteration of magnesium-rich magmatic rocks. The mines are plentiful and it’s fairly cheap raw material. It also has a shelf life of eternity. All those factors make it very appealing for manufacturing. Unfortunately, it is usually found near asbestos veins as well but not always so not all talc contains trace amounts of asbestos.  And recently there have been a few lawsuits citing Talc as a leading cause of cervical cancer. There are also some studies that link pulmonary disease with talc which has caused many pediatricians to recommend against using it for children.

I checked the American Cancer Society to see where they stood on the matter and they had stated that there was no conclusive evidence linking Talc to causing cancer as long as there was no asbestos present in the talc. remember we talked about the fact that it is common to find the veins run close together. Here is a link to their article for you: Talcum Powder and Cancer

Clay: The Other Mineral

Next are other minerals we will just lump into one major category called Clay. There are a several different groups of clay based on the chemical combination of the minerals. All clay is hydrous aluminium silicates, made up of ultra fine mineral particles and some minor impurities. They can become plastic like when wet.

Fun fact on clay. Did you know that water had to be present in order for it to form? That makes clay rare in the solar system.

Clay is used in many products from creating ceramics to paint filler to rubber, plastics and hi gloss paper manufacturing. But the ultra fine grade is used in cosmetics. Just about every dry powder formulation and even in some wet ones like scrubs and face masks can be made using clay in part or as a whole. Still used today by aboriginal tribes, it can also work as  a sunscreen. For skin care, the most common clay is the purified white kaolin, with and ultra fine texture that feels like silk to the touch when it is dry.

You can read more about my experiment and the observable differences here: I personally haven’t seen anything against it other than the fact that any mineral may have impurities and it can be “plastic like” when mixed with water and it felt goopy sticky when I mixed it with oil. Again, clay is pretty bountiful and fairly cheap to come by which makes it an common filler used by some to keep manufacturing costs down.

Pure Natural Botanical

Pounding Roots Into Pulp For PowderMore recent in the skin care world and less common are powders made entirely from plant starches. Personally I think it’s pretty fantastic how starch is made. Plant sources for starch powder can be anything from tuberous plants to seeded ones. The most common plants are corn, wheat, and rice as a seed version. Less common would be coconut, beans and peas. Arrowroot, potato, and tapioca  are all examples of starchy tuber plants. You can read more about how the starches we use in Très Spa formulations are created: From lush green plant to delicate soft white powder

Plant starches are used in many products including pharmaceutical and paper making but most common are food based products. There are so many  varieties of plant starches to choose from and each one has a slightly different texture and behavior. With such a variety there is a seemingly endless array of combinations when you add in other powdered food ingredients like honey, maple syrup, vanilla, and coconut. Hmm that has me thinking of a future product…..  Plant starches are renewable and sustainable, they are digestible (your inside and your outside can deal with it), and they can qualify as certified organic. But they are way more expensive to formulate with and there is a variance in the texture and behavior based on the plant so that is probably why most manufacturers shy away from using pure botanical.

Hybrids, A Little Of This And That 

There are some formulators that combine two groups into a hybrid mash-up. For example one may use talc with corn starch or maybe kaolin with rice powder. I do not know why other than to cut cost by using a cheap filler with a higher priced plant ingredient.

So What’s It Gonna’ Be?

Given all the information, which powder is the right powder for you comes down to a personal choice. And in some cases, what you are willing to risk. Personally, I would only use talc as a bug deterrent (sprinkled on the floor or window sills, works great to keep ants out of the house). Clay seems okay for masks and scrubs but based on my observations, I’m not sure how good it would be as a body powder. Seems like you would have to have a plant starch with it. Then there are the possible impurities and the fact it could never be classed as organic. Which aren’t to intimidating if it all stays on the surface but it doesn’t just stay on the surface.If there is one thing the recent multi million dollar lawsuits should demonstrate it is that what goes on the body goes in eventually.

Personally I have other things in life to worry about, the last thing I want to worry about is my body powder. That is why I kept it simple when I created the Très Spa Organic Dusting Powder  I use only plant based ingredients so if what goes on the outside ever gets to the inside, I have nothing to worry about.

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The Journey of a Natural Powder & How It’s Made

Tres Spa Natural Body PowderWhat it takes to make a purely natural powder

We designed our natural body powders by carefully selecting food grade plant based powders that we blend to perfection, creating a unique and effective body powder and a safe alternative to talcum. But before the powder becomes a part of our organic dusting powder, it starts as a lush green plant. This is the journey those lush green plants go through to becoming a silky natural powder.

It’s all about the starch

Starch is what makes the natural powder after all. The leafy green part of the plant manufactures glucose during photosynthesis. Excess is sent to a “holding place” for the plant to use when it needs it. Billions of chloroplasts filled with life sustaining “go juice” in the form of starch just waiting for the time the plant may need it. For tuberous plants like potatoes, arrowroot, tapioca (cassava) and the like, it is in the tuber underground.  For other plants like corn, rice, and wheat it is stored in the seeds. Sago stores it in the pith of the palm leaf stem.

The key to supporting life

A plant will create an enzymatic reaction to break down the cell walls in order to release the starch and support the plants life. We can do this with our internal enzymes when we consume the seeds and the tubers. Our bodies convert the starch to sugar which we then use for energy or store the excess as fat reserves for later use. For our purpose, here at Très Spa, we aren’t interested in eating as much as we are interested in feeding your skin in harmony with nature.. So we want the natural powder form of these botanical manufacturers starch reserves.

Then you harvest the store

The plants are harvested once they reach a maturity that yields a significant starch storage. For tubers, it’s the size of the root and for corn, wheat , and coconut it’s the endosperm that provides the starch. For corn, think about the ear loaded with kernels.  When it comes to coconut, it’s the “meat” and the water inside the hard shell.

Once the plant is harvested the process is to go through a series of rinse + sift, rinse + grind and rinse + dry the starchy pulp until you get the fine natural white powder starch in the end. That may sound simple but it is laborious.

What does the process look like?

Currently, we use Organic Cornstarch, Organic Arrowroot, and Organic Tapioca. So what does the process look like for these plant starches to be processed into one of our choice natural powders? I think a picture speaks a thousand words so here is the process broken down for you

First things first, you need to grow the plant

Arrowroot plants

Then, when it is developed enough, you harvest the mature roots

Arrowroot freshly harvested
Cleaning the fresh harvested arrowroots

Then you need to clean and prep the roots 

softening the arrowroots

Then you start the process of a series of soaking stages in order to soften the cell walls 

Pounding the pulp of the arrowroot

Grind the roots to a pulp over and over will eventually seperate the fiber from the starch

rinse and pound, rinse and pound the arrowroot

Rinse and repeat as many times as you need with each step yielding a finer material 

drying the pulp

Dry the fine pulp and grind 

grinding the pulp to the finest powder

Finally grind it to the most delicate light fluffy powder. Now it’s ready! 

In the end, we here at Très Spa feel the extra work (and cost) is worth it. Not just for the fact we really think plants are better for you, but because done responsibly and organically, this process can be repeated over and over and over making plant starches very eco-friendly sustainable planet friendly ingredient to use for our Organic Dusting Powders!

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Keep Your Cool With Talc Free Powder

This little Ellie knows, a splash of powder can do wonders to keep her nice and cool in the heat. It looks like she has a lovely pile of clay, and possible talc, to fluff on. You have better choices at your disposal.

Keep Cool & Comfortable

What is the Best Powder To Use, Tres Spa Organic PowderWhen I was a young girl I learned an amazing trick from my grandmother on how to keep cool in the sweltering heat. A dusting of powder over your skin can help keep you feeling cool and comfortable. The powder helps wick the water away from your skins surface and it creates a silky barrier to friction. Even though it can be messy to use, I highly recommend it for any man women or child to try. Trust me, you wont regret it.

Back In The Day….

Back in the day before climate controlled housing with air conditioning, there was very little you could do to escape the sweltering summer heat. You could sit in front of the fan, which often times felt like opening the door to the oven. You could take a cool shower only to emerge and get covered in sticky sweat all over again. Neither if these options worked for people on the go. But, when you used powder you could be comfortable. Now it did not stop you from sweating but the surface skin could cool faster thereby keeping you more comfortable.

What Goes Into Other Powder?

The vast majority of commercial powders on the market today are made in whole or in part by Talc.

So what is Talc? It is soft clay mineral deposits of magnesium silicate that are found in bands of deposits all around the world. The mineral is not water soluble and is very easy to grind into a very fine powder that feels silky or “greasy” to the touch. These are probably two of the big reasons that it became so pervasive in commercial products: ease of use and cheap to mine.

Talc Is Cheap

Since it is abundant and cheap, it took off in mass manufacturing. You can find Talc used in any number of industrial, pharmaceutical, food, and cosmetic applications. It can be found in rubber and plastic to pills to baby powder. It is every where and is considered by the FDA to be a GRAS (generally recognized as safe) ingredient. Talc is cheap to mine, and easy to use with a high predictability of performance. And before you ask, the EU allows unrestricted use of magnesium silicate (talc) but has restrictions on talc (magnesium silicate). Yes I am just as confused as you so if you figure this out, let me know.

What’s The Fuss About?

Well, there have been some suspicions raised as to the link with certain forms of cancer. namely Ovarian cancer and Lung cancer and to other pulmonary issues. While science studies have been mixed, they have linked plausibility of talc’s contribution or causation of cancer. And if that weren’t enough, there is also the link to asbestos. Strips of magnesium silicate are often found next to or near stripes of asbestos ore. There is a class grading system of industrial, cosmetic, and food grade. They say this grading system seems to do the trick in keeping traces of asbestos out of the higher grade talc.

Recently, Johnson & Johnson just lost a highly publicized lawsuit to a family in Alabama who had lost a mother to ovarian cancer. More lawsuits are waiting in the wings. Yet with all the legal hoopla,  talc is still used commercially and that probably wont change. For them, the risk is worth it. Talc is cheap to mine, and easy to use with a high predictability of performance.

So What About Très Spa Dusting Powders?

Personally I don’t like to gamble with life so I never bothered with Talc. When I formulate I like to think in terms of living in harmony with the world as much as possible. My first preference is to look for renewable ingredients that are sustainable. You can grow and harvest and re-grow plants but once you mine a mineral it is gone (not to mention the scars left on the land behind). That is why the powders we make at Très Spa are 100% botanical with a long history of human safety and no “suspicious” findings.  It’s more expensive and it is more challenging to formulate but we feel you are worth it. So if your Tres Spa powder doesn’t feel like talc, there is a good reason, it’s because it isn’t. It is water soluble and made from the finely ground plants that are used in food you eat.

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Hypoallergenic Skincare. Is it?

Hypoallergenic Is It Even Real

We have all seen the labels and the marketing material stating that a product is hypoallergenic. What makes it so, what does that mean, and why say it? It’s a marvelous word signifying the product is less apt to cause an allergic reaction.  It sounds so clinical, official and sterile. Like nothing bad could happen to you if you used this product.  The word hypoallergenic makes you think that this is skincare you can trust.

Invented By Marketing

In fact, there are no definitive tests or standards to test for such a thing. It is not a medical or scientific term, it was a term coined by a cosmetic company in the 1950’s. They wanted to convince consumers that the product was less likely to cause an irritation than the other product. It sounded good from a marketing angle and lots of folks grabbed a hold of it from there and ran with it. Many people think that it means that the products will not cause allergic reactions but with the complexities of allergies it is impossible for any manufacturer to make a claim of “no allergic reaction” or “allergy free” .  To claim a product is hypoallergenic means that the manufacturer is claiming the ingredients are less apt to cause an allergic reaction than others.

Word Play

So let us run a hypothetical situation. Let’s pretend that you are a manufacturer of cosmetics. You make a line of foundation make up. You have a long list of ingredient compounds that go into this foundation product. Say you start getting feedback that there is a part of the population that is having an allergic reaction (usually slight redness, heat, or itchiness). You want happy customers! So you go back to your lab and you isolate the compound that may be the perpetrator and you either change your formula a bit and re release as “Re Formulated” or you run a new line with a new set of compounds and call it “Hypoallergenic”.

I have often been perplexed by cosmetic companies who have a “hypoallergenic” line. As opposed to what? a High Allergy line. But then, I am a boutique and I carry one line, an all natural line. I can see though, why large manufacturers would want to use the term and I like to try not to be cynical and believe they are trying to create a more gentle line rather than using hype to deceive the consumer.

Keep It Simple, Keep It Natural

With Très Spa, we feel natural plant based is the best for you and for the planet. So we create products in Harmony with Nature and we disclose all of the ingredients on our website as well as our labels. Très Spa products serve a broad spectrum of customers and some that suffer from allergies to various ingredients as well as those with particularly challenging skin conditions like psoriasis and eczema. So even though Très Spa products could be considered hypoallergenic, we choose not to actively market that. We feel it is far better to use natural and botanical ingredients in our formulations and disclose what each ingredient is then let you, the consumer, choose what works best for you.  After all, you know what you are allergic to.