For us millennials, Claire’s is something of an institution. I can clearly remember life as a tween and teen in the early 2000s, begging either my mom or a friend’s mom to drive us to the mall where we’d often spend hours looking for inexpensive entertainment away from either plus 100-degree summers or icy winters. Typically without any adult supervision, we would wander aimlessly for hours to eat, browse and shop at the few stores that geared themselves toward our interests and landed in our limited price range.
The Claire’s Phenomenon
One of the most popular stores we visited on a regular basis was Claire’s. Claire’s, a fixture in virtually every mall, was THE fun place for young girls to play, even if we didn’t buy much. With its cheap jewelry, cheap hair pieces, cute accessories and makeup, we couldn’t get enough of it. Many of my friends, my sister and I all got our ears pierced at Claire’s. It was THE place to go. These Claire’s experiences were truly a of rite of passage for my generation.
Clearly, shopping at Claire’s became a regular pastime for so many girls like me. We never dreamed that the very products sold as something fun, could harm us. I mean, how could the very products this store made for kids be dangerous? The fact that the products sold at Claire’s could be unsafe – and not just unsafe, but downright deadly to our health, never crossed our minds or our parents’ minds. Surely, we could trust that products made for children would be safe?
The FDA’s Involvement
Apparently not, because FDA testing has found asbestos in three of Claire’s brand cosmetics: its Eye Shadows, its Compact Powder and its Contour Pallette, specifically. In response, Claire’s stated that their stores removed these products from their shelves (which is great!) but claims that the FDA’s tests contained “significant errors” and refused to admit that the products contained asbestos (which is not-so-great). For good measure, as news of the dangers of talc products has spread (and since it’s under fire for the asbestos) Claire’s also decided to pull any remaining talc-based products from stores in an “abundance of caution.”
To say I was shocked by the FDA’s findings is an understatement. Asbestos? In Claire’s makeup? Something I used regularly in my own younger years? I always thought asbestos only lurked inside old buildings – not hidden in something fun or feminine, like makeup. And for the record, asbestos is AN EXTREMELY dangerous substance. It can cause serious health problems like lung cancer and mesothelioma. So…apparently makeup that my friends or I may have used when we were in middle or high school could cause us to get cancer – and maybe even kill us. What the heck?
Claire’s Horrific Record:
Sadly, this finding isn’t the first time Claire’s products have been called out for health hazards. Apparently, in 2017, Claire’s removed nine makeup products from their shelves after reports found asbestos in them. What amazes me most though, is that for years Claire’s ignored advocates like Linda Reinstein from the Asbestos Disease Awareness Association (ADAO) who kept reiterating that Claire’s make up had hidden asbestos in it.
Now, it’s TIME TO LISTEN.
While my circle of friends from that time have grown up (and moved past shopping at Claire’s), many of us are now mothers with young children. To us, the discovery of asbestos in Claire’s makeup makes us question whether anything is safe anymore. We can’t use Baby Powder on our babies because it contains talc which causes cancer and other diseases, we can’t allow our daughters to buy Claire’s makeup (or any other makeup it seems), and we may even need to dump our entire collections of personal makeup/beauty products because they may contain talc or asbestos or another product that could cause some major risk to our families’ health.
So, what do we do now?
- First, we need to LISTEN to these warnings.
- Second, we need to SEND A MESSAGE to these businesses that it’s not okay to expose young girls to potentially life-threatening substances by hitting them where it hurts: their wallets (meaning take legal action where appropriate).
- Third, we need to MOBILIZE and fight back, including supporting activists like Linda Reinstein at ADAO. Here’s how you can: https://www.asbestosdiseaseawareness.org/.
And, finally, and most importantly, we need to stop buying these dangerous products. Better yet, stop buying anything from these companies. They need to learn that young girls deserve better.
– Amanda Billo
Digital Outreach, A Case for Women