Customers shouldn’t have to be on the lookout for poisonous makeup products, especially young girls who are just getting into the hobby. However, a recent product recall from Justice, the popular tween girl clothing store, proved that not all products are created equal.

The Scary Discovery

In July 2017, the WTVD TV station of Durham, North Carolina organized an investigation to look for hidden chemicals in makeup made for kids and teens. In one product, WTVD not only found substances left out of the ingredient list but also the presence of harmful chemicals in the formula mix.

Sean Fitzgerald, the Director of Research and Analytical Services at the Scientific Analytical Institute, helped WTVD with the investigation. Fitzgerald discovered the Just Shine Shimmer Powder, made and sold by Justice stores, contained four heavy metals along with asbestos.

Asbestos is a highly dangerous substance used to insulate buildings. Scientists have linked exposure to asbestos to lung cancer and serious respiratory problems including mesothelioma, a type of cancer with an extremely high mortality rate. Once you inhale asbestos fibers into your lungs, they stay forever.

“When it comes to the powder,” Fitzgerald told WTVD, “I would treat it like a deadly poison, because it is.”

Grounds For Immediate Recall

Justice stores took WTVD’s findings very seriously and announced a recall of the product. The company issued a statement claiming they had no idea asbestos was in the product and an investigation is underway:

“Justice has a long and strong history of concern for the health and safety of our girls. We are deeply committed to the safety and integrity of our products. Upon receiving an inquiry about the Just Shine Shimmer Powder product (Item number 192307, or SKU number 19052777), we immediately began an investigation and, out of an abundance of caution, stopped the sale of this product in our stores and on our website. Our suppliers are required to produce all products in compliance with applicable laws and regulations. If any supplier fails to do so, it is our practice to hold them responsible. We cannot speculate regarding the matter while we investigate. However, your trust is of paramount importance to us. Please be assured that we will accept returns of this item and refund your purchase price.”

This isn’t the first time harmful chemicals have been found in cosmetics—especially those marketed towards children. In 2008, Bonne Bell recalled one of their children’s cosmetic bags when lead was found in the clasp.

Know Your Ingredients

It’s a parent’s worst nightmare to find out a product their child uses poses serious health risks. One way to know which products are safe is by reading its ingredient list; however, on its own, that’s not enough. Some cosmetic brands claim to be organic, natural, and safe to use, but that doesn’t mean you should use their products blindly.

There is a serious lack of regulation in the cosmetic world when it comes to “organic” or “natural” product labels. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) states:

“FDA regulates cosmetics under the authority of the Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act (FD&C Act) and the Fair Packaging and Labeling Act (FPLA). The term ‘organic’ is not defined in either of these laws or the regulations that FDA enforces under their authority.”

This is why knowing which ingredients to avoid comes in handy. You can’t judge a lipstick by its all-natural label.