The controversy behind talc-based makeup

Talc-based makeup is not as dangerous as you think.

Have you ever thought that makeup might be potentially harmful to your health? Talc-based makeup products have raised safety concerns due to potential contamination with asbestos. The HBO Max investigative documentary Not So Pretty explores the danger of talc, a chemical ingredient found in most of our daily makeup products, and its link to cancer. 

The first episode on makeup introduced the sensational stories of two women—- Corrin Otillio, who believed that her makeup is contaminated with, and a mother who exposed Claire’s makeup for having asbestos in their kids’ makeup sets. 

Otillio sent all her makeup products to the laboratory after she was diagnosed with mesothelioma. The results showed that 10 out of the 25 products had traces of asbestos. Surprisingly, the directors of this episode invited lawyers and a journalist to support the case of Otillio, rather than having a cosmetic chemist and a toxicologist speak on this case and educate the audience on the potential risks of chemical ingredients in makeup.

I think that the documentary is clearly biased due to the lack of scientific evidence presented and their choice of experts. Another point that I find intriguing is that an episode that is strictly supposed to focus on makeup, was mostly spent talking about the case of Johnson & Johnson’s baby powder, a case that has way more solid evidence of causing harm than makeup.

India-Lynn Upshaw-Ruffner, a Concordia student in art history and studio arts, says “I have heard of talc being dangerous due to a Johnson & Johnson lawsuit, but I or anyone I know has never had any reaction to talc from makeup.”

A lot of women who have decided to eliminate talc from their makeup routine have been using TikTok as a platform to raise awareness, by posting videos of themselves throwing out their makeup products using #notsopretty. This shows how this documentary has successfully influenced much of its audience into buying clean beauty products. 

It is important to mention that at the end of the episode, there was a list of recommended applications that makeup consumers could download to scan their products and find out whether their ingredients are harmful. I find that the controversy over talc-based makeup products is just a marketing technique that clean beauty brands have implemented to make their way into a highly competitive market.

In reality, there hasn’t been enough evidence to prove that the level of talc in makeup products is high enough to cause cancer. This means that the anecdotes about women who blame their ovarian cancer or mesothelioma on makeup are just outliers. 

Besides, people who contract diseases from asbestos are those who work in construction sites or environments that contain high levels of asbestos particles. I think that Not So Pretty is a partial documentary that simply wanted to promote clean beauty products by capitalizing on makeup consumers’ fear of being diagnosed with cancer.


Stop saying people look better without makeup

It’s not the compliment you think it is.

If you’re a heavy makeup wearer too, you’ve probably been told this before: “You look better without makeup,” or even “why all this foundation? You have beautiful skin!” No shit, Sherlock. That’s because I’m also interested in skincare.

Even though that’s what I wish I could answer on the daily, most of the time, I have to be polite and just take the “compliment.”

But is it really a compliment?

Let’s start from the very beginning: beauty standards. The expectation for women to look a certain way starts young. As soon as we get some sort of awareness of our assigned gender role, we immediately admire “pretty” princesses and our version of playing becomes giving a makeover to anyone that dares to say yes.

It’s not hard to see: women and girls are taught at a young age that beauty matters. From the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz to Ursula from The Little Mermaid, we are taught that ugly equals bad.

Then, in our pre-teen years, we already get influenced by the very clever marketing of the beauty industry that preys on our insecurities.

So, naturally, makeup piques our interest. Some stick with it until adulthood, some experiment and decide it’s not for them. That’s okay.

Even though I’ve come to terms with it, it’s still sometimes hard for me to admit it: I cannot deny that my interest in makeup does stem from patriarchal ideas.

This is why when a man, out of all people, wants to imply that “I’d look better without all that makeup,” it drives me insane.

And I say that not to generalize, but because I genuinely only ever get that from men, when other women will actually compliment my makeup skills.

For people who don’t understand, I’ll put it simply: it’s rude. I put effort into something to then be told that you wish I hadn’t. Why? Because it doesn’t serve you in the way you want it to, assuming it was supposed to when it certainly wasn’t?

That’s without considering the fact that women throughout their entire lives have been told what to do, what to wear, what to say and how to act just to benefit men in society.

Even though the saying might come from good intentions, let’s not forget that nobody owes you a positive response when you make an unsolicited comment about their physique.

Girls, are you on-air ready?

Female broadcast journalists and their efforts to be noticed for their work

It turns out that the “effortless beauty” exuded by female broadcast journalists takes a lot of effort. Waking up and washing your face isn’t enough to be considered on-air ready.

As far as Laura Casella, anchor at Global News Montreal is concerned, “The Laura Casella who walks into work from bed with [her] hair tied up in a bun and no makeup … that Laura can’t necessarily go on TV.”

For female broadcast journalists, physical appearance plays the biggest part in one’s success. These female anchors are the liaison between viewers and the news station, but their journalistic talents are often overlooked.

Laura Casella speaks on behalf of all female journalists when discussing how she wants to be recognized for her hard work and talent within her profession. She wants people to watch her for her stories, not her good looks or wardrobe choices.

So, you noticed my hair but you didn’t hear anything I was saying? I want people to pay attention to the context of my story like they do with male anchors,” Casella adds.

Double standards between men and women are very prominent in broadcast news, according to Caroline Van Vlaardingen, anchor for CTV News Montreal. She believes that male anchors are easily forgiven. Whether they are balding, carrying extra weight or even wearing the same clothing day in and day out, men are not criticized.

Van Vlaardingen continues, “In fact, one Australian male anchor proved it by doing just that, wearing the same suit every day for a year while his female co-anchor changed her outfits every day, and no one noticed.”

Karl Stefanovic conducted this experiment because his co-anchor Lisa Wilkinson was receiving unsolicited critiques from viewers on her appearance. After a year dressed in blue, Stefanovic wasn’t surprised to see that no one ever commented on his wardrobe choices. His experiment confirmed that he is judged on his journalistic talent while his co-host is not.

There are some observations that can be made among the female anchors at both Global and CTV News. To name a few, heavy makeup is an essential part of the ‘getting ready’ process, as well as tighter clothing.

Through observation of 16 women who appeared onscreen on Oct. 23 on CTV and Global News Montreal, every single woman was wearing makeup and jewelry. 75 per cent of these women were white and approximately 65 per cent were blonde and thin. More than half of these women were under 35 years old.

“Acceptance of aging among women on the air is … a challenge,” says Van Vlaardingen. “The sad irony of this job as a woman, is that just as you step into your most experienced years and feel your most confident, your body and face begin to show your age.”

According to Van Vlaardingen, women who gain weight or develop wrinkles as they age tend to disappear from high-profile on-air jobs. Those that manage to stay on-air have a lot of work done to maintain their desired look. Botox, consistent hair colouring and dieting are common ways that female anchors preserve the youthful look.

Kim Sullivan, weather specialist at Global News Montreal, states that she never felt pressured to look a certain way by the management at Global.

“In my first year at Global, I gained 40 pounds because I was going through fertility and never once did I feel that I had to lose it.”

On the other hand, Sullivan does feel as though she doesn’t fit the look of the ‘ideal weather woman’ but emphasizes that this was a pressure she imposed on herself.

There’s one dress that all weather women have to have, so when I started my job at Global I bought it as a joke. It’s called the ‘weather girl dress.’”

There are underlying standards women must adhere to when considering a professional career in media. Huda Hafez, Journalism student at Concordia University, is an aspiring news anchor. Hafez explains the criticism these women receive in regards to their appearance makes her uncomfortable.

“I want to be a hard core journalist, not a piece of eye candy. I’m definitely aware of what I’m getting myself into, but we are a growing society and I’m hoping that things start and continue to change once I get on the air.”


Graphic by @the.beta.lab

Student Life

Cruelty-free beauty pt. 2

Back in November, I challenged myself to replace some of the items in my beauty routine with affordable, cruelty-free alternatives (I made a list of my favourites that you can read here). Well guess what, people: I’m still broke and I still like animals, so I’ve kept up with it!  

While I’ve still got a ways to go, the items on my vanity are looking a lot different than they did a few months ago, and I’m happy to say that finding these products is becoming easier and easier. From skincare to makeup to hair care, there are tons of options out there for the conscious consumer on a budget.

Here’s another list of inexpensive, cruelty-free products I’m loving at the moment. 

Niacinamide Serum:

The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%$5.90 for 30 millilitres 

Niacinamide is a form of Vitamin B3 that works wonders for the skin by reducing inflammation and balancing oil levels. So, if you have skin that is sensitive and/or acne-prone, then this serum from The Ordinary is definitely worth trying. The texture is light and a little goes a long way—just make sure to seal it in with moisturizer afterwards!

Comparison: Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster — $63.82 for 20 millilitres


Physicians Formula Murumuru Butter Butter Bronzer—$21.99 for 10.8 grams

This bronzer from Physicians Formula is my favourite of all time, hands down. The texture is smooth and blendable, so there’s none of the patchiness that bronzers can sometimes cause. Also, since the shades have a slight coolness to them, it won’t leave you looking like Donald Trump after a day at the tanning salon. Plus, it smells amazing! 

Comparison: Benefit Hoola Bronzer—$40.00 for eight grams


The Ordinary Mineral UV Filters SPF 30 with Antioxidants$9.70 for 50 millilitres 

Sunscreen is something we should all be wearing daily (even in winter, folks). Luckily, this SPF from The Ordinary is an inexpensive option that sinks into the skin quickly and doesn’t leave your face feeling oily throughout the day. I will say that, since it’s a mineral sunscreen, it does leave a slight white cast on the skin. This doesn’t matter much for me since I’m literally the colour of drywall, but anyone with a deeper skin tone might have to experiment with it a bit. 

Comparison: Shiseido Urban Environment Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42—$44 for 30 millilitres 


Covergirl Simply Ageless 3-in-1 Liquid Foundation—$19.49 for 30 millilitres

This foundation from Covergirl has a unique, almost mousse-like consistency that feels lightweight and comfortable, but provides surprisingly full coverage. What I like most about this foundation is that it doesn’t separate and become patchy throughout the day, which, in my case, even some of the most expensive foundations tend to do. It’s easy to layer and easy to blend, so the finish is nice and natural. 

Comparison: Make Up For Ever Ultra HD Invisible Cover Foundation—$55.00 for 30 millilitres

Lip Gloss 

Essence Shine Shine Shine Lipgloss—$3.99 for 4.5 millilitres

This $4 (!!!) lip gloss from Essence is as shiny and glossy as they come. This stuff seriously rivals some of the fancier glosses on the market, and it comes in a surprising number of shades. It’s good stuff. 

Comparison: Fenty Beauty by Rihanna Gloss Bomb Universal Lip Luminizer— $25 for nine millilitres 

Leave-In Conditioner

Shea Moisture Jamaican Black Castor Oil Reparative Leave-in Conditioner—$13.49 for 325 millilitres

As someone with really dry, damaged hair, the leave-in conditioner has been a game-changer. I love this one from Shea Moisture because it thoroughly hydrates my hair without weighing it down. It also smells amazing and helps to define my waves.


Photo by Laurence Brisson Dubreuil/Graphic by @sundaeghost


Makeup revolution: I’m not hiding

“You wear too much makeup,” “you look beautiful without makeup,” “you don’t need makeup,” “I don’t like your makeup.”


All of this and more is said to me on an almost daily basis, all because I wear a full face of makeup.

My relationship with makeup started when I was a child: I would perouse my mother’s collection, lovingly swatching the various deep brown and gold eyeshadows, applying the many shades of brown lipstick—her signature colour; applying the luxury makeup that matched mom’s olive skin tone but was too dark for my pale skin.

In the early years of high school, I bought my own foundation that looked like a mask because I didn’t blend it down my neck. I indulged in wearing blue eyeshadow that I didn’t blend properly. Once I started learning more about makeup, I began wearing the right colour foundation, found the Maybelline Age Rewind concealer, and my go-to look was wearing black or metallic crayon eyeliner in my waterline. Thankfully, I never had a crazy blush phase. I worked as a makeup artist behind the scenes for various school productions: The Lion King, a version of Prom, various talent and fashion shows. Considering all these factors, I was always asked why I wore makeup, who I was trying to impress—I wasn’t trying to impress anyone, I just genuinely enjoyed it.

When I graduated high school and entered CEGEP, I mastered the natural makeup look but could bust out a smokey eye if need be. I admired people who could pull off elaborate looks for an 8 a.m. class and, soon enough, I became one of them. I began experimenting with different lipstick shades and living my best life looking like a glazed doughnut because of all the highlighter I used.

Before my first year of university, I started a YouTube channel to finally produce content like the type I consumed almost religiously: makeup and skincare videos. I reviewed new makeup that I bought, talked through my five-minute everyday makeup routine and my nightly cleanse routine and did a few hauls. I even did a “My dad does my makeup” challenge in which I was left literally looking like a clown—my dad didn’t understand the concept very well.

In my second year of university, I started going more days without wearing an ounce of makeup, not even mascara or anything to tame my eyebrows. I always liked my skin and knew I was blessed that it was clear and cooperative. I never had acne, and I rarely got individual pimples. This makeup hiatus—which I did because I started valuing sleep over doing my makeup—also came when I quit my channel because I simply did not have the time.

Recently, I bought the Morphe 35H palette, filled with plenty of blues, browns, pinks and reds. Since buying it, I’ve gotten back into wearing makeup daily. I like to create eye looks with all the fun colours I wear—glitter, smokiness and all. I’ve gotten a lot of comments like “your makeup is too intense,” “where do you think you’re going with all that makeup,” and, of course, “you don’t need makeup, you’re beautiful without anything.”

To all that I say: “mind your own business,” “to wherever I have to get to that day,”  and “I know.” I don’t wear makeup to impress anyone, to cover up any insecurities, to show off, to get attention or to conform to how you think I should look. I will and I do wear a full face while also wearing a hoodie and sneakers—do you really think I do that to impress anyone? Makeup is supposed to be fun; it allows me to express myself, be creative and essentially paint a new picture every day without the fear of commitment. It washes off so I can apply it again—or not, because like I said, I don’t use makeup to cover up, so not wearing makeup is also a reality some days.

All of this is to say: leave people who wear a full face of makeup every day alone. We don’t do it for you and, unless it’s a compliment, we also likely don’t care what you think.



Photos by Laurence B. D

Student Life

Affordable cruelty-free beauty

The global cosmetics market will reach a value of US $863 billion by 2024, according to a report from Zion Market Research. 

Let me say that again: 863. Billion. Dollars.

I might sound surprised, but I really shouldn’t be. The average foundation from Sephora costs somewhere between $45 to $60, for crying out loud. To top this, social media and influencer culture mean that, nowadays, we’re being advertised to from every angle.

Thankfully, as the cosmetics market has grown, so has the demand for cruelty-free beauty products. In recent years, major brands such as CoverGirl and Glossier have become Leaping Bunny certified, meaning they do not test on animals at any point in their manufacturing process, distribution or sale. A brand doesn’t technically have to be Leaping Bunny certified in order to be cruelty-free, but the certification can serve as a useful tool for consumers.

Despite all this, there still aren’t as many cruelty-free brands as you might think. While many brands don’t involve animal testing in their manufacturing process, they still sell their products in mainland China, where animal testing is required by law. Whether they care to admit it or not, these companies profit from practices of animal cruelty, and China is no small market.

Recently, I took a long, hard look at my beauty collection and decided to do some major decluttering. Left with only the essentials, I vowed to replace them with alternatives that were a) cruelty-free and b) affordable. Easy, right?

Not so much. Sadly, finding quality cosmetics that are both cruelty-free and affordable isn’t always easy. However, after some serious digging, I’ve managed to find some cheap, cruelty-free items in makeup, skincare and haircare. I even made a list! I compared the cost of each of these products to their best selling equivalent at Sephora. These products might not necessarily work in the exact same way, but you get the idea.



Essence get BIG! LASHES volume BOOST mascara — $3.99 for 12 ml


Too Faced Better Than Sex Mascara — $32 for 8 ml

This mascara is great for adding volume to my sad, short lashes. I also love that it’s clump-free and doesn’t transfer to my under-eye!


Eyebrow pencil: 

Covergirl Easy Breezy Brow Micro-Fine + Define Pencil — $8.99 for 0.09 g


Benefit Precisely, My Brow Pencil Ultra Fine Shape & Define — $32 for 0.08 g

This eyebrow pencil is amazing for drawing in precise lines that add definition and texture to my sparse brows until I look like friggin’ Brooke Shields (just kidding, I wish). I find that some brow products are either too waxy or too creamy, and this one sits perfectly in between.



Annabelle Perfect Cream Blush — $10.99 for 6.2 g


NUDESTIX Nudies Matte Blush & Bronze Stick — $38 for 7 g

This blush is the SHIT. I seriously cannot get over how much I love it. It is so blendable and natural looking, and also looks amazing as a lipstick. For real, go buy this blush.


Hyaluronic acid serum: 

The Ordinary Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 — $6.80 for 30 ml


Caudalie Vinosource SOS Deep Hydration Serum — $64 for 30 ml

Hyaluronic acid is an amazing ingredient for dehydrated skin like mine. It draws in moisture to the skin, improving overall texture and plumping fine lines (which yes, I am already starting to notice). I’ve tried all kinds of fancy hyaluronic serums, and this product from The Ordinary works just as well, for a fraction of the price.


Argan oil: 

The Ordinary 100% Organic Cold-Pressed Moroccan Argan Oil — $6.80 for 30 ml


Josie Maran 100% Pure Argan Oil — $64 for 50 ml

Argan oil does an amazing job of keeping my skin soft and supple without clogging my pores. It’s an awesome source of vitamin E that can also work wonders for your hair! Just a heads up — argan oil has a weird smell to it sometimes, which is totally normal. You’ll get used to it.



Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Shampoo  — $11.49 for 385 ml


Briogeo Don’t Despair, Repair! Super Moisture Shampoo — $47 for 473 ml

This shampoo is great because it’s sulfate-free, meaning it doesn’t dehydrate my extremely thick, dry hair. The added moisture also helps bring out my waves and curls, which I love.



Maui Moisture Heal & Hydrate + Shea Butter Conditioner  — $11.49 for 385 ml


DevaCurl One Condition Original Daily Cream Conditioner — $32 for 355 ml

Like its shampoo equivalent, this conditioner is great for those with wavy or curly hair that tends to be on the dry side. It’s silicone-free, which means there is very little product buildup on the hair. Product buildup tends to weigh curls down and make your hair look limp and dull. Oh, and it also smells amazing.


Note: Maui Moisture is owned by the parent company Johnson & Johnson, which does sell some products in mainland China.

Photo by Laurence B.D. / Graphic by @sundaeghost

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