How to Test Makeup & Cosmetics for Asbestos

There has been much discussion recently about the possible presence of asbestos in cosmetics and make-up. Some of these products may have been marketed directly to children and currently there is very little information as to which products may or may not be safe to use. Exposure to asbestos fibers is a known and well-documented health hazard.

Hawk Environmental Services has trained staff that perform inspections and testing for asbestos in building materials on a regular basis. We use only NVLAP certified labs for our analysis, and are now offering a mail-in service for at-home testing of make-up and cosmetics for asbestos.

How is Asbestos Testing for Cosmetics Done?

While the process for health and safety testing of commercial products can be expensive and take a long time, there is a simple screening process for testing non-commercial materials for asbestos.  For building materials, we use a method that is called PLM (polarized light microscopy). This method can detect asbestos fibers down to a level of 1% of the materials. While amounts of asbestos fibers below 1% cannot be detected with this method, we do believe that it is a cost-effective and simple method for an initial screening. PLM testing for asbestos is the primary type of test that is used in the detection of asbestos fibers in building materials and hazardous materials surveys.

Other methods are available and include TEM (transmission electron microscopy), point-counting, and phase contrast microscopy. We can discuss these methods with clients on a case-by-case basis, but they are not currently offered as a standardized mail-in service by Hawk Environmental.

How Much Does Asbestos Testing for Makeup Cost?

Due to the potential health hazard and overall lack of information on products that may contain asbestos, Hawk Environmental Services has extended our standard pricing for asbestos testing to clients from anywhere within the United States. The total cost for testing each sample for asbestos via PLM methodology is $40. This can be paid by check or credit card (see instructions below).

What Types of Make-up May Contain Asbestos?

While asbestos in cosmetics is a newly discovered and poorly documented concern, the current suspicion is that asbestos (as tremolite) may be present in the talc used for manufacturing cosmetics. This means that products containing talcs and glitters may be at risk. While we do not have sufficient data to rule-out any one type of makeup; blushes, eye-shadows, rouges, glitters, compacts, kits, and lip glosses have recently been recalled due to possible concerns.

How Do I Use My At-Home Test?

Step 1: Collect your sample

  • Remove the sample from the original packaging (samples sent in packaging will not be tested). YOU MUST SEND US ONLY THE ACTUAL PRODUCT TO BE TESTED AND NOT THE ENTIRE PACKAGE. For chain-of-custody reasons, we will not be opening sample baggies or removing a product from its packaging. This can only be done at the analytical laboratory under proper HEPA filtration to prevent any chance of cross-contamination or exposure to employees.
  • We suggest that you photograph or video document your removal of the sample and placement into the baggie and save this information for your records.
  • Please collect as much of the material that you would like analyzed as possible (we can work with samples as small as 1 gram, but the more provided, the more accurate the results).
  • Please be sure to put only one product in each bag. For example, one product would be only one color of blush, one color of lipstick, one type of face powder etc…
  • Place the sample in a standard zip-top baggie and label it with a number (i.e. Sample #1, Sample #2 etc.).

Step 2: Write your information on a piece of paper and place it into an envelope with the samples

  • Please include your Name, Address, Phone Number, and Email address (all reports will be transmitted by email, so please be sure it is accurate).
  • Include sample information for EACH sample:
    • Sample Number (the same number that you wrote on bag)
    • Product name and color (if possible)
    • Product purchase date
    • Place of purchase (if possible)

Step 3: Ship samples to us for testing

  • You may ship by FedEx, UPS or USPS
  • Ensure that the package contains all of the samples that you would like tested AND the sheet with the information requested in Step 2 above
  • Ship to:

Hawk Environmental Services

969 S Nebraska St Ste. B

Seattle, WA 98108

Step 4: Payment

  • The total cost for testing and reporting is $40 per sample. We offer 2 payment options: check and credit card
  • If paying by check, please include it with your samples and make it payable to “Hawk Environmental Services”.
  • If paying by card, we will call you at the phone number that you provide to accept credit card payment by phone.

Step 5: Analysis

Hawk Environmental Services is a testing and inspection company and does not perform in-house laboratory analysis. We will have all samples processed by our partner lab, which is NVLAP-certified for PLM asbestos analysis.

  • We will email you a report within 7 days of receipt that includes the following:
    • A photo of the packaging that you have sent to us
    • Photos of each sample as it was received
    • A chain-of-custody form for the lab analysis
    • The final results of the testing with asbestos type and concentration (as per PLM analysis)
    • The raw lab data for your records
  • Samples will be preserved at the lab for 1 week following analysis. If you wish samples to be preserved for a longer period of time (up to 1 year), an additional fee of $25 per sample is required, and you must send formal notification by email to:


Hawk Environmental Services is offering asbestos testing for cosmetics and make-up products via PLM analysis only. It is the client’s responsibility to collect and ship the sample in a safe and secure manner, and to understand the limitations of this testing method. Hawk Environmental Services is not an analytical laboratory, and makes no claims as to the validity of any information provided by the client. Hawk Environmental Services will ensure that all samples are handled and documented by certified AHERA building inspectors following the same internal company procedures employed during formal asbestos surveys. Samples and packages received without client contact information will be disposed of appropriately. Samples that are sent without checks and without the ability to contact the client for credit card payment will be disposed of appropriately. Hawk Environmental Services cannot offer medical advice, and suggests that you speak with your physician for all questions related to asbestos exposure.

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