Healthy Beginnings

Behind the Mask | Halloween Face Paints

Keep in mind that not all Halloween makeup contains safe ingredients.

Keep in mind that not all Halloween makeup contains safe ingredients.

Halloween season is approaching, and while you’re planning costumes for either yourself or your little ones, keep in mind that not all Halloween makeup contains safe ingredients. The FDA issued warnings in the past that parents should be aware that Halloween face paints are something their agency has very limited jurisdiction over, and cannot guarantee their safety. Some products contain mercury and lead, and can cause allergic reactions as well. There are countless health hazards from exposure to the toxic heavy metals mentioned above, when applied to the skin. Lead is a proven neurotoxin linked to learning, language and behavioral problems. It has also been linked to reduced fertility, miscarriage and hormonal imbalances. Mercury is linked to toxicity of the nervous system as well as the reproductive, immune and respiratory systems.

At the bottom of this article, I listed a few alternative resources for Halloween face paints, by makers who are committed to using clean, non-toxic ingredients. Some other guidelines are as follows:

Don’t use products with fluorescent colors, such as D&C Orange No. 5., No. 10, and No. 11; D&C Red No. 21, No. 22, No. 27. and 28, and D&C Yellow No. 7. Luminescent (glow in the dark) colors should also be avoided. If you choose to use products with these ingredients, avoid the eye area. The FDA lists coloring agents approved for use in cosmetics. If you see an ingredient that is not on this list, avoid using that product.

Smell the product; if it smells bad, don’t put it on your skin. Avoid using older products, many thrift stores offer old make up for sale that has not been opened, but sometimes these products have been recalled, without the thrift store’s knowledge. A recall notice from the FDA in 2009 reads:

“The Food and Drug Administration is advising consumers to stop using certain cosmetic ‘Face Paint’ items labeled as distributed by Oriental Trading Co., Omaha, Neb., due to adverse event reports of skin reactions in children. These items were distributed nationwide.

The FDA learned about a cluster of adverse events in children exposed to various colors of the face paint. All exposures occurred on the same day at an organized event and included rashes, itchiness, burning sensation and swelling, where the face paints were applied. Significant microbial contamination was indicated in most of the products in testing by an FDA laboratory.”

If you are unsure of how your skin will react to a product, you can try a patch test in which you wait 24 hours to make sure there is no reaction before applying to a larger area of skin.

Here is a list of some kid-safe Halloween makeup:” (Halloween make up kits)” (water based nail polish in fun colors)


1. Safe Halloween Costume Make up