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Children’s Face Paints: Scary Stuff

10/29/2009 12:00:00 AM

Tags: Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, face paint, Halloween, lead, heavy metals, children

Before you paint your kids’ faces for Halloween, you might want to think twice. A new Campaign for Safe Cosmetics report reveals that some children’s face paints contain heavy metals such as lead, nickel and cobalt that can cause lifelong skin sensitization and contact dermatitis. You won’t find any mention of these metals on the products’ ingredients labels—which might even claim the products are “hypoallergenic” and “FDA compliant.” 

halloween face paint
Keep your kids safe this Halloween. Avoid face paints that may contain heavy metals. Photo By plasticrevovler/Courtesy Flickr. 

The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics had an independent lab test 10 children’s face paints for heavy metals. All 10 products contained traces of lead, ranging from 0.05 to 0.65 parts per million. Experts say there’s no safe level of lead exposure for children and have linked early exposure to reduced school performance, delinquent behavior, aggression and even increased risk for Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases. 

Six out of ten face paints also contained nickel, cobalt and chromium, ranging in levels from 1.6 to 120 parts per million. Industry safety recommendations for these materials, which can trigger lifelong skin rashes, is only 1 part per million. 

Scary stuff, but it’s easy enough to avoid this problem. Choose costumes for your children that don’t involve face paint, or create your own face paint using natural ingredients and one of these recipes from the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

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