Choosing Safer Face Paints For the Kids


Kids love to dress up in face paint, even when it’s not Halloween. Wearing face paint on any occasion is just plain fun and can really spur a child’s imagination.

But parents do need to be aware of the face paints they choose. Studies have shown that even face paints labeled as “safe”, “FDA-approved”, “hypoallergenic” or “non-toxic” may contain heavy metals such as lead, nickel, cobalt and chromium.

These toxic and allergy-causing metals are not intended ingredients, rather they contaminate the face paint when manufacturers use low-quality mineral ingredients that were not tested prior to use.

Children can ingest these metals when the makeup is applied to their lips, or when they touch their face and then their mouth. Since these heavy metals are accidental byproducts of the manufacturing process and not actual ingredients, they are not listed on the package as ingredients. This makes it difficult for parents to know whether the face paint is safe.
Halloween costume

Healthier Alternatives

  • Choose Halloween or play costumes that do not require face paint.
  • Choose face paints that have been independently tested to be free from heavy metal contaminants and petrochemicals.
  • Choose face paints whose labels specifically state they are free from parabens, formaldehyde, synthetic dyes and other harmful chemicals.
  • Look for face paints colored with natural pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers and other botanicals.
  • Titanium oxide and zinc oxide are commonly found in Halloween face paints and are considered safe when they have not been “micronized” into nano-particles. When choosing mineral-based face paints, look for the words “no nanoparticles”, “non-nano” or “not micronized” on the label.

Good To Know

  • While titanium dioxide can be harmful when inhaled as a dust, it is not absorbed through the skin or gastrointestinal tract. Therefore it is considered safe in face paints, sunscreens and lip products.
  • Ingesting an entire mouthful of zinc oxide may act as a mild laxative, but this mineral is otherwise considered not harmful in face paints.

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