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There’s something magical about face paint. Wearing it on any occasion is just plain fun, and can really spur a child’s imagination. It transforms them into animals, rainbows, or whatever else they can dream up… even when it’s not Halloween.

But parents do need to be aware of what’s in the face paints they choose and the potential dangers they pose. 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. Here’s what to look for (and what to avoid) when searching for safe face paint for children.

Also read: Healthier Toys For Children: What to Look For and What to Avoid

Healthier Face Paint Alternatives

  • Choose Halloween or play costumes that do not require face paint.
  • Check the label to ensure the face paint has been independently tested to be free from heavy metal contaminants and petrochemicals.
  • Opt for 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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