Kids’ Halloween Makeup is Toxic? Scary! by Chryso D'Angelo, October 29 2016, 1 Comment

Kid in Halloween Makeup

Copyright: pxhidalgo / 123RF Stock Photo

Witches, ghosts and goblins, oh my! Halloween is a great time for children (and adults) to show off their creativity by transforming themselves into someone (or something) else. Oftentimes, a common element of many costumes is face paint. What’s a cute little kitty or an ominous joker without it?

But according to one recent study, face paint and other makeup targeted toward children, may contain some very scary ingredients.

The Breast Cancer Fund reports that heavy metals like lead (which can lead to altered brain development and learning difficulties), and cadmium (which disrupts the body’s hormones), have been found in face paint.

The group tested 48 Halloween face paints and found that almost half of the items (21) had trace amounts of at least one heavy metal. Heavy metal concentrations were reportedly higher and more common in darkly pigmented paints.

The group also tested 51 makeup products marketed to kids aged 4-14 through third-party labs and discovered that many contained volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which are linked to a variety of cancers.

“Many people assume the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulates cosmetics and personal care products in the same way it does food and drugs to assure safety,” the group reports. “In fact, cosmetics are one of the least regulated consumer products on the market today."

“Companies can use virtually any raw material in a finished cosmetic product, even those linked to cancer, birth defects or learning disabilities—without FDA pre-market safety testing or review.”

The report sites a Journal of the American College of Nutrition articleThe Developmental Origins of Adult Diseasethat brings to light the danger of exposure to developing children and young adults.

“Exposures during particular developmental stages, such as those that occur during puberty, may increase an individual’s later-life risk of the disease,” according to author DJ Barker.

Studies also show that stopping use of these products can be beneficial after only a few days' time. A recent report conducted at UC Berkeley monitored a dozen Central Valley California teens and the cosmetic products they used. The results showed that after only three days of switching from products that contain phthalates, parabens, triclosan and oxybenzone, to products that do not, there was a 25 to 40 percent reduction of these 4 endocrine disrupting chemicals in the teens' bodies.

That means there is hope. Ditching toxic products can benefit an adolescent’s health in a matter of days.

I’m relieved that my children happened to pick costumes that don’t require face paint this year. But I wonder about all of those times they were transformed into scary animals or pretty butterflies with face paint used by an artist at a carnival or birthday party.

All that time, I thought I was giving them a treat. Looks like the industry may have just been playing a big trick on me instead.

For this Halloween, and beyond, the Breast Cancer Fund recommends the following ways to stay vigilant—and keep your kids safe:

  • Stay away from face paints all year round.
  • Audit all children’s cosmetic and personal care products in your home. Read the labels. If there are toxins on the label, throw the cosmetics out. Be particularly wary of any products that say “fragrance” on the label.
  • Be a savvy shopper. Look before you buy, and try apps like Think Dirty, Healthy Living and the Good Guide. You can also buy toxin-free cosmetics such as those on