You’ll want to make sure that face paint won’t cause a serious allergic reaction, however. While some parents have learned about this potential hazard the hard way, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration has issued a warning to help Halloween celebrants prevent skin irritation.
“Face paint allergies can cause injuries that haunt you long after Halloween,” the FDA wrote, in a joint guide the Consumer Product Safety Commission and CDC contributed to.
“Test the makeup you plan to use in advance,” the guide continues. “Put a small amount on the arm of the person who will be wearing it. If a rash, redness, swelling, or other signs of irritation develop where the makeup was applied, that’s a sign of a possible allergy.”
Added fragrances are one of the bigger known culprits of skin irritation, according to Harris.
“If they see fragrance on a label of a makeup or a face paint tube, it can contain dozens of ingredients to create that signature scent. And we don’t know what those are because it’s considered a trade secret,” she explained.
Harris said other ingredients that can cause irritation include heavy metals like arsenic, cadmium and lead; preservative ingredients like parabens and formaldehyde-releasing agents; and ethoxylated ingredients that serve as humectants, emulsifiers or foaming agents.
Each of these ingredients were found in children’s face paint in a 2016 study published by the Breast Cancer Fund and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, and each were cited as possible hormone disruptors or carcinogens, Harris noted.
The FDA has set limits for many metals found in cosmetics, which should adhere to its parts per million allowance. Parabens, formaldehyde-releasing agents and ethoxylated ingredients such as sodium lauryl sulfate, cetyl and stearyl alcohol are allowed to be in everyday cosmetics, but the FDA does say its scientists continue to review studies published on these ingredients.
To ensure you’re using a Halloween face paint that has been made with colorings that are approved by the national food and drug agency, the FDA encourages consumers to review its Color Additives Permitted for Use in Cosmetics list.
Harris also recommends cosmetic ingredient databases that have been put together by the Environmental Working Group and Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, so parents can review research beyond face paint color additives.
If face paint is a must to complete a Halloween costume, Harris suggests buying “non-toxic” and “eco-friendly” makeup brands like Natural Earth Paint, which are formulated to without heavy metals, preservatives and petroleum-based dyes.