There’s something more frightening than the kid-sized vampires, witches, and skeletons who will prowl the streets this Halloween: the paint on their faces.
Sen. Charles Schumer called out the FDA earlier this week for its lax regulations regarding face paints, which have been found to contain traces of spooky chemicals. “When it comes to the kind of makeup our kids slather on at Halloween, lead, nickel, and cobalt do not belong,” Schumer said in a press release, “and so I am urging the FDA to unmask the ingredients that are often left off of the packaging.”
Mother Jones reports:
We’ve known for years that some face paints include troubling ingredients. In 2009, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a consumer advocacy group, tested 10 face paints on the market in the United States and found that all of them contained lead, while six contained high levels of skin allergens like nickel, cobalt, and chromium.
Cosmetics that contain lead are banned in Canada and Europe. In the United States, though, we’re making it too easy for children to get an unhealthy dose of lead. Since face paints aren’t intended for consumption, they don’t require FDA approval before they reach store shelves (though the FDA does test color additives, including those found in face paints). The responsibility for ensuring cosmetics are safe falls largely on manufacturers — often Chinese, Schumer points out.
As a result, face paints can contain toxic chemicals that are absorbed through the skin, or even worse, accidentally ingested. This is a problem, since according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, “no safe blood lead level in children has been identified,” and “lead exposure can affect nearly every system in the body.”
But if you’re hoping to create that classic cadaverous look on your child’s ruddy cheeks this Halloween, there are ways to avoid the ghastliest of face paints. Check your paints’ ingredients to make sure they’re on the list of FDA-approved color additives. Even better, invest in some alternative non-toxic face paints.
If you can’t get your hands on some lead-free paint, though, you and your kid might want to consider going au naturel this Halloween.