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Claire Moshenberg's picture

When it comes time to transform your child into a red-nosed clown or green-skinned witch this Halloween, what you don’t know could hurt you. The Campaign for Safer Cosmetics recently tested ten face paints commonly used for children’s Halloween costumes, and the results weren’t pretty. Ten out of ten paints contained lead, and many of them contained other allergens as well, including nickel, cobalt, and chromium.

Yes, the FDA argues that the level of lead in our cosmetics, including face paints, is within a safe range, but then the CDC says “No safe blood lead level has been identified.” Who should a parent believe? I for one say better safe than sorry. It is clear that face paint puts kids at risk for lead exposure. Not only do children absorb more lead than adults, but younger children are more likely to ingest face paint by licking their lips or touching their mouths. Lead exposure can lead to hyperactivity, reduced school performance, aggression and delinquent behavior. And lead isn’t the only problem: Nickel, chromium, and cobalt can trigger skin rashes and lead to life-long skin sensitivity. In fact, nickel allergies have become so widespread that just last year nickel was awarded “Allergen of the Year” by the American Contact Dermatitis Society.

Like every scary Halloween ghost or ghoul, these toxins are not only spooky, but cloaked in mystery. The FDA does not require labeling of lead, nickel, chromium or cobalt.  As a result, American consumers have no way of knowing if their cosmetics contain these hazardous chemicals. And while you might think you’re playing it safe by choosing hypoallergenic products, think again: There is no legal definition for hypoallergenic. Cosmetics that make this claim are allowed to contain toxins; in fact, Snazaroo Face Paint, which claims to be both “hypoallergenic” and "non-toxic,” had the highest levels of lead, nickel and cobalt of the face paints tested by the Campaign for Safer Cosmetics!

Forget ghouls and goblins: heavy metals in children’s face paints are what’s scary this Halloween! And remember: Unlike Halloween, toxic cosmetics don’t come once a year. Because of a lack of restrictions, the personal care products you use may be exposing you to lead, nickel and other toxins every day.

To learn more, visit the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics website to download their new report, “Pretty Scary: Could Halloween Face Paint Create Lifelong Health Problems?”

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