Why You Should Avoid Face Paint This Halloween

face paint

With Halloween fast approaching, you can expect to see a lot of people wearing face paint. Stores like Party City, CVS, and even supermarkets are selling it like crazy. There’s only one problem: Face paint is loaded with toxins, especially face paint meant for children. I don’t mean to scare you, but according to a 2009 study conducted by Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, lead, nickel, cobalt and chromium were found in most children’s face paint. To make matters worse, these products were still labeled “hypoallergenic” and “FDA compliant”, despite containing these known toxins and allergens. Isn’t that ridiculous? Well it gets even more terrible: Those findings were again reconfirmed in 2014 when the FDA themselves tested 10 face paints for heavy metals and detected lead in all 10 samples (along with other hazardous metals). There’s no safe level of exposure to lead, so it’s not exactly a comforting find.

But what about adult face paint? Well, adult face paint isn’t in the clear either. There’s no guarantee that adult face paint is any better, despite hypoallergenic labels. The key is in the ingredients list: I’m not sure about you, but most face paint I find online won’t even list the ingredients. That’s suspicious to me, but worse yet, when they do, they contain a slew of toxins that would make the Environmental Working Group (EWG) shiver. Things like artificial colors (Yellow 7, Blue 302, Green 7, etc.) can be found in them, along with several unpronounceable chemicals. The only company I could find that listed all the ingredients in the products they sold was a website called Jest Paint. Personally, I approve of the transparency, but I cannot help but be overwhelmed by the sheer amount of ingredients (half of which sound like they belong on an alien planet). 

I’ve never been a fan of face paint, and it’s for this precise reason: They are misleading you. Even if they are FDA approved – remember that the FDA has only banned ten chemicals from cosmetics in the US, apposed to Europe which has banned 1,372 chemicals. Face and body paint are regulated much the same way cosmetics are in the US: Loosely. Which means, pretty much anything goes. Is that what you want your children, or yourself, exposed to? Count me out. 

Disclaimer: This post is in no way sponsored and I have not been asked to write it by any of the brands I mention below. Whatever brands I mention below I genuinely recommend and have researched. There are no affiliate links in this post.


Alternatives to (toxic) face paint
Don’t expose yourself (and your loved ones), to possible chemicals and heavy metals. Instead, here are a few (safe) alternatives to consider this Halloween (or any occasion you might need face paint!).

Make your own DIY face paint
  • Your best bet is making your own natural face paint for Halloween. Doing this puts you in full control of the ingredients used, so you don’t have to worry about any possible allergens. You’d be surprised at the range of colors you can make too! Natural colorants (such as turmeric, beets, and cocoa powder , etc.) are so much better for you than chemicals (especially since 60 percent of what you put on your skin is absorbed into your bloodstream!).

Buy organic, all-natural face paint

  • If you don’t feel like making any DIYs, you can always buy some organic face paint. Doing a quick google search for organic face paint should yield a few good results. I recommend trying Natural Earth Paint, an ecofriendly company that sells paint sets. They’re handcrafted in the US, wash off easily with water, and are clay and mineral based. Their ingredients list is on their website (just click the link I provided) so they’re very transparent. Their packaging is also eco-conscious, made from 100 percent post consumer fiber, so that’s a plus. You can also find natural face paint on Etsy: One brand I recommend is LePetitMatisse: They sell natural face paint made with no synthetic pigments or dyes. They use natural ingredients like shea butter, sweet almond oil, kaolin clay, and mineral pigments in their paints. Both of these brands are cruelty-free, but they are not vegan (just a heads up). For a vegan, all-natural face paint, try Nature Provides. they’re formulated without beeswax: Just vegetable glycerin, kaolin clay, and lead-free/ nano-free pigments (like mica). All of these brands are very open about their ingredients, so I highly recommend reading up on their sites for more information.

 Use all-natural makeup to create Halloween inspired looks
  • If you prefer, try using the makeup you already have to create some fun Halloween inspired looks. There are a slew of tutorials you can find online that provide excellent Halloween themed makeup looks. If you can avoid using conventional makeup to re-create a DIY you find, even better! Have you ever heard of 100% Pure? They’re a fruit-pigmented makeup brand that sells top quality products (I’ve tried a lot of their products and love ’em). Getting back on track: They created 3 really amazing Halloween makeup looks using only their products! They did vampire, cat, and fairy inspired looks and it’s absolutely awesome to know this was done by green beauty products. Obviously you don’t have to go out and buy 100  Pure products to get these looks, but hopefully they give you some inspiration.

Skip the face paint (and makeup) altogether
  • Last but not least: Skip the face paint/ makeup entirely! If you don’t want to test your luck, or want to save some cash, this is the easiest option. You don’t need to wear face paint or makeup if you don’t want to. Focus on choosing/making your costume and the rest will be history! And hey, at least you won’t have a worry about washing all of it off. 

I hope this post helps you have a safer, healthier, and more eco-friendly Halloween! If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below or send me a message on my contacts page. Thank you so much for reading my blog!

By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


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