The Food and Drug Administration is warning parents to be wary of Halloween face paint, which the agency has limited jurisdiction over.
Halloween costume makeup is recommended as a good alternative to masks for kids who will be walking the streets trick-or-treating, since masks can obscure vision.
But Halloween face paint can have toxic ingredients (like lead and mercury) if not formulated according to the law; it can cause reactions in those who are allergic to certain ingredients; and it can cause reactions if applied to the wrong parts of the body.
Here are some simple recommendations to keep safe:
1. Follow all Halloween face paint directions carefully, including warnings against using around the eyes.
2. Don't decorate your face with products, paints, and colorings that aren't intended for your skin (and check out The Daily Green's 14 favorite homemade Halloween costumes for kids and adults).
3. If your Halloween face paint has a very bad smell, this could be a sign that it is contaminated. Throw it away and use another one.
4. Before using new Halloween costume makeup, perform a simple patch test, particularly if you or your child is prone to allergic reactions, a few days before Halloween.
5. Read ingredient lists and don't buy any product that has non-approved colors. The FDA lists coloring agents approved for use in cosmetics. Go beyond the FDA list and check your Halloween face paint label against The Daily Green's list of six cosmetics ingredients to avoid.
6. Don't use products with fluorescent colors near the eyes. You can identify fluorescent colorings by looking for the following ingredients:
- D&C Orange No. 5, No. 10, and No. 11
- D&C Red No. 21, No. 22, No. 27 and No. 28
- D&C Yellow No. 7
7. Don't use luminescent (glow-in-the-dark) colors (like zinc sulfide) near your eyes.
8. Wash thoroughly (and follow label instructions) once trick-or-treating or the party is over. Don't go to sleep with Halloween costume makeup on your skin.
9. Before using an older product, check it against the information included in the May 2009 recall of Fun Express children's face paints, and the June 2009 expansion of that recall. See all children's product and toxic toy recalls.
The Daily Green adds that you can look for natural makeups and cosmetics to cut down on the chance of an adverse reaction (though allergens come in natural and synthetic forms).