Dangerous Chemicals Found in Face Paints and Cosmetics

This year, the scariest thing about Halloween won’t just be the harmful preservatives found in Halloween candy. Now there’s a new ghost to worry about: makeup and face paints. It turns out these concoctions are not as harmless as one would hope.

A comprehensive study by the Breast Cancer Fund’s Campaign for Safe Cosmetics looked into many brands of children’s face paints to find contamination of heavy metals, including lead and cadmium. But, the trouble doesn’t stop there. Nail polishes, lip balms and makeup kits sold in toy stores all over—targeting ages 4-14—contain ingredients with known links to health problems in youngsters.

The presence of these compounds were discovered partially by scrutinizing 187 different product labels, all of which were marketed to children. Propylparaben was one ingredient on about half of the products’ lists, which is thought to be a hormone disruptor. Parabens can increase risk of breast cancer and propylparaben, specifically, has been linked to reduced testosterone and sperm levels in males.

Several products were tested using third-party laboratories to find out just what was lurking inside them, as well. 48 different Halloween face paints were tested and nearly half of them were found to contain trace amounts of at least one dangerous heavy metal—some containing as many as four!

Another concern in the label-reading portion of the study was the catch-all word “fragrance.” The fact that it is impossible to know just what makes up the “fragrance” used without sending the product to a lab is unnerving by itself, yet what the researchers found was even more disturbing. Of the 39 kids’ makeup and personal care items tested, all of them listed either styrene-based ingredients or “fragrance,” a red flag that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) could be present. Sure enough, 20 percent had at least one type of VOC, with flavored lip balms being the most outrageous offender.

The bottom line of the study is that more than 50 percent of cosmetics marketed to children contain at least one compound linked to hormonal disruptions, cancer, learning disabilities or developmental issues. A list of the cosmetics tested and the specific health concerns associated with each identified ingredient can be found within their analysis. The Breast Cancer Fund encourages citizens to fight for federal regulations on the personal care industries, which is severely lacking. They also suggest getting creative with alternatives to face paints and other children’s cosmetics year-round—including Halloween.

Photo credit: Thinkstock

111 comments

JoAnn P
JoAnn Paris2 days ago

Thank you for this very interesting article.

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Beth S
Barbara S3 days ago

thank you

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Carole R
Carole R3 days ago

Scary stuff.

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Mike R
Mike R4 days ago

Thanks

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Tanya W
Tanya W4 days ago

Noted

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Tanya W
Tanya W4 days ago

Thank you for sharing

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Ann B
Ann B4 days ago

Street fairs AND CARNIVALS ARE THE WORST...THE KID BELLYACHES AND MOM OR GRAND MA CAVES AND NO MATTER WHAT CHEMICALS MIGHT BE IN THE PAINT--THE KID WINS--OR DOES HE/SHE

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Ruth S
Ruth S4 days ago

Thanks.

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Ruth S
Ruth S4 days ago

Thanks.

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Peggy B
Peggy B4 days ago

TYFS

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