Safety Warning: Halloween face paint can be toxic

Before you use any store-bought Halloween face paint, you may want to find out what's in them. Consumer Reports says there may be toxic ingredients in your kids' face paints and powders.

Around Halloween, many parents worry about trick-or-treating safety, sugar crashes and ruined bedtimes. But there’s something you might not be thinking about but should be: toxic ingredients in your kids’ face paints and powders.

Arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and lead were found in Halloween face paint kits as part of a 2016 investigation by The Breast Cancer Fund. And in 2020, the Environmental Working Group found asbestos in a toy makeup kit.

Even small exposures to these toxins are dangerous. Lead affects brain development, asbestos is a carcinogen, and cadmium is an endocrine disruptor linked to certain cancers and other health problems.

Makeup and cosmetics are regulated by the Food and Drug Administration. So how do these dangerous toxins make it to store shelves?

Unlike its oversight of food and drugs, the FDA has very little power to regulate the safety of cosmetic ingredients. The agency surveys products that are already on the market but doesn’t approve their safety before.

So what should parents do when their child wants to be Dracula for Halloween? If kids insist on using face paints and powders, avoid ones with the darkest pigments because the Breast Cancer Fund study found those to contain a higher concentration of heavy metals

Consumer Reports says your best bet might be to skip the store-bought stuff altogether. There are lots of DIY makeup recipes online that use face moisturizer, cornstarch, and natural coloring, so you’ll know exactly what’s on your child’s skin.

And another scare: Children are more than twice as likely to be hit and killed by a car on Halloween than on any other day of the year. To be safer, avoid masks that block vision, give them glow sticks, and add reflective tape to their costumes and bags so they can be seen more easily, even on the darkest and spookiest of Halloween nights.