Shannon Fennell's Blog

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proper professional face paints are safe cosmetics

There has been a flurry of media coverage over the last couple of days about the safety of various brands of face paints and cosmetics.  The Daily Green – The Consumer’s Guide to the Green Revolution,  published an article on a “report” released by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics on the levels of contaminants in several brands of face paints.  This group has an agenda and their posts and the study they have released is skewed and misleading.  Even the animal rights group PETA is critical of this organization!

Unfortunately, this rather biased report was picked up by the media and has garnered a lot of attention on the news given that Halloween is this weekend and people are considering wearing make-up and face paints or putting them on their children.

The major professional brands that this group names are responding, but as is usual in cases like this, the sane and responsible responses from the experts will get little coverage in the media.

This group’s opening statement in their post is “Some children’s face paints are laced with undisclosed heavy metals that are known to be both acutely poisonous and to cause long-term health problems, ranging from skin sensitivity and brain damage.”  Alarmist? You bet!  That is their intent.

What they don’t say is that the levels are so far below the allowable amounts that they aren’t required to be noted on the label.  And most of these trace amounts end up there as they are contained in the pigments.  In the US the FDA has approved all of these ingredients and they are considered SAFE for use for cosmetic purposes.  There is no more of these contaminants in face paints than there is in regular retail beauty cosmetics.

Ben Nye Company issued the following statement (they are one of the brands that was “tested” by this group):

Ben Nye Makeup  has been committed to the highest standards of product

quality and safety for over 42 years.  We adhere to responsible

manufacturing procedures to meet the rigorous safety standards set by

the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

Several reputable organizations and experts have issued opinions

regarding lead in cosmetics.  As the CTFA states below, lead is

unavoidable.  It is present in our environment, in foods that we eat

and even in water that we drink.  There is no conclusive evidence to

confirm how much lead is actually absorbed through contact with

cosmetics.  Further, there is not one single recorded case in U.S.

medical literature substantiating lead poisoning through cosmetic use


CTFA Statement Re: Lead and Cosmetics (from the CTFA Website)

It is impossible to live in a lead-free world. Lead is ubiquitous in

the environment. It is in the air, water, soil, in short, it is

unavoidable. However, compared to the amount of lead a person would

ingest from eating and drinking ordinary foods, the amount expected

from the use of cosmetics would be extremely small.

Under the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act, the Food and Drug

Administration (FDA) has the responsibility to take action if it finds

a product to be unsafe and has abundant legal authority to do so.

Cosmetics are safe products that millions of consumers use and enjoy

every day. It is alarmist and irresponsible to suggest otherwise.

Below are links to websites with useful information that specifically

address and invalidate the concern that lead content in responsibly

manufactured cosmetics are at hazardous levels.

Daily Green article goes on to recommended making your own face paints from ingredients like toothpaste, mashed avocado, raspberries, turmeric, squid ink, food colouring… yeah right.  Do YOU want to wear a goop of mashed up fruit and spices on YOUR face?  I think not!!

Many of the ingredients they suggest either 1) stain, 2) sting, 3) trigger allergic reactions – people DO have food allergies 4) smell, 5) discolour with oxidization (have you seen what happens to avocado?)

Snazaroo USA Inc.  issued a statement pending a corporate release from the parent company.  Here is a link to the statement by Gary Cole, the owner of Snazaroo USA Inc.  

Snazaroo USA Inc. Statement

And here is a statement from the Personal Care Products Council pertaining to this issue:

Personal Care Products Council Statement

Personally, I want to reassure my clients and everyone else that I use ONLY products that have been approved for cosmetic use.  This means that they have been tested and meet the guidelines of the various regulatory bodies in the countries they are being sold in to be applied specifically on live human skin!

Every product I use and apply to you or your child I also apply to myself and my family.  I have no doubts as to their safety.

Snazaroo in particular has met the requirements of the Child Toy Safety Rating.  The latest tests were done in 2008 in the United Kingdom.

Reputable brands of cosmetic face paints such as Ben Nye, Snazaroo, Mehron, Fardel, Grimas, Kryolan, Wolfe Face Art & FX, all meet the standards for cosmetics.

But you do need to be aware that all items that are being sold as “make-up” or “face paints” particularly around Halloween do not necessarily meet those standards.  Check the package carefully, read the warning labels and country of origin… if the product says “not for children under 8 years” or “do not use near the eyes” you may want to reconsider using them on your child.

Look for the notations that state the product is “FDA Compliant” or that it has the emblem of the regulatory body of your country’s authority on it signifying it is “approved” for cosmetic use.

Recent recalls of “face paints” were for products made in China and were not being sold by reputable cosmetic retailers.  So be aware of what you are buying and make sure that you read the labels!!