Is the Real Scare this Halloween the Lead in Your Child’s Face Paint?

By Grace Poppke

As parents, it is an ongoing challenge to try to protect our children and provide what we think they need to develop into happy and healthy adults. For me this has meant cutting out most non-organic foods, minimizing the use of toxic chemical cleaners in the home, no longer eating most seafood, and using natural body care products. Sometimes, however, toxins just sneak into our lives when we aren’t suspecting it!

Halloween is a fun time to play with scary and creative costumes, but it is terrifying to think that the face paint on your little pumpkin’s face might be full of lead. In a 2009 study conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, 10 out of 10 face paints tested positive for lead, and 6 out of 10 also contained unsafe levels of nickel and chromium (Sarantis et al. 2009). These heavy metals are known to accumulate in the human body, and in children, lead is known to cause cognitive impairment which can result in reduced IQ, hyperactivity, and behavioral problems (Sanders, et al. 2009, Sarantis et al. 2009). Avoiding lead exposure, in any possible form, is a high priority for me, and I imagine for most other parents as well.

Luckily, my children won’t be forgoing face paint this Halloween, because there is a safe alternative. Founded by artist and mother, Leah Fanning, Natural Earth Paint carries a line of face paints which are sourced from pure natural clay and mineral pigments and also contain skin-nourishing organic shea butter. The face paints are available individually, as well as in kits that have both vibrant and earthy colors. Now I can let my little wicked witches, and black cats go wild with their costumes, without over-worrying about skin rashes and lead exposure. Happy Haunting!

Sanders, T., Liu, Y., Buchner, V., & Tchounwou, P. B. (2009). Neurotoxic Effects and Biomarkers of Lead Exposure: A Review. Reviews on Environmental Health, 24(1), 15–45.
Sarantis, H., Malkana, S., Archer, L., (2009). A Report On Heavy Metals in Face Paints. Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Grace Poppke received her BA in Environmental Studies from UC Santa Cruz and currently lives in the beautiful small town of Ashland, Oregon, with her three children.

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