Halloween is a time when children can dress up, get silly, and collect candy on their annual trick-or-treating adventure. While many of us are well aware of the need to protect our kids from traffic dangers on Halloween, there's another hidden threat that's gone largely unnoticed: Halloween makeup. What seems like a good alternative to cumbersome masks can actually prove to be a hazard to your child's health.
Halloween makeup has made news headlines recently due to renewed scrutiny by consumer safety advocates. Last week Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY) even held a press conference dedicated to exposing the dangers posed by substances found within Halloween makeup marketed for children. And there's plenty of reasons to be frightened at what Sen. Schumer revealed. As it turns out, popular makeup kits sold with Halloween costumes often contain toxic chemicals never listed among the ingredients.
According to a 2009 report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, a watchdog organization devoted to getting harmful compounds out of makeup, poisonous elements were found in every popular brand of Halloween makeup tested. The Campaign conducted lab work with 10 different makeup kits, discovering that all contained one or more of the following metals: lead, nickel, cobalt, and chromium. Nickel, cobalt, and chromium are all skin allergens, while lead is especially toxic to children, with prolonged exposure to the metal causing memory problems, drops in IQ, behavior issues, and potentially other health complications as well. Dermatologist Dr. Ranella Hirsch, a fellow at the American Academy of Dermitology, remarked:
It's pretty clear that lead is not a good thing to expose young children to, particularly for a long period of time and on a place like the skin where there can be meaningful absorption. But what isn't clear is what the exact base level, if any such thing exists, is. And so the bottom line is why, for something in the name of silliness and fun, would we ever want to take the risk of exposing our children to something that could potentially harm them.
With clearly dangerous metals hiding Halloween makeup widely sold across America, legal action is clearly needed to ensure that face paint is safe for human skin. As the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics emphasizes, the FDA must be pressured into establishing clear quality standards for makeup and then enforcing them - something that can be achieved if American parents stand up and speak out. In the meantime, find your kids a safe, healthy alternative to Halloween makeup.