face paint paint

Why do kids love to paint their face? 

Young children can’t live without fun- it’s all they think about as they are growing up. For children to have their face painted or to play with makeup is exciting. It’s is a way to express themselves and they really enjoy the end result.

Nowadays, many children's events, festivals, birthday parties, school performances, dress-up parties, carnivals, funfairs, theatres or any other cheerful occasions come with an art and crafts table and with a face-painting section next to it. All the bright coloured paints, glitter and sparkly lipsticks are very eye-catching, so letting your child have fun with face paint and make-up sounds wonderful (on the outside), until you begin to think deeply about the possible health risks. You don’t really think something as simple and popular as face-painting could be harmful- people have been doing it for many years so surely it can’t be harmful, right? Unfortunately not! The earlier we begin to research and educate ourselves about potentially harmful things for our kids, the better!

What’s harmful about face paint?

According to a 2016 report written by BCF (Breast Cancer Fund) called ‘Pretty Scary 2’, the chemicals that are used in children’s cosmetics is a major concern since kids are very vulnerable to the effects of these chemicals, particularly during crucial windows of their development. In this report, they explain the toxic chemicals that kids’ makeup releases:

‘In a follow-up to our 2009 report, recent lab tests show that kids’ face paint and makeup still contain frightening ingredients like arsenic, cadmium, chromium, and lead. We also found other creepy chemicals, such as toxic VOCs (volatile organic compounds), and known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors, lurking both on and off the label of kids’ Halloween and play makeup.’
For more information on this report, visit: https://www.bcpp.org/resource/pretty-scary-2-report/

It’s been a while that concern regarding this matter has been raised and parents have been warned to maintain a proper examination of the face paint or cosmetics that they normally purchase for their children online, at a local store or at a big retailer. Children’s cosmetics or any sort of paint we apply on our children’s skin can be contaminated by heavy metals. Researchers highlight two heavy metals such as lead (Pb) and cadmium (Cd) found in nearly 30% of the face paints tested. Why are these heavy metals the subject of concern? Cadmium is a toxic heavy metal known as a body’s hormone disruptor. Lead constitutes significant risks to health, interrupts and alters brain development and learning difficulties. A lot of research has been conducted and found that these two metals may produce exceedingly toxic effects when combined.

In ‘Pretty Scary 2’ it is also mentioned that volatile organic compounds (VOCs) can be found in children’s cosmetics and may be linked to a wide variety of cancers. This fact is terrifying! How do we not realise something so huge like this? 

What should we do to let our children still have fun with face-painting in a safe way?

While there are several companies that trade with nontoxic face paint and children’s cosmetics, our recommendation is to use homemade face paint instead.  Firstly, it is free from any chemical content, it is affordable, easy to wash with soap and water and your little ones will be able to have their favourite dinosaur, tiger face painting or lion face painting without their skin being harmed or irritated. You probably even have most if not all of the ingredients in your home- some examples are corn starch, face cream, vegetable oil and natural food colouring. Here are a couple of great videos from YouTube showing you how to create your own face-paint:



This is another form of parenting done right! It is also a great opportunity to have quality time with your children while preparing the materials together for an easy face paint activity. Another fun idea is to get your kids together for play dates and have face-painting fun together. At the end of the day, we just want our kids safe from any harm, even if it’s minimal, so that they can grow up without anything getting in the way of their health- which is the most important thing!

Do you have your own face-painting recipe? Maybe you’ve found an interesting face-painting tutorial others would love to watch? Leave your comments and opinions below!

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