Halloween makeup products are considered cosmetics and are therefore subject to the same regulations as other cosmetics, including the same restrictions on color additives. Products made in the USA should follow those rules and should be safe. But, if you are thinking of buying those colorful Halloween makeup sets sold in stores and supermarkets, think again. The FDA has not approved them. The FDA may not even know that those makeup sets exist. Did you know that the FDA has 6 inspectors for 3 million shipments of imported cosmetics? Please remember that cosmetics are not a priority for the FDA, prescriptions medications are, so it is up to you to be vigilant (caveat emptor).
Here is what we know (from the NYT, 8/2/17) “Of the three million imported cosmetics shipments, the agency physically inspected just 9,871, or about 0.3 percent, last year. 15 percent of those inspections resulted in what the F.D.A. calls ‘adverse findings.’ Laboratory tests were conducted on a smaller sample of those shipments — a total of 364 last year — and 20 percent of those led to adverse findings. The agency found bacterial contamination, illegal color additives that can cause skin or eye injuries, ingredients that were not on the label as required, and unsafe chemical substances like mercury, the agency said.” This is why you have to be vigilant.
What should you fear?
Bacterial contamination, illegal color additives that can cause skin or eye injuries, and unsafe heavy metals like lead, arsenic, mercury, cadmium or antimony. Our bodies can certainly deal with small amounts of these toxic substances, but not when their concentrations exceed certain values.
What can you do?
Ignore claims of “hypoallergenic.” The word may sound scientific but there is no such category of products, it is just one more of the many advertising claims that have no real (or legal) meaning.
If you’re decorating your skin with something you’ve never used before, you might try a dab of it on your arm for a couple of days to check for an allergic reaction or irritation before you put it on your face. This is essential if you tend to have allergies. And allergies only get worse; you will NOT build “tolerance” by applying more of a product that provokes an allergic response.
Helpful tips to protect your skin this Halloween
Make your own face paints! You can use food coloring (may stain clothes and skin but they are safe) or use washable paint for children from a reputed brand like, Crayola.
You can wear an Italian Carnival mask, or something similar. They are beautiful and will make a great wall decoration after Halloween is over.
Check that the product has been made in the USA or it is distributed by a company in the USA. If something goes wrong, these companies will have to respond to your complaints and to the FDA if their products cause damage.
Follow all directions carefully.
Don’t apply products to your face that aren’t intended for your skin.
If your face paint has a bad smell, this could be a sign that it is contaminated. Throw it away and go for another one.
Some products may be okay on your skin, but not near your eyes. Check the label: some face paint or other makeup may say on the label that it is not for use near the eyes. Be careful to keep makeup from getting into your eyes. Even products intended for use near your eyes can sometimes irritate your skin if you use too much of them.
And most important: please remember to take off the paint before you go to bed! Don’t use products that contain alcohol to do this, it will irritate and dry your skin. Use a good oil-based cleanser, like our Cleansing Oil or Creamy Cleanser.
Remember to take care of your skin before and after applying makeup as well. Use a base that will be good for your skin before applying makeup or face paint, like our Cranberry Moisturizing Serum. And, of course, always moisturize after you remove your make-up with a nutritive product, like Dream Cream or Hyaluronic Acid Cream. There is no harm in participating in the fun and theatrics of playing dress-up, but don’t sacrifice the long-term health of your skin in the process. Play it skin safe this Halloween with Skin Actives!
-Dr. Hannah Sivak