Unknown ingredients in Halloween makeup may spook you, but with some helpful tips and expert advice, painting your (or your little one's) face, this All Hallows' Eve will be a treat.
Narrowing down who or what you'll transform into is one problem, piecing the look together is another. But when it comes to things like face paint or makeup, it's worth spending a bit more on high-quality products to guarantee a safer experience for you and your kids.
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In a study by the Breast Cancer Fund in 2016, 48 Halloween face paints were tested — all of which are marketed to kids. They found 21 of these products had trace amounts of at least one heavy metal, while some products contained as many as four metals. Some of these harmful ingredients included styrene, formaldehyde, lead, cadmium and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) such as toluene and benzene.
"You should buy the products at established costume stores, not pop-ups that open only for a few weeks before Halloween, or at your pharmacy where costume makeup kits are inexpensive, but are generally poorer quality," says Dr. Sandy Skotnicki, assistant professor at the University of Toronto and medical director at the Bay Dermatology Centre.
In this case, the more expensive the makeup the better quality, as it's not likely mass-produced."
When shopping for Halloween makeup, avoid any flimsy packaging with small amount of products (like those paint sets with numbers on them) — these tend to be products that are created for just the season.
"As dermatologists, we usually tell patients face creams that cost more are not that much better for your skin. But in this case, the more expensive the makeup, the better quality as it's not likely mass-produced," Skotnicki says.
Skotnicki also suggests avoiding any products that contain lead and ensuring the product has been vetted by government agencies. But you don't have to panic over things like dyes in face paint, since FD&C grade dyes are found in everything from lipstick to cake mixes. Simply, read the label.
The most common ingredients found in cheap makeup that could irritate the skin include alcohol, fragrances, artificial dyes, mica (which gives shimmer), glue, adhesives, waxes and oils.
Applying glue to bare skin doesn't require a dermatologist to tell you that this may cause a bad reaction.
Certain fluorescent or luminescent dyes can also contain colour additives that many not be government-approved, and that fake blood? It is made of a red dye that could cause irritation if it reacts with a petroleum base, notes healthcare site Vermont Urgent Care.
"Let your kids have fun and of course, use common sense. Applying glue to bare skin doesn't require a dermatologist to tell you that this may cause a bad reaction."
Skotnicki recommends testing a small amount of product on your child's ear a few days before if you want to ensure there are no allergies or irritations, and avoid adhesives and glues altogether on children under the age of two.
"Irritants are cumulative — it does not have to be one thing, it can be all together that cause the irritation and I would argue that is usually the case," Skotnicki said. "Another way of putting it — it is not the eye shadow, it's the eye shadow and eyeliner, and eyelashes all working together to cumulatively cause a reaction."
For makeup and special effects artist Samantha St John, Halloween is celebrated everyday in October. Her 28,000 followers on Instagram can expect scary (and sometimes gory) looks with her 31 days of Halloween posts. From split skulls to gouged-out eyes, St John's looks require safe products and an attentive skin care routine.
"My favourite things to use are water-activated paints for body art; silicone and alcohol paints for my special effects," explains the Vancouver-based artist.
I always use some type of barrier cream to create space between the prosthetic and my skin.
"Removal is the most important part... I always use some type of barrier cream to create space between the prosthetic and my skin, and I also make sure to safely remove adhered pieces."
St John recommends Telesis 5 remover and Isopropyl Myristate for heavier looks and prosthetics. For body paint, she uses the Franklin & Whitman's cleansing serum. St John also recommends avoiding latex, as it is a common irritant.
If using makeup from your personal collection on your trick or treaters, Courtney Kelly, beautyBOUTIQUE Manager for Shoppers Drug Mart says avoid sharing any eye products like mascara or eyeliner, and avoid using glitter around the eyes. Sanitize all lip products with rubbing alcohol before and after you use them.
As for your own costume, Kelly recommends playing with makeup already in your cosmetics bag.
The rise in popularity of colour correctors also means you may have some non-traditional colours at home.
"The great part of this is you already know whether or not the product works for you so you avoid any issues the night of," she said.
"The rise in popularity of colour correctors also means you may have some non-traditional colours at home that you can use as face paint instead of buying a new product."
To avoid any skin nightmare the following morning, use the golden rule when it comes to makeup and skincare — take it all off. Kelly recommends Dermablend Milk Makeup remover.
"Even if you get home late, don't forget to remove all of your eye makeup and apply a moisturizer before bed. Your skin will thank you in the morning."
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