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Posted by on Oct 29, 2009 in Pediatrics, Toxicology

Lead Detected in Face Paint

Lead Detected in Face Paint

Alex_Face_Paint_Studio.jpg

A new report may put the kibosh on Halloween face painting.

Minuscule, but measurable, amounts of lead were found in all samples of commercially available brands of face paint that were sent for testing by the nonprofit The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics (TCSC). In addition, 6 of the brands contained levels of heavy-metal allergens (nickel, cobalt, or chromium) that exceeded recommended standards for consumer products (1 ppm).

Ten face paintsmany of which were marketed for childrenwere purchased through Amazon.com and sent for heavy-metal testing at an independent laboratory, Analytical Sciences in Petaluma, California. Four of the brands were manufactured in China. Other countries of origin were the United States (4), the United Kingdom (1), and Spain (1).

Paint Brand

Manufacturer

Location

    Heavy Metal Content, ppm

Pb

Ni

Co

Cr

Alex Face Paint Studio

Alex Toys

China

0.650

Don Post Grease Paint Color Wheel

Don Post Studios

China

0.630

15

Snazaroo Face Painting Kit

Snazaroo

UK

0.560

5.5

5.5

Rubie’s Silver Metallic Fard d‘Argent

Rubie’s Costume Co

USA

0.260

2.1

2.2

Ben Nye Lumiere Wheel

Ben Nye Co, Inc

USA

0.190

Wolfe Face Art & FX

Wolfe Face Art & FX

China

0.180

1.6

Mehron Glow in the Dark Fantasy F-X

Mehron Inc

USA

0.140

Crafty Dab Face Paints Push-Up Crayons

Crafty Dab

China

0.082

Mehron 6-Pack Greasepaint Crayons

Mehron Inc

 USA

0.074

4.1

4.8

16

Jovi Make-up

Jovi

Spain

0.054

5.9

120

   Recommended limit

0

≤1

≤1

≤1

Detectable levels of mercury or arsenic were not found.

The study was prompted by the discovery of lead in top-selling lipsticks in 2007* and reports of heavy metals in kids’ face paints sold in other countries (eg, here, here, and here).

TCSC states that there is currently no way to determine if a particular brand of cosmetic contains heavy metals unless testing is conducted by the consumer herself. The organization charges that the FDA “does little to ensure that cosmetics are safe and actually lacks the power to do so…the FDA does not conduct routine testing of cosmetic products and does not have the authority to require companies to conduct pre-market safety assessments of their products or the ingredients in them. The FDA also does not require companies to list heavy metals or other harmful contaminants on product labels, even though they are commonly found in a wide array of personal care products.” 

The cost of testing each brand of face paint for heavy metals was $270 per sample.

Whether small amounts of lead in the infrequently used face paint should be a concern is debated; however, there is no good reason for heavy metals to exist in cosmetics or similar products intended for children.

Last winter, contaminated face paint caused skin reactions, some photosensitive, in participants at a Girl Scout event. The paint was manufactured in China.

ppm = parts per million.

* Last month, the FDA reported lead levels in lipstick that were higher than those discovered in 2007 by The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics.

Image of Alex Face Paint Studio, which contained the highest level of lead among the paint brands sampled, from Amazon.com.

bmartin (1127 Posts)

A native East Tennessean, Barbara Martin is a formerly practicing, board-certified neurologist who received her BS (psychology, summa cum laude) and MD from Duke University before completing her postgraduate training (internship, residency, fellowship) at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She has worked in academia, private practice, medical publishing, drug market research, and continuing medical education (CME). For the last 3 years, she has worked in a freelance capacity as a medical writer, analyst, and consultant. Follow Dr. Barbara Martin on and Twitter.