With Halloween just around the corner, you may have planned out your costume and the make-up you’ll be adding to your look.
But it’s not without risk. In fact, recent data showed that five percent of Halloween injuries last year were due to allergic reactions and rashes from make-up.
Halloween face paint is typically much heavier than everyday make-up, which can leave you with clogged pores or breakouts.
Some even contain dangerous heavy metals that are known carcinogens.
So how can you keep yourself safe while still ensuring you still have a fun holiday?
Dr Alan Levy, of Levy Dermatology in Memphis, Tennessee, spoke to Daily Mail Online about what ingredients to avoid, how to test for an allergic reaction at home, and why using last year’s face paint could lead to a bacterial infection.
Dr Alan Levy, of Levy Dermatology in Memphis, Tennessee, spoke to Daily Mail Online about tips and tricks when selecting face paint to use for Halloween (file image)
READ THROUGH THE INGREDIENTS LABEL
Dr Levy says the first thing to do is to read the ingredient list when shopping to see what manufacturers are using.
‘Face paint is considered a cosmetic and therefore not subjected to the same scrutiny as food,’ he said. ‘It doesn’t require FDA approval so there is no strict regulation.’
Face paint can contain high levels of lead, formaldehyde, mercury and parabens – all of which can lead to toxic poisoning and even cancer.
A 2016 report funded by Breast Cancer Prevention Partners tested 48 Halloween face paints.
The report found that nearly 20 percent of face paints contained lead and nearly 30 percent contained cadmium, a known carcinogen.
All the products with detectable levels of lead had higher concentrations than what is allowed in drinking water (15 parts per billion) and children’s food (500 parts per billion).
‘The first concern you have is dermatitis, but then later down the road it’s cancer,’ said Dr Levy.
‘Look for paints with natural pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers. You almost totally eliminate the risk of contaminants and heavy metals.’
Three products he knows of, and recommends, are Natural Earth Paint, Elegant Minerals, and Go Green.
He also suggests looking for products that say ‘non·comedogenic’, meaning they will not clog pores or cause acne breakouts
Avoid paints with ingredients such as lead and other heavy metals and go for paints with natural pigments from fruits, vegetables, flowers, says Dr Levy. One brand he recommends is Elegant Minerals (pictured)
BE CAREFUL USING THE HALLOWEEN PAINT YOU USED LAST YEAR
Even though your vampire make-up probably hasn’t gotten much use since last Halloween, think twice before pulling out that jar.
‘We have bacteria on our skin normally,’ Dr Levy said. ‘So the paint you used last year is probably kept in a dark drawer, which is a breeding ground for bacteria.’
Many types of bacteria than grow in jars and on brushes include staaphylococcus, streptococcus, micrococcus and E coli.
‘If there’s a little break on the skin, the bacteria can get it and cause an infection,’ he said.
‘If you think you double-dipped your fingers in there last year, and didn’t wash them first, then get new make-up.’
TEST THE MAKE-UP BEFOREHAND TO SEE IF YOU’RE ALLERGIC
Rather than applying the face paint you choose on Halloween and hoping for the best, Dr Levy recommends testing it to make sure there you aren’t allergic.
‘The favorite area for me is the inner upper arm,’ he said.
‘Put a little drop of the make-up there, cover it with a band-aid and then leave it there. Then it’s like a patch test you get at a dermatologist’s office, but at home.’
Dr Levy suggests first checking the spot 24 hours later and then 96 hours later, because sometimes there are delayed allergic reactions to chemicals.
‘If it’s raised or swollen, then the test can be considered positive,’ he said. ‘And I recommend testing the product about a week before you apply it.’
Dr Levy recommends doing a home patch test of the face paint one week before you apply it to ensure there is no allergic reaction (file image)
DON’T USE YOUR FINGERS TO APPLY FACE PAINT
To start off your routine when it’s time to put on your face paint, Dr Levy recommends washing your face with a mild cleanser to clear any dirt or debris and keep the pores unclogged.
He says you can also use an alcohol prep pad to clean the face, but that it can be harsh on sensitive skin.
‘Don’t use your hands to apply make-up because then you could be transferring bacteria from your hands to your face,’ he said.
‘So first wash your hands, use a cosmetic applicator to take out the make-up before applying it, and then use your fingers to apply it.’
SAFETY TIPS FOR CHOOSING YOUR HALLOWEEN COSTUME
While, Halloween can be a fun time of year, it can also be very dangerous
Between October through November 2017, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated a total of 4,500 Halloween-related injuries.
Here are some tips you can follow when it comes to selecting a costume so you stay safe.
1. Choose costumes made from polyester or nylon. Sheer cotton and rayon fabrics can burn rapidly if there is contact with an open flame.
2. Avoid baggy or oversized costumes so you don’t trip and fall.
3. Choose a mask that has large eye hole and nose holes to allow for full visibility and adequate breathing.
4. Use reflective tape as a trip or carry a flashlight so other trick-or-treaters and cars can see you Many injuries last year involved trips and falls.
Source: US Consumer Product Safety Commission
He adds that ‘less is more’ when it comes to how much face paint you apply.
‘Put on as thin a coat as possible to achieve the look you want and keep the colors basic because as you get into more crazy, fluorescent colors, you risk paints with metals in them.’
Dr Levy adds that there are certain areas of the face that are more sensitive, so take special care around the eyelids and lips, in that order.
‘The eyelids are probably the most sensitive area of the head and eyelid dermatitis is more common than dermatitis on your nose or cheek,’ he said.
‘If you’ve had eyelid dermatitis in the past, you can put a thin coat of Vaseline around the eyelid and then you can put on the face paint.’
Applying fake eyelashes or fake prosthetics as part of your costume can also come with their own risks.
Dr Levy says there is no special preparation but just to be aware that the adhesives can cause allergies or be irritating.
He also advises against using any kind of super glue to ensure they stay on.
‘It might be stuck on for weeks and your skin will have to peel before it falls off or you may get irritant contact dermatitis,’ he said.
‘It’s also possible as you’re trying to take the object off to rip or erode the skin.’
BE DILIGENT ABOUT TAKING OFF YOUR MAKE-UP AS SOON AS YOU GET HOME
One of the most important things you can do to prevent acne breakouts and clogged pores is to take off the paint once you get home.
‘Keep the contact as short as possible,’ Dr Levy said.
‘Don’t put on your face paint at 10am on the morning of October 31. Do it before you’re going to go out and wash it off as soon as you get back.’
How you choose to wash off the paint will depend on the type of paint you use. he says.
If it is an organic or fruit-based make-up, Dr Levy recommends using mild soap and water or a gentle facial cleanser.
But if it is a more matte-based, a make-up remover or an alcohol prep pad might be needed for removal.
And you don’t need to exfoliate once you’ve washed off the paint.
‘You’ll have washed your face in the morning and in the evening, so potentially exfoliating right after you take the paint off could be very irritating,’ Dr Levy said.
‘If you want to exfoliate, wait a couple of days before you do.’