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Safety Nugget Week of September 28 - Novelty Makeup: Special Effects Without Aftereffects< Back to Blog

Oct 01, 2015
By: Y. Johnson
Categories: Safety

Fall celebrations are just around the corner such as Halloween and Harvest Day, a time for children to dress up in costumes, enjoy parties and eat yummy treats.  But children aren’t the only ones who enjoy dressing up and putting on fun makeup, there are adults who jump at the opportunity to do just that and not just for the annual holiday.  For example the stage actor who participates in plays that require elaborate costumes and makeup.  State Fairs with magic, theatrics and the hundreds of fair-goers young and old walking around with painted, sparkling faces of their favorite animal or fantasy creature.   Let’s not forget school parades boasting their team spirit and private costume parties that call for the elaborate imagination of special effects, glitter and lots of color, that which is called novelty makeup.

For those who enjoy wearing novelty makeup, creating those amazing special effects, the last thing anyone wants is ‘aftereffects’ from the face paint used.  So here are some tips to help keep your fun from leaving you with a rash, swollen eyelids, or other adverse reactions.

  • Follow all directions carefully.
  • Don't decorate your face with things that aren't intended for your skin.
  • If your face paint has a very bad smell, this could be a sign that it is contaminated. Throw it away and use another one.
  • Like soap, some things are OK on your skin, but not in your eyes. Some face paint or other makeup may say on the label that it is not for use near the eyes. Believe this, even if the label has a picture of people wearing it near their 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.
  • 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 BEFORE you put it on your face. This is an especially smart thing to do if you are allergy prone. 

Color Additives: The "FDA OK" (Or, A Little Detective Work Won't Hurt)

A big part of costume makeup is color. But this is your skin we're talking about. Think about what you're putting on it. You might not want to put the same coloring on your skin that a car company uses in its paint.

Fortunately, you don't have to. The law says that color additives have to be approved by FDA for use in cosmetics, including color additives in face paints and other cosmetics that may be used around Halloween time. It also includes theatrical makeup.

Plus, FDA has to decide how they may be used, based on safety information. A color that's OK on your tough fingernails or your hair may not be OK on your skin. Colors that are OK for most of your skin may not be OK near your eyes.

How do you know which ones are OK to use, and where?  Do some detective work and check two places:

1. The list of ingredients on the label. Look for the names of the colors. THEN...

2. Check the Summary of Color Additives on FDA's Web site. There's a section especially on colors for cosmetics. If there's a color in your makeup that isn't on this list, the company that made it is not obeying the law. Don't use it. Even if it's on the list, check to see if it has FDA's OK for use near the eyes. If it doesn't, keep it away from your eyes.

When the party is over do not go to bed with your makeup on.  Wearing it too long isn’t good either and can irritate your skin. How you take it off is as important as how you put it on so follow the instructions on each item you have applied.  And remember, the skin around your eyes is delicate so be gentle.

So what happens if you followed the directions and still you have a reaction?  You can report it to the FDA because they like to keep track of reactions caused by cosmetics and of course, contact your doctor.



FDA Products-Novelty Makeup