I was a little behind in my RSS articles but I stumbled upon a report about Halloween makeup to which the Beauty Brains had to weigh in.
The fear mongering folks at the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics are at it again. According to their latest report, Halloween face paint is contaminated with lead, nickel, chromium and cobalt. They say this is because of the lack of regulation by the FDA and warn that exposure to these toxic (naturally occurring) chemicals “can lead to hyperactivity, impulsive behavior, IQ deficits, reduced school performance, aggression and delinquent behavior.”
Finally, they recommend that parents “avoid using face paints on children until safety standards are put in place.” They further suggest that you “make your own face paint with food-grade ingredients.”
Not surprisingly, the PCPC (cosmetic industry trade group) responded by saying that the “the trace levels of naturally occurring heavy metals reportedly found in the products are well below the allowable levels set by FDA for approved colors as not presenting a safety concern.”
So, who should you believe?
Lead in Facepaint
No one is disagreeing with the finding that lead was found in the Halloween face paint. With all the lead found naturally in our environment it is understandable and should be expected that products like this will contain some lead. The recent study found 0.05 to 0.65 ppm.
Safe lead levels?
But is the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics claim that “Experts say there is no safe level of lead exposure for children” true?
This idea of “no safe level of lead” comes from an international study which showed even low levels currently considered safe could affect IQ scores. However, the study doesn’t show “no safe level of lead”. What it shows is that the current standards may need to be reduced.
In reality, it is impossible to create a standard of zero. Scientists create better and better measurement devices so the idea of “undetectable” gets smaller and smaller. Soon, we’ll be able to find some level of lead in everything. Regulations must always be based on some “safe level”. The only debate should be about what is that safe level.
Regulation of lead
According to the FDA, they do not directly regulate the amount of lead in cosmetics but they do regulate the lead in cosmetic colorants at 20 ppm. This is the “safe level” according to studies done by the FDA. They also conclude that there is no need to be concerned about the level of lead found in cosmetics. The levels found in the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics study were within safe levels.
Should you make your own?
One recommendation made was that people should make their own face paint. But if there is “no safe level of lead exposure” how can they possibly make this recommendation?
Food and water all contain lead. Currently, the EPA allows 15 ppb of lead in your drinking water. If you are using water to make the face paint as suggested, you are exposing your child to lead. If you use natural colorants to make the face paint, you are also exposing your child to lead.
Why would advocates of safe cosmetics tell people to use lead-containing ingredients to make face paint?
Could it be that they think there is a safe level of lead? If so, what is it?
Beauty Brains bottom line
There is no evidence that the amount of lead found in Halloween face paint, lipsticks or other cosmetics is harmful to children or adults. But if you are scared to use it, don’t use anything. Everything has lead in it.
If you want more information based on science, see what the FDA has to say about Halloween face paint.