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U. S. Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Office of Cosmetics and Colors
September 25, 2001; Revised October 2003


Halloween Special for Kids and Parents

Novelty Makeup

Painting your face can be a big part of the fun on Halloween and lots of other special occasions. Most of the time people do this without a problem, but not always. Here are some pointers to help keep your fun from leaving you with a rash, swollen eyelids, or other grief.

Painting Your Face:
Special Effects Without Aftereffects

Decorating your face with face paint or other makeup lets you see better than you can if you're wearing a mask. A mask can make it hard to see where you're going and watch out for cars. But make sure your painted-on designs don't cause problems of their own.

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

A big part of Halloween 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.

Luckily, you don't have to. The law says that color additives have to be approved by FDA for use in cosmetics, and that includes the just-for-fun kind that people use on Halloween. 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.

For That Ghoulish Glow

There are two kinds of "glow" effects you might get from Halloween-type makeup. Ready for some ten-dollar words? There are "fluorescent" (say "floor-ess-ent") and "luminescent" (say "loo-min-ess-ent") colors. Here's the difference:

Fluorescent colors: These are the make-you-blink colors sometimes called "neon" or "day-glow." There are seven fluorescent colors approved for cosmetics, and like other colors, there are limits on how they may be used. None of them are allowed for use near the eyes. (Check the Summary of Color Additives again.) These are their names: D&C Orange No. 5, No. 10, and No. 11; and D&C Red No. 21, No. 22, No. 27 and No. 28.

Luminescent colors: These colors glow in the dark. In August 2000, FDA approved luminescent zinc sulfide for limited cosmetic use. It's the only luminescent color approved for cosmetic use, and it's not for every day and not for near your eyes. You can recognize it by its whitish-yellowish-greenish glow.

When the Party's Over...

Don't go to bed with your makeup on. Wearing it too long might irritate your skin, and bits of makeup can flake off or smear and get into your eyes, not to mention mess up your pillow and annoy your parents.

How you take the stuff off is as important as how you put it on. Remove it the way the label says. If it says to remove it with cold cream, use cold cream. If it says to remove it with soap and water, use soap and water. If it says to remove it with eye makeup remover, use eye makeup remover. You get the picture. The same goes for removing glue, like the stuff that holds on fake beards.

And remember, the skin around your eyes is delicate. Remove makeup gently.

Now, go have a good time, and a safe one.

But Just in Case...

What if you followed all these steps and still had a bad reaction? Your parents may want to call a doctor, and they can call FDA, too. We like to keep track of reactions to cosmetics so we know if there are problem products on the market. People can report a bad reaction to face paint, novelty makeup, or any other cosmetic product to:

Want to Learn More? Check out These Sites:

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