Halloween make-up no treat for children's health

Be aware of haunting Halloween health hazards

OTTAWA – Parents should exercise caution this Halloween before their kids go trick-or-treating. Sierra Club Canada is reminding parents to be wary of using Halloween make-up and face-paint that may contain toxic chemicals and dangerous metals.

"Parents should know what they are putting on their children's faces. Lead, nickel and pesticides are not part of Halloween fun," said John Bennett, Executive Director of Sierra Club Canada.

"There is a serious lack of regulation of cosmetics in Canada. Companies are not required to disclose that these products may contain dangerous chemicals."

In a report by the US-based Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, all the children’s face-paint products they tested contained lead. Lead exposure of any level can be harmful to children, potentially leading to hyperactivity, aggression, reduced school performance, and irresponsible behaviour. 

In the same report, 6 out of the 10 products contained nickel, chromium, and/or cobalt that were above safety recommendations.  Even some products that claimed to be “non-toxic” contained these heavy metals.

Pigment green 7 and blue 15, also found in face-paints and make-up, were never approved for use in cosmetics and some Halloween hair-sprays contain dangerous chemicals like butane and thiram (which is used as a pesticide).

While Sierra Club Canada does not want to take the fun out of Halloween, care should be taken when planning costume ideas for children since they are the most sensitive to chemical exposure. Always try to avoid costumes that require face paint. If face paint is required, make your own safe face-paint at home (see here).


John Bennett, Executive Director
Sierra Club Canada

Follow John Bennett on Twitter



Media Coverage: Halloween makeup: safe or toxic?, Metro News, OCt. 31, 2011
Report: Pretty Scary: Heavy Metals in Face Paints, Campaign for Safe Cosmetics


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