Planning on dolling up your Halloween princess or ghoul with some Halloween face paint? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration is warning consumers to be very careful when selecting and using face paint on Halloween night. In May of this year, the FDA alerted the public about a face paint recall after public officials learned that certain brands distributed nationwide were responsible for rashes, itchiness, burning sensations and swelling.  

After hearing about this incident, I was actually surprised to learn that under the law, the FDA doesn't have the authority to regulate cosmetics and face paints before they go to market, though it does regulate the colors used in them. And the FDA also can't recall these products, even if a number of problems are reported; it can only ask the manufacturer or distributor to do so.

So, it's buyer beware when it comes to Halloween face paints this season. You can avoid the whole frightening mess by making your own face paints. All you have to do is mix together about one part cold cream to two parts cornstarch or baby powder. Add a little water to get the consistency right, divide the batch and add food coloring as desired.

If you do decide to purchase paints, keep it safe by following these guidelines from the FDA:

  • Don't use anything on the face that isn't intended for skin.
  • If face paint has a bad smell, it could be a sign of contamination or bacteria. Throw it away.
  • Some face paints have pictures showing people wearing them near their eyes even though the labels say "not for use near eyes." Believe the label, not the picture.
  • Try a dab of the face paint on an arm a few days before wearing to check for allergic reactions.
  • Check to make sure any colors in the face paint are FDA-approved by looking at the Summary of Color Additives on the FDA's website. If there's a color in your makeup that isn't on the list, don't use it.
  • Be careful with fluorescent ("neon" or "day-glow") and luminescent ("glow-in-the-dark") colors. None of them are for use near the eyes.
  • Don't sleep with face paint on; wearing it too long may irritate the skin or cause it to flake off and get in the eyes.

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