Halloween Makeup Often Tests Positive For Range Of Unlisted Chemicals—Industry Report Found Slew Of Chemicals In 10 Out of 10 Tests; Halloween Products Like Lipstick, Eye Glitters & Face Paints Are Brewed In China, Shipped to U.S. & Stocked On Shelves Where Parents Get Tricked Into Buying Metals Like Lead, Which CDC Says Can Severely Impact A Child’s Brain As It Accumulates 

Masked Metals, Chemicals or Carcinogens That Don’t Belong on Anyone’s Face Require FULL Disclosure To Consumers; Senator Pushes FDA To Address Critical Gaps In Regulation, Enforcement 

Schumer: Chinese Chemicals In Children’s Halloween Makeup Is A Scary Thought; FDA Must Unmask ALL Ingredients

U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today revealed that Halloween makeup and face paint, often made in China, can contain heavy metals like lead, nickel, cobalt and chromium which could pose a serious danger to the children wearing it. Currently, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not conduct routine testing of novelty cosmetic products or face paints and the agency needs to do more to enforce the packaging regulations that require companies to include the full list of ingredients. While lead is banned from makeup in Canada and Europe, it is not currently banned from makeup sold in the United States. Schumer explained that this lack of regulation means that many parents are exposing their young children, and even themselves, to products that contain harmful metals, like lead.

Schumer went on to say that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has said that no safe blood lead level in children has been identified and that even low levels of lead in blood have been shown to affect IQ, ability to pay attention and academic achievement. Schumer explained that the U.S. must do more to prevent children from being exposed to lead and that it makes no sense to allow Halloween makeup and face paint—geared towards children—to be produced using harmful heavy metals or chemicals, like lead. At the very least, Schumer said that parents should know which ingredients are being used in the products they slather on their child’s face.

Therefore, Schumer is urging the FDA to investigate these products to determine what’s being hidden and what’s not. Schumer hopes the push spurs both regulation and greater enforcement in the area of children’s novelty cosmetics, like makeup and face paints. Schumer is also urging parents to pay close attention to where their child’s Halloween makeup is made. Whether it’s lipsticks, glitters or other novelty cosmetics, Schumer wants parents to know that if they see “Made In China” they could be rolling the dice and purchasing dangerous chemicals that pose a serious health risk to their kids.  

“Every Halloween we worry about the candy we’re putting in our kids’ mouths but nowadays, we need to worry about the face paint we’re putting on our kids’ faces,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Toxic Chinese chemicals in children’s Halloween makeup and face paint is a scary thought, and yet, often times, parents don’t even know what’s in these products. When it comes to the kind of makeup our kids slather on at Halloween, lead, nickel and cobalt do not belong, and so, I am urging the FDA to unmask the ingredients that are often left off of the packaging.”

According to a report conducted by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, ten out of ten face paints tested for heavy metals contained lead and six out of the ten face paints tested contained nickel, cobalt and/or chromium. The ten products contained lead ranging from .054 parts per million (ppm) to .65 ppm. Four of the products contained nickel, ranging from 2.1 to 5.9ppm. Two of the products contained cobalt, ranging from 4.8 to 5.5ppm. Five of the products contained chromium, ranging from 1.6 to 120ppm.  In addition, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics has found that 66 percent of the top brands of lipstick sold in the United States contain lead. Most often, these products are made in China. Schumer today pointed to a number of face paint and makeup products that are specifically made in China.

The CDC urges parents to protect children from exposure to lead due to health concerns because low levels of lead in blood can have serious effects on children. Specifically, children under 6 years old are at risk because they are growing so rapidly and ten put objects in their mouths. High levels of lead poisoning can be fatal.

The FDA needs to do more to enforce the requirement that companies list heavy metals or other harmful contaminants on product labels. He added that too many parents are unaware that toxic chemicals may be included within the face paint and makeup they are putting on their child’s face. Schumer said that, like food, parents should know all the ingredients in these products, even if knowing the results means the product stays on the shelf.

Schumer’s letter to Acting FDA commissioner Ostroff appears below:

Dear Acting Commissioner Ostroff,

I write today to bring your attention to serious concerns with potential ingredients in novelty cosmetics and paints manufactured outside of the United States. Traces of lead and other heavy metals have been found in novelty and costume makeup from other countries and poses a potential threat to the health of our children. I urge the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to take immediate regulatory action against companies that whose novelty cosmetics and face paint products are found to include hazardous chemicals as well as increase the enforcement of proper labeling of these products.

As you know, exposure to lead and other heavy metals can have detrimental health effects which can include decreased cognitive ability. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), children are more susceptible to lead poisoning than adults and they have determined that there is no safe level of lead that the body can handle. Additionally, the World Health Organization found that even the smallest amount of lead in the blood can cause irreparable damage to a child’s developing brain, indicating that any level of exposure puts a child’s health and well-being at risk. Unfortunately, novelty makeup and paint made abroad can be found on store shelves across the country. I urge the FDA to take prompt action to test and ensure that novelty paint does not include these harmful chemicals.  

            In 2009, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that ten out of ten face paints tested for heavy metals contained lead and six out of ten contained either nickel, cobalt, or chromium or a combination of the three. The products containing the highest amount of lead content were made in other countries, such as China. This is not the first time that products manufactured abroad were found to contain lead and other heavy metals. Toys, costumes, jewelry and even candy have been found to be contaminated with lead when made in other countries. In addition, many of these novelty paints are not properly labeled even when they contain color additives. The Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act prohibits the marketing of adulterated or misbranded cosmetics, including cosmetics and paints with a color additives. Parents and all consumers have a right to know what ingredients are in the paint they are buying for use on their skin or the skin of their children. I strongly urge the FDA to use its existing authority and increase enforcement of products that are currently on the market that are mislabeled, misbranded or adulterated.

Thank you for your ongoing work to keep Americans safe and healthy. It is crucial that we protect our children and families from these harmful toxins found in novelty cosmetics as well as ensure these products have proper labeling. That is why I urge the FDA to increase enforcement of novelty cosmetic products and paints that contain harmful materials in them and those that are potentially misbranded or adulterated. I look forward to working with you on this important issue.


Charles E. Schumer

United States Senator


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