Are Face Paints Safe?

Charlie and Sophia love having their face painted. Whether we’re at a birthday party, community event or Playcentre they’re both lining up to be transformed into Spiderman, Batman, a mermaid or a butterfly.

I’m the first to admit I’m not face paint’s biggest fan. Despite what’s claimed it’s always a bit tricky to get off – what two-year-old likes having their face scrubbed and scrubbed. Plus I’ve got a few stained clothes from face paint, including my own after a tired toddler needs to be carried to the car at the end of the day. 

But after Consumer’s recent test of face paints I’m even more wary. Consumer tested 15 face paints that all claimed to be “safe” or “non-toxic” and found some products that shouldn’t even be on the market.

One face paint, Carnival Colors, had extremely high levels of lead. Lead is a toxin and young children are particularly at risk from exposure to lead, which can cause serious developmental and health problems.  As a result of Consumer’s findings this product has been removed from shop shelves.

Another product contained a restricted ingredient that is prohibited in most products for children under three. One face paint listed a colouring agent that’s only permitted in products that come into “brief contact” with the skin – so you wouldn’t expect it to be in a face paint that stays on for hours.

Other face paints failed to meet basic labelling requirements such as providing an ingredients list. The face paints we use at Playcentre fell into this category – there was no ingredients list or contact information for the distributor – so we threw them out.

For the full report and list of face paints Consumer tested visit


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