Before you put the finishing touches on your child’s Halloween or theatrical costume by decking them out in face paint or body paint, there are a few safety concerns you should be aware of. Although safety advocates recommend face paint rather than masks, since it generally allows kids to see better, allergic reactions or other complications are always possible.

Face Paint Safety for Kids

  1. A few days before you plan on your child wearing face paint, dabble a bit onto the inside of her forearm to test for any allergic reactions. If it causes any type of rash or breakout on her skin, she might be allergic. Skip the face paint or try a different brand.
  1. Avoid using face paint that smells bad, whether old or new. This could be a sign that it has been contaminated by bacteria.
  1. Double check to ensure that all face paint ingredients are FDA approved. Some color additives in certain brands – particularly those coming from overseas – could be toxic. Simply go to FDA.gov and search “summary of color additives.” If there’s a color in your makeup that isn’t on the list, try another brand.

Safely applying face paint to a child

  1. Don’t use anything on the face that isn’t intended for the skin. Don’t get creative and try to decorate your child with other types of paint.
  1. Face paint can cause an infection if it gets inside the eyes, so keep it away from your child’s eyes! Some face paint packaging comes equipped with pictures of kids completely decked out, wearing the paint near their eyes, even though it has a safety label saying “not for use near eyes.” Don’t try to mimic the picture; follow the label and keep your child’s eyelids and eye area clear.
  1. Be especially careful with fluorescent paints that are labeled “neon” or “day-glow,” as well as luminescent “glow-in-the-dark” colors. These can be particularly abrasive on the skin and are not intended to be used around the eyes.

Safely removing a child’s face paint

  1. Follow instructions on the label for face or body paint, which usually involves cleaning it with soap and water. Failure to properly remove it afterwards could cause skin irritations.
  1. If a child wears face paint for too long, it may irritate the skin or start to flake and get into their eyes. So don’t let kids sleep with their face paint on or leave it applied overnight.

Other face paint safety precautions

  1. Remind kids not to rub their eyes when wearing face paint.
  1. Report any problems you have with face paint to the FDA’s “adverse event” hotline: 1-800-332-1088