This Halloween while you’re carving ghoulish characters in your jack-o-lantern, spinning webs around the house in eerie decorations, or perhaps rummaging through the closet for last minute costume ideas, there’s one thing that shouldn’t haunt you: toxic chemicals in hair and makeup.
If you’re not careful these ghostly ingredients can sneak up on you – and worse yet seep into you – whether it’s for your adult costume party, preparing kids for trick-or-treating, or just in your daily routine. For example, did you know chemicals like lead, arsenic, and even formaldehyde are commonly found in makeup for both kids and adults?
So don’t get spooked – Caduceus is here to guide you through the maze of mysterious ingredients and deliver you to the other side toxic-free.
The first thing to know is a few common toxic chemicals or groups of chemicals to avoid if you can find them on the label. These chemicals can not only irritate the skin, but some have been linked to cancer, and others to developmental disorders like ADHD and autism. Where possible avoid:
- Asbestos: can be found in talc-based makeup
- Benzene: found in colored hairsprays
- PFAS: a category of “forever chemicals” in many cosmetics
- Lead: can be found in lipstick
- Other heavy metals Arsenic, Cadmium, Mercury: can be found in children’s face paint
- Formaldehyde: found in preservatives like DMDM hydantoin
You never knew Halloween could be so scary?? So what can you do?
Well the second thing to do is look for labels that, generally speaking, are more protective against these chemicals.
- “Parabens-free” products can reduce exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals.
- “Fragrance-free” products typically have fewer phthalates that also interfere with hormone function. Don’t get fooled by “unscented”! These products actually contain more fragrances all mixed together to cancel each other out.
- And for other reasons animal-lovers may look for “cruelty-free” testing.
What if all this seems like too much work? Like the perfect sheet-turned-Casper costume, we’ve got you covered there too. Here are some apps you can use to scan the barcode of products and get a quick snapshot of possible toxicity:
- Chemical maze
- Detox me
Finally, don’t downplay the truest Halloween tradition of all: finding something around the house that works and saves money. Like the collared shirt tucked into jeans that suddenly counts as “Chandler from Friends.” Especially for kid's face paint there are a number of Do-It-Yourself recipes with household ingredients such as cornstarch, sunscreen, and colorful foods.
For more tips from the pros, check out my interview with professional makeup artist Sonya Talamentes talking about how she makes environmental safety part of her service to her clients. For herself she is using toxic-free makeup to get into character for Dia de los Muertos. We’ll remember her.
And remember this – these toxic chemicals don’t disappear like Halloween candy on November 1. They stick around for years (or longer!) and have implications for things like pregnancy health, protecting fetal development, children’s brain health, even women’s health conditions like uterine fibroids and PCOS.
Use the button below to self-book an appointment, call our dedicated appointment line at 844-807-8558, or request an appointment through your patient portal account.
Nathaniel DeNicola, MD MSHP
Chief Medical Officer, Caduceus Medical Group