Kid-Friendly, Eco-Friendly Face Paints

There are many better options to store-bought face paint.It’s standard Halloween advice that face paints are safer than masks for kids. Kids can see better and breathe easier when they’re not wearing a mask, and face paints are just as fun, especially if you let the kiddos do it themselves.

Except what if the face paint that you buy in stores, manufactured cheaply and quickly and imported for quick sale, turn out to be more harmful to your children’s bodies than the risk of walking around in the dark with their vision hampered by a mask?

It’s possible. Ideally, the FDA should approve face paints before their sale, but dangerous items do slip through, and, as I discussed in my post on D.I.Y. temporary tattoos, there’s just no guarantee that those cheap products imported from China even came here the legal route. I let my kids climb tall trees and cut with sharp knives and whack at each other with sticks in the yard, but the possibility of allowing them to put substances that might be contaminated with heavy metals or bacteria onto their delicate skin? That stops me cold.

Fortunately, there are plenty of options to those Wal-mart face paint kits. Some are store-bought, some are D.I.Y., but all of the options below are more eco-friendly, and more safe, than what’s on the store shelves right now:

  1. Food coloring + body cream. Food coloring, and anything else food-grade, is skin-friendly, although you’ll certainly want to choose liquid food coloring over the professional-quality paste food dyes, which are stronger and will definitely stain. Most folks use cold cream as the carrier for the dyes, but I prefer to use the same gentle diaper cream left over from when my kids were babies; if it’s okay to put on a newborn’s butt, I figure it’s okay to put on my four-year-old’s face.
  2. Makeup. Yeah, it’s not as natural and chemical-free  as the stuff that I put on my kid the rest of the year, but at least I’m much more confident that it’s not contaminated with bacteria or heavy metals. Although lipsticks and rouges in the reds and pinks are certainly easier to find, it’s possible to find cosmetics in every color in the world, especially if you go to one of those beauty supply stores in the strip mall.
  3. Food-based paints. Fair warning- this is the only option that I haven’t tried personally, but if your kiddo’s skin is so sensitive that it can’t tolerate any chemicals, then it makes sense to try beet juice or blackberries or turmeric blended with cocoa butter. People say it does work, although I can’t imagine that the colors will be as vivid as your kiddo may be expecting.
  4. Store-bought natural paint. If you want to use store-bought face paint, then my advice is to at least skip the seasonal stuff. Professional-quality face paint may still have cosmetic-grade chemicals, but it’s at least unlikely to be contaminated. Even better are the paints sold by those hippy-dippy natural parenting shops that I tend to frequent, which will generally alert you to the fact that they’re paraben-free, petroleum-free, FD&C dye-free, etc. These paints have the advantage that they can be used by kids who like to dress up all year long.

Do you have a D.I.Y. face paint recipe that works for you? Share it with the rest of us!

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Written by Julie Finn

I'm a writer, crafter, Zombie Preparedness Planner, and homeschooling momma of two kids who will hopefully someday transition into using their genius for good, not the evil machinations and mess-making in which they currently indulge. I'm interested in recycling and nature crafts, food security, STEM education, and the DIY lifestyle, however it's manifested--making myself some underwear out of T-shirts? Done it. Teaching myself guitar? Doing it right now.

Visit my blog Craft Knife for a peek at our very weird handmade homeschool life, and my etsy shop Pumpkin+Bear for a truly odd number of rainbow-themed beeswax pretties.


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