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Warning: Halloween Makeup Contains Dangerous Heavy Metals


The scariest thing on your child’s face this Halloween may not be a mask but his or her makeup. A study from HealthyStuff.org reports that 100% of the Halloween makeup products tested contained detectable levels of one or more dangerous metals, including cadmium, lead, and mercury, among others.

Halloween makeup can be pretty scary

The study tested 31 products that were purchased from retailers in southeast Michigan, including Halloween City, Party City, Spirit Halloween, and Target. Makers of the products included Costumes USA, Forum Novelties, JA Cosmetics, Rubie’s Costume, Spirit Halloween, and Tish & Snooky’s Manic Panic NYC.

More than half (52%) of the Halloween makeup tested contained cadmium, and the highest level found was 455 parts per million (ppm). Cadmium is considered to be “carcinogenic to humans” by the International Agency for Research on Cancer and by the US Department of Health and Human Services. An acceptable oral limit for nutritional supplements is up to 3 ppm.

Other metals found in the tested products included:

  • Tin—52% (16 of 31 products)
  • Arsenic—29% (9 of 31), may be absorbed through the skin
  • Antimony—16% (5 of 31)
  • Mercury—13% (4 of 31), easily absorbed through the skin
  • Lead—3% (1 of 31), can be absorbed through the skin

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Because these metals are considered to be impurities and not intentionally added ingredients, manufacturers of the products are not subject to the same level of disclosure and regulations. None of the metals discovered in the tested makeup were listed as ingredients on the product labels.

Scientists have not established a “safe” level of exposure to metals in cosmetics. However, it is known that heavy metals can accumulate in the body over time and cause a variety of health problems, including cancer, neurological problems, memory loss, joint and muscle disorders, reproductive and developmental disorders, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, lung damage, and cardiovascular problems.

Don’t let the scariest thing this Halloween be your child’s makeup. You can see the list of the 31 Halloween makeup products tested on the HealthyStuff.org website.


Picture credit: Wikimedia Commons