Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Face Paint Safety

You may have seen an article published by an alarmist activist group, "The Campaign for Safe Cosmetics," which has been cited at MSN Health & Fitness and even on NBC-2 News in Chicago. If you have seen this article, I'm sure it's raised questions for you, as well it should. It certainly raised questions for the face and body art community!

Well, we're lucky. Snazaroo, one of the leaders in face paint production and the mainstay of my own body art kit, and one of the companies named by CSC, is produced in the U.K. but distributed in the United States by Gary Cole, owner of Snazaroo U.S.A, Inc. Mr. Cole, a face painter, body art instructor, and competition judge himself, who has had many years in the cosmetics industry before his ownership of Snazaroo U.S.A., Inc., makes himself accessible to body artists around the world and to the public itself via his Snazaroo-hosted Google discussion group, FacePaintHQ.

When we as body artists got wind of this alarmist article, we went right to the source, and questioned Mr. Cole.

Mr. Cole notes that the group from which the article comes is "The Daily Green - The Consumer's Guide to the Green Revolution," a group that has a political and financial stake in producing work such as this.

That aside, however, he read the article, and had the following response, in pertinent part:

Snazaroo offers you "The World's Safest and Easiest to Use Face Paint Brand." We still do. Our safety page ... goes well into the safety policies of Snazaroo.... If you go online ... you will find an MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) from Snazaroo in the UK. It is from testing of the face paints sent out to an independent lab called SGS. In the report, you will see that Snazaroo face paints are fully compliant with the cosmetic laws of the E.U. and the U.S. FDA. This particular test was done in 1995.

You will also see that the metals levels are WELL BELOW the FDA requirements and found acceptable for use on the skin. In fact, the metals content reported could be sixty times its current level and still be within the cosmetic standards of the U.S.A. and E.U. It is safe as a cosmetic product.

One might scoff that none of these ingredients are listed in the formulation. Well they are not included as ingredients in Snazaroo and therefore not listed. So where do they come from? They come as trace ingredients in the other ingredients formally listed. Most of the metals are coming from two specific colored pigments, black iron oxide and yellow iron oxide. These are natural ingredients used widely in the cosmetic industry.

Because these come from natural ingredients, by nature, they have these minerals in very minor quantities.

In the Snazaroo MSDS, you will see that the metals content from these trace elements are also compliant with the ASTM F963-95 which is the Standard Consumer Safety Standard that is specific to meet the Child Toy Safety rating.

The bottom line here is ... Snazaroo has and still does lead the world in its quality and safety. No other brand can beat the safety of the Snazaroo brand. It remains the standard despite skeptics and their reports.

He also spoke to a news reporter from NBC news in Chicago, who responded to his email regarding her comments about this story. She said she spoke to an officer at the FDA with regard to cosmetics regulations and they confirmed that the metal levels in Snazaroo were WELL WITHIN THE LEGAL REQUIREMENTS FOR THE U.S. COSMETIC INDUSTRY. She confirmed that Mr. Cole's email was very consistent with what they received from the FDA. She agreed the “Daily Green” report was "a lot to say about nothing."

Snazaroo in the UK is also expected to issue a press release in response to the article in question, so expect a follow-up post from me detailing their statements.

For some of my other supplies, also cited in the article, you can find the Mehron MSDS here and the Wolfe FX MSDS here.

A fellow body artist had the following to say regarding the issue:

I am a scientist. Specifically, I am a physicist. I have taken many graduate classes in statistical analysis and can state that the sampling methodology [described in the article] is seriously deficient. This is not the first time I have seen poor analysis and sampling and it (unfortunately) will not be the last. I am grateful that some of us use common sense when considering reports like this. To say that the face paint contains lead is as informative as stating that it contains hydrogen and oxygen. So what?


If you reread the article by CSC, please note that the group's real gripe seems to be with the FDA. They're not actually claiming that the face paints in question don't meet FDA standards; they're claiming that the FDA doesn't go far enough to regulate the cosmetics industry as a whole. Well, you can take that up with the FDA if you like, but the bottom line, very simply, is that professional cosmetic-grade face paints are perfectly safe for use on you and your kids.


  1. This beautiful. Thank you for putting this together to inform and educate the public about how seriously professional face painters take their responsibility and that once again, Snazaroo is the world's safetest face paint.

    Kat B.

  2. Thanks, I try! Misinformation is one of my pet peeves.

  3. Well written, Larissa! Thank you for educating the public! - Roberta

  4. Well said! I'm going to send a copy of you comments to a local (I'm in NH) radio station in hopes that they might read at least a portion of it over the air. They commented on the "Daily Green" article this morning and I've been itching to find a professional way to let them know that the article is faulty. Thank you for wording it so well! I will be sure to give credit to the proper person. :)

    Thanks again!
    Denice at Squirrelcat Designs

  5. Thank you, Larissa, for pulling this information together to reassure our community of concerned professional painters as well as our customers.
    Well done! Nancye Eidson, FACE PAINTING FUN

  6. I have no experience with face painting or body art, but I DO care about sound science. There is so much misinformation, on all issues and on all sides.

    Thank you for the coherent response!

  7. Good point, facial paints used must be 100% free from chemicals that may cause allergy, poisons and carcinogenic compounds



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