You know the drill, you’re at a family friendly event, your kids see other kids running around as tigers and pirates and flowers painted on their faces and they tug on your arm begging to have their faces painted too! You look over at the line, sigh and then wait patiently for your little ones to be next. The line is usually pretty long, but it good harmless fun right? Right! Well, it should be at least! There are some things that you absolutely want to look out for when deciding whether or not to let them be painted. Here’s a list of the top 6 things to keep in mind when waiting in that line:
#1 What paint products is the artist using?
Face painters in the “biz” invest in and use only cosmetic quality, FDA compliant makeups and supplies. But sometimes, venues choose to use amazing parent volunteers to be the face painters. This is totally, 100% fine but I’ve noticed that sometimes, event organizers will pick up a face paint kit at a discount store and use those products instead of researching what products are considered FDA compliant. What is the difference between the paints and how can you know what the artist is using? My general rule of thumb is regardless of who is painting, look for makeup “cakes” in round or square containers that are activated by water. A google search for face paint cakes will give you a general idea of what to look for:
(photo from http://www.examiner.com/slideshow/the-portable-craft-n-go-pro-workstation#slide=3)
Never allow your child to be painted with acrylic paints or other craft style paints that appear to be similar to acrylics. Craft paints may be labled as “non-toxic” but that certainly does not mean they are safe to use on skin, and are certainly not safe to use around the eye. Face paints should never flake off the skin. If in doubt, ask the artist or the volunteer about the supplies they use. Avoid discount store “non-toxic” face paints.
#2 Look at the glitter!
Sparkly, and fun, glitter is every parents’ dream right? Well, yes and no. For safety, cosmetic face and body art glitters are specially designed to be round cut and made of polyester. This means while it may be uncomfortable if a little speck ends up in the delicate area of the eye, it will generally not harm. Craft glitter is metal and rough cut. This means it should never be used on the skin or near the eye. Cosmetic glitter gels use an aloe or similar gel base with cosmetic glitter. Never allow your child to have glitter glue applied to their skin. If you are not sure what kind of glitter is being used, absolutely go and ask the artist.
The topic that is on everyone’s mind! While your standing in that same line (it never seems to move, does it?) you may notice things like the artist using the same brush on multiple kids or even reusing the same sponge! GASP! It’s okay…there is a valid reason for this. Cosmetic, professional, face paints (see #1) contain antimicrobial agents–yay! Also, a face painter knows to use a sanitizing agent in their water cups and misting bottles–double yay! And also, painters should gently refuse to paint on broken skin, rashes, sunburns, or on the child with a cold. With that being said, please don’t allow your “under the weather” child to be painted. Overall, if the artist’s kit looks clean and tidy, and there is a general appearance of hygiene, you’re probably good to go.
#4 Allergies & Sensitive skin
When I was young, I remember face paint to be itchy and bothersome. With all of today’s makeups available, this should no longer be the case for anyone. Paints are more aligned with cosmetics and should feel more like foundation and blush, but should not itch. However, if your child does indicate that they are itchy and it doesn’t stop, this could be an indication of a cosmetic sensitivity or allergy. If you already know that your child has an allergy, inform the face painter. Ask the painter to do a patch test (paint a swipe on the inner arm and wait 15 minutes to see if there is any reaction). I always feel sad when I hear an eager child waiting to be painted and the parent reminding them that “Last time you had your face painted it itched and you didn’t like it.” Looking at the ingredients of the makeup may help determine if there is a specific ingredient to avoid.
#5 Other temporary body art choices
Oh boy! The line moved up a little bit! So now, let’s talk about other body art choices like temporary tattoos, glitter tattoos, henna and all those other decorative trends. With any temporary tattoo, you need to know what the ingredients are. Placing any sort of agent on the skin for a period of time needs to be evaluated. Our skin is our largest organ, it breaths, protects us from harm and needs care. Be mindful of how the temporary tattoo may or may not block harmful UV rays, again, look out for any discomfort or itch and be gentle with removal. Be aware of the danger of black henna. Black henna is a chemical that can cause chemical burns on the skin; it may have a strong chemical odor and will stain the skin in minutes. Run in the other direction if the artist promises a dark stain in minutes! Natural henna is brownish green and smells like earth and essential oil. It’s a beautiful art form that stains the actual cells of your body, so it takes hours for a natural stain to develop. The stain moves from an orangey color to a bloom of brownish or brownish-red. In general, body art is fun and beautiful, but there just needs to be a mindful awareness of the topical application of anything on the body.
So now that your little one has been painted and has been running around all day pretending to be batman, it’s time to remove the face paint. No child is ever really excited about this part, and it might be a battle. You can make it easier by using a mild baby shampoo or other soap first and kinda lathering up the face before using water. When I remove paint, I lather up (but not near their eyes). I then use a warm dark washcloth to rinse and remove as much paint from the cheeks, foreheads, eyebrows, and hairline as I possibly can. I gently remove as much as possible from the eye area and then I use makeup remover on a tissue for any residual makeup. Some colors of some brands of paint may linger slightly, but in my personal experience, a gentle moisturizer and another cleansing takes care of it. I do not recommend using baby wipes to remove face paint. Baby wipes may contain perfumes and combining perfume and face paint may irritate the face.
Face painting and temporary body art is incredibly fun for kids and adults alike, but just give it a quick look over before you hop in that line. I hope you gained a sense of comfort to ask questions of the artist. If you have any other questions, or if suddenly you become one of those awesome volunteers, please feel free to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org I love to talk about face painting and thanks for reading!