The effects of using face paints for Halloween can be scary, says Sofia Chaudhry, M.D., assistant professor of dermatology at Saint Louis University.
Like any cosmetic product, face paints contain many ingredients that have the potential to irritate the skin and cause a reaction called allergic contact dermatitis. These ingredients range from dyes to preservatives, pigments, solvents, fragrances and antioxidants.
"The frequency of contact dermatitis is low, but one cannot predict who will have a reaction," said Chaudhry, who is also a SLUCare dermatologist. "However, people with a history of known skin contact allergies or sensitive skin should avoid face painting."
To check if your skin is allergic to a particular paint or cosmetic product, Chaudhry suggests doing a 'poor man's patch test.' To do the test, apply a small amount of paint on the inner arm, cover it with a band-aid and remove it within 48 hours. Watch for any redness or irritation for an additional 48 hours.
Chaudhry also warns people to think twice before getting the widely trending temporary black henna tattoos. While the traditional natural henna is typically safe to use on the body, black henna can be harmful to the skin as it contains a black dye called paraphenylenediamine (PPD). This chemical sometimes causes red and itchy skin, blisters, and pink and scaly patches that may take a while to heal.