Boo! Here’s something scary: Halloween is one of the worst holidays when it comes to risk of toxin exposure. Luckily for you, we created this handy Non-Toxic Halloween Guide with the three scariest toxic tricks lurking in the shadows this October, and a couple sweet treats to help you and your family of ghouls make this Halloween a scream, anyway.
Non-Toxic Halloween Guide: Top 3 Toxic Tricks To Avoid
- Toxic Face Paints and Makeup
TRICK: Common face paints and conventional makeups (like lipsticks) often contain lead, a serious health hazard especially in children, as well as other allergenic metals like nickel, cobalt and chromium. Personal care products like makeup are poorly regulated in the US. The FDA does not require companies to disclose ingredients on labels, so even reading labels isn’t a foolproof way to avoid toxin exposure. Major loopholes allow manufacturers to hide health hazards like parabens and bury phthalates using industry terms like “fragrance” because fragrance ingredients are considered “trade secrets”. The one word “fragrance” on a label can actually hide a cocktail of hundreds of chemicals.
Some facts: nearly 50% of face paints tested in a recent report contained at least one hormone-altering ingredient, and 20% of the face paints contained lead. Another report by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found 10 out of 10 face paints tested to contain lead.
TREAT: Fairies, tigers and superheroes rejoice, because you can totally make your own face paint! Mommypotamus has this great recipe for homemade non-toxic Halloween face paint and EcoChildsPlay.com rounded up some great ideas for making your own non-toxic face paint. As she notes in her post, it’s worth pursuing a safer route as children and teens’ developmental stages make their exposure to hormone-altering chemicals even more concerning.
2. Costumes and masks
TRICK: So your kid has fallen in love with a store-bought cartoon character costume, how bad can that be? This study confirmed that an assortment of popular character Halloween costumes and accessories contained flame retardants that posed a serious health risk. Flame retardants may sounds like a good idea in theory, but in practice they can contain a host of toxins, heavy metals and chemicals. They’re linked to health problems like thyroid disruption, memory and learning problems, lower IQ and advanced puberty, and may not even be effective at reducing flammability. Some ways to lower your exposure: buy used or borrow, and let them off-gas outside for at least a day before they’re worn. Better yet, make your own! Womensvoices.org suggests this great roundup of Toddler costumes that can be made from pajamas, and, of course, Pinterest is full of ideas!
TREAT: You can learn how to distinguish non-toxic halloween costumes from the ones that are toxic, thanks to this post from womensvoices.org: 10 Ways To Have A Great Halloween. The main issue here is that many costumes are made of PVC (“vinyl”) and are likely to be contaminated with lead and phthalates, a family of chemicals that are used to make plastic more flexible and also found in personal care products (yep, like face paint!), and are linked to hormone disruption, cancer, respiratory problems and birth defects. Yikes.
3. Treat Bags (and what goes in them!)
TRICK: By now we’ve probably beaten the perils of plastic into your head, but beyond the important health risks for humans big and small, plastics are a serious threat for our oceans and our environment as a whole, as they injure and poison marine and wildlife, disrupt natural habitats, and leach harmful chemicals into groundwater. Invest in a reusable, non-toxic treat bag like these or these. They’re cute and they’ll last a whole childhood. Or, you can always go retro and use a pillowcase.
TREAT: You don’t have to be “the toothbrush house” just because you aren’t handing out candy! In fact, handing out non-toxic Halloween toys or gifts instead of candy is a great way to support families who suffer from food allergies. A great resources for this is the Teal Pumpkin Project! Remember, kids are going to get enough candy at everyone else’s place, but what kid doesn’t love a mini-flashlight or those stretchy/gooey bug things? For even more ideas check out this roundup of 27 Great Candy Alternatives.
Non-Toxic Halloween Doesn’t Have To Be Scary
These simple steps can help you keep your family safe from some of the ghoulish toxins of this season. And, remember, our own synthetic-costume-and-corn-syrup fueled Halloween memories may make us wax nostalgic, but with a little research and some DIY skills, you can create the trick-or-treating memories that childhood dreams are made of, with nary a phthalate in sight.
And, once the trick-or-treating is done, if there is melted candy on a car seat or a fruit popsicle stain on a princess dress, don’t fear! We’re here to help with our toxic chemical free cleaning system that’s as effective as bleach, but gentle enough to clean every magic wand and fairy wing in your minivan.