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Safe Face Paint Brands - The Ultimate Guide to Choose Safe Face Paints
Recently there has been much discussion about a certain brands that are trying to make their way into the professional face painting world by targeting mostly beginner face painters and some influencing artists in our industry. What follows is our opinion based on some research we have done ourselves from data available to anyone willing to look for it, and based on our years of experience in the industry.
Knowing what we put on kids faces is important, not only because the skin is a very sensitive part of our body but also, if non the less, because if we use products that are not properly tested, and in compliance with regulations and insurance stipulations we could risk being sued. As professional store owners we take our part of the job seriously and we research every brand before we sell it, and if we don't sell it is either because we don't have an interest on it, we were not asked to sell it, or because we don't consider it safe or in compliance with regulations in the countries we sell to.
You can also watch our YouTube video below if you rather see this in video format.
Of course, we don't claim to have the entire truth, but we can make certain opinions based on information available to the public and the experience we have gathered over the years. It is to no point here to mention our store, since this is not about promoting us, or any brand, or about bashing any one brand in particular either, but about learning and understanding what we use and its consequences.
Here are some things that you can try and identify when deciding to work with any one specific brand:
It is important to know where a company that produces a brand is located because if an issue were to arise with their product, you want to be able to reach them, but also, because it speaks to their trustworthiness if they disclose that easily or not. We have recently seen one brand for example that claims to be a small USA based business, but, when one looks at their domain WHOIS information (technical information about their website), which shows were the company that registered the domain (owns the domain) is located, it shows they are located in China.
When you look at their Terms of Service one can see that they claim that the governing law for their of Service, meaning the laws that apply in case of a legal dispute with them is in Canada, and the address listed is that of a home. So, if it was up to me, I would not choose a brand that claims to be a USA small business but when registering their domain they do it so out of China and when declaring the governing law for their Terms of Service they do it out of Canada. A more transparent brand would in our opinion show consistency and have their domain registered with an address in the same country as the governing law for their Terms of Service, and usually also be able to show legal registration as company in that same country.
If a brand claims to be registered in the USA or Europe for example, it should be easy to find their registered official address in that country through a simple Google Search.
A trustworthy company would have their actual legal company name on their website. Most of these newer brands only found on marketplaces like Amazon, etc do not have a company name listed on their website (just the brand but not their legal company name), or a contact us phone number or address, meaning in the case of you having a legal issue all you have is an e-mail address to contact these companies. Most reputable companies, and at least all of the ones we sell at our shop, have a visible company name and address on their website, and most also include a phone number.
Brand Ingredients and Formula
When looking for the ingredients, the USA requires every pigment to be listed on their labels using FD&C and/or D&C Codes to identify the pigments, and the EU requires pigments to be listed by their CI codes. Most of these brands that we are talking about just use the word "pigments" and do not list any of the pigments used. Furthermore, when looking at their published MSDS is very easy to notice that they only list primary colors, sometimes no pigment for Black (which you can not achieve in face paints mixing primary colors), or white, and no neon or pearl pigments even mentioned. Face paints are not like printer inks that allow you to achieve any color by mixing just 3 primary pigments. Each one of those colors is achieved by mixing specific pigments, which for example bare names like FD&C Red 40, D&C Yellow 7, etc. Black is usually achieved using Iron Oxides, which is not listed on many of these brands MSDS. Neon pigments of course require special UV reactive pigments and sometimes too the use of a brightener none of which are usually listed on their MSDS or labels, and pearl pigments require the use of Mica usually, also not listed. Lets not even talk about the fact that most of these brands using neon pigments have no warnings about them not being cosmetic compliant in Europe, USA, Canada and many other countries, a warning that should be present when the product is marketed within those countries, and the product should be marketed accordingly, indicating in which countries is not considered a cosmetic.
When we use a product or brand that hides the ingredients or for whatever reason chooses not to openly list them on their label, you are unaware of what you are using and could cause an allergic reaction. How would you know what to answer if a parent comes and asks you does this paint contain XXX pigment because my kid is allergic to it (many kids are allergic to some red pigments for example)?
The only labels we have seen online for these brands (which rarely choose to show the label) show no company address, no indication of where the product was manufactured and a list of ingredients missing the individual pigments. At least in the USA, FDA requires to list each pigment and ingredients, FDA requires to post an address on your label or a website that then lists an address for your business, your legal business name, etc. You can read all about it on the USA FDA website.
The EU also requires for them to list a EU representative for legal issues and to be registered with the EU cosmetics regulator. Do your research and see if these companies have that information, don't just trust their word for it, do the research, ask to see labels before you buy, ask them to provide you with their registered address if required in your country, etc.
Make sure the label also has safety information, instructions and warnings. A batch number to identify every specific batch produced in case of an allergic reaction, the net weight and the country where it was manufactured.
Use of Copyrighted Designs from Other Artists on their Stencils
As artists we should support eachother and personally we think we should not support companies that use someone else's intellectual property to profit from it without paying for the proper licenses. When looking at many of these brands stencils you can clearly see stencil designs taken from brands like TAP Stencils, Boomerang Stencils, Bad Ass Stencils, Ooh Stencils, PK Stencils, all of which are copyrighted and being used without the proper license from the artists that created them, essentially cheating artists of their work, many of which are small business owners.
Potential Dubious or Untrue Claims
Many of these same brands claim they are manufactured in the same factory as Diamond FX, TAG, Wolfe FX, Global and Fusion. To the best of our knowledge, the brands mentioned are not all produced at the same factory, they are produced at different factories, so that claim is impossible. It can not be produced at a factory that doesn't exist as in our opinion there is not one factory producing all of such brands, which means is either produce at one or other factory, or neither of them and just claiming to be produced on the same factory as well known brands to gain trust from the consumer by jumping on a good reputable brand's name to make their case for their brand.
Regardless, even if the brand was produced at a factory were a different reputable brand is also made it means nothing. The same factory can make cosmetic grade products that complies with EU, UK and USA FDA regulations, or make cheaper products that are made with banned pigments in many countries and you as the customer would not know the difference aside from maybe noticing a pigment that is much more pigmented than usual or one that is very washed out. The same factory can produce whatever you ask the factory, they can also make water colors, chalk, and many other craft products not intended for skin use.
Be Ware of Deceiving Marketing Practices
As it is happening more and more, many brands are paying people to go online and claim they have used a product and they love it, giving the appearance that they just found out about the product by chance. Or posting a picture and asking if anyone knows about the product, creating intrigue and firing up Google and Amazon searches. They give away free products to people with zero knowledge of our industry that then make videos promoting the brand since they got the products in exchange for a product review and these people might give a glowing review without knowing that they have no idea of what that they are putting on their skin, that the labels are missing key legally required information, without knowing where the company is located, if they have insurance for their products, etc.
You might have found a brand just by luck using your preferred marketplace (like Amazon), but it is not chance but an actual very large marketing budget that usually lands you with a specific brand if you did not know it before. But just because you found it there and it claims to be one thing it doesn't mean it is. It is your responsibility as the person applying the paint to someone else to research and make sure that you are buying a safe product, one that can be insured and also is insured by the manufacturer, one that is properly registered with your country's regulators, one that complies with your country's legislations and regulations and one that won't put anyone on harm's way just to save a few dollars here and there. Products aren't simply cheaper just because, more often than not, when price is too good to be true, quality has been compromised in our opinion and corners have been cut. The decision lies with the consumer at the end of the day, but it can have unintended consequences not only for the buyer, at risk of costly legal challenges if something goes wrong, but also it can have unintended health consequences for those that will end up using the product.
Also, a word of caution to those professionals in our industry with a large following that enjoy of a good reputation between artists. Be aware that whatever you say about a brand, even if not intended to sounds like endorsement or promotion, it might very well work as such to the eye of many consumers. So, we would suggest to also use your best judgement when accepting to make an online review about a product and do all of the research and not just focus on the pigmentation and texture, because again, even if you explain you are not being paid and you are not promoting the product, a simple picture of the product being used by you can be taken as such and you might have unintentionally promoted an unsafe product from a company that might very well be deceiving their customers and cheating artists by taking their designs, images, etc to promote their products.
These are just opinions based on data we have found online and our experience in this industry, and we have left the brand names aside because it is not our intention to tarnish the reputation of anyone, but rather to ask the consumer to be an informed consumer, to ask questions and dig deep, not just stay with the first layer of information that might look like enough.