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The Complete Guide to Non-Toxic Makeup For Kids

Children might feel attracted to your makeup. They like to mimic what you do and "steal" your cosmetics to try them on or apply them to their dolls. It's normal, it's called pretend play, and children love it. However, you should make sure they only come in contact with non-toxic makeup for kids.

Makeup for "grown-ups" is not a toy. Some of the ingredients in the beauty products we use daily or weekly are not "cute and charming". They are chemical compounds, including pesticides, toxins or metals, that can act as hormone disruptors.

They are not perfect for adults either, but children are even more vulnerable. However, what are these toxic chemicals in makeup? And how do you tell non-toxic makeup from toxic makeup?

This is an honest guide to non-toxic makeup for kids. We will go through the usual cosmetics chemicals list and point out the "usual suspects".

Makeup for Adults vs Non-toxic Makeup for Kids

You might think there is a marketing gimmick here and non-toxic makeup for kids is the same as adult makeup. Well, no, it isn't.

You can offer your kids the chance of painting their nails with non-toxic peel-off nail polish. You can have a great time together applying non-toxic lip balm or blush.

It's true; kids' non-toxic makeup set might not seem as glamorous as an adult makeup sets. However, it's still plenty of fun, and you can teach your children about responsibility and taking care of their skin.

Children are much more vulnerable

Adult makeup is for adults. That's it. Even if you use chemical-free makeup and pay a lot of attention to the potentially toxic chemicals in cosmetics, we still don't recommend you let your children use your products.

First of all, you need to be cautious as children are much more vulnerable. They are growing. They have thin skins, smaller lungs, and a higher surface-to-weight ratio. Their bodies cannot deal with the different chemical compounds as fast as adult bodies can. Even the lowest doses of chemicals can cause damage.

Secondly, children are more prone to inadequate uses of makeup. They might inhale the fumes more, put their fingers in their mouth without washing their hands etc. Or worse, they can accidentally swallow some of the chemicals in cosmetics. Trying your lipstick for fun is not ok, especially if it's not part of a chemical-free makeup list.

Thirdly, extravagant makeup for adults is not exactly the first thing your children should try. Makeup for kids is more subtle, innocent and age-appropriate. Research looks that are suitable for your little ones' age and then test them together. Don't go full-on glam.

So, this is why you need to make sure your little ones get in contact with non-toxic makeup for kids first. It is ideal to introduce your children to makeup before they start stealing your cosmetics. Talk to them about wearing makeup and the reasons why people choose to do that. Teach your little ones about the responsibility of using these products, and try to set a balance and some rules to using makeup.

What is Non-Toxic Makeup for Kids?

The best non-toxic makeup for kids will allow your children to freely express their creativity and fashion while keeping their sense of wonder and innocence.

What is more, non-toxic makeup for kids should be dermatologically-tested, hypoallergenic, chemical-free, and water-based if possible. Furthermore, kids makeup shall be perfume-free to make sure they do not come in contact with phthalates.

Phthalates are common chemical compounds used to increase the durability and longevity of plastics. But this is just one category of chemicals that you find in cosmetics.

Toxic Chemicals to Avoid in Makeup for kids

This guide will go through all the common chemicals in cosmetics that are best avoided in kids' play makeup. 

Phthalates

These chemical compounds are present in many of our day-to-day cosmetics, perfumes, even in packaged foods, hair care products, or detergents.

Phthalates are also known as plasticisers, and their main goal is to increase the durability, longevity and flexibility of plastic compounds. They were first employed in the 1920s to ensure that products had a longer shelf life and could preserve their colours and fragrance.

So, today, these "plasticisers" are still in use. They act as binding agents in many cosmetics, haircare or skincare products.

For example, in shampoos, phthalates are gelling agents that also help preserve the fragrance for much longer.

Phthalates usually come in the form of an oily liquid that has no odour or colour. Our skins can absorb these phthalates. We can inhale or ingest them, and they tend to bind together, generating even more damaging effects.

So, why should you avoid them in your kids' makeup sets? 

Phthalates can cause hormonal disruptions like Endocrine problems and allergies if you're continuously exposed to them. Their chemical structure enables them to be released into the environment rather than stay inside the product. So, you can be exposed to these chemicals for more extended periods.

Other damaging effects include asthma, eczema, ADHD or early puberty.

Formaldehyde

Formaldehyde is a chemical used in construction products such as plywood or fiberboards, different types of adhesives, coatings and insulation materials. It can also act as an industrial fungicide, disinfectant and preservative in medical laboratories.

In the beauty industry, Formaldehyde is a preservative that helps extend the shelf life of cosmetics. It's important to note that this is not an entirely artificial chemical. Living organisms also produce Formaldehyde as a result of normal metabolic operations.

However, The International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC) has placed it on their list of human carcinogens. Nonetheless, it is dangerous only when its fumes are inhaled. Hence, the beauty products.

In some cases, Formaldehyde could also irritate skin, eyes or the respiratory tract. Small amounts are used in cosmetics for grown-ups. However, we recommend your kids to pretend to wear makeup.

Toluene

Toluene is a colourless aromatic hydrocarbon used in aviation and automotive fuels. It is less dense and can float on water. Its vapours can prove toxic by inhalation, ingestion or contact.
 
Toluene is known to be a harmful endocrine disruptor. Moreover, it has been linked with specific short-term neurological effects such as dizziness and headaches - much like the "high" from glue and petrol sniffing.

The typical levels of exposure to toluene from nail polishes are not considered dangerous for adults. Nevertheless, manicurists working in poorly-ventilated salons might experience more severe levels of exposure.

Styrene

Styrene is a flammable and volatile polymer used to make rubber and other plastics, insulation, food containers etc.

In cosmetics, styrene is a film formerly used in personal care products, sunscreens, lotions etc. Its large molecules do not penetrate the skin. However, inhaling it might cause irritations.

Low absorptions are considered safe for adults. However, in high quantities, it could be a potential carcinogen.

Parabens


Parabens are the most common preservatives used in cosmetics and perfumes.

Parabens can easily penetrate the skin and, based on evidence, can obstruct the hormone function. Preliminary research suggests a potential connection between cosmetics parabens and cancer.

It's true; parabens occur naturally in food as well. We eat them in strawberries, carrots, onions, even barley or currants. However, when we eat them, we also metabolise them, and they're not harmful that way.

When we apply parabens to the skin, they are absorbed in our bodies and bypass our natural metabolic process. Therefore, they get into our bloodstream intact, without being broken down by our metabolism.

A lot more research is needed to assess the damage parabens can do to our bodies. However, it is best to avoid them in cosmetics, especially if we're talking about kids makeup kits.

Perfume

Well, it's true. Perfume excites us. It has the power to make us feel good on a bad day. It's poetry. We rely heavily on our sense of smell to decide what we like and don't like in all aspects of our lives.

However, we should not ignore the multitude of chemicals used in modern-day perfumes. Apart from the fragrance we apply to our skin and clothes; we smell perfume in cosmetics, laundry detergents, softeners and all sorts of body care products.

These fragrances contain thousands of chemicals that can trigger asthma symptoms, cause allergies, migraines and irritations. We might not even know they are to blame for these side effects.

UK research shows that perfumes are the second most common cause of allergies in dermatology patients.

So, try to stick to odour-free makeup for kids and keep your children away from these fragrance chemicals as much as possible.

Alcohol

We all know this one, right? Well, we might not know all of it, though. Alcohol refers to a wide "household" of chemicals. It comes in many forms and has several attributes. For example, some types of alcohol can help moisturise the skin, while others can dry it. Moreover, alcohol can also be a very good preservative in cosmetics.
In skincare, oral care, fragrance, makeup, shaving product, alcohol is ever-present. So, what are the pros and cons of using alcohol in cosmetics?

First of all, alcohol can dissolve grease and dirt from our hands and faces. Is this a good thing? Well, if you have oily skin, an alcohol-based lotion can help reduce the sebum clogging the pores. However, if you have naturally dry, sensitive skin, the alcohol-based products can cause eczema or allergies while also drying out the skin excessively.

Alcohol is not recommended for makeup for kids because it can boost the absorption of all the other cosmetics ingredients.

As for adult makeup, if you have a normal skin type, alcohol is unlikely to cause any issues. However, we recommend you also avoid it if you know you have sensitive skin, as it might cause burns and other skin irritations.

Palm Oil

Palm oil is a common compound for a lot of skincare products. Together with its derivatives, palm oil is used in about 70% of all the cosmetics products out there right now.

From basic shower gels to luxury moisturisers, palm oil is there. In its raw form, this type of oil is not harmful to the skin. On the contrary, it has powerful antioxidant capabilities that can reduce the activities of free radicals and the visible signs of ageing.

However, since palm oil is so widely used, you will never know what type of chemical processes it goes through, including bleaching.

What is more, the high quantity of oleic fatty acids in palm oil can block the pores in sensitive skin and lead to acne outbreaks. This is a risk you don't want to take, especially for your children.

Certain palm oil derivatives can also dry out the skin by washing away much of the skin's natural oil.

What is more, palm oil is cheap, and the high global demand poses a serious sustainability issue. Plantations take the place of large-scale tropical forests, disrupting wildlife and people's lives while also releasing considerable amounts of greenhouse gases.

More than 900,000 people from Indonesia have suffered from the ever-growing palm plantations.

Indirectly, the cosmetics industry's demand for palm oil leads to large-scale tropical forest deforestation.

How to Get Started with Makeup for Kids in 5 Steps

If your children are interested in makeup, it's important to talk with them first. Tell them a story about the different types of makeup and why it's not a good idea to wear adult cosmetics yet.

Encourage them to have fun and express their creativity with non-toxic makeup for kids, but watch them closely.

Even odour-free, alcohol-free, non-toxic makeup for kids should be used under adult supervision.

We recommend you follow these five easy steps!

1. Buy Non-Toxic makeup products that avoid all the chemical compounds presented in this guide.

Shop for products with few ingredients and avoid anything that even sounds harmful.

2. Less is better

Ease into makeup slowly. Start with some peel-off water-based nail polish, and then maybe some perfume-free, chemical-free lip balm.

In time, after you make sure your little ones understand how to use the products, you can add some eye shadows, maybe even a full beauty case.

3. Watch closely for any signs of skin irritation

The little ones have very sensitive and thin skins. So, even the best non-toxic makeup might trigger some allergic reactions. It's best to go with hypoallergenic products and watch out for any side effects after the first 2-4 applications.

4. Take additional precautions in case of sensitive and acne-prone skin 

If your little one has acne-prone skin, it would be best to steer away from any "heavy" foundations or creams for longer.

Make sure you talk to them about this and explain that skincare is not only about applying those cosmetics as they see on Social Media. Sometimes, skincare is about not using those and taking care of your skin.

5. Help them Maintain a Healthy Routine

As your little ones grow up, they might want to transition to more adult-like makeup. Make sure they already know the basics of skincare routines by then.

Non-toxic makeup for kids is a good "training ground" for a healthy and thriving beauty routine as they grow older.

More than this, take the time to teach your children that makeup will only enhance their inner beauty, and it should not be used to change who they really are. The most beautiful part of us is who we are inside, and that's what children should learn from a very young age. It's the highway to self-love and freedom.

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