How Safe Is Kids' Makeup, Really?

In a time when 6-year-olds are doling out contouring tips and celebrity kids are moonlighting as makeup artists, it makes sense that the demand for "play makeup" is at an all-time high. But just because something is marketed for children doesn't necessarily make it safer, as Kylie and Tony Cravens quickly discovered.
The Illinois-based couple recently took to Facebook to share their daughter Lydia's alleged reaction to a "non-toxic" cosmetics set sold at Family Dollar. "Thinking it was harmless ..non toxic .. kids make up set and having bought Lydia this same type of thing .. just different brand ...we never imagined after spending the day applying to her eyes and lips that our worst nightmare would come true," they wrote in the post.
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Within 24 hours, the Cravens claimed that Lydia "went from 100% healthy to her eyes swollen and blistered shut.. with a rash all over her body that we would have to apply cold packs to every 30 minutes or so because her skin was burning." The photos of her severe reaction have since gone viral on social media.
Randy Guiler, Family Dollar's vice president of investor relations, tells Refinery29 in a statement that while the company has not heard from the family directly, they are aware of the post. "In 2016, we purchased a supplier’s product matching the photo in social media. In accordance with our procedures, our supplier’s product had been independently tested for toxic chemicals. Upon being made aware of this incident, we re-confirmed that test results showed that no toxic chemicals were found in these make-up kits. We have received no other complaints or claims of allergic reactions related to this product."
Lydia's doctors claim that she had an allergic reaction to an unspecified chemical in the product — meaning this could be an isolated incident for that particular item. But it's certainly not the first time that safe-for-kids makeup has made headlines. Earlier this year, USA Today reported that a Rhode Island-based mother, Kristi Warner, was horrified to learn that her daughter's glitter makeup from Claire's tested positive for tremolite asbestos.
Not only do situations like these shed light on the need for more regulation in the cosmetic industry, but they also prove just how important it is to do patch tests and educate yourself on ingredients — especially when it comes to what you're putting on children. "Kids' skin is more sensitive than adult skin," explains Dr. Alan J. Parks, MD, dermatologist and founder of DermWarehouse. "Some have allergic reactions to glycerin in makeup. Another possibility is that the makeup may have been old and therefore not safe for the child (or anyone) to use. At a young age, children may also not know how they react to certain things. If they are going to use any makeup, parents should do a patch test to make sure they don't have any allergic reactions before letting them put the makeup all over."
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Fortunately, Lydia is fine and back at home from the hospital recovering — but if this story isn't enough to convince you to take the necessary safety precautions before applying a lipstick, we don't know what will.
We've reached out to the Cravens for additional comment.

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