Scaring While Caring: How to Keep Your Skin Healthy on Halloween

Author: Dr. Bobby Buka

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Far more frightening than anything you might see on Halloween is what might appear in your mirror the next morning, should you resort to using face paint as part of your costume.

The dangers posed by such products to your skin are very real. The gremlins contained within them — all those ghastly waxes and oils — can leave you looking positively ghoulish.

You can exorcise these demons through several steps:

1. Preparation:

Sure, it’s easy to see why you might be tempted to cheap out on face paint. We’re likely talking about a single night’s usage here, after all. Just a few hours. No harm in going the economical route, right?

But rather than costume makeup, consider the alternatives. Consider theatrical makeup, if you can swing it, or the sort of everyday makeup that can be found in garden-variety retail outlets like drugstores or big-box stores. They have more than enough options and colors to suit your needs, and — even better — they are not as harmful to your skin and general health as their less expensive counterpart.

These concerns are that much greater when it comes to kids’ facepaint. A 2009 study by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics discovered the “widespread presence of toxic chemicals in cosmetic products marketed to kids,” including lead, nickel, cobalt and chromium.

Lead is a particular concern. As noted by the World Health Organization, it is a “cumulative toxicant that affects multiple body systems” and can have especially harmful effects on children. The WHO further states that there is no known level of lead exposure that is safe.

Bottom line: Steer clear of cheap costume makeup.

2. Moisturization:

Taking this step before you dab on the Dracula makeup can have practical purposes; the makeup will simply look better. Like an artist working with a blank canvas, you will now be applying your face paint to a clean, fresh surface. Patches of dry skin, which would have looked that much worse under the makeup, will be safely tucked out of sight.

From a health standpoint, you will be creating a layer between your skin and the face paint. That will protect your skin and help you avoid acne, itching, etc.

3. Washing:

While it might be tempting to come home from a Halloween party, peel off your costume, and drop into bed, don’t. Wash the face paint off. Use cold cream. Use a glycerine-based bar soap. Use coconut oil and a washcloth. But just do it.

It’s essential that you do so, in much the same way it’s essential to wash off everyday makeup: It removes impurities and dead skin and lessens the likelihood of those regrettable blackhead breakouts.

Were you to leave your face paint on while you sleep, you would deprive your skin the opportunity to renew itself, as it does every night. It is not given the chance to breathe, which will result in signs of fatigue — dryness, flakiness, etc.

4. Exfoliation:

Be sure to do this the next day. Whether by washcloth or sponge, exfoliating cream or mask, this is a final necessary step in the process. It not only removes any remaining stains but much like everyday exfoliation helps with the removal of dead skin cells; the body sheds 30,000 to 40,000 every minute.

The other thing about exfoliation is that it improves circulation, which in addition to the overall health benefit improves the skin’s elasticity, helping to alleviate the signs of scars and cuts.

Skin getting a little scary? Consult with NYC’s most sought-after dermatologist; make an appointment with Bobby Buka MD on ZocDoc today.