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  • Always look for the CE Mark when buying face paint marketed at children for Halloween
  • Check the packaging displays clear ingredients and instructions for use in English
  • ‘Non-toxic’ does not mean safe for skin – perform a patch test 15 minutes before application
  • NSAI also urges parents to look for standards when buying costumes and props

As thousands of children prepare to put on blood-curdling costumes and fill their trick-or-treat bags to the brim, the National Standards Authority of Ireland (NSAI) is warning parents to pay attention to the types of face paints they use to ensure that all Halloween scares are relegated to the doorstep.

Under Irish and European law, face paints that are marketed at children must display the CE mark, which shows that the manufacturer has complied with the European Commission’s ‘Toy Safety Directive’ (2009/48/EC). Additionally, the packaging should display clear ingredients, instructions for use, and include the manufacturer’s or importer’s contact details. People should also consider using face paints coloured with natural pigments, if possible.

“Most face paints do not pose a risk when the directions on the label are followed and when the product is used properly,” said Pat Bracken, NSAI’s Director of Corporate Services. 

“However, children have more sensitive skin, so we recommend performing a patch test on the child’s wrist 15 minutes before application.  If any redness develops, don’t use the face paint,” he added.

NSAI is also urging parents to be aware of any adverse reaction and pay attention to comments from children on how the face paint feels.  Remember, ‘non-toxic’ does not always mean safe for skin.

The warning around children’s face paints comes as NSAI publishes its 7 Halloween Safety Tips for 2017, which aim to ensure that the most terrifying time of the year is frightening for all the right reasons.

7 Halloween Safety Tips for 2017

1. Look for the CE mark and flame-resistant labels on costumes

Look for the CE mark and the flame resistant label when shopping for a Halloween costume or accessories. These marks show that the manufacturer has complied with national and international standards. Although this label does not mean these items won't catch fire, it does indicate the items will resist burning and should extinguish quickly once removed from the ignition source.

Look for costumes made from 100% synthetic fibres like nylon or polyester.  Costumes that are made of one single type of material will often catch fire more slowly than those that are made out of lots of different materials.

2. Look for the CE Mark on Halloween toys

If your child is carrying a plastic costume prop or toy, such as a mask or a pitchfork, look for the CE Mark. Under Irish and European law, toys placed on the European market must display the CE Mark.  The CE Mark demonstrates that the manufacturer has complied with the Irish and European standard, I.S. EN 71 "Safety of Toys", and the product has undergone safety testing in the design and manufacture process. Make sure the props and toys your child is using this Halloween are age appropriate. 

3. Ensure Halloween novelty lights are safe

Halloween novelty lights, similar in style to Christmas lights, are widely available in shops.  However, all electrical products sold in the EU must also comply with safety standards and must carry a CE mark.  The mark should be visible on the product itself or on its packaging.  If it doesn't have the CE mark, don't buy it. When lighting up pumpkins, opt for battery-operated candles instead of lit ones.

4. Take extra care with glitter and capes

In order to protect your children from the risk of burns, we advise you avoid costumes with glitter as it tends to be more flammable.  Also be careful of capes, trains and dangling sleeves, which can drag and graze a naked flame more easily.

5. Read the label on face paints

As outlined above, always look for the CE mark when buying face paints and ensure that the ingredients are clearly displayed on the packaging in English.

6. Remember to stay visible

Ensure your child is wearing bright or light coloured clothing where possible, when trick-or-treating.  Give them a glow stick to carry or buy reflective tape and attach it to your child’s costume, to ensure they are visible to motorists.

7. Stop, Drop and Roll

If the worst does happen and your child comes into contact with a candle or fire, make sure they know to stop, drop to the ground and roll around.  Allow the ground to suffocate the flames and not your hand. 

Follow the hashtag, #HalloweenSafety on social media.