Ghosts, vampires, witches, and zombies – it’s that time of year again when all things scary come out to give us a fright. However, there might be some unwanted spooky surprises that are hiding in your Halloween makeup or costumes: toxic chemicals.

Parabens, lead, cadmium, formaldehyde, PVCs, PBDEs, phthalates – try saying that five times fast! These are just a handful of the toxic chemicals that can be present in Halloween makeup, costumes, and accessories. Many of these chemicals have been linked to health impacts such as reproductive problems and hormone disruption.


sanderson sisters

The good news is that there are safer alternatives that give the same “frightening” effect without the spooky chemicals. Try these simple DIY projects and have a toxic-free Halloween:

1. Costumes

Many plastic masks and costumes are made with toxic chemicals like flame retardants and PVCs – that “plastic-y” smell you notice when you open a package.

Solution: Look for costumes labelled PVC free, hold a (non-toxic) costume swap with friends or use your imagination and create your own costume. A mummy, a Greek Goddess, a ghost, Olaf… the options are endless! And guess what? No one will have the same costume as you!

2. Makeup

Parabens and phthalates are just a few of the toxic chemicals that can be found in cosmetic products, including fake blood and face paint.

Solution: When you’re out shopping for makeup or face paint, check our Toxic Ten Pocket Guide to make sure you’re avoiding harmful chemicals.  Why not try your hands on some DIY supplies?

You can easily make your own fake blood using clear corn syrup, beet juice, a little bit of chocolate syrup, and cornstarch to thicken up the blood. Apply with your finger to get a more natural look!

Create your own face paint by mixing 1 ½ tsp cornstarch or arrowroot powder with ¼ tsp white flour, 2 tsp honey, and ½ tsp water until you get a paste-like consistency. Add natural food colouring to get the colour you want – beet juice makes red, turmeric makes yellow, paprika makes orange, matcha powder makes green, cocoa powder makes brown, activated charcoal powder makes black.

3. Trick-or-Treating

For most kids (and some adults) the best part of Halloween is going trick-or-treating! But in the dark, it’s not always easy to keep track of your kids or friends. Some parents equip their kids with glow sticks, but they could do more harm than good. If they were to crack, phthalates can seep out and irritate your skin. Store-bought trick-or-treat bags can also contain flame retardants that are linked to hormone disruption.

Solution: Buy a roll of reflective tape to put on your or your kid’s costume. Put a few pieces on the front and back so motorists can see you from all angles. Carry an old pillow case (and decorate it!) or a reusable shopping bag to collect candy – they’re sturdy and safe.


Trick or Treat, Give us something good to eat!

With these tips, you can help make sure that your Halloween is spooky fun and not spooky toxic!

Want to learn more? Get up-to-date info about toxic chemicals and your health by signing up for our quarterly Toxics Update newsletter and sign our petition asking the federal government for stricter toxic chemical regulation.