Face paints for children, and indeed adults, are a form of exposure to cosmetic chemicals you may not have given much consideration to, but given the quantity and extent of use on the skin — even more so in the case of body paints — it’s particularly important to avoid any ingredients you react to, MI included.
Before using any, check ingredients, call manufacturers, and perform tiny patch tests if you can. If you’ve hired a face painter for a party, ask to check ingredients — not only of paints, but of make-up removers / cleansers etc.
We contacted several manufacturers of face paints worldwide to enquire about their ingredients and isothiazolinone use.
This US brand told us their face painting products are MI and parabens free. Their preservation system is based on CAP-5, which consists of phenoxyethanol, caprylyl glycol, potassium sorbate and hexylene glycol. They are vegan, nut / peanut free, free of the other main food allergens and describe their range as hypoallergenic.
There is a lengthy discussion of Ruby Red’s product safety profile, incorporating a lot of information on allergies, at their site here.
This UK-based brand’s solid face paints are methylisothiazolinone and paraben free. Notable ingredients include talc, lanolin (meaning they are not vegan), propylene glycol and various colours. The preservation system is phenoxyethanol and ethylhexylglycerin.
Regarding food allergens, they say that some of their products “do contain sources of soybean or derivatives”. No peanut or tree nut is used, but they cannot make a nut free claim as no routine nut testing is conducted on site, and some materials may theoretically come into contact with nut derivatives.
This is a UK fancy dress and make-up company, catering for adults and children. They told us that “our cosmetics are free from the preservative methylisothiazolinone and related preservatives. Our manufacturers use only phenoxyethanol …”.
This is a recommendation from reader Melanie. They use natural oils, pigments and clays, and are preserved with a mix of phenoxyethanol and caprylyl glycol. They are probably among the most natural options available. The Natural Face Paint Kit contains beeswax so is not vegan. The Earth Oil Paint Kit uses walnut oil, but is available without it. Note also that the Original Children’s Earth Paints kit contains milk protein – although the Children’s Earth Paint Kit does not appear to. Ingredients are given on the site.
As of October 2019, the brand told us: “We currently have no MI/MCI in any of our formulations”. Many products are vegan (a list can be sent to you if you drop them an email).
It’s worth pointing out that, up until 2016 / 2017, several of their water-based products contained a preservative blend which included MI. However the transition to a preservative blend consisting of phenoxyethanol and iodopropynyl butylcarbamate began several years ago, which is presumably now complete. Check any old stock carefully, but you should be fine if you now buy from the brand direct.
We approached the following brands, but have not yet received a response. We’ll update the page if and when we do.
TAG Body Art
Dress Up America
If you know of others, or would like us to look into other brands, leave a comment and we’ll approach the manufacturers.
For ordinary make-up, see our dedicated MI / MCI-free Make-up Directory.