How to Remove Your Halloween Face Paints Without Ruining Your Skin

Halloween and makeup: name a more dynamic duo. The beauty of the holiday (besides the candy) is that you can create an entire costume with Halloween face paint. And depending on your skill level, you can really turn out some horror movie-grade stuff with the right palettes, prosthetics, and maybe a little fake blood. Creating a flawlessly freaky look with face paint doesn’t have to be scary — there are tons of easy Halloween makeup tutorials that will take you step by step through the process.

You know what is scary, though? The aftermath of caking on all that heavy-duty makeup. “Heavy makeup, particularly with silicone, dimethicone, and waxes, can clog pores and increase breakouts,” Lily Talakoub, a board-certified dermatologist in McLean, Virginia, tells Allure. Let’s be real, it takes a lot of serious paint to transform a face, and after a night of spooky-ooky fun with your homies, taking all that makeup off is no easy feat. And things can get especially hairy if you’re a person with sensitive skin.

We don’t want you to be caught out here on November 1 with a complexion nightmare — stained skin, clogged pores, the very first tinglings of a rash. That’s no way to be. So, we asked the pros for the best tips and products for removing all that makeup once the Halloween hijinks are over.

Pick your poison

A few years ago, your only real option for a killer Halloween makeup palette was to invest in some professional theatre-level stuff or go for the cheap options at the Halloween store. The latter often turns out to be nightmarish for your skin, unfortunately. 

“Some of the cheaper options contain more harmful ingredients such as heavy metals, formaldehyde, or formaldehyde releasers, and petrolatum that may be unrefined and contaminated with polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs),” Sejal Shah, a board-certified dermatologist in New York City, tells Allure.

Those heavy metals are used to create the deep, rich pigments in Halloween makeup, Erum Ilyas, a Pennslyvania-based board-certified dermatologist, shares. So yes, those colors might look super vibrant in the pan and on your face, but it’s wise to approach with a degree of caution. “We always worry that not only could [heavy metals be unhealthy] to use but that they can also lead to a lot of irritation or allergic contact reactions as well,” she explains. “Some of the most common are nickel, cadmium, mercury, [and] lead.”

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