We use professional grade cosmetic face paints. What this means is that it is specifically designed for face painting. It is hypoallergenic, with an estimated allergic reaction occurring 1 in 10 million. It is always good to check the paint manufacturer's website for other potential hazards, although they are few and far between. Here's a good summary:
1. Face paint is not a sunscreen, and should not be used as such
2. Face paint is not to be used IN the eye, and some paints aren't to be used on the mouth. To solve this issue we do not put paint on the lips at all.
3. The paints have anti-bacterial agents in them to keep them sanitary. They may not mix well with other agents like brush cleaners or sunscreens, and it is best to test a small area first.
We use Wolfe FX and Diamond FX brand face paints primarily, but have Snazaroo, TAG, Silly Farm, and Mehron scattered throughout. They're all hydrocolor paints, so they are easily washed off with soap and water. There are other face paints that are oil based, but those are geared more toward theater make-up and halloween costumes.
Things that should not go on your face are:
1. Acrylics! We see this often. Don't use anything except the brands mentioned above! It will severely irritate the skin, and may cause a reaction.
2. Any paints not in a circular case. If paint is on, say, a paper plate or not being used from its original container that is a good sign that it is not FDA approved for the skin.
3. An unknowledgeable painter. If you ask about the paints they use and you get a vague answer that is also a good sign that the paints aren't safe.
4. Thick looking paint. Paint should look thin and attractive, not clunky and thick. Cheap face paints can be easily identified this way.
Also make sure cosmetic glitters are being used, and any gems are glued on with skin-safe, latex-free glues.
Hopefully this will help you feel a little more confident about what is going on your child's face, and protect them from a bad paint job in the future.