(stock photo from freeimages.com)
These days, it seems I can’t look anywhere on the internet (read also: tumblr and pinterest) without seeing some kind of beauty “hack” that involves turning crayons, colored pencils, and even acrylic paint into some kind of cosmetic application. At first glance, it seems awesome: DIY cosmetics that save you a TON of money and also provide a myriad of funky colors that may be hard to find in regular cosmetic brands. But seriously? Don’t buy into the hype.
But they’re listed as non-toxic! That means they’re safe, right?
Wrong. Non-toxic simply means that if your kid eats a crayon or two, it won’t poison and kill them. In fact, many chemicals and compounds are non-toxic in small doses, but get enough of it in your system/have a prolonged exposure to it and it becomes a problem. The term “non-toxic” is also not regulated, so it is essentially meaningless.
There is also a huge difference between eating a crayon (where the wax has a higher melting point than human body temperature and doesn’t dissolve or interact with the fluids in the stomach) and deliberately altering the structure of the crayon (mixing it with an oil that has a lower melting point and possibly absorbs into the skin) for cosmetic application.
The dyes and pigments used in art supplies are not tested to be safe to use on your skin. In fact, certain dyes (especially the ones used in crayons and colored pencils) can cause moderate to severe skin irritation or worse.
But there’s lead in lipstick!
The amount of lead present in lipsticks has been deemed safe for cosmetic application and the amount in crayons has not been tested, but the Consumer Product Safety Commission allows more lead to be present in crayons – approx. 100 parts per million – than the FDA allows in lipstick – approx. 20 parts per million. That’s five times as much. Do you really want to chance it? The pigments used in cosmetics have to be approved by the FDA for skin exposure. Even still, many cosmetics companies will warn against using certain color cosmetics in the eye or lip area, because of the possible toxicity of the specific pigments when worn around mucous membranes.
There is no reason to put yourself at risk with potentially dangerous compounds when there are plenty of budget cosmetics that make great quality cosmetics that are safe for everyday wear. If you’re into drugstore brands, Wet N’ Wild has lipsticks that are roughly $2-3 apiece and are super pigmented and long-lasting. Nearly everything produced by e.l.f. cosmetics is great quality (I personally use their primer and eyebrow kits regularly) and NYX is an up until recently fairly unknown brand that has been used by drag queens and cosmetic aficionados alike for years. If online shopping is more your thing, BH Cosmetics sells huge palettes that are pretty good quality for fairly cheap, and they’re also always having sales. Finally, while a little more pricey, I always have to give a shout to Geek Chic Cosmetics because they’re a small company and their loose powders are divine.
So TL;DR: if money is the issue and you want bold cosmetic colors for everyday wear, there are plenty of companies that make cheap but quality cosmetics. Is it the thrill of DIY you’re looking for? Just do a quick google search for “make your own cosmetics” and dozens of companies that sell pretty much everything you need to create your own lipsticks, glosses, eyeshadows, etc., and they’re all safe for you to wear on your skin.