Walmart Sells Lead-Tainted Facepaint For Kids

This facepaint for kids, sold by Walmart, contains lead. It says it right on the package. What the hell?! Maybe it’s the tubes that contain the lead, not the paint? Doesn’t sound right. Well, at least it doesn’t smear. Large version, inside.

Wal-Mart Selling Lead Paint…To Put On Your Kid’s Face! [Wal-Mart Watch]


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  1. cmcd14 says:

    lead, mmm mmm good.

  2. AMetamorphosis says:

    Its Walmart …

    and why is anyone surprised?

    • boxjockey68 says:

      @AMetamorphosis: agreed, by certainly we all know or at least must have heard that walmart is a substandard store, that sells substandard (and at times dangerous) products. Ya know, it would be so nice if the “save money, live better” thing were true, but alas, if it walks like a duck, and shits like a duck…then it’s most likely walmart.

    • dorastandpipe says:

      I am not surprised at all…but it is not a Wal Mart exclusive. The face paint at TARGET had lead in it as well. Expect more, pay less anyone? Anyone?

  3. uberbucket says:

    Egad, what do you expect for a $1?

    • humphrmi says:

      @uberbucket: Just curious, at what price point is it no longer acceptable to include poison in childrens products?

    • Serenefengshui says:

      @uberbucket: I found made in the USA, no lead added face paint at Fred Meyer (part of the Kroger “family” of stores) for just .99.

      • Skipweasel says:

        @Serenefengshui: There’s a considerable difference between “No lead” and “No lead added”
        I presume the WalMart item has traces of lead occuring in it which are probably below the reporting level for most states, but not California.

        • mythago says:

          @Skipweasel: Oh, that’s a relief. If the State of Mississippi thinks it’s perfectly OK to put lead on my kid’s face, I won’t pay any attention to what those Californians think about it.

          • Skipweasel says:

            @mythago: You find me something that has literally no lead and I’ll eat my hat. Part of the problem with improving analytical techniques it that it gives you more to worry about. If the lead contained in it was below the amount you’d expect to find in, for example, chocolate, would you be pleased or start worrying about chocolate? Since it doesn’t say how much lead, it’s a pointless argument.
            Oh, and lay off the Brazil nuts, they’re radioactive.

            • OletheaEurystheus says:

              @mythago: You really shouldn’t. The problem with California is there is a awful lot of people who are generally clueless running things there like a helicoptering mother.

              • bairdwallace says:

                @OletheaEurystheus: Agreed! Everything in California has a warning sign on it, including our parking lots, about cancer causing chemicals. What, are we going to eat the parking lots? This isn’t the first California warning sign that’s gotten a product undue attention on the consumerist.

          • m4ximusprim3 says:

            @mythago: No offense, but in california we kind of assume that much of the southeast had lead smeared on their faces as children.

            It explains a lot :)

  4. mythago says:

    You expect that WalMart will not sell dangerous products to children, and that “but it’s $1” is not an excuse for putting this crap on the shelves. Was that so hard?

    • TVarmy says:

      @mythago: It doesn’t even mater if it’s meant for children. It’s a product meant to be applied topically that contains a neurotoxin that serves only an aesthetic purpose. There is no good reason to justify this. This is America, a country with laws and regulations meant to protect us, and enforcement to uphold those laws. We shouldn’t have to worry about poisons when we go to the store to buy something meant for our SKIN.

      • mythago says:

        @TVarmy: I agree. Just not getting all the too-cynical-for-you replies about what do you expect at Walmart for $1, blah blah. Well, I expect them not to sell products that are toxic when used as intended.

      • OletheaEurystheus says:

        @TVarmy: Just to point out, just because there is a law about something doesnt mean that the law actually makes sense.

        We have laws against Marijuana, yet those laws where made for racist reasons, and had nothing to do with public safety. And as pointed out this was from California which as a state has a insane amount of stupid laws that have no scientific basis. Everything has lead in it, even if lead is not being used to alter the actual product (like lead in house paint did) its VERY possible that compounds your using just to create the colors might have trace amount of lead in it. In any other place those trace amounts might be so low to not even be mentionable and far below dangerous limits, but in California things are different.

        Just remember, in California water is considered a cancerous substance.

  5. roguemarvel says:

    but how much lead. Red lipstick and candy often have lead in them but trace amounts that are harmless. Its possible that there is actually very little and harmless about of lead in these face paints but they have to put a warning on for whatever reason. If you are concerned about lead don’t buy them. At least they are letting you know up front so you can avoid the product.

    • mythago says:

      @roguemarvel: Enough lead that they are required to put a warning on the packaging. That’s not “harmless trace amounts”. Why is this even being sold?

      • ShyamasriHamjelly says:


        Please note the warning mentions California. It’s my understanding that Calif. has a much stricter lead composition law and requires this warning on products with any lead in them at all.

        Someone please correct me if that’s wrong.

      • roguemarvel says:

        @mythago: Well as someone pointed out this is in California. They have very strict laws about warning labels. Basically if it has a trace amount of anything that could be harmful they have a warning label.

        You can’t go into a building with out seeing a warning sign saying the building may have materials in it that can cause birth defects.

        • PinkBox says:

          @roguemarvel: Roguemarvel is right. When I lived in California, I noticed those signs in many places I’d never seen them before.

          • Josh_G says:


            Yes, Prop 65 pretty much means everything has warning labels on it if there is even a chance that it could be sold in California. Especially since private citizens are allowed to turn in companies that don’t put the warning labels on their products and get a percentage of the fine as a reward.

            If this facepaint had an illegal level of lead in it, Wal-mart wouldn’t even be allowed to sell it, warning label or not. People thinking this warning label means the lead level is high need to review Prop 65 and the state of lawsuit happy USA.

      • spazztastic says:

        @mythago: It’s the ‘ignore this warning from the state of California’ label that every product you buy now has on it.

      • trk182 says:

        @mythago: if it’s not harmless trace amounts then it wouldn’t be sold…soooo.

    • Robobot says:

      @RodAox: That’s pretty much my conclusion. In this case if you bother to just glance at what you’re buying, you will the warning. If not, that’s your fault. I saw a similar warning on white face paint at my local Target.

      It’s different if a product contains a crazy-illegal amount of lead without bothering to mention it, but this is pretty clear.

  6. Oranges w/ Cheese says:

    But its only dangerous in california – says so right on the packaging!

    • CyrusOpeth says:

      @Oranges w/ Cheese: Bill Hicks did a hilarious bit on cigarettes. He shopped carefully for his packs: “Found my brand. Just don’t get the ones that say ‘lung cancer’. Shop around. It is your body. ‘Yeah, give me a carton of low birth weights. I think I can live with low birth weight, line ’em up…”

  7. supercereal says:

    To be fair, the product came from a California Wal-Mart. You can’t take two steps in CA without seeing the “This product/location may contain X, which is know by this state to cause Y.” Heck, several things I own had that label, including electronics and plastic bins, which doesn’t appear on the same product in other states (the hotel I stayed at a few weeks ago down in LA even had the same warning). It seems to me that they just slap the label on everything, whether or not it’s actually dangerous.

  8. Ajh says:

    California has stricter regulations in regards to lead. It’s not considered dangerous in any part of the country other than there and maybe one or two other states.

    I wouldn’t put it on a kid’s face though.

    • Morberis says:


      Oh yes, no one else considers it dangerous which is why we still have lead based paints filling up our shelves. Though I’m betting you meant not in quantities found in that face paint.

  9. bubbledumpster says:

    I bought a ton of these at the beginning of October when they first put them out. I’ve seen those California warnings on soooo many things (mostly at Wal-Mart now that I think about it). But I don’t see anything on the packaging about kids…

  10. Triborough says:

    I think the math goes something like this:
    Wal-Mart + Red China = dangerous product made in China

  11. RodAox says:

    Well it says contains lead with huge letters on the packaging… it would be another story if it did not. This would be like me complaining about smoking cigarettes…it says on the box that its gonna give me cancer same idea here…

  12. Anonymous says:

    actually i live in arizona, and i noticed ALL of the adult and children costumes had that warning including masks you put on your face, so i voted with my dollar, and did not celebrate halloween this year because it is nothing more than about corportate greed when you cannot even buy a costume cheap without poisioning yourself!

    • SabreDC says:

      @SatyaDenby: Halloween has ALWAYS been about corporate greed. It has nothing to do with the materials used to make costumes. They haven’t changed too much, they are just required to report more information about them. Do you think the makeup and costumes from the 70s, 80s, and 90s were any better for you? We live in a world dominated by paranoia, not greed.

    • VigilanteKitteh says:

      @SatyaDenby: You could have celebrated by making your own costumes…That’s the way we’ve always done it!

      • m4ximusprim3 says:

        @VigilanteKitteh: We celebrated by buying chocolate “for the trick or treaters” even though we never, EVER, get kids where we live. Then we act all dissappointed that nobody comes to our house and eat all of the chocolate.

        Just thinking about it warms my heart.

  13. marzak says:

    much like most everything else they sell, it probably came from china

  14. Anonymous says:

    There is some makeup at JoAnn Fabrics that is like this too. It was a goth makeup kit, and had THIS CONTAINS LEAD right on the package. I guess having lead in your toys isn’t bad enough, we need to start applying it directly to our mouths.

  15. oneliketadow says:

    Where’s the Made in China logo?

  16. socalrob of the 24 and a half century says:

    At least their faces will be protected in the case of a nuclear blast.

  17. Yoko Broke Up The Beatles says:

    Bummer about the lead paint. While you are here, can I interest you in the latest AC/DC album?

  18. ionerox says:

    Well… as long as you’re not eating the face paint you should be fine. Lead particles are quite large and not easily absorbed through the skin.

  19. xaqdesign says:

    My wife actually bought some of this to paint her face with. She ended up not using it. We usually don’t shop at wal-mart but we were next door and just ran in.

    Our package is exactly the same but does not have the Lead warning at all.

    Interesting…I think. I’m glad we didn’t use it.

  20. UriImbeciliot says:

    I saw this and went straight to my bedroom and the package of the facepaint crayons I used on my husband for his Halloween costume. Exact same crayons, exact same packaging, but no lead warning. Bought in Pennsylvania – there’s the only difference.

  21. MCWHAMMER says:

    Crap, I used a ton of crayon type paint for my Joker costume. I should technically be dead, yes?

  22. withoutnations says:

    as others have mentioned, this is required by law in California. its a common warning on electrical products (extension cords, outlet adapters, etc) under Prop 65. Its cheaper to print the warning on all packages for all distribution.

    • MCWHAMMER says:

      @nosidedown: Ack, why are my ears bleeding!?!?

    • hapless says:

      Most electric devices contain lead solder.

      Most small appliances and extension cords etc have an additional lead source: flexible insulation on electrical cords often contains a significant amount of lead.

  23. IrvCrapper says:

    Sure you lose feeling in your fingers and your IQ drops, but the colors are so much more brilliant.

  24. XianZhuXuande says:

    Everything is known to cause cancer in the state of California.

    I say this as an East Bay resident.

  25. NilzXX says:

    That sure is strange. I wonder what happens when you eat the facepaint…

    • mcnerd85 says:

      @NilzXX: I cannot imagine any sort of negative result to that whatsoever. Besides cancer. But maybe there would be a fun acid trip! Wait, I’d probably see clowns. eye h8 clownz

  26. ralfhutter says:

    As far as paint goes or oil based makeup (which is really what this is) there is absolutely no reason for it to contain any lead. This is not 1915. My guess is it was made at a really small unsophisticated manufacturer or China (which is really a euphemism for unsophisticated manufacturer).

  27. Corporate-Shill says:

    I sense greater consumer protection regulations starting on January 21, 2009 ……

    hint, hint, it don’t matter who gets elected. Henry Waxman (D)California, Chairman of House Oversight and Government Reform Committee already has his proposed laws written and is just waiting for a majority in Congress and a President (either candidate) that will sign off on the laws.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I am a packaging artist for a company that has to place this exact warning on items… It’s called Prop 65, and it is usually only placed on items that have cords or lightbulbs. Companies that buy products (like Wal-Mart) are so paranoid right now, and manufactureres are on such tight deadlines to create products and pass testing that a lot of them are just placing all the possible warnings on an item, even if it doesn’t apply to that specific product. This is probably a chinese manufactured item that is part of a thousand other SKU’s, in which some Chinese production packaging artist just placed all possible warnings on the packaging to guarantee passing testing. I doubt they even know what they were placing.
    I’m not making excuses, but manufacturers are really just being super cautious right now. If they fail testing, because of something simple, then than it costs thousands of dollars to re-test the item – not to mention the time lost and possible shipping dates. The whole manufacturing industry is under HUGE time constraints, and unfortunatly, this is the result. The whole Chinese/American relationship with companies and factories is insanly difficult to manage, and as much as we all hate it, China makes the final call in most cases.

  29. bwcbwc says:

    Oh, this just takes me back to the glory days of the “bag o’ broken glass” on SNL. “It’s perfectly fine. We have a warning label right on the package.”

  30. TangDrinker says:

    We used these on our toddler (just the black to paint on a mustache). There was no lead warning on them. I’m fairly certain he’ll be fine since he didn’t actually eat it, but if the lead warning were on it, I probably would have not used it. I wish this had been posted BEFORE halloween, but oh well.

  31. Dawgs_Phan says:

    I’m not surprised that this item is found at Walmart. They could care less about consumer safety.

  32. MrGutts says:

    If your a parent and paid for this product and then turn around and you start bitching about it. Please just leave the country. Because your a dumb ass for buying it for your kid in the first place!! Learn to read and take some damn responsibility!

    • Anonymous says:


      Actually I bought this package in MO for Halloween. I used it and so did my children, the package that we bought did not have a lead warning on it. Had my package had a lead warning on it I wouldn’t have used it. I believe others have said this one was bought in California and they have better laws for things like this.

      So if it didn’t tell me it had lead I guess I’m still a bad parent right?

    • SabreDC says:

      @MrGutts: Rule #1 of the Internet – before criticizing someone else’s intelligence, learn how to spell “you’re” correctly.

  33. Anonymous says:

    Don’t use face paint sold at the major craft and discount stores. The real deal FDA-compliant stuff is just as inexpensive and WAY better for the little people the paint is being put on. Snazaroo is an awesome brand, easy to use and washes off easily. Shame on any retailer that would put our kids at risk.

  34. little stripes says:

    Christ, people, overreactions much? California puts warnings on EVERYTHING about EVERYTHING.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I was at a company training meeting last week and the speaker asked if anyone had a problem with Wal-Mart, or shopping there.

    I simply answered that as a matter of principle (several in fact), I simply refuse to shop there.

    Spend a little bit more somewhere else and have at least some sense that the store isn’t exploiting its’ workers, undercutting local businesses and isn’t importing the latest consumer health and safety hazard from China.

  36. Anonymous says:

    On the instructions on the back, they warn against using certain colors in certain areas on the face because of their chemical content. The levels of lead are most likely very low, too low to cause any real harm with recommended use. California just has stricter labeling policies.

  37. baraboo says:

    I bought this at my Walmart in West Lafayette, Indiana, and didn’t even read the package…I was in a hurry. Fortunately, I was also in a hurry when getting costumed up, so I didn’t bother to paint my face. I still have the lead facepaint in a ziplock bag at home…will toss upon getting home from work today. Thanks, Consumerist, for the heads up! I already threw away the package.

  38. ninjatoddler says:

    Just like Wal-Mart promised, more for less.

  39. DeadWriter says:

    Lead compounds make vibrant colors that are proven to be stable and cost effective.

    I am by no means forgiving it’s use, but my parents, one of whom is nearing 80, used all sorts of face salves (Rolly’s Ointment), face paints, and art supplies with mercury, lead, and who know what else. A single night is not likely going to do much damage.

    On the more realistic side, kids wearing face masks are at a higher rate of getting into accidents on Halloween night, and I bet drunk drivers pose a worse threat to individuals that night- yet we don’t ban masks or alcohol on All Hollows Eve.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Guys, I think this is ‘shopped. I first saw this while in class this morning, and my heart skipped a beat, as I recognized the packaging from the makeup we had got for our daughter for Halloween. But upon arriving home, I thouroughly examined the package, and it is exactly the same as this one, minus the notable mention of deadly lead. Lead is not mentioned in bold on the front, or in the fine print on the back. Otherwise the package is exactlythe same. ‘Shopped.

  41. hankrearden says:

    Maybe this is what got the Franklin Expedition…

  42. cjnewbs says:

    Chances are the lead is not in the face-paint, but in the tubes. If the tubes are made of Vinyl (PVC) then a small amount of lead salt is added as a stabilizer. This is because PVC can break down, causing Hydrochloric Acid.