Your little ones are dressed up as princesses, superheroes, animals and mythical creatures. They’re covered in face paint, giggling and chasing each other with wands and light sabers. Everything is going smoothly…until the trick-or-treating wraps up and your little rug rat is determined to toss back an entire bag of candy larger than her head. Oh the joy, and the horror! A sugar rush meltdown is waiting to happen. And when you stop to think about what’s in all those irresistible candies being consumed and colorful paints covering precious faces, things get really spooky.
Let’s be real, those Skittles colors are as unnatural as the evening’s theme. But does this mean no candy for the kiddos and your house being pegged as that family who passes out pencils, pennies or apples? Have no fear – we’ve got some guidelines to candies and costumes that should help you navigate dangerous waters while remaining cool as a cat.
First, let’s talk candy, which also usually means GMOs.
Of course you’d never expect Reese’s Pieces to be certified organic, but did you know that most popular candy brands use sugar that comes from GMO sugar beets? Also be wary of the commonly used GMO-derived fructose, glucose, high fructose corn syrup, cornstarch, soybean oil and canola oils. Many of our favorite childhood brands are known culprits of GMO ingredient sourcing, including KitKat, Twix, Skittles, Tootsie Roll, Butterfinger, Candy Corn, Mike & Ike, Mounds, Snickers, Milky Way, Dots, Nerds and many more.
Other candy concerns include the widespread use of artificial colors and flavors, which are linked to a variety of health concerns from behavioral disorders to allergies. One good rule of the thumb: if you don’t find a color in nature, it probably shouldn’t be found in your food. Yep, we’re talking about you Mr. Hot Blue Skittle. Another great trick for your treats is choosing options that are sweetened naturally with fruit juice, such as certain gummies and organic lollipops. Fair trade organic chocolate bars are also a sure hit. So go ahead and pat yourself on the back knowing that at least the inevitable sugar rush will be naturally sourced (that counts for something, right?).
Now onto costumes.
Of course your son wants to dress up as a tiger complete with whiskers and stripes – who wouldn’t?! Unbeknownst to him, though, the scariest part of his costume might be the face paint, not the convincing roar. According to research by the Ecology Center, 31 different types of makeup used for Halloween were tested and 100% contained some form of toxic metal including cadmium, arsenic, antimony, tin, lead, and mercury. Those are scary odds folks – and not the good kind of scary.
The main issue with exposure to these metals on your child’s skin is not necessarily the one-time Halloween usage, it’s the repeat exposure over time that can add up and cause health problems. So if your child just simply must have his whiskers painted on his face, double check your product ingredients on EWG’s Skin Deep Database or try a DIY version of face paint, like this one from HealthyStuff.org.