Cover image credit: Petit Monkey
The cosmetics industry is a bit of a mess. Popular makeup products made by L’Oreal, Maybelline, et al. contain all kinds of problematic ingredients that have the potential to cause health issues when they build up in the body over a long period of time. Things like parabens and phthalates (which can disrupt hormone function); talc (which can be contaminated with asbestos, a carcinogen); and even heavy metals like lead are commonly found in cosmetics.
And makeup targeted toward kids is no better. A 2016 investigation done by the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics and the Breast Cancer Fund tested a variety of kids’ cosmetics and Halloween face paints and found the products to contain a wide variety of toxins. The investigation included brands like Disney, Lisa Frank, Hershey’s and more.
This is one reason why many parents don’t want their little ones playing with cosmetics—these chemicals can pose an even greater risk to kids than they do to adults since their systems are smaller and still developing.
Not to mention, makeup can be super messy! That’s another reason why fake makeup can be a great option for toddlers and kids.
So, we’re going to discuss what to look for in fake kids’ makeup, and then give you recommendations for the best non-toxic and (mostly) plastic-free pretend makeup sets.
This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may earn a small commission if you choose to make a purchase. We only make recommendations that are genuine and meet our ingredient/material safety standards.
Which Makeup Products Are Best for Kids?
Every child is different, so it’s up to you to decide what type of makeup products are best for your little one(s) based on their age, maturity level, etc. There are several options:
Pretend makeup sets encourage a young child’s imagination. Plan Toys describes how role-playing with fake makeup can support a child’s development: “Language and social skills soar as children role-play with friends or parents – describing what they are doing what colors they are using what makeup is placed where and why asking questions, etc. Fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination are also boosted as children concentrate on using a steady hand to apply products.”
Plus, fake makeup is 100% mess-free! We’ve listed several great brands below that carry non-toxic fake makeup sets.
Real makeup that’s made for kids
If your child wants to use actual cosmetics, be aware that most of the makeup kits on the market contain things like synthetic fragrances, parabens, phthalates, and can also be contaminated with lead.
There aren’t very many brands out there that make truly non-toxic and natural makeup for toddlers, kids, and tweens, but we’ve listed a few brands below that you can feel safe letting your children play with.
Real makeup that’s made for adults
Even though it’s made for adults, one could argue that using safe, non-toxic makeup that’s technically for adults is better than using kid makeup that could contain toxic chemicals. We highly recommend sticking with clean and trusted brands like Beautycounter, Honest, Elate, and Axiology.
And then, of course, there’s always the option of D.I.Y.ing your cosmetics! This can be a fun activity you can do with your kids, and it gives you much more control over the ingredients used. A quick Google search will turn up recipes for everything from eyeliner to lip gloss.
What To Look for in Non-Toxic Pretend Makeup for Children
This is perhaps one of the biggest problems when it comes to fake makeup sets for kids. Most of the kits we looked at lacked a lot of information about what the product was actually made out of.
You’ll notice that most of the brands recommended below are plastic-free. This is because wood, being a natural material, is generally safer than plastic. Plastic is a petroleum-derived product. Not only is it less eco-friendly, but nearly all petroleum-derived products come with a variety of potential health risks, especially when they build up in the body over a long period of time. Plus, a lot of plastics contain things like phthalates (like BPA), which can disrupt the hormones of developing little humans.
Conventional paints often contain chemicals like methyl alcohol (which can cause reproductive harm) and toluene (which can cause damage to the central nervous system), as well as heavy metals and high levels of formaldehyde. The recommended brands below, however, use non-toxic, water-based paints.
Prop 65 Warning
You’ll notice that a lot of the fake makeup sets for kids contain a Prop 65 warning, which means that the toy contains phthalates, heavy metals, or other toxins that exceed a set limit.
So no matter which pretend makeup set you decide to purchase, it’s best to make sure it doesn’t come with a Prop 65 warning label.
Part Size (Choking Hazards)
Most fake makeup sets contain small parts. For this reason, you’ll notice that most sets on the market are recommended for kids ages 3 and up. It might be better for young toddlers to skip the play makeup until they get a little older. To be safe, always make sure to use supervision when kids are playing with these makeup sets.
Where to Find Non-Toxic Pretend (Fake) Makeup
This hair and makeup kit is made from only high-quality, natural solid wood and non-toxic, water-based paints. It comes with a super cute cotton canvas belt bag with slots to hold each item, too.
This wooden hair and makeup set is made out of beechwood and painted with non-toxic water-based paint. It’s packaged in a gift box and cotton bag for storage.
This is a similar wooden hair and pretend makeup kit that can be personalized with your child’s name on it. It’s made from high-quality, responsibly sourced materials that conforms to European safety standards.
This minimalistic fake makeup set is made out of wood and cotton, contains a minimal amount of paint, and comes with a cotton cosmetics bag.
If you’re looking for a fake makeup set for kids that can be found in big box stores like Walmart or Target, Melissa & Doug is a pretty good choice. This is the only brand on this list that uses plastic (in addition to EVA foam). Although it’s made from plastic, it does not carry a California Prop 65 warning, which means it’s safer than a lot of the other plastic pretend makeup brands we looked at.
Where to Find Non-Toxic REAL Makeup That’s Safe for Kids & Toddlers
If you want to give your little one real cosmetics, there are a few kid-focused brands that are free from harsh chemicals and instead made with natural minerals and plant-based ingredients. Here are the brands we recommend:
This cruelty-free brand is made with 100% natural ingredients, all of which are listed transparently on their website and Etsy shop.
Klee carries a variety of makeup kits for almost every age. It’s all made in the USA and completely free from phthalates, parabens, synthetic fragrances, and animal testing.
This DIY lip balm-making kit would be a really fun afternoon activity to do with your little ones. The natural ingredients are made and sourced ethically in the USA.
Letting your child play with fake makeup can help with fine motor skills and encourage their imagination and creativity. When shopping for pretend (or real!) makeup for kids, look for brands that prioritize transparency and non-toxic materials and ingredients.