Last Updated on October 24, 2022 by The Filtery Staff
Let me start by saying that finding fully organic or natural Halloween costumes is really difficult / almost impossible… Most of the costumes on the market come with some amount of synthetic material. However, some options are definitely better than others when it comes to the safety of the materials used.
So in this guide, we’re giving you the best options for low-tox and organic Halloween costumes, including both pre-made, DIY, and hybrid options. We’ll also give you some recommendations for non-toxic face paint, too.
And if you’re also in the market for (very cute) organic Halloween pajamas, check out this article. For organic and allergen-friendly trick-or-treat candy (and ideas for non-food alternatives), click here.
This article contains affiliate links, which means we may earn a commission if you decide to make a purchase. As always, all recommendations are genuine.
Featured Image Credit: Hanna Andersson
Toxic Chemicals Found in Conventional Halloween Costumes
Since it can be difficult to find completely natural/organic Halloween costumes, we recommend focusing on eliminating the worst offenders. When it comes to kids’ dress-up clothing, accessories, and face paint/makeup, the main concerns are PVC, heavy metals, and endocrine disruptors (like phthalates).
Skip the PVC
PVC is probably the most common toxin found in Halloween costumes and accessories. A 2014 investigation from HealthyStuff.org found PVC in Halloween accessories like trick-or-treat bags, dress up shoes, and skeleton “light sticks.”
As one of the most toxic kinds of plastic, it almost always includes phthalates (which can disrupt the body’s hormones) and can also include things like lead. Not only that, but PVC contains chlorine, which creates toxic byproducts like dioxins and furans.
Although all synthetic materials come with their drawbacks, some are definitely better than others. So instead of PVC, look for safer synthetics like polyester or nylon.
Be Waring of Heavy Metals
Another concern for Halloween costumes is heavy metals, which are most likely to be found in accessories (like play jewelry), face paint, and makeup. Our recommendations for non-toxic face paint are at the bottom of this article!
One way you can avoid costumes with certain heavy metals in them is by looking for a California Prop 65 label. Prop 65 requires that products that exceed certain levels of added lead or other metals be labeled with a warning. (A Prop 65 label can also mean the product contains other chemicals too, including certain phthalates.)
Minimize the Foam
Most of the foam you’ll find in Halloween costumes is going to be polyurethane (PU) foam, which is a petroleum product that can off-gas volatile organic compounds (VOCs) like 2,4-toluene diisocyanate (a carcinogen), hydrogen cyanide (which can cause various problems), methylene chloride (also a carcinogen), and hydrochloric acid (an irritant).
Although it may not be possible to completely eliminate foam from your child’s Halloween costume, you might choose to just try and use less of it. And/or you could look for alternatives like EVA foam, which (although still not perfect) is at least a slightly better alternative.
Where to Find Organic Halloween Candy
We actually have a separate guide for where to find organic and allergy-friendly Halloween candy (as well as other non-candy treat ideas!)—you can check that out here.
Where to Find Low-Tox Halloween Costumes
Below are our recommendations for the best low-tox halloween costumes that are safer than the more conventional options you’ll find on Amazon or at the big Halloween superstores. A lot of the brands listed below use polyester, which is one of the least bad synthetic fabrics. Some of them also use other synthetic fabrics like nylon and spandex, which also are not terrible for most kids (especially compared to other materials like PVC). Lastly, there are options below that use both conventional and organic cotton.
Hanna Andersson is a go-to brand for many parents who prefer to buy organic because they have such a wide range of clothes, pajamas, and accessories for kids.
Although not all of their clothing is organic, a lot of it is made out of GOTS and/or OEKO-TEX certified organic or conventional cotton. They have various fall and Halloween themed clothing and pajamas for babies and kids up to size 12 (like this super cute black cat dress and these skeleton PJs!)
When it comes to halloween costumes, Hanna Andersson sells cute little add-on sets that you can pair with organic pajamas to make an easy costume! You can turn your child’s PJs into a mermaid costume, a dragon, a bat, a lion, a pirate, a unicorn, and more.
Although most of the add-on accessories are not made out of natural/organic fabric (they’re mostly made from a mix of poly fabrics with some EVA foam), they are free from the worst materials like PVC and there’s obviously just less of the material overall, which helps too.
Great Pretenders has a TON of options for costumes and accessories, most of which are made out of polyester and nylon. They have Disney princesses, Spiderman, firefighters, Harry Potter, and more. They even have a “Women Through History” collection which includes costumes like Frida Kahlo, Marie Curie, and Amelia Earhart.
As the brand itself is based in Ontario, Canada, a lot of their costumes are made in Canada (although not all of them are). All of their dress-up jewelry is tested for heavy metals and their products do meet all of the safety standards for the U.S., Canada, and the E.U. (Many of the E.U. standards are more strict than the U.S. when it comes to chemical regulations.) Some of their costumes to do contain a good deal of foam, but you can just not choose one of those ones!
Etsy is another great place to find halloween costumes made out of natural, organic, and non-toxic materials. Most of the costumes available are handmade by small businesses, seamstresses, and artists (many of them parents themselves!). And many of the sellers are willing to customize things if you message them and ask.
- Here are some beautiful butterfly and dragon wings made out of OEKO-TEX and/or GOTS certified organic and conventional cotton.
- Here are some super cute fox, mouse, and bear costumes made out of mostly GOTS certified organic cotton, which are good for kids ~1-6.
- Here is a cute little baby teddy bear suit made out of organic cotton.
- Here’s a simple cotton ghost costume that’s good for kids ages 1 to 5.
- This shop offers handmade condiment and M&M costumes made primarily out of cotton.
- And these butterfly wings are made out of satin and each purchase supports pollinators!
Sarah’s Silks is another great place to find beautiful Halloween costume accessories! They have a lot of options for fairies, butterflies, princes & princesses and things like that, but they also have other options like bat wings, animal ears/tutus (like tigers, Dalmatians, etc.). They don’t offer entire costumes, so you’ll have to pair the capes and accessories with matching clothing to make a whole outfit.
Everything is ethically made out of natural and pesticide-free mulberry silk.
Boden carries several Halloween costume pieces that are made with polyester on the outside and cotton linings. They have a witch/wizard cape & hat, a dragon cape, a glow-in-the-dark skeleton sweatsuit, a faux fur deer cape and butterfly poncho, as well as some Halloween-themed clothing, too.
Primary is a colorful kids’ clothing brand that offers ethically made cotton apparel. (Most of their cotton is conventional right now, but they have started introducing some GOTS certified organic cotton into some of their products.)
They actually offer a really fun and super helpful DIY resource with tons of ideas for Halloween costumes, complete with step-by-step directions. They suggest using their colored clothing for the base of the costumes, but of course you could totally use clothes you already own. They have TONS of ideas, from coordinated family costumes (BLT sandwich! Emojis!) to pop culture characters (Hamilton! Game of Thrones!) to classic Halloween costumes like witches and lions.
Bella Luna also offers various Montessori-inspired dress-up accessories, including costumes for knights, wizards, robin hoods, dragons, butterflies, and more.
Most of these are made out of synthetics like polyester and lycra, but are free from things like PVC. Many of them are made by small businesses in the USA.
Like most of the brands above, Pottery Barn also offers a collection of Halloween costumes that are made primarily of polyester.
They have a wide variety of full costumes for all ages, including matching family costumes if the adults want to participate, too! They even have character costumes like Harry Potter, Paw Patrol, Monsters Inc., Mickey & Minnie Mouse, and Sesame Street.
Or Make Your Own
When I was young, my mom made all of our Halloween costumes… It was time consuming for her of course, but I think she genuinely enjoyed it… and we loved them, too!
If you enjoy sewing and DIY projects then making your own Halloween costumes is one of the best ways to know what exactly is going into your kids’ outfits (while also giving your kid the costume they really want!).
What About Non-Toxic Face Paint?
The main concern with toxins in face paint involve heavy metals such as lead and cadmium, but face paint can also contain things like endocrine disrupting parabens and other toxins. In 2016, the Campaign for Safer Cosmetics tested a variety of kids’ Halloween makeup and play makeup from brands like Disney and Hello Kitty from stores like Claire’s, Target, and Toys R Us and found a variety of toxic chemicals.
Here are some things you can do to reduce your child’s exposure to the potential toxins in Halloween face paint:
- Choose a costume that doesn’t require face paint at all.
- Choose non-toxic face paint such as from Natural Earth Paint, which is free from nanoparticles, heavy metals, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, and petroleum-based dyes. Go Green is another good brand.
- For non-toxic kids’ makeup, check out Klee Naturals and Prim & Pure. (And you can check out more suggestions for safe makeup for kids and tweens here.)
- DIY your own face paints using an easy recipe.
PVC-Free Trick-or-Treat Bags
A lot of trick-or-treat bags and buckets out there contain PVC and endocrine disrupting chemicals like phthalates, but this is an easy one to fix. You can just use:
- a pillowcase you already have
- a canvas tote bag (I know you have some shoved in a closet somewhere!)
- or you can get a personalized cute one from Etsy:
It’s just one night… Does having a non-toxic / organic Halloween really matter?
It’s a good question… If your child is only going to wear their costume for one day of the year, does it really matter what it’s made out of?
Well, that’s up to you! On one hand, I would personally put Halloween costumes much lower on the priority list compared to things like drinking filtered water or using non-toxic personal care products (things you put directly on or in yours and your child’s skin every single day).
On the other hand, if buying the least toxic products you can is important to you and you have the capacity to do so (the budget, time, energy, etc.), then why not buy a better Halloween costume this year? After all, when toxic chemicals like phthalates and lead are so ubiquitous in our environment these days (and so much of it we don’t even have control over!), most of us want to do everything we can to reduce our kids’ exposures where we can.
Plus, when we buy safer products, it’s one way we can “vote with our dollars,” as they say. Maybe as more of us buy non-toxic Halloween costumes, the market will continue to see how much consumers really do care about what’s in the products we buy, and then we will gradually get more options (and more affordable ones!).
Happy trick-or-treating! 👻