Crayola Warns Eyeliner And Colored Pencils Aren't The Same Thing

colored pencils
It's tempting to use household objects to make DIY makeup, but not all of them are necessarily safe. frankieleon, CC BY 2.0

Lots of makeup can be MacGyvered out of normal household ingredients: face masks, body scrubs, lotions. But not all DIY fixes are created equal.

In response to several YouTube tutorials, widely viewed by young women as the gold-standard for beauty advice, Crayola has advised people not to use their colored pencils as a rainbow replacement for eyeliner. They say non-toxic does not equate to safe.

“Although our products are non-toxic, we do not recommend using them to make eyeliner, lipstick, or other makeup, and strongly discourage their use in this manner,” Crayola stated on its website. “The products were never intended to be used on the skin or face in this manner.”

Crayola doesn’t specify how the practice endangers people. It only goes on to explain its products aren’t subjected to the same rigorous safety standards as makeup, which come with a different set of criteria before they’re proven safe for use.

Like crayons, many colored pencils are made of wax. Crayola, however, uses generic pencil lead, which is made up of binders, extenders, pigments, and water. Since the colored pencils aren’t intended for cosmetic use, Crayola isn’t required to prove whether the ingredients are safe to use on the skin. On the one hand, this may seem problematic given the label explicitly reads “non-toxic.” But in a functional sense, the term is fairly meaningless.

Crayola must ensure all its products conform to the Federal Labeling of Hazardous Art Materials Act, which took effect in 1990. As part of that agreement, it must label its products depending on their risk for acute hazard and chronic illness, which appears as either a toxic or non-toxic label. Only, the working definitions for acute hazard include the word “non-toxic” in their language, putting the entire oversight process through an endless loop where toxicity is defined, at least in part, by itself.

As tempting as it may be to deviate from the drab tones offered by ordinary makeup pencils, the risks of infection may not be worth it, especially as the pencil lead is being applied so close to the eye. However, Dr. Bruce Katz, director of Juva Skin and Laser in New York City, says in most cases there is no risk to the end user.

"They are safe for kids and are not harmful to ingest, chew or apply to skin," he said. "There is no safety issue with applying them around the eye area."

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