Saturday, 14 March 2015

5 Reasons Never to Use Palmer 'Face Paint'

Some times new aspiring face paint artists ask my questions about how to become a face painter and what paints to buy, and some times they say they were thinking about using a brand called Palmer because there are some great reviews for it on the website that is selling it.

Here is my gut reaction when I hear this.

To professional face painters, Palmer is a bit of an inside joke. 'Palm-er' = 'Palm - Her' ie: 'Slap her'. Because using this brand is such a huge mistake it makes you want to whap someone upside the head for even bringing it up as being 'Face Paint', and ask them to slowly step away from their brushes.
Yes, it's THAT bad.

I have seen this product used by volunteers at one event and was surprised the package said 'face paint' on it. The odd thing is that on some websites that sell it, you'll read glowing 5 star reviews for just how awesome the product is.

The reviewers go on and on on how you can use it for all different events, and that it's better then other face paints they have tried. Some mention a 'minor stain' that comes off quickly but otherwise they love the product and highly recommend it.

Which is odd because once you go to a website that sells a variety of products you get some 5 star reviews and loads of 1 star reviews.

I really do get the impression that the vast majority the 5 star reviews are fake in order to get you to buy the product (which is not unheard of). What few 5 star reviews there are seem mostly by people have have simply never used anything else.

So what do professional face painters have to say? Lets compare some of the 5 star online reviews with what the pros on Face Paint Forum have to say about this product.

So with out further ado, here are 

5 Reasons Never to Use Palmer 'Face Paint'

5. Simply Doesn't Work

Website Review:
"In my own experience, this is the ONLY face paint product I use because everything else is junk. You need to spend a couple minutes to thoroughly mix each color with a toothpick (or similar). I use better quality fine tip brushes instead of the generic one that comes with the kit. You are able to produce little works of art on kids' faces and they beam with pride when they see the finished work!" - 5 Star Review from Liz on
"I don't know about a lot of other face paints, but this bottled Palmer Face Paint is great re: coverage, ease of application & clean-up. I use often to help @ schools, benefits & in various scouting functions. It lasts long, just one tube of all will cover a couple community functions w/3-5 face painters doing simple designs. btw: I need to place another order!" - 5 Star Review from Volunteer Mom on  

Face Paint Professionals:
"I don't like them cause they're too runny" - starponysmama
"used Palmer's paints and it was awful..." - By These Hands
"they suck. " - JBax 

Some of the website low reviews described it like this:

"Like trying to paint with solidified jello; very globby plus runny; Awful brush, awful paint." - 0 Star Review from Ruth on
 My Review:

Imagine painting with colored snot. That's all you need to know.

4. Looks Like Butt

Website Review:
"We used this for a charity event. It didn't smear, was very colorful, and easy to brush on. The colors also mixed very well. We squirted out wells of color into plastic ice cube trays. It dried quickly on kid's faces (made highlights easier)" - 5 Star Review from Talisa on 

Face Paint Professionals:

"Palmer is so bad, I don't think it should even be called face paint!" -  debranewmanart 
"Palmer is total crap." - Shannon Fennell 
"The very first time I painted, I used PALMER'S. I didn't know any better, and I hadn't started really painting yet. Looking back, I must have been crazy" - rcvaughan 
 My Review:

A drippy mess. To get any color you have to gob it on, then when it finally dries on the skin it cracks. Do not use white unless you are ok with it looking.... 'inappropriate.' 

3. Feels Terrible and Stains!

Website Review:
"I was pleased that this product was easy to remove, as I was able to use baby wipes to clean up a couple of mistakes. Thanks for the great product!" - 4 Star Review from Jules The Teacher on 
"Minor staining comes out by next day." 5 Star Review from Liz on

Face Paint Professionals:

"GacK!!! Gag!!!! This is the worst stuff ---- it is why people don't want to get their faces painted by us today......cuz they had bad experiences with this stuff or acrylics. Even people who started out using it (not knowing there were professional grade products out there) will tell you it is JUST PLAIN AWFUL." - WyndyO
"Not only do they stain the kids, but they act more like acrylics than any other face paint I've found! They're gunky and crack when they dry. Quite a few of the smaller children that I painted complained about it being itchy almost right away, and it didn't take long before I noticed that my face design was getting pretty itchy as well." - goofydoodler 

"I HATED it.... It's goopy and sticky and remains tacky after you're done... it cracks, flakes, and stained me(in almost every color!) 
All I can say is... NEVER AGAIN!" - Ashley Pickin 

Some of the website low reviews described it like this:
"For the price it is what you get.. but it will stain on your skin long after you have taken it off... up to a week. I did use a good quality soap... it eventually took alcohol to remove..." - 1 Star Review from Anonymous on 
"These paints stained a whole group of children's faces at my daughter's birthday party. After profusely apologizing to all the parents, I promptly threw the paints in the garbage and called and emailed customer service. I never received any return calls or email. Bad news. Don't buy." - 1 Star Review from Bookish on  

 My Review:

I put a bit of this on my hand to see what would happen. Started to feel itchy after not long, but i stuck it out. Later when i went to take it off the red left a stain, and all the colors gave me a rash. I only have metal allergies, so I'm just making a guess here as to what might be in it.

2. Waste of Money

Pictured Here: A better use for your $5
Website Review:
"I needed to order face paint for a event that I do every year. The woman who provides me with the help and supplies said she was having trouble finding the face paint in the larger bottles. So I went on line and found that Palmer products came in the largest sizes. I checked out several web sites and wasn't completely happy with them. I came to Dick Blick's a trusted name in art supplies. They had all the colors I needed, they were in the bigger bottles and a great price. Everything I wanted." - 5 Star Review from Miss Brigid on
"i was so pleased with these paints. low cost for great quality. they dont smudge yet wash off easily with soap and water. i've spent so much money in the past for paints that were of much less quality." - 5 Star Review from jaki on   
"I pretty much love this paint. It was creamy and covered well and stayed on without smearing, which the crayon types do. Overall, I think it's a great product for the money!!!" - 5 Star Review from Tami on  

Face Paint Professionals:

"They dry almost automatically when squeezed into a palette, wasting even more paint than before" - goofydoodler
"Palmers is a big NO NO!!!...better to invest in good products, cheaper is expensive, but when you buy quality products they last and the results are wayyyy better, and you will be really saving money" - vivi_o7 
"It sounds like you are ready for the big sizes [referring to Snazaroo Paints]... expensive, I know, but they'll last a lot longer (making them cheaper by the oz) and you only need the basics. You can blend any color you need." - JBax 
  My Review:

I've never bought this stuff, but it doesn't look very cost effective for the sheer amount it takes to get a decent color, not to mention the amount wasted on the pallet as it dries quicky, and no it can't be brought back to life with water. It only comes back as zombie paint that might as well be saying "kill me.... kiiiiill meeee" Total waste.

1. Basically Just Craft Paint

Website Review:
"They're non-toxic, and water soluble so the clean-up is easy" - 5 Star Review from Jennilee on   
Face Paint Professionals:

"I'm sure we've all heard of Palmer brand 'face paint' which in fact is no better than craft paint in disguise. It has polyvinyl acetate in it which in layman's terms is liquid plastic and also a key ingredient it making craft paint. Both clog the pores and cause rashes and both cause severe allergic reactions with a frequency that raises a lot of concern at least among professionals." Tilly - Formerly Punky
"I've read a lot about reactions from these" - starponysmama 

"Their "secret ingredient" that makes it "stick" is the same ingredient used in household latex paint.Palmer is repackaged acrylics. The only go
od thing they do is that they now use FDA approved cosmetic pigments. The problem is that none of the other ingredients are cosmetic. But since the FDA only regulates the pigments, they are able to sell this glorified acrylic as "face paint". My suggestion is to stay away from ANY product that calls itself "Paint". If the label does not say "make-up", then it is most likely NOT a good product." - modernmagik 
My Review:

I have my suspicions about what is in Palmer Paint. One website/blog wrote to the company directly and asked them to address the negative reviews by professional face painters in blogs and forums.

Palmer said this in their letter.
"I am responding to your concerns over the safety of Palmer’s Face Paint products. I have reviewed the blogging that you attached to your email. I found nothing specific except for a claim that our base is a latex used in house paint. This is untrue. The base for our face paint is a cosmetic grade resin approved for and used in many cosmetics.
Our face paint has been tested and approved for use by the Consumer Products Safety Commission, tested by Duke University to meet the ASTM D-4236 standards for children’s paints and contains only FDA Cosmetic grade pigments.
Although we have done everything in our power to make sure this product is safe for your children and ours (it was tested on the children of our staff), allergic reactions are always a possibility with any product and therefore we recommend testing before use.
Beverly A. Geisler, President
Palmer Face Paint Products, Inc"

Ok there is a whole bunch about that that doesn't sit well with me. First of all while they might not being using latex found in house paint, they did not say that their paint was free of plastic. I also was unable to find an exact ingredient list anywhere online to confirm my suspicions that there may be metal in the paint since my skin had a reaction to it. Lots of kids have metal allergies they grow out of later in life. 

Also if there is latex in it, there are types of latex grades that are rated for use on skin in MANY cosmetic products such as eyelash glue, mascaras and many others. Given that around 8% of the population has latex allergies, this might account for some of the reactions if there is indeed latex in Palmer paint.

Even a certain amount of metal content can be found in cheap dollar store cosmetics, like nickel and lead. So saying that the pigments are cosmetic grade doesn't say much with out an ingredient list to point to.

So why didn't the president of the company back up her claims by also attaching a full list of ingredients? Or what about the MSDS?

Ahhh, now there's something I was able to find. See the MSDS is something that HAS to be made available. Here it is in this link.

The MSDS also has to list any hazardous ingredients in the product should it catch fire or something while being transported.

There were two listed that popped out to me (bare with me things might get a bit technical)

2. Soya lecithin
Now this product is safe for skin and is used in many cosmetic products like soaps but I find it's presence in face paints a little odd.

Soya lecithin is a substance that allows oil and water to mix - which makes lecithin unusual in that it's a naturally occurring surfactant (surface-active agent).
Surfactants, also known as tensides or wetting agents, are substances used to lower the surface tension of a liquid, which then allows easier spreading of product and helps to emulsify it (blend two ingredients that would otherwise separate, such as water and oil). For this reason, lecithin is a highly valuable ingredient in cosmetics and is also widely used in the food industry.

When applied in a cosmetic product, lecithin also softens the skin and helps the absorption of other ingredients. It's also used in many moisturizing hair shampoos to aid in the hairs absorption of the oils in the product.

Well that explains why the pigment causes a nasty stain. Also anyone with an allergy to Soy would have a bad reaction to these paints. Also explains why you would need to shake or mix them, because the ingredients have separated.

1. Polyvinyl Acetate Copolymer
This is where things get fishy, also that they don't list the exact grade of the ingredient - it merely says 'trade secret' (trust me Plamer, no one is trying to copy you).

So what is Polyvinyl Acetate Copolymer other then just a bunch of scary sounding words? 

In lay-mans terms Polyvinyl Acetate Copolymer is a glue that turns into a type plastic when dry. And as such is a petroleum (crude oil) based product.

Here is a link to the page that sells that product there.
An interesting quote from the website about this product: 
"WARNING: Do not eat, drink or smoke. Wash hands immediately after use. Wear protective clothing. Keep out of reach of children."

What about the MSDS for this product?
"Some Highlights: Irritating to eyes. Repeated exposure may cause skin dryness or cracking. Avoid contact with eyes. Wear suitable gloves. Swallowing: may cause stomach irritation, nausea, vomiting and diarrhea. Inhalation: headache, dizziness, nausea, drowsiness, depression of the central nervous system. Prolonged or repeated contact can irritate eyes and skin. Avoid contamination of sewage system, open water ways and ground water. Instructions on safe handling: Avoid contact with eyes and skin. Avoid contact with skin, eyes and clothing. Wash contaminated clothes before reuse."

Ok that's a lot to take in, and remember this is that product at a high concentration, but it does make one wonder what a product commonly used in acidic glue products is doing in children's face paint.
With out knowing what grade they are using all I can only give you is what it's commonly used for (though I could not find any cosmetic use for Polyvinyl Acetate Copolymer btw).

Polyvinyl acetate is a component of a widely used glue type, commonly referred to as wood glue, white glue, carpenter's glue, school glue, Elmer's glue (in the US), or PVA glue. -Wikipedia

It's other applications are also listed in the wiki article.... non of which are cosmetic.

So again... what is this doing in childrens face paints? Where is the ingredient list?

In conclusion, not only do these paints simply NOT WORK as face paints, they may also be bad for your skin considering the number of reactions associated this this product.

Steer clear, better safe then sorry.

Thanks for Reading!

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