Preservatives and Ruby Red Paints
by Gary Cole


Google Groups Subscribe to facepainthq
Browse Archives at

If you want to join the world's largest e-mail discussion list for face painters  then enter your e-mail address in the box to the left. Get connected to beginner and professional face painters from all around the world. Ask literally any face painting question you want and get real answers to help you progress as a face painter. It is free and you will receive tips on how to paint a particular face, how to stop the line when its time to go home or how to build a successful face painting business. Share your photos with others or if you have a need ask for help and the painters will e-mail you a face painting idea for your upcoming event.

One of the common questions to Ruby Red face painting products is concerning preservatives and the protective properties of the face paints. The strong preservative system attributed to Ruby Red has also grown to myth proportions. Since it is a common topic, I am going to address it with this FAQ. I am not a chemist, nor am I a medical expert. I provide you this FAQ with my twenty-one plus years in the face painting world and before that I worked twenty plus years in the cosmetic industry. Part of my work at Mary Kay Cosmetics (fifteen years) was directly related to cosmetic ingredients.

Most of the major brands of face paints use some sort of preservative system to keep bacteria from growing in the products. Since most of them are water based, a preservative system is needed. There are European brands that have no preservatives and are prone to grow bacteria over time and have a shorter shelf life. Many of the top selling brands have a paraben based preservative system. I'm sure the logic with no preservatives is some people can be allergic to some preservatives. The secret to success in a face paint formulation is to have the right formulation. A strong preservative system is key to a good product. Because one is constantly adding water to the formulation and painting multiple children with the same cake of make up it is important the preservative system is good. We are marketed as "the world's safest and easiest to use brand of make up". With that stance it is our obligation to provide the world with the best products that can live up to that reputation.

The trend over the last twenty years in the cosmetic industry has been to move away from a paraben based preservative system. This is a very controversial topic in the cosmetic industry. Paraben preservative ingredients are almost never found in the European cosmetic industry. Scientific studies have linked parabens in cosmetics to serious health risks in women. Do a simple internet search on this topic any you will find a great deal on this subject.  Parabens have also been clearly linked to higher rates of allergic reactions. When we formulated this American made brand one of the first things we want to do was to go paraben free. We got with a PHD cosmetic chemist and quickly chose the same preservative system that is used by companies like Loreal and Estee Lauder. We are proud to say we are paraben free.  We removed iall paraben products (butyl paraben, methyl paraben, propyl paraben and ethyl paraben) from cosmetics. While you may still find paraben products as preservatives in American cosmetic products there has been an ongoing trend or push to replace these ingredients with safer materials. Ruby Red Paints have removed all parabens from their formulations and replaced them with safer, modern, preservative systems. According to many, parabens have been linked to health concerns in women. At you will find some helpful information  regarding parabens. Below you will find several direct quotations regarding concerns of parabens. Look at the other brands and their ingredient list. Look for the word "paraben".

"What are the health concerns?
Of greatest concern is that parabens are known to disrupt hormone function, an effect that is linked to increased risk of breast cancer and reproductive toxicity. Parabens mimic estrogen by binding to estrogen receptors on cells. They also increase the expression of genes usually regulated by estradiol (a natural form of estrogen); these genes cause human breast cancer cells to grow and multiply in cellular studies. Parabens are linked to cancer, endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, immunotoxicity, neurotoxicity and skin irritation. Since parabens are used to kill bacteria in water-based solutions, they inherently have some toxicity to cells.

How can you avoid this?
Look for products labeled “paraben-free” and read ingredient lists on labels to avoid products with parabens. Many natural and organic cosmetics manufacturers have found effective alternatives to parabens to prevent microbial growth in personal care products. Further information, including links to reports and press releases "

Ruby Red has what I call a robust preservative system. It is strong enough to prevent bacteria growth and offer full protection for the painter and the person being painted when used as intended. I'll also say that there is such of a thing as having to many preservatives. If the preservative system is not balanced or too high you will increase the chance of an allergic reaction. Like in baking bread... if you have to much baking soda, the bread will not be good. Our safety record in its history is excellent. In the history of the company no product liability has ever been paid out due to adverse reactions to its products. We feel we have the perfect balance of preservatives for our formulations. We offer you a VERY SAFE product. All of the preservatives we use, when used in balance have a low sensitivity to skin and yet prevent bacteria, mold and yeast growth. You will find these same preservatives at the upscale cosmetic counters. They are needed for good make ups. They also aid to control the PH balance in the formulation. The key is the proper balance and we feel no one does it better than we do.

The "myth factor" says Ruby Red "kills bacteria". Well this is true to a certain extent but the preservative system is not meant to be thought of as an antiseptic. It boils down to standard safe painting practices, some common sense and your work environment. In the London paper a medical doctor did a report on face painting in the United Kingdom. His report stated that when using a safe brand of face paints it is more likely that a child catch a cold while waiting in the queue that having the face painter go from one child to the next during the face painting process. Testing has shown that when used properly, bacteria can not survive in Ruby Red face paints. It is perfectly safe to go from one child to another with the same sponge while face painting. The bottom line is WHEN YOU USE THE PRODUCT AS INTENDED it is highly unlikely there will be any allergic reaction. That is not the case with many of the cheaper, the Chinese brands or even those brans made in the European Union that use ingredients approved in their country but not in North America.

We suggest everyone read the safety tips at as there is a wealth of information. With all of this said the face painter has an obligation to use safe face painting practices. We can give you the safest face painting products and due to poor standards by the face painter, make it unsafe. It is key that a face painter do their part. This includes, but is not limited to, using only fresh clean water, clean and cared for artist brushes and sponges and maintaining proper personal health care. This covers everything from washing your hands before starting to face paint to properly storing your face paints, brushes and sponges. When used as intended bacteria can not survive in Ruby Red face paints. If you take unsafe water, an artist brush you used for oil painting or use additives in your water and you can make your face painting unsafe. Properly caring for your brushes, sponges are in other FAQs. Never add anything to your water.

A face painter should use common sense when face painting people. Never paint anyone that has skin conditions from cuts to sunburn. It is not so much a factor of introducing germs but it will be very irritating when they later wish to remove the paint. Avoid children that are sick. Common symptoms are runny noses, chicken pox marks, fever or the like. If a face painter starts painting a child and then notices an abnormality from fever to lice, they should stop painting and not use the materials or tools again until they have been properly sanitized. Again, it often boils down to common sense. Avoid painting any people that are sick.

With Ruby Red it is not required that one washes and sterilizes the brush between each child. One should use clean water at all times and avoid "coffee water". In other words, if properly done, a face painter can paint for many hours and still maintain clear, clean water. Read to learn how to do this.

We strongly caution face painters to find the brand of their choice and stick with it. Utilize the product liability of the one brand they choose. Many face paints are not as they appear. Rose Art face paints were recalled by the FDA in the USA in 2004 due to having a 28% allergic reaction rate. Do you as a face painter want to use a brand where every fourth child as an adverse reaction? Some brands position their non-face paint products intermingled with the face paints. A good example are UV colors that clearly say "for hair and special effects only" and then put them in the exact same package as their face paint products and even put them side by side on the make up counter. Make sure any face paints you use are indeed face paints. They should say cosmetics, FDA compliant, make up for skin or something along this line. All make ups are not created equal. If you buy a six color make up kit at the Halloween counter for $1.99 you can not expect much in terms of quality. If you mix a low end product with Ruby Red you can not expect Ruby Red to make up the difference. A tea spoon of salt instead of sugar in your coffee with ruin it even though both are safe for human consumption. It should not have to be mentioned but do not use art products for face painting. Only use face paints meant for the skin.

I'll add that some cities, counties or provinces have unique laws that pertain to face painting. A face painter should always comply with local laws or not paint. Even in a large volume face painting locations like festivals if the face painter is using a safe product properly they is virtually no risk for bacteria when painting.

The obvious question is where are the boundaries? As I mentioned before our products are not antiseptic. Virtually every hospital has its own staph infection that they can not resolve. To be blunt... the strongest preservative system in any cosmetic will not cure staph infection, cancer or cure the world of AIDS. We do not claim that the preservative system will cure disease. What we claim is... when used as intended, it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY that germs will be passed from one person to the next during the face painting process. Nobody does this better than Ruby Red. If you follow safe face painting practices with Ruby Red you can be comfortable you are safe.

If you have any other questions about Ruby Red and the safety of its products in North America e-mail us at 

Gary Cole
972-221-8665 phone
972-221-8625 fax


Home | Products | Order