Dollar stores are a great place to shop for your household essentials if you’re looking to save a few dollars. Dollar stores have pretty much anything you need – food, party goods, cleaning supplies, and of course, toys – and everything is cheaper than it would normally be in other stores. And that’s exactly what parents, Tony and Kylie Cravens, were thinking when they went to their local Family Dollar store. They went in to look for a new toy for their three-year-old daughter, Lydia, but what they got instead was the scariest day of their lives.
Like many little girls – and sometimes little boys – Lydia enjoyed playing dress-up. Kylie and Tony were perusing the aisles trying to find something to bring home to Lydia when they found what looked like a simple little makeup kit. The kit contained blush, lip gloss, and applicators. It appeared to be pretty harmless. It was little kid’s makeup, what could go wrong? Soon they would find out that everything would go wrong.
“Thinking it was a harmless and non-toxic kids makeup set, and having bought Lydia this same type of thing, just a different brand, we never imagined after spending the day applying it to her eyes and lips that our worst nightmare would come true,” wrote Kylie on a Facebook post that was shared almost 200,000 times.
They began to play with the makeup kit as soon as they got home. They carefully applied the makeup to Lydia’s lips, eyes, and cheeks. Only a few hours later their worst fears would come true. Lydia’s eyes started to blister and eventually, they were swollen shut. A rash started to break out on her whole body, and not just where they put the makeup. In order to ease the burning sensation, they gave Lydia cold baths.
“In 24 hours, our little girl went from 100% healthy to having her eyes swollen and blistered shut with a rash all over her body, that we would have to apply cold packs to every 30 minutes or so because her skin was burning. She was unable to eat much for days because of the blistering and cracking of her lips,” wrote Kylie. Lydia’s condition was so severe she had to be admitted into the hospital for several days.
Kylie and Tony began to wonder what they could have done to cause Lydia such incredible pain. They hadn’t given her anything out of the ordinary to eat, so it wasn’t a reaction to food. And they didn’t make any changes to their normal products, like the laundry soap they bought. And Lydia hadn’t been in contact with any animals. But as soon as the doctor asked about toys they knew what was going on.
It was obvious that their daughter was experiencing a severe reaction to the poor quality ingredients in the makeup. Considering how cheap the kit was, they didn’t expect the products to be of high quality, but they sure weren’t expecting the unbelievably painful reaction that Lydia was going through. And the worst part was that they couldn’t do anything to ease her pain.
“There are six different chemicals in this makeup that are commonly known to cause an allergic reaction. Lydia, unfortunately, was one of those people allergic, and for the past week she has been going through a severe allergic reaction SO SEVERE she had to be admitted to Carle pediatrics in Champaign,” wrote Kylie on Facebook. But what kind of ingredients could cause such a reaction?
It’s almost impossible to guess what your little one might be allergic to, but there are definitely ways to eliminate exposure to chemicals that are toxic. The Breast Cancer Fund recently released a report that shows that potentially toxic chemicals could be in the products intended for children. They advise parents to always inspect the face paint and makeup that is sold in local stores and large retailers because they can actually be contaminated with heavy metals like lead and cadmium.
The Breast Cancer Fund sent 48 different Halloween face paints to be tested at an independent lab to see if they contained heavy metals like arsenic, chromium, lead, mercury, and cadmium. Almost half of them – 21 items – had large enough amounts of at least one of the heavy metals. Some of them had as many as four different metals. Heavy pigmented paints contained the heaviest amount of metal concentrations.
The Breast Cancer Fund collected another 39 makeup products that were marketed towards children. Among them were nail and makeup kits found in toy aisles, lip balm, party favors, and lotions and shampoos marketed for children. All of them had labels that said they contained products listed as either styrene-based chemicals or fragrances. It led them to believe that those ingredients could lead to trace levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs).
It was confirmed by a third party lab that 20% of the products had at least one VOC. Seven different types of VOCs were found and four of them had the potential to cause long-term health effects including endocrine disruption, reproductive toxicity, and two were listed as possible carcinogens. Even though the cosmetic industry disagrees, small exposure to the chemicals could add up and cause harm. Even tiny doses of certain chemicals, such as ones that disrupt the endocrine system, can be extremely harmful, and especially to children.
Luckily, Lydia is feeling much better, but unfortunately, she’s still dealing with the after-effects. “Lydia has been through so much these past few days. Good news is we are home from the hospital today and she is doing better!!! PLEASE be aware of what you are letting your babies have… ESPECIALLY kids cosmetics….so this doesn’t happen to your child,” wrote Kylie.
“For Tony and I this was definitely an eye opener and we will be more cautious about acknowledging ingredients and educating ourselves on what is good and bad before purchasing from here on out,” wrote Kylie on her post. Apparently the post resonated with lots of other parents, considering the post received more than 200,000 reactions, many of them thanking the Cravens for making people aware.
Randy Guiler, a spokesperson for Family Dollar, wrote an email that stated, “In 2016, we purchased a supplier’s product matching the photo in social media. In accordance with our procedures, our supplier’s product had been independently tested for toxic chemicals. Upon being made aware of this incident, we re-confirmed that test results showed that no toxic chemicals were found in these make-up kits. We have received no other complaints or claims of allergic reactions related to this product.” They also added that they were glad that Lydia was feeling better, which is definitely the most important thing. And if it makes parents more cautious? Better be safe than sorry.