Face paint is required to meet the same standards as makeup but the rules are often ignored, Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association executive director Garth Wyllie says.
His comments follow tests by Consumer New Zealand, which showed nine out of 15 face paints failed to meet required safety standards.
Consumer tested the products after finding high levels of lead in Carnival Colours face paint in February.
Chief executive Sue Chetwin said one face paint contained an ingredient banned in most products for young children. However, the main problem was a lack of clear labelling.
Ms Chetwin said more regulation and enforcement was needed for those products which were often bought and used by children.
Mr Wyllie said while face paint was required to meet the same standards as make up, the rules were often ignored. Some imported products contained banned ingredients.
"The issue with face paint, in particular, is that the potential of high lead content, for example, toxic chemicals that are not permitted in normal facial products or cosmetic products might be contained within the ingredients."
Consumers should look for products with a clear ingredients list and the manufacturer or distributors details, Mr Wyllie said.
Ms Chetwin said the test results had been passed on to the Ministry of Health and the Environmental Protection Agency.