Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Skin? (No! How To Remove It)

Acrylic paint is a popular option for artists working on a range of projects - but what about art that involves face and body painting? Is acrylic paint safe for skin? The answer is a very firm no - acrylic paint should not be used on humans. 

Fortunately, we have created this guide to help you understand the risks of using acrylic paints on skin and the best alternatives for your next project - read on for everything you need to know!  

Acrylic Paint Covered Hands

Can Acrylic Paint Be Used On Skin Safely? (How Toxic Is it?) 

Given the popularity of acrylic pain in other art projects, many artists wonder - can you use acrylic paint on skin? There is a clear consensus around this - using acrylic paint on skin is a bad idea and can result in serious reactions. 

Acrylic paint can be toxic when applied to the skin - there are a number of chemicals included that can be hazardous to human health. The main ingredients of concern include: 

  • Lead 
  • Formaldehyde - This is a preservative used to extend the shelf life of the paint, and is a probable human carcinogen 
  • Ammonia 
  • Cadmium 
  • Cobalt 
  • Chromium 
  • Magnesium 
  • Pigments - these give the paint its color, and some can be toxic 

Can Acrylic Paint Be Used On Skin? When acrylic paint is on the skin, it will dry quickly, blocking the skin's pores and causing irritation and dryness.

The skin of the face is particularly delicate, and placing acrylic paint in this area can cause serious irritation - you are likely to end up with uncomfortable, dry red patches. 

Many types of acrylic paint contain formaldehyde - this is a substance that is used to help the paint last for longer without hardening or discoloration, but it can be dangerous for humans. Some pigments can also cause serious issues, and these will be clearly labeled on the paint. 

Fumes can be an irritant to the throat, eyes, and nose, as well as headaches, nausea, and dizziness if you are breathing them in regularly and in close proximity. 

Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Baby’s Skin? Acrylic paint on baby’s skin should be avoided - their skin is delicate and sensitive, and adverse reactions are even more likely. 

Can You Turn Acrylic Paint Into A Safe Face & Body Paint? (DIY) 

The best way to use acrylic paint safely is to opt for a non-toxic type - this will be clearly labeled on the packaging.

Non-toxic acrylic paint will help to reduce the risks associated with inhaling the paint. 

However, it does not automatically mean that it is safe to use on the skin - you are still likely to experience dry, uncomfortable skin if you apply it to your face or body. 

If you are looking to use paint on your skin to create stunning face or body art, the best option is to select a paint that is designed specifically for this purpose.

These paints are typically water-based, hypoallergenic, and free from parabens - all of these elements increase the risk of an allergic reaction when they are applied to the skin. 

Specialist face and body paints are also easier to remove, and this means that there will be no need to scrub harshly or use strong chemicals to remove the paint - both of these can cause damage and irritation to the skin. 

Painting Designs on Skin

To help you stay safe, healthy, and well, stick to specialist face and body paint that is designed especially for this purpose. 

How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Your Skin (Will It Wash Off?)

Knowing how to get acrylic paint off your skin is important - try and remove any residue as soon as possible, as it can be trickier to clean once the paint has had a chance to dry - this is when you are more likely to experience irritation. 

How To Remove Acrylic Paint From Skin: Some Options 

  • 1
    Run the warm tap, and then hold the painted area under the warm water. Use a mild soap, and try to gently rub off the paint, patting the area dry once the paint is gone. 
  • 2
    You can also use warm water on the paint to loosen it, and then run baby oil onto the painted area and rinse under warm water. This option is best for babies and those with sensitive skin. 
  • 3
    Once you have used the warm water, use a cotton ball soaked in alcohol to rub the paint in a circular motion to loosen it, and then wash the area with soap and water. 
  • 4
    For more stubborn spots, loosen the paint with warm running water, and then dip a washcloth or tissue in acetone (such as nail polish remover). Hold this on top of the paint for around 30 seconds, and rinse with soap and water. 
Washing Hands of Paint

What Paint Is Safe On Human Skin? (Best Face & Body Paints) 

As we have mentioned, there are some paints that are safe for use on human skin, and these include: 

Water-Based Paint 

Water-based paints are well regulated, non-toxic, and easy to clean, making them safe for use with children.

They can be rubbed off very easily when you are done, and this reduces the stress that is caused to your skin when you vigorously rub at the paint to remove it. Water based paints also meet a number of strict guidelines and regulations for safety. 

Metallic Body Paint 

For a stylish space-age look, metallic paint is a great option. These often contain a special liquid combined with powders from real metal - this helps to create a really authentic look and is popular amongst "statue" street performers and artists.

However, metallic body paints can be irritating to the skin thanks to the inclusion of metal powders, so they are best avoided for sensitive skin. 

Alcohol-Based Paint 

Alcohol-based paint is great for special effects and works best in hot, humid conditions or underwater, as this paint is waterproof - great if you are going to be sweating a lot. Be aware, however, that it can come off easily when rubbed - this is great for removal, but can smudge your look. 

Latex Body Paint 

Latex is a popular choice for cosplayers, as it can be used to create realistic custom costumes. Avoid this paint in extreme heat, as it can prevent the body from sweating, and do not use it on skin that is already irritated or damaged.

You will also need to check that you do not have a latex allergy. On the plus side, latex paint leaves behind no residue, so it is easy to remove and clean. 


Henna is a traditional painting technique, and the paint comes from plant dye, appearing in a brownish-reddish shade on the skin.

This is a great option to avoid allergies and irritation and can be used on both children and adults without issue, though black henna should be avoided as this can cause allergies. Henna will fade naturally over time. 

Commercial body paint

In recent years, a number of companies have created their own safe body paint, typically free from latex and toxins - these can be very useful for full-body painting, or for painting with children. 


Avoid using color markers for decorating skin - these can result in irritation. Instead, opt for these specialist body-paint markers, which are non-toxic, easy to remove, and kid-safe. 

Acrylic Paint Safety FAQs

 Is acrylic paint safe to breathe? 

It is a good idea to avoid breathing in acrylic paint - some types will have fumes that can be toxic and cause irritation, dizziness, headaches, and serious illness in the worst-case scenarios. 

What should I do if I get acrylic paint in my eye? 

If you get acrylic paint in your eye, you should immediately rinse the area with clean, warm water. Then, fill a basin with warm, clean water and submerge your eye in this as much as possible, gently pulling the eyelids to allow as much water in as possible.

Pat the area dry with a clean towel. If you have any irritation or pain, see a doctor immediately. 

Is dried acrylic paint toxic? 

Some dried acrylic paint can be toxic when it is applied to the skin, and some types may also release propylene glycol as they dry - this is bad for the environment, and could cause skin irritation or damage with prolonged exposure. 

Should I wear gloves when painting with acrylic paint? 

If you want to avoid the contact that you have with the paint, you can wear gloves to protect your skin. It is important to note, however, that this is not essential, as you can always wash your hands if you get a splash of paint on you - this will be perfectly safe.  

Does acrylic paint wash off skin?

Acrylic paint does wash off skin with warm water. 


Using acrylic paint can help you create stunning artworks and is generally a good material to work with.

It is important to be aware of the risks, however, and make sure that you are not using this type of paint on the face, skin, or body - this can cause irritation, reactions, and other issues, so it is best avoided.