Do Markers Safe for Your Skin? What You Need to Know!

It’s a very common scenario that we make temporary tattoos or get stained on our skin either intentionally or unintentionally while writing with markers. Even while playing, kids also draw on their skin with it.

Actually, there are tons of fun ways to use permanent markers, from the boring (office work) to the fun (crazy colorful drawings). Unfortunately, despite Kylie Jenner’s cool Sharpie tattoos, body art is not one of them.

But have you ever wondered whether it’s safe to write on yourself with a permanent marker or whiteboard marker?

If you’re looking for skin safe markers, don’t uncap a Sharpie just yet. Here’s a quick explanation of why you really shouldn’t draw on your skin with a Sharpie.

What Makes a Sharpie/ Markers?

To understand whether a Sharpie or markers ink is skin safe or not, you first need to understand what ingredients go into a markers. 

The exact chemical composition of Sharpie ink varies between products, but it may contain any of the following: 

  • N-propanol
  • N-butanol
  • Diacetone alcohol
  • Cresol

According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), n-propanol exhibits low acute toxicity from dermal, oral, or inhalation routes of exposure. N-butanol, like most other alcohols, is a flammable, corrosive irritant that is generally viewed as toxic.

Diacetone alcohol isn’t toxic, but it is a known irritant. Cresol is also a strong dermal irritant and animal studies showed that liver, kidney, and blood problems could happen as a result of chronic exposure. Xylene is neuro-toxic and may damage other organs. It posses a risk via inhalation, ingestion, absorption across skin and mucous membranes.

So, writing with markers on skin that contain such chemical ingredients is not recommended at all.

Is Sharpie (Permanent) Bad for Your Skin?

The short answer: yes. But he long answer: it depends. 

The chemical composition of Sharpie products varies, which means some products may theoretically be safe. According to the company, markers bearing the ACMI “non-toxic” label are safe for use in art (NOT body art), even by children.

Yet there are some other Sharpies that contain toxic solvents, which is very harmful for your skin. It also causes different health problems from skin absorption and inhalation.

Keep in mind, however, there may be other harmful chemicals in Sharpies that we haven’t listed here. Either way, the company does not recommend using their products for body art of any kind.

What About Dry Erase Markers?

Dry erase markers are a day-to-day essential item used in schools, offices, home and by people of all ages. However, have you ever thought about the side effects of the ink it contains? And does it have any health risk or not?

Probably not, and you may be shocked to learn that if you use these markers incorrectly it can cause different health issues. Some whiteboard markers contain a harmful chemical called methyl isobutyl ketone, which irritates the eyes and nose, causes feelings of weakness, dizziness, headaches, vomiting and other problems due to short term uses.

On the other hand, long-term use can cause nausea, burning in the eyes, enlarged liver, intestinal pain and insomnia. So, just uncap the markers and write on the whiteboard.

If accidentally this methyl isobutyl ketone fell on your skin it will cause redness, dry skin and even pain. Unfortunately, there is no remedy for such irritation. That’s why be careful and keep these markers away from your skin.

Sharpie Ink vs Tattoo Ink: The Argument

The biggest concern with Sharpie body art is the absorption of ink through the skin since chemicals that enter the body through broken skin can enter directly into the bloodstream. Basically, you’re getting a highly concentrated dose of toxic chemicals straight into your blood. 

For the sake of argument, you might be wondering: what about tattoo ink? Temporary Sharpie tattoos don’t permeate the skin the way tattoo ink does, so why can people safely get permanent tattoos but not temporary Sharpie tattoos? 

The short answer is that tattoo ink has a different chemical composition than markers ink. 

The slightly longer answer is that most tattoo inks aren’t actually ink at all–they’re pigments suspended in a carrier solution, typically metal salts. The chemical composition of tattoo inks vary depending on who’s using them, but they’re not anything like Sharpie ink (or any other type of pen ink). 

Pen ink is designed for one specific purpose: to write on paper. Some markers can even be used to make amazing art. But if you’re contemplating body art, stick with temporary tattoos using skin safe markers or proper safe tattoo ink.

Why Do We Need Skin Safe Marker Actually?

Use of skin safe markers
Image Source: ​sportsafeproducts

If you’re looking for skin safe markers, Sharpies, tragically, are not it! But there are sometimes when you must need to write on your body even if you don’t want to.

A skin-safe marker is always an excellent product to have. These work just like regular markers, but with the advantage that they are not toxic, unhealthy, or smelly.

But, why do we need these markers for exactly? Well, there are many things you can do with them that you wouldn’t be able to otherwise. Here are a few:

  • Fast & effective way to mark the skin for sports
  • To have fun without causing damage
  • Trace lines on the skin for surgeries or tattoos
  • Create art using human or animal models
  • Mark consumables or foods without problems
  • For kids or children to play with safely
  • Important Note: Babies sometimes get markers inside their mouths. So, try to use washable markers for them.

It all comes down to the components of the markers. They add up together without producing side effects on the skin that would otherwise stay forever, create rashes, or probably even start allergies.

That’s why it is so necessary to use them, or at least have one set of safe markers at home or work. Especially if you have children, these markers will come like the perfect addition to your art items.

Best Skin Safe Markers: Our Consideration

We couldn’t finish this article without first showing at least two models that are totally worth the investment. If you’re interested in learning more about these markers – the following reviews will come pretty helpful:

1. Sportsafe Semi-Permanent Markers

Simplicity is never a bad choice. That’s what the Sportsafe Maker is all about.

This is a super simple option with a fine point design that helps you mark things down without making much of an effort. It is also a pretty resistant marker with intense ink. And you can use it on any skin tone without side effects.

These markers are available in four different colors– purple, blue, pink and green. The ink is toxic-free and so durable that it withstands sweat and water. It doesn’t fade or smooth out even after using hand sanitizers or oils and lasts for several days unless removed.

The Sportsafe marker comes with a set of tattoo templates, as well. That’s an excellent thing to enjoy if you’re a marker user who loves making designs and exciting graphics.

Apart from that, the entire ink is totally safe for the skin as well as for eyes, mouth, and even for smelling.

If you want a skin-safe marker that takes easy use and safety to another level, then you won’t find many choices as good as the Sportsafe.

2. BIC Temporary Tattoo Markers- for Skin

For those who like playing with the skin directly, the Tattoo maker from BIC is a perfect choice to go for.

In fact, it is called the BodyMark – a superb set of markers that will let you temporarily stain your skin to make amazing designs.

This is the ideal option for tattoo artists who want to test their skills or improve them. It also works as an excellent and safe product to have for making jokes and messing up with friends or family.

But overall, it stands out for its fantastic set of colors. You can get the Black set, the Henna set, the New School, or even the Old School set. Each one offers a specific array of tones so you can paint skins in the way you prefer.

The only drawback is the slight harshness of its ink. It won’t be harmful, but it can be a little too strong for children under 13 years old.

Wrap Up

Whatever your purpose, using skin safe markers are always the best option. Though dry erase markers are labeled as non-toxic, yet you have to keep in mind that these are not made for human body. So, considering options that are specially made for using on skin will be a wise decision as skin safe markers are formulated with safe pigments and skin friendly ingredients.

Loard Eva

Hi there! I’m Eva, artist, designer, photographer and mom of three little gentlemen altogether. When I’m not playing with my kids, you’ll find me researching and writing for ChooseMarker.

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