Do Markers are Safe for Skin

Do Markers are Safe for Your Skin?

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 neurotoxic 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 ​Whiteboard ​Markers?

Whiteboard 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.

Is ​There ​Any ​Markers Safe for the Skin?

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.

Guess when? Like, in the athletic fields or drawing something on your skin for an emergency purpose for a short or long time.

In that case what will you use?

About the Author 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.