Can Little Kids Use Acrylic Paint on Skin?


Every parent wants the best for their children. On special days like birthdays, it is normal to paint their faces with various crafts. Face, hand, and feet crafts are common among kids. Even for older people, the paint used must be safe.

So, can children use acrylic paint on the skin? Acrylic paint is generally safe on the skin of little kids for short periods. While the paint is non-toxic, it is not completely safe for children under three years.

The paint should be used for short periods and washed right away to avoid being absorbed into the child’s skin. While most acrylic paints are labeled non-poisonous, that doesn’t mean it’s safe. There is a difference between non-toxic and safe, with everything coming down to how you use it.

Join me as I discuss the safety of acrylic paints on kids’ skin.

used with permission from Alice Lane Interior Design

Is Acrylic Paint Safe on the Baby’s Skin?

Safety is crucial when it comes to any products that babies use. Acrylic paint is safe for the baby’s skin, but it is not recommended. Any paint expert will advise you to consider a different type of paint.

But why? While most acrylic paints are non-poisonous, it doesn’t mean they are 100% safe. Chemicals that go into making acrylic paints might not be 100% safe.

For example, ammonia in acrylic paint is not safe on anybody’s skin. However, the paint is non-poisonous when used for explicit art projects. But still, test the paint sensitivity on the child’s skin before use.

You can test paint sensitivity by putting a small amount on the kid’s feet for a few minutes. Observe any adverse reactions. Make sure you wipe it off thoroughly after testing.

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic?

Generally, acrylic paint is not toxic for daily DIY projects. The label itself reads non-toxic. However, the paint could become toxic depending on how the kids use it.

You need to consider water-based acrylic paints with a non-toxic label. So, how do you tell whether the paint is safe for children to use?

First, check the non-toxicity label. However, the best approval is looking for the Art and Creative Materials Institute’s Approved Product (AP) labels. The AP provides a stamp of approval showing the product meets the necessary safety requirements.

Any acrylic paints for children must come with an AP seal. The seal shows the paint is approved for safe use by kids.

Secondly, you can look for the American Society for Testing Materials code (ASTM D-4236). The code shows the ASTM approves the paint for use by children’s crafts.

It is important to look for label warnings on the paint before use keenly. In general, most modern acrylic paints found in stores are safe for little kids to use. However, as indicated earlier, the paints are not suitable for toddlers.

While children can apply the paint on the skin, it is not safe for extended periods. This is important for toddlers that have very sensitive skins.

used with permission from Alice Lane Interior Design

How Do You Get Acrylic Paint Off Baby’s Skin?

When you decide to use acrylic paint on your kids, then you need to get it off their skin pretty fast. Acrylic paint dries fast, so you need to clean it fast.

The best way to remove acrylic paint from the skin is by wiping it off using soapy water. It is pretty easy to clean water-based acrylic paint using water and soap. Warm soapy water loosens the acrylic paint making it easy to wipe off.

Water and soap are pretty effective, even for acrylic paint that is starting to dry. Apart from water and soap, you can also baby’s oil. Apply a generous amount of baby oil on the skin and gently massage it.

Common oil-based products like petroleum jelly, vegetable oil, canola oil, and butter can also help.

Lastly, you can use alcohol to wipe dry acrylic paint off the skin. Rubbing alcohol or acetone on the paint area can help remove it. However, this should be the last method to get acrylic paint off a baby’s skin as it can be irritating.

You can use cotton and dip it in alcohol before rubbing it against the paint. Once the paint wipes off, clean the area with soapy water.

used with permission from Alice Lane Interior Design

Is Acrylic Paint Toxic if Swallowed?

Most acrylic paints are toxic if swallowed. However, the level of toxicity depends on the ingredients of the paint and how it reacts with the body.

Acrylic paints contain ammonia and formaldehyde, which cause respiratory irritations. The US Consumer Product Safety Commission explains ammonia and formaldehyde levels that are considered toxic for the body. This is the main reason children under the age of 3 should not use acrylic paints. They usually tend to put things in their mouth and might end up ingesting the paint.

However, older kids from the age of 3 can safely use acrylic under supervision. When dry, some acrylic elements might evaporate and produce fumes in the air.

When sanding acrylic paints, make sure you work in a well-ventilated area.

What kind of paint can you use on baby skin?

Knowing the correct paint to apply to the baby’s skin is important. When doing handprints and footprints, the best paint is water-based and toxic. In the simplest terms, water-based paint uses mainly water as the main liquid as opposed to oils.

Below are some of the common types of paints available.

Water-based paint

This is by far the safest paint option for use on the hands, foot, and face. Furthermore, there is a lot of regulation on the manufacture and use of these paints. The paint is non-harmful and doesn’t contain toxic ingredients found in most acrylic paints.

The paint is also easy to apply using a toothbrush, sponge, and paintbrush. It also cleans easily after application by wiping using a damp cloth. However, water-based paints crack and rub off easily.

Metallic body paints

Metallic body paint is another great choice for use on the body. However, the paint is difficult to apply and remove. It is not the safest option out there and can irritate the skin. Metallic body paint is best left for professional performances.

Alcohol-based paint

There is also alcohol-based paint which is suitable for body paints. The paint can create amazing airbrush tattoos and face paints. The paint works best in sunny areas drying very fast. Furthermore, alcohol-based paints are waterproof and don’t come off with sweat.

However, it is not the safest option out there. Removing alcohol-based paints is pretty easy, using acetone or alcohol to wipe it off.


Henna is another excellent plant-based dye and stain that is used to color nails. However, you can also use it on the skin without any harmful effects.

The paint is non-toxic and safe for both adults and kids. However, some henna brands might contain harmful ingredients. It is advised you check the label before use.


Lastly, you can also use artificial markers that are specially designed for body and face painting. Most markers are generally safe and don’t include any harmful ingredients.

They are sold in packs and used on different parts of the body. There are markers for the face and other body parts.

Final Words

Acrylic paint on the skin of kids is not harmful for short periods. You can use it to make footprints and handprints. However, make sure you wash it immediately with soap and water. This prevents the paint from being absorbed into the skin.

Generally, acrylic paint is non-poisonous when used carefully for explicit projects. Despite most paints being non-toxic, it is how you use them that will determine their safety. Thanks to the paintcentric for consulting


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