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Old 02-16-2010, 02:21 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Acrylics on Skin

Last weekend there was a Mardi Gras and street fair in a local town. In one of the booths there were two artists who were painting faces, mostly on children. The kids really seemed to enjoy this kind of thing. They could select from a wide variety of designs and themes, and have them painted on their faces in glorious acrylic colors.

However, the artists were just using Delta Ceramcoat acrylic paints -- which are a popular type of craft acrylics. When a concerned mother asked about safety (to be sure it was perfectly all right to have these painted wet directly on her children's skin), the artists just pointed to the AP non-toxic label, as if that meant there were no concerns at all. Concerned parents were assured that they were non-toxic paints, and the issue was 'resolved' in a few seconds. The paints were solidly 'in the clear' (or they were presented in such a way that they were perceived to be).

Shortly afterwards, I was in an art supply store and looked at the labels on the Delta Ceramcoat jars they carried, and also spoke with the manager about the safety of skin contact, face painting, and body painting with these paints. She was pretty clear on the point. They are not meant for this, and she wouldn't feel comfortable using them in this way on children, or on herself. Acrylic paints contain a long list of chemicals (even though some of them may not smell like it -- though more acrylics used to smell this way, before manufacturers responded to the issue). Not all of these chemicals are good choices for slathering over the skin (or for breathing for extended periods, for that matter, in an unventilated room or studio).

I asked about the barrier cream they carried: What if you coated the skin with a layer of barrier cream first, and then painted over that layer of barrier cream with the acrylics? She seemed to think this would be safe.

***
Another thing that struck me that day was just how *innocuous* many acrylics are presented and marketed and formulated to appear. This is one of their selling points, and the manufacturers are aware of it. I opened some of the Delta Ceramcoat jars (you could just unscrew the lids without breaking any seals or anything, so it was simple). And I was struck by how they smelled -- they have a very, very "safe" smell. I think this is a conscious move or device on the part of the manufacturers.

They look and *seem* so safe and innocuous.

And this fools some people. Completely. They paint with their hands, or apply mediums with their hands, or get careless about skin contact, or do body painting with acrylics; and some of these people develop health problems.

Last edited by Charlie's Mum : 02-16-2010 at 05:18 PM.
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:42 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

I just got off the phone with Delta tech support. They were very clear that their paints are neither approved nor recommended for application on skin. They contain much the same array of chemical additives as artists' acrylics. The chemicals and the acrylic resins themselves are not recommended for skin. Some of their products contain other, additional additives that are even more strongly not recommended for this.

Barrier creams cannot be recommended across the board. Individual formulations may vary. Whether or not a given product will work depends on the formulation. The recommendations would have to come from the manufacturer of the individual product.

They also said that they have heard about artists using Ceramcoat acrylic paints for face painting and body painting, and that these artists are usually just looking at the AP non-toxic labels, and making hasty and incorrect conclusions from there. They said that the meaning of these labels is not very widely understood correctly or accurately. They also mentioned being aware of reactions some people have to paints applied on skin.

The paints also often contain fragrances that make them more pleasant, attractive, or acceptable, and mask unpleasant or off-putting chemical aromas.

It seems like some sort of concise "Basic Precautions when Using Acrylics" would be useful. A lot of people seem to be missing this sort of information. It could be easier to see or find. Maybe it could appear near the top of this forum? -- that way more people would be aware of these issues.

Last edited by Nilesh : 02-16-2010 at 06:09 PM.
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Old 02-16-2010, 05:55 PM
old_hobbyist old_hobbyist is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

Nilesh, I support your concerns. In Key West, ladies enjoy being airbrush-painted over their breasts and in some cases over everything else. A few years ago, I spoke with a couple of the airbrush artists and they assured me that their airbrush paints were non-toxic, etc. However, a couple of party-going ladies in our area told me that they had reactions ranging from redness to moderate skin irritations resembling bad sunburns, particularly around the nipples and shaved private parts after they'd been decorated. Best advice is to recommend to the ladies that they liberally apply barrier creams before decoration. None of the airbrush artists apparently recommend this precaution. IMHO, I don't think that acrylics should be applied to any child, particularly around the face.
Phoenix

Last edited by old_hobbyist : 02-16-2010 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 02-16-2010, 06:09 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

Quote:
Originally Posted by old_hobbyist
Nilesh, I support your concerns. In Key West, ladies enjoy being airbrush-painted over their breasts and in some cases over everything else. A few years ago, I spoke with a couple of the airbrush artists and they assured me that their airbrush paints were non-toxic, etc. However, a couple of party-going ladies in our area told me that they had reactions ranging from redness to moderate skin irritations resembling bad sunburns, particularly around the nipples and shaved private parts after they'd been decorated. Best advice is to recommend to the ladies that they liberally apply barrier creams before decoration. None of the airbrush artists apparently recommend this precaution. IMHO, I don't think that acrylics should be applied to any child, particularly around the face.
Phoenix

Good information here. Thank you.

Eyes are another concern. I just looked at some (non-acrylic) products that are approved for face painting. Even some of those have precautions about applying them near the eyes.
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Old 02-17-2010, 02:03 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

It seems that lawsuits have occurred over this.

The manufactures argued successfully (and were dropped from the lawsuit), that they could not be held responsible for problems resulting from an unintended use of their products. The Clown who used the acrylic craft paint disappeared, leaving the City to pay for everything. (This after the festival group went bankrupt). City decides to settle because the cost of litigation. It also seems the clown (both times) did not have insurance (They were saving money on that and the paints). According to their deposition, they were doing that to reduce cost so that they could pass it onto their customers.

...

...my daughter and I were at a renaissance fair in CO. From what I know now the person doing the painting used acrylics. Within 10 minutes the child was in tears and there were blisters raised on her face. She was 10 at the time...and this was the only time in her life she had a severe reaction. The pain was such that the child was sobbing. It almost looked like a chemical burn.

...

We do not have an opinion, we have a four inch file with facts (A list of cases involving acrylic face paints)

Do not use any paint on a child's skin unless it has been approved by an agency of the federal government or you are taking a gamble on not getting caught by the parent of hypoallergenic child (a kid who is allergic to everything)

When you're caught, you are going be in a very poor legal position. The lawyers will make you pay for your gamble.

Spend the extra money on the approved stuff.

...

Our lawyers could not find any medical study ever done on acrylic paints on skin. But they did find several cases of where people settled involving acrylic paints (including two models who had their entire body painted with gold acrylic paint and suffered allergic reactions to the paint....

http://www.snazaroo.us/faqacrylics.htm

Not all reactions are due to 'allergies,' though. Some people have more sensitivity than others to the various chemicals. There are also additional variables, interactions, co-factors, and reactions involved.

"We do not have an opinion, we have a four inch file with facts (A list of cases involving acrylic face paints)...."


According to acrylic manufacturers (Daniel Smith is one), some adults have developed pesky skin problems from hand painting with acrylics.

Last edited by Nilesh : 02-17-2010 at 02:48 PM.
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Old 02-17-2010, 08:11 PM
old_hobbyist old_hobbyist is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

Nilesh, how do you suggest that the art community can get this concern out to local fairs and towns that sponsor them? phoenix
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Old 02-17-2010, 10:27 PM
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

I am trying to figure why someone would accept to have a product put on their skin unless it is mentionned as being designed for that purpose. Unfortunatly some people lack judgment on both side of the issue, the people using the product that do not do adequate research and the people accepting what is said at face value.
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:14 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

Quote:
Originally Posted by old_hobbyist
Nilesh, how do you suggest that the art community can get this concern out to local fairs and towns that sponsor them? phoenix
If you really wanted to do something, you could call the organizers, or contact a series of organizers on the internet or by phone.

I don't like to spoil people's fun, but it would be *so* easy for these face painters to use barrier creams.

It might be more difficult, and perhaps a bit more expensive, for them to switch over to FDA-approved face paints.

Personally, I think a well-chosen barrier cream would be enough [there is still the issue of which barrier creams are actually effective, though] . That way, these face painters -- who don't look as though they have a lot of money -- wouldn't have to change their whole setup. They already have a whole trays full of dozens of craft paints (at least the ones I saw did). And they are used to these paints and the colors, and the metallics, and the way they handle and flow off the brush (they do seem to handle well).

I think artists are another group that could use some more information on basic precautions with acrylics.

It's just too easy (and too widespread) to conclude, or get the impression, that acrylics are 'perfectly' safe or non-toxic. They just *seem* that way to many people.

The "AP Non-Toxic" seal is extremely easy to misconstrue. More often than not, people mistake its meaning. It is poorly understood, or simply misunderstood. People jump to facile conclusions about it. I saw it firsthand with those face painters and parents. Its real or true meaning is interesting and somewhat technical, and quite different from what it appears to say.

***
I was trying to think of what those acrylics smelled like, what it was that they reminded me of. They had such a pleasant, somewhat familiar smell (from the fragrances that are added by the manufacturers). And then I realized what it was -- they reminded me of some of the widely used skin lotions I've seen. They had a similar texture and fragrance to some of the skin lotions and moisturizers.

Last edited by Charlie's Mum : 02-18-2010 at 05:23 PM.
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Old 02-18-2010, 03:45 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtibo
I am trying to figure why someone would accept to have a product put on their skin unless it is mentioned as being designed for that purpose. Unfortunately some people lack judgment on both side of the issue, the people using the product that do not do adequate research and the people accepting what is said at face value.

This brings up some very interesting aspects of the situation. Why do people (including ourselves at time) tend to accept the views of the face painters (among many others)? Why do they (or we) accept them so easily? Why do they (/we) accept them at face value? It seems to be a widespread habit or tendency of mind.

This case is a good illustration or example of what happens:

One of my children (with sensitive skin) had been painted with one of those "acrylics" when she was younger. Also she had been painted on the forehead with (I think fabric paint?) to make that jeweled head band look. What a nightmare! Now, I understand that she has sensitive skin already. She's almost allergic to the sun!!! But... as a Mom, who told the painter that she had sensitive skin, and, the painter who said it was fine... (This was before I knew about "real" face paint). Anyways... My daughter had scabs on her forehead for a month! And, on her arm, it itched so bad that she scratched it raw! This is one of those situations of "If I knew then what I know now" type. I would have sued this woman if I knew better! Maybe it would have helped her to realize how inferior her paints were! Honestly, I'm not a sue happy person. When I called this ahem... lady, and told her the problem, she just apologized and said sometimes kids have sensitive skin. I did explain to her that I had told her this before she even started. Obviously, I didn't get anywhere. I called her again later after I talked to a professional face painter, and complained about the acrylic paint, and shame on her, she should have known better because I certainly did not. I was relying on her professionalism to know the difference. She insisted her paint was fine, etc...


That pinpoints part of the problem: "relying on her professionalism." People tend to rely too much on hearsay and poorly researched points of view.

And people tend to hang on to their own views. It sounds as if the face painter was *still* holding on to the view that her paints were fine. She may not have changed a thing, even after getting this feedback.

Why do so many of the face painters themselves not know better? The "AP Non-Toxic" label is certainly part of it. They just go by facile assumptions and conclusions. They don't do their homework very well. Not all of them are highly educated or trained in critical thinking or research skills. They don't have medical degrees or training, and probably are not very familiar with that kind of thinking or knowledge.

And they are probably also influenced by others who are doing this sort of face painting (these things tend to get passed along by word of mouth, in many cases), and by the fact that the more severe reactions are relatively unusual (though not terribly unusual); and many of the reactions never get back to the face painters, because the reactions are often somewhat delayed, and feedback just doesn't happen (probably much more often than not). The people who have reactions are also often categorized as freaks, of a sort, who 'are allergic to everything' -- which is a quite false, but nonetheless popular way of thinking.]

***

Here is an illustrative similar situation, which highlights some of the principles involved with acrylics as well. Some people use Sharpies on their skin:

They are considered non-toxic for “normal uses,” meaning writing on posters, soccer balls, and such. However, they are not meant for use on skin or fingernails. It might take over an ounce of ink from a Sharpie to cause a lethal reaction, and if a Sharpie is used on the skin it generally won’t cause an immediate or obvious health effect. However, according to the manufacturer’s safety data sheets (MSDS), various Sharpies contain: n-propanol, n-butanol, diacetone alcohol, and cresol. The first of these, n-propanol, is commonly used in cosmetics. The other three, however, are industrial solvents, chemicals that should not be sniffed, eaten, or put on the skin. As solvents they penetrate the skin and fingernails, and do enter the bloodstream.
Magnum Sharpie, King Size Sharpie, and Touch-up Sharpie products contain xylene. The Magnum and King Size Sharpies also contain cresol. However, all other products in the Sharpie line do not contain either of these chemicals, and are considered safe under normal use conditions.
These chemicals are not tested for human consumption, only incidental environmental exposure. So the chemical manufacturers’ technical data sheets on these chemicals are ambiguous with respect to how much should be considered a hazardous dosage, but do warn of kidney, liver, and brain damage, other nervous disorders, and DNA effects resulting in birth defects. OSHA has set permissible exposure limits (PEL) at 100ppm for n-butanol, 50ppm for diacetone alcohol, and 5ppm for cresol.

Last edited by Nilesh : 02-18-2010 at 04:05 PM.
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Old 02-18-2010, 04:56 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

"...Generally won’t cause an immediate or obvious health effect..."

This is well worded.

"Generally" is an important qualifier. It does not mean always.

"Immediate" is also a significant word here: the effects are often delayed to a greater or lesser extent, and sometimes not correlated.

"Obvious" is being used in a meaningful way. Many people look upon health effects as something like an on-off switch: either there are obvious health effects, or there is nothing. This is a fallacy. There is a very broad spectrum of possible effects between nothing and the obvious.

Last edited by Nilesh : 02-18-2010 at 05:36 PM.
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Old 02-18-2010, 05:02 PM
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

People are silly that way Nilesh , you mentionned professionallism, that is a big long word that in many field means absolutly nothing, anyone can invent themself and print business card and go for it.

I teach and the students are surprised to learn that their rinsing water should not be disposed in the drain since it is a non toxic product. Non toxic but would we flush a plastic bag in the toilet and think nothing of it and yet it is the same, different form but similar product and what to say of pigments some are toxic.

I am one of the people that is sensitive to certain chemical such as solvent, big migraine and yet people insist that if it is odorless it is not harmful, fumes are fumes the only difference is that you do not know that someone is using it around you. What about the rags, should they be put straight in the garbage or deposited in a hazardous disposal facility.

So as a professional, I teach to protect our health and environment that is all I can do and you by opening this subject on the net are helping people know about the risk and that might be the best way to go about it, the more people are aware and informed the less is the risk to all of us.
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Old 02-20-2010, 04:02 PM
Nilesh Nilesh is offline
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

This clarifies some of the issues raised here,

"There are no currently known health hazards associated with anticipated use. (Most chemicals are not fully tested for chronic toxicity.) To ensure safety; avoid ingestion, excessive skin contact and inhalation of spraying mists, sanding dusts, and concentrated vapors.”

We add these precautions because it is just good general hygiene when working with any chemicals. Most consumers are not aware that most chemicals have not been fully investigated for chronic toxicity. Other companies may choose to label a very similar product as simply non-toxic, and according to Federal standards, this is absolutely fine. We simply chose a different path, and if someone should choose not to use our colors because of the information we provide that is certainly their choice, but it is certainly not a safer one.


http://www.goldenpaints.com/blog/200...-really-exist/
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Old 02-21-2010, 07:22 AM
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Re: Acrylics on Skin

One might consider Vegetable Dyes as a skin paint.
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