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Are Sharpie Tattoos Safe?

Are Sharpie Tattoos Safe?

Temporary fashion fads receive plenty of fan following as celebrities promote them all over the social media, and one such catchy trend is getting inked temporarily with a Sharpie. But are Sharpie tattoos safe for your skin? This ThoughtfulTattoos article investigates further.
Mary Anthony
Beware of Inhalant Abuse!
Inhaling the strong stench of Sharpie markers leads to an altered state of mind, and hence, it is used as a 'gateway drug' by youngsters. The National Institute on Drug Abuse warns that such an activity can cause unconsciousness, neurological damage, or even death.

'Sharpie' is originally an American-brand permanent marker that was launched in 1964 by the Sanford Ink Company. It is also the first pen-styled marker. Globally, it has a strong brand presence and sold over 200 million markers till date. This product is non-toxic for writing on paper, posters, and artistic use, but is not favorable for human skin as it is said to cause irritation.

However, the rising fad of drawing temporary tattoos on the skin by youngsters to avoid inking permanently as well as remaining hip and happening among their peers is a cause of concern. Tattoo artists have been using Sharpies to draw custom or freehand tattoos. So, one wonders as to what will happen if the chemicals from a Sharpie marker enter the bloodstream through cuts in the skin, once tattooing commences. Tattoo artists, like Guy Aitchison, have warned against the use of 'Red Sharpies' or any 'Red Marker' as these dyestuffs cause health issues during healing of tattoos. Unknowingly, one may be getting exposed to the harmful chemicals present in these Sharpie markers, which has led us to explore further.

Is Sharpie a Safe Option for Your Skin?

Effects of Using a Sharpie on Your Skin

Although a Sharpie bears the ACMI 'non-toxic' seal that renders it safe for art, the company advises not to use it for body art including drawing eyeliner, filling in tattoos, or making temporary tattoos. In order to get the ACMI safety seal, the product goes through toxicological testing only for inhalation and ingestion of the chemicals and not for the absorption of the chemicals into the bloodstream through broken skin.

Sharpie contains n-propanol, n-butanol, diacetone alcohol, and cresol, out of which n-propanol is considered safe, but n-butanol, diacetone alcohol, and cresol have harmful health effects. King Size Sharpie, Magnum Sharpie, and Touch-Up Sharpie contain xylene, a highly toxic chemical that is said to cause an allergic reaction, especially when directly inked on skin. It has also been linked to liver failure, nerve disorders, amnesia, and even death in extreme cases. Chronic exposure to this chemical can cause liver and kidney damage, conjunctivitis, dermatitis, and dryness of the nose, and throat.

How to Remove Sharpie Tattoos

There are claims that Sharpie tattoos can stay a month long, but they are mostly temporary. If you wish to remove the tattoos without letting them wear off on their own, you can apply baby oil to loosen the skin pigment and wash it off with soap and water. Other effective home remedies include rubbing alcohol, acetone-based nail remover, facial cleaning pads, toothpaste, deodorant, Tabasco sauce, and any vinegar-based product.

The above reasons give knowledgeable insight into the harmful effects of Sharpie on skin, so take a wise decision before using it as an inking alternative. If you still wish to get a temporary tattoo done, then ask the tattoo artist to use 'Skin Scribes', which are deemed safe and sterile for skin use.