Are Sharpies Toxic

Are Sharpies Toxic? – How to Avoid Ink Poisoning From Sharpies

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The colorful world of Sharpies is so interesting, yet there are many questions regarding the Sharpie. The first main questions that we all want the answer to are: Are Sharpies toxic, is it bad to draw on yourself with Sharpie, and can you get ink poisoning from a Sharpie? Well, it depends on the type of Sharpie you use. There is a vast range of Sharpies available in art stores – one to suit every need!



What Are Sharpies and Is Sharpie Bad for Your Skin?

What are Sharpies? If living outside of America, you may know the word Sharpies as a marking pen. The word Sharpie is synonymous with America. It is an American invention. The Sharpie is a brand of writing implement that is manufactured in Atlanta, Georgia in America. Sharpies are permanent markers; this means that water on its own will not remove the ink. Is it bad to draw on yourself with Sharpie?

The main purpose of using a Sharpie is to write on non-porous surfaces, such as metals, wood, stone, cardboard, plastic, and ceramics.

Ink Poisoning

Most permanent marking ink can be rubbed off from some plastic surfaces such as Teflon. Can you get ink poisoning from a Sharpie and is sharpie bad for your skin? The responding response to this question is no – the ink may temporarily stain the skin but will certainly not poison you. The fine-point black marker was the first pen-style permanent marker. It also wrote on surfaces such as glass, wood, stone and plastic, and of course, paper.


Availability of the Sharpie

The manufacturers of the Sharpie currently have 49 colors in the marketplace. The fine-point Sharpie is available in 41 colors, which include five neon colors and three metallic colors. The ultra-fine Sharpie is available in 42 colors and the twin tip is in 20 colors. The retractable Sharpie is available in 12 colors and the mini is only available in eight different colors. The chisel tip is available in eight colors.

The super Sharpie is available in four colors and the Super Sharpie twin tip, as well as the professional Sharpie, are both available in three colors with the industrial Sharpie being available only in one color.


Types of Sharpies

There are so many types of Sharpies and deciding on what type of Sharpie to use may become very confusing. To make it easier for you to choose what type of Sharpie you will need, the Sharpie manufacturers have listed the Sharpies into five different categories.

Ink Poisoning from Sharpies

Type of SharpieExplanation
ClassicThe classic Sharpie is the permanent market that was designed for adding color when drawing or writing. The classic Sharpie is used by most children around the world and is usually sold in packs of different colors.
SpecialtyThe specialty Sharpie is used for marking clothes, uniforms, bedding, and many more fabric items. This Sharpie was manufactured specifically so that it would stay on fabrics and will not wash off easily.
S-NoteThe S-Note markers have a nice color range available. These markers are used for highlighting, drawing, and underlining work. These Sharpies are not as bold as the regular colors and they do not bleed as much as the regular Sharpie.
Art LineThe art line Sharpie has dual nip and is a permanent market for all types of surfaces. The art line Sharpie is a super fine tip adding to the versatility of the Sharpie.
Pro-LineThe pro-line XT is a liquid paint Sharpie to work predominantly on rough or rusty surfaces. This Sharpie is also chemical resistant.


Sharpie Tip Types

There are different types of tips belonging to Sharpies. The tips are structured to give different applications to different projects. Before starting on an exciting project that you have planned, you should know what Sharpie is best to work with. There are many kinds and various types of Sharpie tips available on the market.

  • Fine
  • Ultra-Fine
  • Chisel
  • Mixed
  • Bold
  • Brush
  • Bullet
  • Extra Bold



Sharpie Ink Type

It is interesting to note that the Sharpies head office, manufactures a line of ink that can be used in medical facilities where physicians have to draw on the human skin without allergic reactions coming up. These Sharpies are more expensive than the usual regular kind.

Sharpie is one of the only brands in the world that works with so many types of ink.

Are Sharpies Toxic for Skin


What Solvents Are Found in Sharpies?

The main solvents in Sharpies are alcohols and contain Ethylene Glycol and Monobutyl Ether. All Sharpie ink colors are per chrome ink.

In the per chrome ink, the principal solvents are alcohol but no glycol ethers are used.


Water-Based Sharpies

Water-based Sharpies are permanent ink. The ink stands out on any colored background and if used on paper it will not bleed. This Sharpie is great to use for poster work and drawing murals as well as scrapbooking. Sharpie paint markers are quickly becoming a favorite in the Sharpie collection. These Sharpies are acid-free and quick drying and do not fade. Water-based Sharpies are acid-free ink that resists fading and is not ideal for glass as they can easily be removed.

What Are Sharpies


Oil-Based Sharpies

The oil-based Sharpie is available in pink, whilst the water-based Sharpie is blue. Sharpie oil-based paint markers are used on metal. Pottery, rubber, wood, stone, glass, paper, and plastic. This type of Sharpie can also be used on plastic. Where the alcohol-based Sharpie, which is the traditional Sharpie pen, will be rubbed off if used on plastic. The oil-based Sharpie will not fade and is permanent. The oil-based paint marker from Sharpie is the leader in the world of permanent markers.

The valve-action marker was designed to allow free-flowing paint at all times.


Alcohol-Based Ink Sharpies

Most of the Sharpies on the market today contain alcohol-based ink. Due to the permanence of the ink used in Sharpies, this is the preferred marking pen by artists, as well as those who want to make permanent markings on different surfaces. The principal solvents in Sharpies are alcohol but no glycol ethers are used.

What Are Sharpies Used For



Toxic and Non-Toxic Sharpies

When asking the question of whether Sharpies are toxic or not, the answer is not that simple. Thus, we need to look at this in more detail. Water-based, alcohol-based, and aromatic solvent-based inks are the three types of Sharpies available.

The aromatic solvent-based Sharpies are the most toxic as they contain the chemical Xylene.

Can You Get Ink Poisoning from a Sharpie

There are a few concerns about whether Sharpies are toxic or not. The following Sharpies, such as the King size, the Magnum, and the Touch-Up Sharpie contain xylene, which can damage the organs. Xylene is a risk when inhaled or ingested. Writing on the skin with these three Sharpies is not advised.


Is Sharpie Bad for Your Skin?

You can rest assured that Sharpies are usually not toxic to the skin. The ink usually penetrates the outer layer of the skin. If you have drawn on yourself, there is not much risk.

However, the Sharpie manufacturers do not recommend using Sharpie markers on the skin as a general rule.


Are The Sharpie Fine Point Markers Safe to Use?

This will include inhaling, contact with your skin, contact with your eyes, and ingestion. Xylene, which is a chemical that can cause damage to the nervous system, is found in three types of Sharpie pens.

Is It Bad to Draw on Yourself with a Sharpie


Can You Get Ink Poisoning From a Sharpie?

The question of whether Sharpies can be absorbed into the bloodstream is unlikely. If the chemicals in the marker penetrate broken skin, they can be absorbed into the bloodstream. In general, Sharpies are non-toxic and ink poisoning will not occur when using the Sharpie on the skin.

It is important to note that they may provoke an allergic reaction in some people.


If Inhaled, the Solvent Will Produce What We Call “a High”

Becoming intoxicated with Sharpies can occur. Sharpies contain volatile solvents. These are liquids that become gas at room temperature. This can cause slurred speech, and some dizziness and can affect coordination.



Interesting Facts About Sharpies

There is a lot to know about Sharpies, and as with all things, the more you know the better prepared you can be. Here are some more interesting things to note about Sharpie pens.

  • To revitalize a dried-up Sharpie, rubbing it in a bit of alcohol will revive it.
  • The Sharpie Twin Tip is fascinating as it has a dual purpose. One side of the Sharpie pen is in fact a finer tip, while the other side is a chisel-type tip.
  • Many celebrities have personalized Sharpies that they use when signing autographs.
  • A retractable Sharpie is used by those who always seem to have their hands full. The retractable Sharpie does not require a lid to keep it dry, instead after use, it retracts back into its covering.
  • The original Sharpie fine is the one Sharpie that most people are familiar with. The Sharpie fine tip is permanent when used on most surfaces. It is also available in a variety of colors.

Is Sharpie Bad for Your Skin

  • The magnum Sharpie is the hardiest of the Sharpie range and there is also a king-size Sharpie that works well on both wet and oily surfaces.
  • If Sharpie markers are left unopened and in normal temperatures, it has a shelf life of almost three years.
  • Each year, there are over 400 million Sharpies that come off the production line, and 465 million washable markers are manufactured.
  • The Sharpie brand dates back over 160 years.
  • The Sharpie is actually considered to be a negative and wasteful product to the environment. The raw materials found in the Sharpie are not reusable and the product, therefore, produces waste and can be harmful to the environment.


The colorful world of Sharpies is enticing enough to make one want to try out their artistic abilities. Whether a young and up-and-coming new artist or an experienced tattoo artist, the Sharpie is one of those objects that gives one the desire to draw. The question of whether Sharpies are toxic is noted as a general concern when it comes to creating art. Sharpies are safe to use so the added question of whether a Sharpie is bad for the skin is also answered as a no, there is no concern on that level. Sharpies should be enjoyed for the purpose for which they were made. It’s time to get writing, drawing, or creating. There is always time for art in our world. 



Frequently Asked Questions


What Are Sharpies?

Sharpies are a type of branded writing implement, most of which are permanent. Sharpies are permanent markers, which means that the ink is not removable with only plain water.


What Is the Difference Between Sharpies and Markers?

Most markers, especially fabric markers are waterproof and when applied to fabric, they will not bleed or fade. Even though the Sharpie markers are permanent, fabric markers out-last and out-live them.


Can I Wash Sharpie Marks Out of My Clothes?

Most fabric markers are waterproof, meaning the ink adheres to the fabric easily. If you have been struggling to get permanent marker ink out of your clothes, your best chance is to wash them as soon as you are able. Using a laundry stain remover product may help with the process however because fabric absorbs the ink so well, chances are that you will have little success in trying to get ink out of clothes.


How Long Will the Ink From Sharpies Stay on My Skin?

The ink from Sharpies will stay on your skin for at least three days before you see it starting to fade. Of course, some soap and warm water will help to speed up the removal process.


Are Sharpies Safe for Tattoos?

Even though Sharpies are permanent markers, they can be erased with tattoo soap or alcohol so they can be used for tattoo purposes safely.


Are Sharpies Waterproof?

Should the ink from a non-permanent Sharpie marker come into contact with water or other liquid it will run as it is not waterproof. It is best to check the manufacturer’s packaging to know if your Sharpie is waterproof or not.

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