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Is Gouache Paint Toxic?

Gouache is a form of opaque paint that can be used like watercolor paint, but creates a superficial layer more like acrylic or oil paints. Being made from natural pigment, water, and a binding agent, gouache paint is not usually toxic, though some brands may include harmful ingredients.

Nevertheless, gouache paint tends to be a more natural alternative to acrylic and oil paints, making it a favorite among those who are sensitive to other paints. Simply look at the ingredient list to find out if your gouache is nontoxic.

So, is gouache paint toxic? Gouache paint is relatively considered a nontoxic paint form. Still, some gouache paints can have added chemicals and binders that are harmful to human health. The only way to confirm your gouache paint is nontoxic is to look for brands labeled as such. Any gouache paint labeled “nontoxic” is not toxic.

Gouache Paint Toxicity

The reason why gouache paints are a safer option is because of their ingredients. Since they are water-based, their ingredients contain much fewer chemicals. More so, the pigments have natural sources, allowing the color to be safer as well.

My favorite and top pick is always Arteza Gouache Paints. They have so many different colors, and the quality is amazing! I usually use Arteza Paints for all my projects.

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To make sure your gouache paint isn’t toxic, always look at the ingredient list to see what the paint contains. If you see formaldehyde, benzene, or xylene, the paint is toxic and needs to be used with care. Some pigment sources can be dangerous as well. Any paints with cadmium and lead-based paints are toxic.

Luckily, it is not hard to find gouache paints that are nontoxic. As water-based paint, they are much safer than acrylics and oil paints. Not to mention, it is common to find gouache paints with natural pigments that are safe and not poisonous.

If you are a beginner, I also recommend Magicfly Gouache Paint. It’s non-toxic and comes with 24 vibrant colors.

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Is Gouache Paint Safe on Skin?

Generally speaking, you should not use artist paints on your skin. Even non-toxic paints, such as gouache, can have a negative reaction to the skin since they are not designed to be in contact with it. Instead, only use paint specifically designed for your skin when painting on your body.

This goes for gouache paint too. Even though this type of paint is normally non-toxic, the name “gouache” only tells you what has been used to bind the pigments. In the case of “gouache,” dextrin or gum arabic were likely used. What the name does not tell you is where the pigments are from.

As we mentioned above, many gouache pigments are natural, but not all are. For example, you can find some gouache paints with cadmium or lead-based pigments. Both of these pigment ingredients are poisonous and should not be used on your body.

For this reason, do not use gouache paint on your skin. If you select a brand specially labeled as non-toxic, the paint should not include any harmful ingredients. This means that you can use the paint more safely or without fear of harming yourself.

If you want to use paint on your skin, I would go with a professional non-toxic face paint like this one. It’s specifically designed to go on your skin, and it’s even kid safe!

Even with non-toxic gouache paint, it is still best to use body paint specifically. The body paint is designed for your skin, making it cheaper and safer all around. If non-toxic gouache gets on your skin while painting, you do not need to worry, though. Simply wash it off. This fact makes non-toxic gouache a great option for children or schools.  

The gouache paint my kids have used is this HIMI set. Each color comes in a small pan, which is perfect for kids.

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Is Gouache Paint Environmentally Friendly?

Not all gouache paints are environmentally friendly, but the non-toxic versions are. Non-toxic gouache is made from water, natural pigments, and safe binders. As a result, the products are clean and require minimal processing. Not to mention, gouache paint is less likely to harm the environment when it is thrown away. This makes gouache more environmentally friendly than other paint types.

If you select dry cake pans, the gouache paint will be even better for the environment. These cake pans can last a long time, meaning you do not waste products or need to buy a new batch. This results in less plastic and processing, which helps the environment even more.

Gouache paints that are made with toxic materials, however, are not as good for the environment. Some of the ingredients require much more chemical processing, which uses more fossil fuels and puts more carbon into the environment. More so, throwing away toxic gouache paints can lead to harming communities surrounding the particular landfill it goes to.

If you are looking for other environmentally friendly paints, watercolors are also a great bet. They are made from non-toxic materials that can last a long time. Acrylic and oil paints, on the other hand, are not environmentally friendly because of their ingredients and longevity.

Does Gouache Paint Wash Off?

Gouache paints are a favorite among parents and schools because the paint easily washes off. Having a water base means that the paint can easily wash off with soap and water. Even after the paint dries, you can work to rewet the paint, allowing it to wash out.

Because of this fact, you can actually fix parts of your painting by adding additional water to the spot once it is dried. Lift off the particular area by dampening a brush and applying it to the affected area. This can help you lift off the paint and rework the masterpiece.

It may be helpful to think of gouache like watercolors in this context. Just as it is easy to wash off watercolors, it is easy to wash off gouache. Both are water-based, which is why they are comparable in this regard.

How to Remove Dried Gouache Paint From Clothes

If you notice a spot of gouache on your clothes after your painting adventure, don’t worry. Gouache paint is removable even after it has dried. All you need is water and a sponge. You may also want detergent if you plan to throw the clothes in the washer after, which we recommend.

All you need to do is wet the sponge with cool tap water. Then, dab the sponge over the affected area. It is best to work from the edge of the paint and move inwards. If the paint is completely dry, it may help to moisten the entire spot first, though this may not be necessary for all spots.

As you work at the spot, the pigment color will come off on the sponge. Rinse and ring out the sponge periodically to remove this pigment. Continue working at the spot until all of the pigment has been removed. For best results, toss the clothing in the washer once the pigment has been removed.

Next time, try to remove the gouache before it dries. Removing gouache from clothing is much easier if you catch the paint before it dries.  

Final Thoughts

It is impossible to say whether or not a specific brand of gouache paint is non-toxic without looking at the ingredients first. With that being said, most gouache paints are nontoxic because they tend to be made from water, natural pigment, and a binding agent.

However, not all gouache paints are non-toxic. Some may contain ingredients like formaldehyde, cadmium, and lead-based pigments. These gouache paints will be toxic and should not be used on your skin or by children. If a gouache brand is labeled nontoxic, though, you don’t have to worry about them containing these harmful ingredients.

Don’t forget to check out my other articles for all your painting Q&A’s. Happy painting!

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