Is Writing on Skin Safe?

Writing on our skin is something that many of us do on a casual basis – we use it to jot down notes and reminders to make sure we make appointments or call our landlords, and we use it to make attractive doodles when we’re absent minded. This seems harmless enough, but at the back of many of our minds is the question: does it damage our health?

Well fortunately the majority of highly toxic chemicals used in pens and pencils (such as lead in pencils) has been removed for precisely this reason and to prevent children from inadvertently poisoning themselves. Thus writing on yourself occasionally is unlikely to cause any major damage.

However at the same time the skin is highly absorbent and that means that anything you do write with is still potentially going to enter the blood stream at least a little. This of course can be bad for your brain and organs, and repeated use could increase you chances of developing cancer as your cells come under fire from the toxins. Many things could give you cancer however, so it is almost impossible to avoid and the amount of ink you’d need to expose yourself to to be dangerous would be very large. This means there is no real reason to be concerned about writing on your skin, but you should still try to keep it to a minimum. To write on your skin without worrying about the side effects then a water based felt pen would be the safest one to use, while for larger works of art you should always go with face paints (apart from anything else these will show up better and will scratch your skin less at the same time).


  1. great advice…

  2. It was great to know about the ink on skin subject but I was just wondering since you mention during the passage of the amount of ink you should put on your skin and with that how much will it actually affect your body and skin if you take up particle or whole of your forearm?

  3. I think this was helpful and useful. Thanks for the information!

  4. Great content, small gram and sentence structure errors.

  5. This article was just what I needed to feel safe about writing in my hand and gave the information I needed, Thank you!

  6. Thanks for the info! Super helpful!

  7. You did a very great job. This was always haunting me around until I read this article!

    Thanks a lot

  8. It was a wonderful article and was very helpful.

  9. This helped me so much! Is Sharpie safe?

    1. Yes, sharpie is safe, you can wash it off with water.

  10. Thanks for the info! Now I can stop worrying about my daughter sketching on her feet with a felt pen.

  11. no sources

  12. That’s bad news for me because I write on myself everyday when I’m bored.

  13. Nice to know. Was really worried about ink cancer.

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Adam Sinicki

Adam Sinicki is a full time writer who spends most of his time in the coffee shops of London. Adam has a BSc in psychology and is an amateur bodybuilder with a couple of competition wins to his name. His other interests are self improvement, general health, transhumanism and brain training. As well as writing for websites and magazines, he also runs his own sites and has published several books and apps on these topics.

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