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A favorite pastime of a great many of our campers is to draw meandering, detailed doodle tattoos all over their arms and legs.  We counselors warn against it:  “Its toxic!” we say.  But is it?

According to Sharpie, markers that bear the ACMI “non-toxic” seal have been tested and deemed safe for art, but not body art. In order to bear the ACMI seal, a product must undergo toxicological testing that concerns inhalation and ingestion of the material.  It does not include testing for absorption into the bloodstream.  Absorption into the bloodstream occurs when chemicals in the marker permeate the skin or enter the body through broken skin. For the most part, it’s the solvents in the ink of a Sharpie pen that present a health concern more than the pigments.  Since the pigment only penetrates the top layer of skin, once you’ve drawn on yourself and the ink has dried, there is not much risk.  Still, Sharpie does not recommend using the markers on skin.

Even though Sharpie-on-skin appears to be relatively safe, if you have been scratching your itchy bug bites (which I am certain as an Appel Farm camper you have!), you should be careful about blood absorption.  Some of the markers contain xylene, a chemical capable of causing nervous system and organ damage (King Size Sharpie, Magnum Sharpe and Touch – Up Sharpies only).

Why not try the following project instead? Jazz up your bedroom or bunk with a light bulb decorated using a Permanent Marker.

So what if you still can’t resist drawing on yourself?  And your parents are coming for visiting day! And they definitely won’t approve of your new tattoo!  Use some baby oil on your temporary tattoo to loosen the molecules of the pigment and than wash with soap and water to remove.