Are Copic Markers Safe On Skin? I Don’t Want To Be Full Of Poison

As a graphic designer or artist, however careful you are with your work, there will always be occasions when you get ink on your skin. When I first started working with Copic markers my first thought was “Are Copic markers safe on skin?”.

In the past this could have been a problem as in those days, inks contained harmful materials like Xylene. Luckily Copic markers are alcohol-based, free of xylene and non-toxic. Copic markers are not harmful to skin.

This doesn’t mean you should not be careful, so please read on.

Inhaling the fumes from Copic Ink

The good news is that your treasured set of Copic Markers are perfectly safe on skin. Copic ink is dye ink.

The ink is primarily made up of alcohol.

Some people find that inhaling alcohol odors makes them feel sick.

However, the minimal alcohol smell given off by Copic Markers is so insignificant that this does not typically prove to be a problem.

If this problem does occur, stepping outside for a breath of fresh air is all that is generally required.

If the problem persists, it may be wise to introduce more ventilation to the work area.

This smell is purely a comfort issue as thee are rarely any harmful side effects from this odor.

This alcohol odor will be broken down naturally by the body, and there will be no build-up with continued use.

Getting Copic Ink on the skin

Photo by Amauri Mejia -
Are Copic Markers Safe on Skin? Photo by Amauri Mejia –

Copic ink is a dye ink, and if it gets on the skin, it may take a little time to remove it, so it is best to avoid spillages if you can.

Try to remove as much as you can by using soap and regular washing techniques first off.

Do not be tempted to scrub the skin as this will cause damage, and allow the ink to travel further into the skin.

Be comforted to know that if left, with time it will fade away of its own accord.

I am sure that you would prefer to speed up the process if you can, and if so, then you should use an oil-based makeup remover or cleansing product, using a soft pad.

Next, you could try to use the colorless blender pen or an alcohol solvent liquid on a soft cloth.

Make sure that once you have done this that you wash the area thoroughly to remove the solvent.

This cleaning will help to prevent skin damage.

You may notice that your skin is reacting with redness, or you may even experience some swelling.

In this rare occurrence, then you should obtain medical advice.

I stress that this is a very unusual reaction, but I would be remiss if I did not mention it.

Things have changed

When solvent-based markers were first introduced, they were toxic when ingested or even just when they remained on the skin.

Many materials that were part of the ink in those days have been removed. The alcohol-based marker of today is a much safer product.

Some markers were intentionally inhaled in the early years to get a “high.”

It was a real problem and advances in technology, and our awareness has resulted in these issues all but disappearing.

Certainly, with Copic Markers, it is not an issue to be concerned about.

Dogs & Children

Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem -
Photo by Jelleke Vanooteghem –

One area where there is still a potential issue is in connection with dogs and children.

Both dogs and children are prone to put things in their mouth, and sucking on a marker.

This is potentially a problem for a child swallowing the cap, of ingesting the ink.

In the case of a dog, which may well chew the pen, there is a similar problem.

Confusion with Xylene and Alcohol Based Markers

Possibly the fear of alcohol-based markers is a memory of those earlier times combined with reading about problems with Whiteboard Markers and permanent markers.

A very common substance in whiteboard markers has been xylene (it is not present in Copic Markers), and xylene is the cause of some unpleasant symptoms.

It is fascinating that one of the reasons that whiteboard markers were so rapidly introduced into schools was that teachers were complaining of constantly inhaling chalk dust!

This led to a rapid change to whiteboards, which left teachers inhaling something far worse, xylene.

Teachers (and some students) started feeling unwell when there had been a lot of writing on the whiteboard.

Headaches, breathing problems, and a degree of confusion were common complaints.

The cause was inhaling xylene (even in quite small amounts).

This problem leads many people to associate all markers with this kind of hazard, whereas Copic Markers are free of xylene and non-toxic (unless you decide to eat them).

What is Xylene?

Xylene Free
Make Sure your Markers are Xylene Free

It is a synthetic material that is a byproduct of petroleum. In the USA a lot of this material is made every year.

It is in the top 30 list of compounds created. It is an efficient solvent used in many processes and people are exposed to it in a variety of ways.

If you inhale it, your lungs will very quickly absorb it, and it will not be long before it reaches your bloodstream and gets pumped around the body.

Short term exposure to xylene can lead to:

· Skin irritation

· Problems with the eyes, nose, and throat

· Breathing problems

· Damage to the lung’s function

· General slowing down of mental activity

· Stomach problems

· Potential liver and kidney problems

Pregnant women will also risk damage to the fetus through exposure to xylene.

Fortunately, better whiteboard markers are now becoming available that mitigate all of these risks.

Copic Markers are Acid-Free

Copic markers have a single main ingredient, alcohol. Pure alcohol has no pH unless it is diluted with water.

Some trace ingredients in Copic ink may have minute amounts of pH.

The Japanese authorities have checked the pH of Copic ink and assessed it to have a total pH of just 6.0 to 8.0.

This reading is in the zone where a product (under Japanese law) would be considered to be pH neutral.

Wrap up!

So are Copic markers safe on skin? Hopefully after reading this article you can be assured that Copic Markers are built to be safe not only on skin but in all aspects and that you are in no danger working with them daily.

Of course, this should be expected when you buy a top of the range product, designed to be used by professionals on a daily basis.

I hope that you found this article to be helpful and reassuring.

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