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Is gouache toxic?

Gouache is a water-based paint that can be applied to paper, fabric, wood, or any other surface. It’s made from natural pigments and has a low viscosity, making it more opaque than watercolor paints. Is gouache toxic?

While gouache is generally considered safe for use around people and animals, it does have some risks associated with it that should be taken into consideration before you start working with this medium.

Gouache paint is usually non-toxic

Gouache is manufactured with pigments, binders and water. It is similar to acrylic paints in that they’re both pigmented, but gouache contains no solvents. As such, the paint tends to be less toxic than other types of paints like oil and acrylics.

However, you should still check the ingredients on your gouache product before using it as some brands may contain harmful chemicals or allergens. Depending on the brands, you may find safety data sheet on their websites, will all details for each color.

Is gouache toxic

Any paints with cadmium and lead-based paints are toxic.

Gouache is a type of paint that’s made from pigment, water and gum Arabic. The gum Arabic replaces the chemicals found in other mediums like oil or acrylic. It’s almost always made with pigments derived from minerals, so it’s generally considered to be non-toxic.


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However, there are exceptions to this rule:

Any paints with cadmium and lead-based paints are toxic. Cadmium-based pigments have been used in gouache since the 19th century until they were phased out by most manufacturers in the 1950s due to toxicity concerns. It is clearly stated ‘cadmium-free’ on the label. (you can learn more about gouache labels here)

Lead paints were often used before World War II; however, artists now use lead carbonate instead of zinc white or titanium dioxide (the two most widely available white pigments).

Is gouache toxic

Photo by Gift Habeshaw

You should not use artist paints on your skin.

Because gouache is made from pigments and water, it is less toxic than other types of paint. However, you should not use artist paints on your skin as make up. Some allergens in the paint may cause damage to your skin.

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If you want to apply paint to your skin, use a non-toxic makeup product.

If you use gouache artist paints, you should be concerned about the toxicity of your paints. If they are not toxic, then you can use them as normal with no worries. If they contain cadmium or lead-based pigments then they could be dangerous to use on skin surfaces and in the air around them when working with them directly.

Do you want to know more about gouache painting? You can join my Membership 'Art With Cecile' with monthly live and tutorials.

Cecile Yadro

I believe that art can help you express yourself, find your voice, and discover who you are. And I want to help you do that. I've seen how powerful my classes can be for more than 20,000 students. In my classes, I focus on giving you the tools you need to express yourself and make your creativity take flight!

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