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Health & Safety

Safety Data Sheets

SDS sheets (GHS compliant) for Derivan products are available for download here.

Common Questions

My child has just eaten some of the paint. Is it toxic?

Check the relevant Safety Data Sheets (above), making sure you match the product exactly with the correct SDS document.

Most Derivan products are non-toxic (although not edible). There are some exceptions, including:

CAUTION The above contain turpentine, which should not be ingested. Seek medical advice immediately if ingestion has occured.

Cadmium Pigments

You should also be aware that some colours in the Matisse Structure, Flow and Fluid ranges contain potentially harmful pigments. These are the cadmium colours. Again, details and precautions can be found in the relevant SDS sheets.

Cadmium is a naturally occurring metal found and extracted as a by-product during the production of other metals such as zinc, lead and copper. It has many applications in industrial and consumer products, including artist’s pigments.
Sulphides (chemical compounds containing Sulfur) formed in Cadmiums are used in Yellow pigments and Cadmium Selenide can be used in the red variants of these pigments. Colours containing cadmium pigments are known to be the most brilliant and long-lasting (permanent) and highly tinting colours in an artist’s palette.

These pigments (specially in their powder state) are classified as “potentially” toxic, therefore care in the handling, storage and use should be taken with cadmium paints, even though levels of toxicity are lesser when these pigment are dispersed in acrylic or oil binders. Nevertheless, The International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified cadmium and cadmium compounds as carcinogenic to humans (as a result of long term exposure).
info the amount of cadmium absorbed into the body through the skin is usually reported to be less than 1% and higher levels of cadmium exposure, found in the general population, is due to tobacco smoking. Cadmium is an environmental and lifestyle hazard.

The range of Matisse cadmium paints manufactured with cadmium pigments are:

Due to the inherent characteristics of cadmium pigments used in the production of these colours, Matisse cadmium colours are highly permanent and opaque.

Cadmium exposure via the handling and use of Cadmium paints is very small (read next article below) but if you are an artist who uses their hands to paint, it is recommended to use latex gloves (or barrier cream) to prevent absorption through the skin when working with them. If you do get cadmium paints on your skin, wash thoroughly and immediately with soap and water.
The above list of cadmium colours contain cadmium, which should not be ingested. If ingested, DO NOT attempt to induce vomiting and seek medical advice or attention immediately.
Pets and small children should also be kept away from areas where these paints are being used.

These cadmium colours may be packed in 75ml tubes, 250ml jars, 500ml jars, and some, in 1 Litre jars or by arrangement in larger sizes. Please note that Cadmium Yellow (Hue) in the NEW Derivan Acrylic range does not contain any cadmium pigment.

The rest of the Matisse and Derivan ranges are all made to relevant standards where they exist and are considered to be non toxic, however none of these products are designed to be consumed. Paints labelled as ‘non-toxic’ are exactly that when being used for their intended purpose. It does not mean that they are safe to ingest or to be left on skin for extended periods of time.

General Safety Acrylic painting Tips:

I've heard that acrylic paints can be harmful/carcinogenic when used on the skin.

This is not strictly true. Although some regular artist acrylics may contain pigments that are possibly carcinogenic, it is the pigment that poses the danger - not the acrylic. Potentially harmful pigments will usually have more obvious health warnings on them than a cigarette packet, so it will not be hard to work out which are the bad ones.

Keep in mind, though, that there are other reasons not to use artist paints on the skin: the same reasons that anything other than cosmetics should not be used on the skin. Only cosmetic products made to cosmetic standards (or other therapeutic goods that are designed to go on the skin) are made using materials that are proven to be safe on the skin and can be used for prolonged periods without any side effects. Derivan Face & Body Paint is one such cosmetic product.

As for other Derivan products, if they are labelled non-toxic then that’s what they are. However, being non-toxic does not mean that they are safe to eat, or, for that matter, go on the skin. They are designed to be safe for their intended use and if a person happens to consume a small amount ‘accidentally’ or get some on their skin, the average person will have no reaction. You should keep in mind that there are people who are not ‘average’ and are hyper-sensitive to some things. They may find that the paints cause them irritation or even cause them to become quite ill, and this can happen with many different things - even the humble peanut can quite literally be life threatening to some people. With that said, I can't remember a health complaint about our products (and I have been here since 1983). In short, "non-toxic" does not equal "cosmetic".

To summarise: Acrylics are not necessarily dangerous (many acrylics are approved and used in cosmetics worldwide) however it is certainly wrong to use a regular artist acrylic as a face paint. Only paints such as the Derivan Face & Body Paint or Tim Gratton’s Body & Face Paints, that are cosmetic products, should be used.