So, you’re painting a wall in your house when suddenly, paint from the brush drips onto your hand. Oops, now what?

Chances are, you’re no stranger to this situation if you do:

  • DIY home projects
  • crafts with the kids
  • artwork creation
  • manufacturing work

In everyday life, we get all kinds of substances on our skin that we need to remove, such as:

Most paints will only temporarily color your skin, and many aren’t harmful. The difficulty of removing paint from your skin ranges from simple to challenging, depending on the paint type.

However, there are some paints you should avoid getting on your skin altogether.

If you happen to get paint on your skin, here are the best ways to remove some of the most common varieties.

The best way to remove paint from your skin, and the ease with which you’ll be able to do so, depends on the paint type. The sooner you start removing paint from your skin, the easier it will be to remove the paint completely.

Oil-based paints: Oil and enamel paints

Turpentine and paint thinner can work wonders removing oil-based or enamel paint from a brush. However, it’s a good idea to avoid regularly using these products on your skin because they contain chemicals that can cause cancer.

Generally, oil-based and enamel paint and solvents won’t cause harm to your skin if left on for a brief period.

However, you should avoid getting oil-based or enamel paint and solvents on your skin, and in your eyes. Some people may experience respiratory irritation by breathing in paint fumes.

To quickly remove a small amount of oil-based or enamel paint using turpentine or other solvents, you should:

  1. Apply a dab of glycerin to the area of skin that’s covered with paint, which will loosen any dried paint.
  2. Add a small amount of turpentine or other solvent to the affected area of skin, and rub gently to remove paint.
  3. Wash the area of skin with soap and water to remove the paint and solvent from your skin.

Water-based paints: Acrylic, fabric, latex, and spray paints

You can remove water-based paints more easily from your skin because they dissolve in water. Most of these paints are water-based:

  • acrylic
  • fabric
  • latex
  • spray

They also contain plastic. Here’s how to remove them:

  1. Wet the area of skin covered in paint.
  2. Generously lather the area with bar or dish soap.
  3. Scrub the area of skin covered with paint for a few minutes.
  4. Rinse the area with water and repeat as necessary until all the paint is removed.

You can also try applying rubbing alcohol to dried water-based paint. This helps dissolve the paint.


Primers for indoor or outdoor use may be oil- or water-based. Follow the instructions above for oil-based or water-based paints depending on the type of paint you’re using.

The best natural way to remove oil-based paint from your skin is with other oil-based substances. These include:

  • mayonnaise
  • olive oil
  • baby oil

Here’s how to use them:

  1. Apply a generous amount of mayonnaise, vegetable oil, olive oil, or baby oil to the area of your skin that’s covered with paint.
  2. Next scrub the oil-based substance on your skin to begin loosening the paint for a few minutes.
  3. Let it all sit for a few minutes.
  4. Lastly, rub off the oil-substance and paint from your skin with a paper towel.
  5. Rinse the area with water and repeat as necessary until all the paint is removed.

Note that this method can be a bit messy.

Most paints are not permanent. So, they don’t stain your skin. Some natural paints or those with concentrated pigments may last longer on your skin before fading.

Additionally, dry and cracked skin may tend to retain paint pigments longer. In general, water-based paints, such as acrylics, are easier to remove from your skin than oil-based paints, and do not tend to stain.

Paints can get messy. Luckily, if you find yourself with paint on your skin, you can be assured it’s fairly easy to remove.

The best way to remove the paint from your skin depends on which paint you find yourself covered with. In both cases, it’s easier to remove paint from your skin right after it gets on you.

Be mindful that some paints and solvents may irritate your skin. Some paints may also contain harmful toxins like lead. Keep all paints away from children and out of your:

  • eyes
  • nose
  • mouth