Is polymer clay toxic to skin?

Polymer clay has become a popular and versatile medium for crafting, sculpting, and creating intricate artworks. As with any art material, concerns about safety are important, especially when it comes to direct contact with the skin. In this article, we’ll explore the question of whether polymer clay is toxic to the skin and provide valuable insights into how to use it safely.

Composition of Polymer Clay

Polymer clay is primarily composed of PVC (polyvinyl chloride) particles and a liquid plasticizer. These ingredients allow the clay to be soft, malleable, and easy to work with. Polymer clay also contains various pigments and colorants that give it its vibrant and diverse range of colors. Some brands of polymer clay may include additional additives for specific effects or properties.

Safety Precautions

While polymer clay is generally considered safe for crafting and artistic use, there are some important precautions to keep in mind to ensure skin safety:

  • Avoid Prolonged Skin Contact: While handling polymer clay, it’s a good practice to avoid prolonged contact with the skin. Some people may develop sensitivity or irritation when in direct contact with the clay for extended periods.
  • Wash Hands: After handling polymer clay, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water. This helps minimize any potential transfer of clay residue or colorants onto the skin.
  • Use Barrier Creams: Some artists choose to apply a barrier cream or lotion to their hands before working with polymer clay. This can help create a protective layer between the skin and the clay.
  • Protective Gloves: If you have particularly sensitive skin or are concerned about skin contact, wearing disposable gloves can provide an additional layer of protection.

Curing and Safety

Polymer clay undergoes a curing process involving heat to harden and set the material. Once properly cured, polymer clay is generally considered safe and stable for use in jewelry, sculptures, and decorative items. During the curing process, any potential volatile compounds are released, and the clay solidifies into a durable and non-toxic form.

It’s important to note that improper curing, such as using excessive heat or insufficient curing time, may lead to the release of undesirable fumes. To ensure safety, always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for curing temperature and duration.

Children and Safety

When working with polymer clay, it’s important to exercise extra caution when children are involved. Children have more sensitive skin and may be more likely to put their hands or objects in their mouths, potentially ingesting small amounts of clay. As a precaution, it’s advisable to closely supervise children and ensure they wash their hands thoroughly after handling polymer clay or any other art materials.


Polymer clay is generally safe for artistic use when handled properly and with appropriate precautions. While some individuals may experience minor skin sensitivity, the majority of users do not encounter significant issues when working with polymer clay. By following safety guidelines, practicing good hygiene, and being mindful of potential skin contact, artists and crafters can enjoy the creative possibilities of polymer clay while ensuring their skin remains safe and comfortable.

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