How to Get Permanent Marker Off Skin (We Tried 4 Popular Methods)


Discovering that your niece took a permanent marker to your face while you were catching some Zs is no laughing matter. After all, not everyone at your workplace needs to know that your face is her preferred canvas.

Your skin ends up being the most common canvas for any toddler’s coloring pen. Whether it is a friend, sibling or parent, their hands, face and whatever else they can reach for is fair game. Add permanent marker to the mix and you’ve got a foolproof recipe for disaster.

You may not have the heart to reprimand the child, but we have some easy solutions for you that are quite similar to removing permanent ink from dry-erase boards. Besides, kids are not always the culprits. If you frequently work with permanent markers or even whiteboard markers, getting ink marks on your skin is a common nuisance.

Permanent marker ink is not actually as permanent as the name implies, especially when it comes to skin. Our body has its own mechanism to prevent any foreign substance from permanently adhering to the skin. So, the ink stains will naturally fade away within a couple of days – even so-called permanent ink.

However, you may not wish to wait that long and would prefer faster results.

The ink in permanent markers can be reactivated with certain solvents like alcohol and acetone. The reactivated ink becomes fluid and can be wiped away with a cotton pad or paper towel.

Such remedies get the job done and save your grace without you having to venture out sporting ridiculous face art.

before-after permanent marker stain removal
Before and After images showing permanent marker stain removal using home remedies.

Here are four simple and quick methods to get permanent marker off skin.

Method 1: Rubbing Alcohol

before and after image using rubbing alcohol
Permanent Marker Stain Before-After using Rubbing Alcohol.

Rubbing alcohol is one of the most effective remedies for removing permanent marker ink from skin or any other surface. It acts as an effective solvent for the ink, reactivating it so that it can easily be wiped away. You can get rubbing alcohol from your local drug store and use it most effectively to get permanent marker off skin.

Step 1. Soak a cotton pad with alcohol

Step 1. Soak a cotton pad with alcohol
Soak a cotton pad with rubbing alcohol.
  • Pour some rubbing alcohol on a clean cotton pad, saturating it.

Step 2. Wipe the stain off your skin

Step 2. Wipe the stain off your skin
Use the soaked pad to wipe the stain off your skin.
  • Use the soaked cotton pad to wipe at the permanent marker stain on your skin.
  • Use repeated, gentle actions to get all the ink off.
  • For large ink marks, use a fresh alcohol-soaked cotton pad when the old one gets too stained.
stain-free skin
Final results using rubbing alcohol to get permanent marker off skin.

Method 2: Hair Spray

remove permanent marker on skin using hair spray
Permanent Marker Stain Before-After using Hair Spray.

You most likely have a bottle of hair spray among your essentials that you can use to get permanent ink marks off your skin. Hair spray is primarily made of solvents that can effectively reactivate the ink, allowing you to clean up the fluid ink. Just be sure to use alcohol-based hair spray.

Caution: Don’t use hair spray to remove ink marks from your face.

Step 1. Spray hair spray on the stained skin

Spray hair spray on the stained skin
Squirt hair spray on the stained skin.
  • Spritz the hair spray directly on the stained skin to reactivate the permanent marker ink. The ink will most likely become runny.

Step 2. Wipe up the wet ink with a cotton pad

Wipe up the wet ink with a cotton pad
Use a cotton pad to wipe up the wet ink.
  • Wipe up the fluid ink with a cotton pad.
  • Remove the remaining ink with gentle scrubbing at the stain.
  • Repeat both steps, if needed.
 using hair spray to get permanent marker off skin.
Final results using hair spray to get permanent marker off skin.

Method 3: Hand Sanitizer

remove permanent marker stain on skin using hand sanitizer
Permanent Marker Stain Before-After using Hand Sanitizer.

If you need to remove permanent marker stains on the go, a bottle of hand sanitizer can come in quite handy. Most people keep hand sanitizer in their handbag, office drawer or car to sanitize your hands when you cannot properly wash your hands.

The alcohol content in hand sanitizer makes it effective against permanent ink, so alcohol-free varieties won’t be of much use here.

Hand sanitizer also has a skin-friendly formulation as compared to other methods listed here, so you can use it on kids as well.

Step 1. Cover the ink stain with hand sanitizer

Cover the ink stain with hand sanitizer
Cover the ink stain with hand sanitizer.
  • Squirt a little hand sanitizer on the stained skin, completely covering the permanent marker ink.

Step 2. Wipe off the stain with a cotton pad

Wipe off the stain with a cotton pad
Wipe the stain off completely with a cotton pad.
  • Wipe up the reactivated ink with the cotton pad.
  • Scrub lightly to remove the remainder of the ink, until it’s completely gone.
stain-free skin after using hand sanitizer
Final results using hand sanitizer to get permanent marker off skin.

Method 4: Nail Polish Remover

remove permanent marker stain on skin using nail polish remover
Permanent Marker Stain Before-After using Nail Polish Remover.

Acetone is another solvent that can easily loosen permanent marker ink, but pure acetone can be drastically drying to the skin. The vapors of pure acetone can also irritate your eyes and give rise to drowsiness and irritation.

Acetone-based nail polish remover is an optimum solution. It has enough acetone in it to work out the ink stain but won’t act as an irritant like pure acetone. And while it can be a little drying, you can make up for the lost moisture with a good quality moisturizer. This method can also be used to remove hair dye stains from your skin.

Step 1. Soak a cotton pad with nail polish remover

Soak a cotton pad with nail polish remover
Soak a cotton pad with nail polish remover.
  • Saturate a cotton pad with nail polish remover.

Step 2. Wipe off the marker stain with the soaked cotton pad

Wipe off the marker stain with the soaked cotton pad
Wipe off the marker stain with the soaked cotton pad.
  • Wipe at the ink stain on your skin with the soaked cotton pad.
  • Gently rub until the entire stain lifts onto the cotton pad.
stain-free skin after using nail polish remover
Final results using nail polish remover to get permanent marker off skin.

Tips

  • While working with the given ink-removal agents, be sure to keep them away from your eyes and face to avoid irritation.
  • If these solvents irritate your skin, wash the area with plenty of soap and water. Pat dry and just let the stain fade on its own.
  • You can use cotton balls instead of cotton pads, but the lint from cotton balls often makes a mess. Paper towels can be a hassle-free substitute.

Comments 2

  1. Hi Sarah
    We at FabHow try to come up with unique solutions to everyday problems. We present it before our users only after we are satisfied with the results.
    The nail polish remover however worked pretty well for us, we request you to repeat the process, if need be, to achieve positive results. Also, make sure your nail polish remover has acetone in it.
    Hope this was helpful!!
    -Team FabHow

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