Brush licking, is it bad for you?

Deciding whether or not to start or kick the habit.

Is it safe?

Well if you search the forums you will find tons of people claiming to have been licking brushes for 20+ years and feeling just fine. (short of some strangely colored lips lol) So at first glance it seems like sure, if they are still kicking then it can’t be that bad right?
That one is debatable, even if you are just using paint and water to thin your paint, you still run the risk of getting toxic material inside you body. I know, I know… the paint is “non-toxic”. Just so you know, anything that has not been tested and found to be toxic to humans can be labeled non-toxic until it is tested and proven otherwise. This will come in to play a bit later in this article.
So let’s get back to the paints. We know that Games Workshop has said that they produce a non-toxic paint, but what some people may want to consider is they never ran a 20+ year study to see what the effects of ingesting the paint daily for extended amounts of time could be. For the obvious reason as that is just a long time and would cost even more money than they probably have… maybe lol.
One thing people do know is that it is not a good idea to ingest metal right? So what are all those shiny things in metallic paints? Okay so it’s safe to say, let’s just not ingest the metallic paints sure. But does that mean it’s open season on the other paints? Well that’s where the next part comes in to play.

Utility chemicals.

Something a lot of painters, including myself do, is use utility chemicals to change attributes of our paints to make them more usable for whatever it is we need them for, for that specific instance. Which may include products like Airbrush Flow Improver, Retarder, High Flow Medium, Airbrush Thinner, Glaze Medium, and Brush Cleaner.(I, like many others use airbrush products in my paints on the palette also) Most of which have things that are very bad for you in them. A lot of the containers will even say that most chemicals being used haven’t been fully tested for toxicity.
So we can definitely say that if you use these types of things it is a total possibility that these things may come to bite you sometime down the road. There is obviously a chance nothing may happen but you never know.

It probably isn’t the worst thing.

I don’t know about most of you, and while I don’t currently lick my brushes I definitely have done other things that are very much health hazards, like smoking, riding motorcycles, or working in a dangerous environment. I am sure a lot of you reading this take risks from time to time also. So this really falls into the category of how much risk do you want to put on yourself.
I don’t think I would ever start, simply because I use quite a lot of chemicals in the painting I do (as do many other commission painters). I also don’t think I would be quick to judge or nay say against those who do. Hey even my favorite painter Sam Lenz licks his brush and he seem to be doing just fine.


Deciding if you should start or stop.

As previously mentioned this is going to be one of those things where you really have to decide for yourself if it is time to start or stop. Although if you are wanting to start you may want to think about all the steps you will be adding to your process to try and take some precaution, like making sure to rinse well before you get the tip to a point in your mouth, or not using a lot of chemicals, or making sure to change your rinse water, as all of these things are I am sure important for those who do lick their brushes. If you are thinking about stopping maybe these are some things to think about. Maybe think about how this will effect your painting and trying to come up with counters so that you can easily just do something else to get your tip instead. Maybe it is more of a hand to mouth habit and if you smoke, you may start smoking more. Which I can say with certainty is definitely not good for you. (even though I do it anyways lol)

What it comes down to.

I feel like this is something that you just want to inform yourself on, and if you’re reading this you seem to already be doing just that. So get the information that you need and make your informed decision. Don’t let others try to influence you one way or another, make sure that this is a choice that you make for yourself.
I am sure there are plenty of people out there telling others “oh you are so dumb for doing that” yet they may smoke, or have terrible eating habits. Or “My painting is soooo much better now that I am a brush licker, don’t you want your painting to get better?” yet the fact that they brush lick most likely has nothing to do with their increase in painting ability. So say no to peer pressure and make the decision that is right for you!


Thanks for reading and we hope we may have helped you decide one way or another. If you have any feedback or questions please don’t hesitate to contact us!

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