The Removal Guide: How to Get Glue, Dye, and Marker Off Your Skin

You know the saying “life happens”? Well, sometimes life happens to leave a mess on your skin! From superglue to permanent markers to hair dye, sometimes those useful products end up in the wrong place. Here are some helpful tips to make the permanent impermanent and to unstick the stuck.

Unsticking the Sticky Stuff: How to Safely Remove Superglue

According to the manufacturer, Loctite, it’s easy to get this on your hands because it’s highly spreadable. Goodness: despite its toughness as an adhesive, it’s actually not hard to get off.

Simple option

Start by soaking your skin in warm, soapy water. That should loosen it – and then you can have fun peeling it off!

Intermediate option

If that doesn’t work, try an oily product like mineral oil or petroleum jelly – even vegetable oil from your kitchen can work. The oil breaks the chemical bond. Once you’ve applied it, try gently pulling the Superglue off.

Stronger options

A third option is to apply nail polish remover with acetone. It can irritate or dry out skin, so use the smallest amount possible. When the glue is gone, wash the area with soap and water, then apply moisturizer.

Another option to use only as a last resort – because it’s not meant for skin – is mixing ¼ cup of detergent with warm water. Rub the mixture on your skin for about 20 seconds or until the glue comes off. As with the nail polish remover, rinse thoroughly and apply scent-free lotion afterward to prevent irritation.

Make Permanent Marker Vanish from Your Skin

How many of us have helped our kids with a project only to find we have markers all over our hands – or they do? As it says right in the name, it’s permanent – it won’t just wash off.

“We tell patients to first try rubbing alcohol – put it on a paper towel and then rub off the ink,” says Jordan Jepson, PA-C of Golden State Dermatology in Turlock. “You can also try milk – dip a cotton ball into a small amount of milk and then wipe it back and forth across the stain. It smells better and it won’t dry out your skin!”

Jordan Jepson, PA-C

If that doesn’t work, you can try a product made specifically for the job. Of course, that may take longer, so try the at-home remedies first. Or if you know you’re going to work with markers, perhaps invest in a removal product ahead of time!

When It’s Not Just Your Hair that Gets Dyed!

When those at-home touch-ups for yourself or the fun new color for your teenager go from looking great to looking like Halloween, here are a few remedies.

From the store

Just like with permanent markers, you can find products to remove hair dye from skin. But if you don’t have one of those ready ahead of time, here are some options for at-home treatment.

Household Help

The simplest way to get dye off your skin is to use baby wipes. If you don’t have those around, try using any kind of oil, from petroleum jelly to baby oil or olive oil. Put a small amount onto a cotton pad or ball (even a small washcloth as long as its cotton), rub the oil into the stain, and then leave it on for up to 8 hours. If you decide to do this overnight, cover up the area with a bandage or a pad – anything to protect yourself and your sheets from the oil. Then just wash it off with warm water.

Other at-home remedies include:

  • Non-gel toothpaste — rub it on top of the dye and remove it after 5-10 minutes with a cloth soaked in warm water.
  • Rubbing alcohol — rub it over the dye several times, gently “scrubbing” the stain away.

If the dye is on your hands, you can use slightly stronger at-home remedies.

  • Nail polish remover with acetone — put a small amount on something cotton (a ball or pad), then rub the soaked cotton over the stain a few times.
  • Dish soap and baking soda — You may have heard of this combination for removing oil stains from fabric. It also works on dye. Blend the dish soap and baking soda into a paste. Then rub that paste on the stained skin.

“Baking soda acts like a gentle exfoliator,” says Jepson, “and the dish soap helps break down the chemicals in the dye. The key to both of these at-home remedies is to rinse the skin thoroughly afterward.”

“When in doubt,” Jepson added, “give us a call. Each product has its own chemistry, and what you read online may not be fully explained or as targeted to the issue as it could be.”


Cleveland Clinic

Good Housekeeping

From Loctite (the manufacturer)

Women’s Health

Medical News Today


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