• Artist’s barrier cream is applied to the skin to create resistance to irritating and staining chemicals such as paints and solvents.


  • Barrier cream is composed of softening agents (cetearyl alcohol, 1 glycerine, 2 liquid paraffin 3) and preservatives (propylene glycol, 4 diazolidinyl urea, 5 methyl paraben, 6 propylparaben, 7 2-methyl-3-isothiazolone 8) which are commonly used in cosmetics. 9, 10


  • Propylparaben can have negative effects on animal reproduction and is a possible environmental toxin. 7 Since barrier cream is eventually washed off, it is possible for this and other mildly hazardous ingredients to enter the environment through drainage systems.

Human Health

  • Barrier creams can be extremely irritating to the eyes, even resulting in temporary blindness. 1 Diazolidinyl urea, an antimicrobial agent, releases toxic formaldehyde over time. 5 Methyl and propylparaben are endocrine disruptors, meaning they can interfere with the hormonal system. 6, 7

Social Equity        

  • Compared to food products, cosmetics are poorly regulated. Consequently, false or misleading labels are often used on packaging to make the product seem safer or natural. 11

Safe Use and Exposure

  • Wear goggles or safety glasses to avoid rubbing barrier cream into the eyes.

Proper disposal

  • Donate unused barrier cream to the givetake. Avoid washing excess barrier cream down the sink.

Safe Alternatives

  • Use durable, reusable gloves instead.


  1. Cetostearyl Alcohols MSDS,
  2. “Glycerin”,,
  3. “Liquid paraffin (drug)”, Wikipedia,
  4. “Propylene Glycol”, ASTDR,
  6. “METHYLPARABEN”, Cosmetics Database,
  7. “PROPYLPARABEN”, Cosmetics Database,
  8. “2-Methyl-4-isothiazolin-3-one”, PubChem,
  9. Winsor & Newton Artguard Barrier Cream MSDS,
  10. EZ Air Invisible Care MSDS,
  11. “What Will It Take to Give the Skincare Industry a Green Makeover?”, GreenBiz,