Thursday, January 23, 2014


Each year I receive a number of emails asking me for advice, based on my experiences with the materials I use in my art. One mom recently emailed me a question about PAN PASTELS which I thought might be important for any of you who work with this medium, or who have daughters who might be using Pan Pastels.

Apparently there has been a trend with girls to chalk their hair using soft pastels. Her daughter and friends wanted to chalk their hair, in a similar manner as was trendy with Kool-Aid a few years ago. The mom wanted to know if she should be concerned about the soft pastel dust around her daughter's face if she used them to color her hair.

As you can see from this partial selection of my pan pastels, the colors are fantastic - brilliant, lots of choice, and fairly inexpensive if you are only buying one or two pans to color your hair. So I can understand why the attraction for the girls. However, the question is, are soft pastels safe for  putting in your hair?

I did a bit of research on the safety of using soft pastels, and will give you the link to the information that I gave to the mom. After reading this article, I decided to limit the number of pieces I will do in pastel from this point on. I have just completed another portrait in pastel/charcoal for a client...but only because I had done 5 pieces for this couple, and they wanted a 6th one to add to their collection. After reading this article, you can decide for yourself if you want to risk using soft pastels (which are different from oil or hard pastels) for your art, or if you are willing to allow your children to use them for their hair coloring fun. It is so much better to make an informed decision than to not know what could happen when you use a product!

I think you can guess what my advice for this mom was...

Here is the link to the article that was in the Artists Network archives: 
Is Your Pastel Studio Safe?

If you have any information to add to this article, I would love to hear from you. Just make a comment in the comment section (below) of this post, or send me an email:

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