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How DO you make those Animal Costumes? (Fursuits)
Spray paint safe for wearable items? It seems to be: Yes. 
7th-Jul-2010 03:36 pm
beastcub beast fursuit

I have heard people saying that spray paint use on a fursuit is a health risk, so I contacted the 3 largest spray paint companies that I know of with this letter to be sure that using spray paint is okay before I go forward with using it instead of my noisey clunky air brush:

"Hi, I make costumes for a living and have had success using spray paint instead of an airbrush on my work. However I have had some opposition from others in the costume making community who claim that spray paint on wearable items is dangerous and claim that I would be putting my customers health at risk if I used it on commissions.

Here are examples of costumes I colored with spray paint, as you can see these items include those worn on the face

I fail to see how dry spray paint on a costume is of any risk to my customers (correct me if I am wrong) especially when it no longer smells like paint (are the residual fumes that linger for up to a month dangerous?) I can see how spraying the inside of the mouth of a mask or the full inside of a mask could be harmful because it would concentrate any residual fumes inside an area that already has limited ventilation (and that is why I would not use it in said areas) but I do not see how a layer of paint on the outside of the costume can cause any harm.

I am hoping to get some sort of official response on the matter of if spray paint is or is not a health risk when used on a wearable item, a response that I can then share with the costume communities I am part of. If spray paint is in fact a risk then I will cease using it.

 (PS. I do understand it is risky to apply and I have a proper respirator)"


"Once our paints are dry and the smell has gone away, they are considered not toxic. The solvent smell that hangs around un till they dry can be hazardous in large quantities, but you can smell them at a level that's about 1% of the dangerous concentration. So if you can't smell them, the solvents aren't a danger.

Our paints all meet the Consumer Protection Improvement Act (CPSIA) specs, which were written for materials used in children's toys and furniture. To get a copy of the certificate for the paint you use, get the batch code off of the bottom of the can and go to our website. On the homepage; click on ABOUT RUST-OLEUM. On the new page, click on Certificate of Compliance. Determine which plant the paint was made in based on the batch code and you can download the certificate for that plant.


Thank you for contacting the Krylon website.

Currently Krylon does not manufacture a paint or clear finish that is FDA approved. An FDA approval is important in terms of whether a product film is safe for incidental ingestion.

We do not perform animal testing for ingestion.

The Krylon paint coatings are fully cured in 20-30 days. Once cured, the paint film is considered inert. For additional information on chemicals that are considered harmful, MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) are available upon request.Your physician may use this information to evaluate any personal health concerns.

Thanks again for your inquiry. Please let us know if you have any other questions or concerns.


Received your message and Thank you for your interest in Plasti-Kote and VALSPAR Paints.
Once fully cured and dry, paint coatings will no longer emit any voc’s, while direct skin contact is never recommended, your application is safe.  To ensure a full cure, make sure to follow all temperature and re-coating guidelines. Waiting for one full week will help to ensure that all evaporative components have left the film.
Please let me know if you have any additional questions and Thank You again, for choosing VALSPAR.

The summary:

Spray paint is not toxic once fully cured and no longer smells.

 If you use it it is best to have the item painted at least a week in advance to delivery to be sure the smell is gone, a month in advance would be better. Even if it does smell a bit you can still smell it at 1% of what is considered toxic. (which to me sounds similar to how one risks ingesting mercury every time they eat fish)

In the case of Rustoleum their paints have been tested and considered safe even for use on child items which have strict guidelines because kids put things in their mouth, which to me means that it is by all means safe to have on the outside of a costume.

So, is it safe? I think so.

The use of spray paint has it's pros and cons. Spray paint is silent compared to an air brush and is easy to take with you anywhere VS being tethered to a noisy air compressor, spray paint also lacks the cleanup time an airbrush unit has and does not clog like an airbrush.
It is more risky for the artist to apply but as long as you have a proper respirator with filters for organic vapors you cut out the majority of the risk (you are also supposed to avoid skin contact with wet spray paint)
For me it is actually not saving any money to use spray paint since I already have an airbrush unit that cost me well over $200 but I find the convenience alluring enough to start phasing out my air brush in exchange for spray paint (with the exception of coloring the mouth, when spray paint cannot get a fine enough line, or I cannot find the right color spray paint)  but for those who cannot afford an airbrush a $5 can of paint is a great alternative. 
I also think that spray paint may prove to be more fade resistant since it is meant for outdoor use.
Another plus would be that ones customer can touch up their own costume if they feel up to the task because chances are they can find the exact same paint in their area.
Now, I know spray paint is an item that is not widely used and that there has been safety concerns, and I do hope that I do not get any backlash from this post... However spray glues have been widely used in fursuit use and are also toxic before they cure, and I have heard one person say they have to leave their sprayed heads in the attic for like a month to outgas before they can continue working on them.
   From what I can tell fursuit makers do regularly use things like shoe goo, plastidip, rubber cement, and spray glue, which are also toxic during the application process and before they cure, and to me spray paint easily falls alongside the use of these products which are equally risky...


7th-Jul-2010 10:47 pm (UTC)
Professional mascots have spray paint in them all the time. The only time I've been kind of concerned is when it's applied too thick and flakes off as the head is handled. .__. The thought of spray paint chips on the performer frightens meee.
7th-Jul-2010 10:48 pm (UTC)
People use spraypaint for armor in cosplay all the time.. they seem fine to me. P:
7th-Jul-2010 10:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for this!! it helps me alot because i am going to be making/getting a new suit soon and was wondering about using spray paint! ^.^ also is it just like airbrushing and dry brushing when applying it? apply, let it dry, brush out?? Once again Thank you so much for this info it really helped me out!! BTW LOVE THE new beast cub suit VERY NICE!!! *hugs*
7th-Jul-2010 10:54 pm (UTC)
apply, let it dry, brush out, exactly.
never touch it when wet as it gums up the fur, avoid gloss if you can because sometimes it is impossible to restore the fur texture (the gloss seems to act like glue and bonds the fibers)
7th-Jul-2010 10:56 pm (UTC)
It is very good to see you taking steps to verify the safety of a new use of an item :D Most people would never bother so Kudos!

If you get hassle about spraypaint I suspect it is simply due to it being much less ..manageable? than airbrushing. The paint that comes out is thicker and the spray pattern is less consistent. You cannot get fine details (which for many makers is the major point in airbrushing fur to begin with) unless you use stencils.

But as long as you and your customers are happy then I don't see any problems.
8th-Jul-2010 12:13 am (UTC)
I disagree with the spray pattern consistancy, there are certain spray nozzle types on more expensive brands that can spray a fan that is every bit as dependable as an airbrush or spraygun. as long as the after use instructions are followed to prevent clogging.
7th-Jul-2010 10:57 pm (UTC)
This is the very same in woodworking with regards to topcoat finishes. Once the volatile components of a finish are evaporated incidental ingestion hazards go through the floor.
8th-Jul-2010 02:28 am (UTC)
btw do you know if incidental ingestion just literally means eating, it or does it include skin absorption?
7th-Jul-2010 11:08 pm (UTC)
Also I am somewhat ashamed and somewhat proud to say I uses spraypaint for markings on my second suit xD Ashamed because it seems pretty ghetto, but proud because the markings looked pretty good! I used stencils and brushed it out and it somehow kept its nice texture and was coated evenly :D
7th-Jul-2010 11:29 pm (UTC)
some one once told me that with fursuit making as long as it works and it looks good then go for it :3

spray paint may seem "ghetto" but i think the same can be said about using plastic bowls for eyes, weed whacker string and fiberoptics for whiskers, and rubber mats for feet bottoms... these items may not be intended for fursuit use but it looks good and it works. :)
8th-Jul-2010 01:37 am (UTC)
I love/appreciate the discussion on materials going on here, props to you beastcub for asking the companies about toxicity, etc. Thanks for all of the advice everybody!
8th-Jul-2010 02:34 am (UTC)
oh thanks! I was concidering spray paint for my next costume, as I previously tried textile paint and it globbed.

Is spray paint WATERPROOF though?

I used textile as its water/wash resistant.
8th-Jul-2010 02:36 am (UTC)
oh its plenty washable, i have tested it http://lilleahwest.deviantart.com/gallery/#/d2cb7le
8th-Jul-2010 09:30 am (UTC)
well I can't see why breathing in particles of non-toxic spray paint is any different than breathing in particles of non-toxic acrylic paint.
I think the 'harmful' idea comes from the sprays paints designed for cars which used to contain some nasty stuff so yeah, checking to see which ones are harmless and suitable is the key point. ^^
11th-Jul-2010 04:44 am (UTC)
Thanks for doing the research!!
3rd-Feb-2011 08:49 am (UTC) - Not so safe - do some serious research rather then depend on company
Remember after 9/11 the EPA told first responder the air was "safe" (not) I lived in NYC and went around to the local fire department with a stack of previously done research to inform them that was a lie. (dogs all dead, fire men, police dead, dying or seriously ill from toxic exposures). Regular doctors are not trained in these chemical or toxicology so would not give the best advice.

With a background in biochemistry, and decades of arts chemistry of materials and ended up near dead with exposure to this class of chemicals after a building fire and buildings illegal use of these class of chemicals (no safety standards) I can only say (and minor in city government and it's relationship to epa, and other agencies supposedly set up to protect (NOT) the public, I can only say to all of you reading this forum is for you to look up the MSDS and then each chemical listed. Get the OSHA and NICOSH books on what these products actually are (not trade names)and the extreme danger they can present. Take a course or two in neurotoxic chemicals (which these are ie brain and nerves - ie can kill).

Fist they state "considered" safe - do some research on what that means... (means they are allowed to not be as exact as they should be) as well each individual is different. Then they mention smell - many fumes do not have a smell and each persons sense of smell differs - it is a horrible way to determine if a product is toxic or not... (by design I might add) Additionally, these enamels and other coatings never fully cure ie never stop off-gassing in this case voc's and other solvents.

Epiceternity mentions non toxic acrylic paint - all paints are toxic but to differing degrees... breathing them in is extremely dangerous to delicate lung tissue esp the enamels ie coats lung interior. These always need a voc professional mask when used... if any of this gets into your lungs you may be in dire need of emergency treatment (I can barely believe what I am reading here!!!)

And mythos - this is NOT research! It is like the blind leading the blind!

As well, having used and well researched these products I know they NEVER stop off gassing once cured (ie dried)... like soft plastic they leach forever and denigrate as well (microscopically) The skin is the largest organ (was obtaining my masters in a health field) and breathes ie intakes and out takes... some people can become sensitized to any product (even natural ones) but esp those not native such as these petroleum based products.

As well, if tested on animals they are put into their eyes (draize eye rabbit test) down their throats by tubes (50/50 mostly beagles until 50 percent die from poisoning) and on their skins... UGH... they poison the environment (when sprayed) and the left over in cans. The reason I did not continue in pre vet sciences and other fields that do animal testing...

Cats btw did not evolve the same liver detox system as other species - more like camels as they come from deserts originally... thus any chemical is toxic to them even natural aromatics (pine, cedar cat litter)... so make sure any pet but esp cats are not near where this is sprayed (if outdoors you release those toxic voc's into the environment). If indoors you poison yourselves.

Research is not calling the company (they are given huge leeway by the agencies that are to protect the public due to lobbyists and other reasons) but doing real research on the chemicals involved and background of their uses... the higher the temperature and harder the cure (high heat and pressure) the less off-gassing... This can not be done at home with these products. So called stove porcelain is not real clay but an epoxy set under extreme conditions and reason why basically inert.
3rd-Feb-2011 09:07 am (UTC) - On so called safe acrylic paints
While the article at this links states " some paints are healthier" it should read "some paints are less toxic" in truth.

Good overall article for a short read.


And formaldehyde btw does not "smell" - as I suggested earlier it does not pass the "smell" test for safety of these products (and shame on those companies as they know this).

Acrylic paints typically include a range of biocides to protect the latex, which can include arsenic disulphide, phenol, copper, formaldehyde, carbamates, permethrin and quaternary ammonium compounds. Just because a paint says it is "low VOC does not mean it does not give off hazardous vapors! "

(U.S.Environmental Protection Agency. Evaluation of low-VOC latex paints.Inside IAQ: EPA's Indoor Air Quality Research Update. EPA/600/N-98/003.Fall/Winter, 1998.) While biocide manufacturers claim that the formaldehyde in these products wont come out, EPA data shows this is not the case.

Even when using paints that are classified as low VOC, immune suppressed individuals with conditions such as HIV/Aids, Chronic Fatigue and Multiple Chemical Sensitivity (MCS) should avoid rooms with fresh paint (of any kind) and health test dry paint samples after minimum 24 hours prior to purchase or painting. Accredited GreenPainters are well aware of issues relating to MCS sufferers, and can work closely with customers to determine the best outcome.
15th-Oct-2011 02:07 am (UTC)
I realize this is an old post.. but what kinda of spray paint did/do u use? I want to do this so my suit for my colors and patterns.. but I wasnt sure if it would be okay.. well I found some fabric/upholstery spray..is that like spray paint, and would it work just as good?
15th-Oct-2011 02:35 am (UTC)
test it. All spray praint brands and finish types act different, even some colors act different, so test it.

I have yet to widely use spray paint on commissions because of the debate, but I spray the crap out of my personal suits.
My main bodysuit (for Beastcub and BC) is fully spray painted, was made in 2008 and has not faded one bit (been washed like 10 times, in the washing machine too) and the fur texture is perfectly unchanged, just as soft as unpainted fur with no crusty bits.

The key is to do many light coats letting fully dry between coats and brushing with a slicker brush (bursh kind is a must) between coats.
Some paints dry faster than others, Rustolem tends to take forever.

I have found flat finish paints to be the best, glossy paint tends to bind the fibers and gets crusty results, as does some satin, I avoid glossy as best I can because it is much harder to get soft results with.

PS use outside and at the very least wear a dust mask to help with the paint particles, if you plan to use it a lot get a proper organic filter face mask for the fumes. Let the painted peices sit for at least a week so the fumes go away, a month is better. Do not use near the mouth or any other ventialtion areas on a head, I think even if spray paint does prove to outgas for years (or whatever was claimed in the rebuttle) it is not an issue if the paint is away from your skin and is not concentrated where you breath.
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