To glove or not to glove

That is the question. Someone told me I should wear disposable gloves when oil painting for health reasons. Really? Not fun. I tried it and hate it. Anyone else want to weigh in on this?

I’ve read that it’s a good idea to keep some of the pigments from being absorbed through the skin, especially cadmium based and some of the other metals.

An option that may offer some better protection than going without gloves is to use a barrier cream such as “Gloves In A Bottle”, available at Jerry’s and other art supply stores. After painting, wash your skin off thoroughly. The barrier cream helps because it is designed to prevent the paint from being absorbed into your skin. My experience has been that it makes it much easier to wash off the oil paint than when the paint is on your bare skin.

I primarily use Gamblin oil paints and as a brand they are committed to artist safety, even their cadmiums are touted as safe to touch, not absorbed through skin. Here’s a link to their safety information page: Gamblin Artist Safety Info

1 Like

I have only recently started wearing disposal gloves. It was a bit awkward for a while, but now I am getting used to them. Apart from the safety aspect, it makes clean up so much easier, as before I had to keep scrubbing my fingers to try and get that paint off, only to find that I had missed some, or marked the sofa or furnishings. I think I will stick with the gloves.

1 Like

I use a barrier cream also. W&N makes a cream as well. I have a box of gloves from the local hardware store, in my cabinet too, which I find really handy for washing my oil brushes. Gamblin paints are my favourites to work with but besides safety concerns, I just find it easier to clean up at the end of a session if I’ve protected my pinkies. I am such a messy painter!

Sounds like using gloves might be something to work on getting used to. I wore one this morning on my non dominant hand that I use for holding the paper towels to wipe paint off of brushes and it wasn’t so bad. My brush hand was not gloved, and that didn’t bother me. We’ll see how it goes. I think I’ll do some research on barrier creams in the meantime. Thanks for the input!

I use Gloves in a Bottle, and I also have the W&N barrier cream which I’ve used. I’m going to stick with that method for now.

1 Like

I use soft pastels…so using gloves, finger cots or a cream barrier is a must. I use each type depending on how I feel or which one I grab when starting a painting. It took me awhile to find a glove that wasn’t too big…and finger cots that weren’t too tight but once I found them then I was good to go. I like all three methods…safe and makes cleanup easier…especially when plein air painting.

what kind of glove did you find that wasn’t big?

Living dangerously. Death by paint does not feel like my fate.


Sorry Susanne…I don’t see my earlier reply to your question so I will reply here again. They are McKesson vinyl exam gloves. I’m petite 5’ or so and the medium size works great for me. I’m guessing you could find them online or at a medical supply store. A box of 100 of these gloves were given to me recently by a Hospice RN which is whole other story (sorry to say).

I wear the unpowdered nitrile gloves. The trick, I think, is to find the correct size. My hands are very small and until I actually used the small size, I hated the gloves. They need to fit like a second skin and the tips must be completely flush to the tips of your fingers (no flapping bits of plastic). They are harder to get on properly, but once on; I find them to be very comfortable and I can feel through them very well. They have saved me as I suffer with eczema and the pastels and oil solvents just destroy my skin.

Thank you, Cindy and I know what a hospice nurse means (been there).

1 Like

Never used gloves in my forty years of messing with oils, pastels or anything else. I’m still alive. I had enough of wearing gloves when I was a laboratory diagnostics technician, so no thanks I don’t want gloves in my leisure activities as well. The only time I’ll consider it is if I take up finger-painting in oils, like Iris Scott…real hands-on stuff.

1 Like

Some thoughts on this:

  1. There’s far too much plastic in the world.
  2. Don’t use disposable gloves. Better use recyclable ones - are there any?
  3. »No risk no fun« like anything else in life.
  4. Are you painting with your fingers? I often use a paintbrush :slight_smile:
  5. The worst chemicals, metals and poisonous stuffs are already banned from modern paints.
  6. I think it’s far more dangerous to
    • refuel your car without gloves (and not to stop breathing during tank up).
    • smoke cigarettes
    • drink alkohol
  7. I found the perfect gear for the fearful painter:


Dietmar, You’re a hoot! Thanks for making my day. And I must say I’ve had some of these thoughts myself. Sind Sie ein Deutscher?

Sorry, ja, I am :wink: a real Deutscher Staatsbuerger.

My father worked as an artist his entire life with many mediums including casein, tempera and inks. He mainly worked in oils (remember Lead White?) back in the days when chemical restrictions were almost nonexistent. He never wore gloves and I’m sure he sniffed many substances including pastel chalk, paint thinners and varnishes. He lived to be 88 and did not die from chemical poisoning or cancer. Your mileage may vary. Just sayin’.


That pic is hilarious! Thanks. The reason for gloves for me isn’t out of fear of the “paint” chemicals etc…it’s simply that I work with soft pastels. Since there are no paint brushes to use…the fingers become the brushes…gloves or finger cots simply make it easy to clean up…otherwise my fingernails would be permanent “shades of gray”. lol

…for me and this is just my personal opinion. Its similar to swimming with your clothes on. Not fun.


One point I want to make - latex doesn’t keep out the chemicals well at all. Nitrile does a much better job. I don’t really know about vinyl, but I have never seen any that actually fit the way nitrile and latex do. I use nitrile gloves and don’t mind them except when I’m hot and sweaty. I use them mostly because of the eczema problem, like Catherine, and don’t enjoy going around with itchy, rashy, bleeding hands! However, I do feel guilty about the waste - actually all the paper towels, rags, etc., as well.