Skip to Content

How To Get Sharpie off Skin: Remove Permanent Marker from Skin Instantly

How To Instantly Remove Permanent Marker from Skin

Every tried to figure out how to get sharpie off skin?  Those permanent markers are the devil to remove, but we’ve figured out an easy way to get them off quick!  

Links in this post may be affiliate links, which means I may earn a commission if you make a purchase from any of them, at no additional cost to you.  You can read my full disclaimer HERE.

If you’ve got young kids, it’s only a matter of time before they have an adventure with permanent markers.  Every parent has been there, and knows the joys of discovering your children looking like this:

Kids who need to remove permanent marker from their skin

It’s a mystery to me why children think that writing on themselves with markers is fun.  But somehow, they all do it, and without fail, it’s always permanent marker that they find to use on themselves. 

Every parent knows how difficult it is to get sharpie off skin without scrubbing them raw.  Removing permanent marker from skin is tough!  You basically just had to wait for them to take enough baths for it to wear off.  

The pictures above were from a particularly fun adventure with sharpies.  My daughter told me they’d been “playing circus” and needed makeup.  

It took FOREVER to get the sharpie marker off their skin!

As my kids got older, they started swimming competitively.  Permanent markers once again came into play with the necessity to write swimmer numbers on shoulders and event lists on arms.   They also discovered the joys of decorating their backs with phrases like “eat my bubbles.”  

Again, we ran into the problem of how to remove permanent marker from skin.  It’s a fun and games for your kids to show off their weekend skin art to their friends from time to time, but it’s another story altogether when you have to go to a wedding and you don’t want “#724” scrawled down their arm for all the pictures! 

Thankfully, I discovered a quick and effective way to remove permanent marker from skin almost instantly.  It uses a product that’s safe for skin and that you probably already have around your house.  

It’s not your typical go-to product for this type of thing.  I’ve seen people try things like rubbing alcohol, specialized face wipes, even toothpaste to get it off. 

None of these work very effectively to get sharpie off skin, and usually require enough scrubbing to rub skin raw.  Try getting a toddler to hold still for that!  

These products also don’t work well for permanent marker decorations on skin that have had time to really sink in. 

At swim meets, we’re usually marking up our kid arms on purpose, hoping it lasts for 4 to 6 hours and through multiple dips into heavily chlorinated pools.  While the chlorine usually causes the marks to fade, it hardly ever removes it completely.  

So what’s that one wonder product that this swim mom swears by to remove permanent marker from skin?  Can’t take the suspense any longer?  

It’s spray-on sunscreen.  Yup.  That’s right folks, the same stuff you slather on your kids to protect them from a sunburn during a swim meet is the same stuff you can use to get permanent marker off their skin.  

We actually discovered this little gem on knowledge the hard way. 

Thinking we were ahead of the game one summer morning, we had already written our kids’ competitor numbers and events on their arms for the meet before we left the house. 

When we went to apply a quick layer of sunscreen to their arms, the numbers we’d so dutifully written on just wiped right off.  

It was frustrating at the time, but it did get me thinking.  If sunscreen causes problems when you want permanent marker to stay on their skin, maybe it can solve problems when you want to get sharpie off skin.  

Later that day, after the meet was over, I simply sprayed a little bit of sunscreen on their arms, and wiped the numbers right off with a paper towel.  Easy-peasy.  

Ever since then, spray on sunscreen has been my go-to method for removing permanent marker from skin.  It’s the easiest method I’ve found, but there are a couple of tricks to it.  

The sunscreens that spray on as a clear liquid seem to work best.  I don’t know what it is about the clear spray, but it seems to work like magic for us. 

Cream based sunscreens, even the spray on types, haven’t worked as well for us in the past.  

You also want to make sure you are not getting the sunscreen anywhere near eyes, mouths or any type of cut or sore.   Avoid these areas all together.

We usually spray the sunscreen directly onto the area and simply wipe with a paper towel.  But occasionally, I’ve been known to spray the sunscreen onto a paper towel and then wipe the affected area to remove permanent marker from skin. 

We like the No-Ad brand sunscreen.  It’s relatively inexpensive, lasts a long time for sun protection purposes, and DEFINITELY removes permanent marker!  It’s available on here:


NO-AD Sport Continuous Spray Sunscreen, SPF 30 10 oz (Pack of 3) 

Now I would NOT recommend using sunscreen to try to get permanent marker out of clothes or surfaces since it leaves its own type of residue behind.  But it sure works wonders to get sharpie off skin. 

Give it a try next time you need to remove permanent marker from skin.  Let me know how it works for you!  

Want to know my never fail trick for effectively removing ticks (gross!!) from my kids skin?  Check out my post on that HERE!  

Looking for an easy to execute, low cost fundraiser for your school?  Check out my post all about ours here!  


Monday 15th of May 2023

Yes, it works 99%. As soon as I sprayed it, it began running down his arm. Thank you so much for this tip. Hopefully he won’t fall asleep during social studies class again next to mischievous classmates.


Monday 6th of June 2022


Louise Emery

Tuesday 7th of June 2022

You're welcome!


Wednesday 1st of June 2022

My wonderful daughter has swim team this year and I couldn’t figure out which goes first, marker or sunscreen. When I saw this post about how sunscreen takes off marker I knew which came first. A little unrelated but this post helped.

Amy L Harden

Tuesday 21st of December 2021

My daughter called on FaceTime with my granddaughter who had drawn designs on her face, chest, and on her arms so she could look like a kitty. My daughter tried desperately to rub it off with alcohol to no avail. I Googled how to remove permanent marker from the skin and your article came up. She switched to the sunscreen and Voila the marker came off. Thank you so much for your invaluable tip. My granddaughter is thankful also as her Daddy would not have been happy.


Tuesday 12th of October 2021

Just read your fix, and thought I'd offer mine. Good old WD-40 spray oil works exceptionally well, even on colors. Leaves a smell that can be washed off with soap and water. Avoid eyes and mouth or use a cloth sprayed with WD to get close, then wash/rinse.