National Association of Professional Creative Groomers

Promoting safety and education in the grooming industry since 2009


Hey.... Wanna Buy Some Swampland

Posted on September 1, 2014 at 3:05 PM

There are so many resources available now to research professional grooming products, but it gets a little tricky when referring to creative grooming products. Because groomers sometimes delve into human labeled products and even products intended for “art” caution must be used to the extreme. Just like we can’t believe everything we read on the internet, we can’t believe everything we hear at tradeshows and read in magazines that do not cite published research either.

For instance, many groomers are being told that using products such as artist chalks is perfectly safe because they are AP approved. The use of airbrush machines has also become the latest trend in creative grooming and again groomers are being told that using a product called Doc Martin India Ink is perfectly safe because it is AP approved. These are simply asinine statements that are not true.

Let me first explain that an AP approval is given by the Art and Creative Materials Institute (ACMI). The ACMI gives the AP seal to products deemed non-toxic “for their intended purpose”…..not for prolonged exposure. This means that a product with an AP approval is safe if it gets on the skin, but should immediately be washed and removed.

We spoke with Debbie Gustafson, Associate Director for the ACMI and she had the following to say about using such products for creative grooming on pets…..

Thanks for your email. Our AP Seal does not mean that a product is safe to be used on the skin. ACMI-certified products are not evaluated for intended use on the skin. In fact, we specifically state to manufacturers wishing to have their products evaluated in our certification program that our program does not certify products that are intended to be used on the skin, such as face paints, nail paints or polishes, surgical/skin markers, or hand soaps/cleaners. Such products are regulated under the requirements of the Federal Food, Drug and Cosmetic Act administered by the FDA. These regulations are not covered under the ACMI Certification Program. Also, our evaluation covers human toxicity. It does not take into account whether a product would be toxic to an animal. For these reasons, I would not recommend using any ACMI-certified product for this purpose.

Best regards,


Debbie makes a great point in that the AP approval refers to “humans”, not animals. There are numerous products that are safe to humans that are toxic to pets such as chocolate, grapes, onions, acetaminophen, etc…

It’s clear to see that groomers are being misinformed by those who have not done the proper research. They do not understand the AP seal and simply want to promote products they sell and justify their actions in using products that have potential to harm the very pets they have been entrusted with. These products have not been tested on animals nor do they list the ingredients or provide a list of ingredients for individuals to do further research. There are numerous products available that ARE safe for use on pets…even with extended exposure.

The pet product industry has exploded in the last few years with products that are temporary as well as products that are semi-permanent to give longer lasting results. Want to use a temporary chalk? Why not use an FDA approved hair chalk or even a pet labeled hair chalk that contains the same ingredients? Want a safe product to use in your airbrush gun? How about using an FDA approved temporary tattoo ink that is not absorbed through the epidermis?

These same groomers claim they have used the products for years with not a single incident of reaction. Again, this simply is not true. At a seminar at the Pet Pro Classic, groomers were told to use Bombay India Ink. After using this product however, two different dogs both had adverse skin reactions.

Because these groomers do not have the science and research to back up their claims, they prey on your naivety. They hope that you just believe them and of course never question them. But one has to ask themselves why these groomers would continue to use potentially dangerous products when we have availability and access to perfectly safe pet labeled products as well as FDA approved products. One also has to question the integrity of companies such as Wahl Clipper Company and Barkleigh Incorporated who promote such practices yet claim to have built their companies around the safety and love of the pets groomers are entrusted with. Is it really the pets they are concerned with….or is it the attention they can garner for themselves?

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