Best buys: non toxic paint

De Nimes modern emulsion railings no 31 modern eggshell Farrow & Ball

I’m a firm believer that every product we introduce to our homes will impact on our quality of life. So, when it comes to health, it’s worth taking a step back to consider what you can do to improve your indoor environment. Since this pandemic, painting has become one of the most popular activities for many. And, let’s face it, for most of us, we had a lot more time on our hands so this was perfect! It also gave me the chance to see what the husband and I could focus on instead of worrying about what the future holds. In fact, we painted our master bedroom, which kept us occupied for quite a while! However, before we began, my top priority was to choose non toxic paint…

Master bedroom featuring Farrow & Ball non toxic paint
I painted Farrow & Ball Peignoir on the walls, from £47.50 in estate emulsion for 2.5L and Wevet estate eggshell, from £64 for 2.5L on all the woodwork in the master bedroom. I chose this brand, because their paint is water-based, it has low level VOCs and they don’t test on animals

Why I picked non toxic paint

Well, in short, I did my research! And I discovered toxic interior paints could be responsible for a whole host of common health problems. They can not only affect you and I, but they can be a health hazard for our furry friends, too. This is why I felt it was so important to consider my paint options first. In fact, spending any amount of time in a poorly ventilated or newly painted room (using toxic paint) could expose you to certain carcinogens. Benzene is one such example of a carcinogen, which can be found in some paints (and even pesticides, for example). This actually belongs to a group of chemicals known as volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

Hallway ft. lower wall in Muddy Boots and upper wall in Feather Pillow with bench in Eyebright
What a beautiful hallway featuring Muddy Boots on the lower wall and the upper wall in Feather Pillow with the bench in Eyebright, which are all Claypaints, from £45 for 2.5l, from Earthborn. This brand was awarded the first UK licence of the EU Ecolabel for indoor paints (and varnishes) and only has a maximum of 0.5g per L VOCs in their paint

VOCs explained

These are gases the paints give off, which contain solvents. And, if you breathe in high levels of VOCs, you could find you’ll suffer from a variety of ailments, from headaches and itchy eyes to a runny nose or even dizziness. According to some studies, chronic exposure to VOCs can even damage your nervous system, liver, and kidneys, and give you cancer. All paint will have a certain level of VOCs. And, from what I’ve read, it seems to be impossible not to. However, these amounts will have been drastically reduced in line with the EU Paint Products Directive. And of course, the lower the level, the better this will be for you, me and every decorator, professional or otherwise.

What is non toxic paint?

Well, for starters, this should not affect your health or the environment so it gets a thumbs up from me. If you choose non toxic paint for your home, chemicals and high levels of VOCs will not affect the air you, your family and your pets will breathe. The sorts of chemicals to steer clear from, for example, are Alkylphenol Ethoxylates (APES).I’ve actually read that these can cause problems with hormone production and result in birth defects. Therefore, a non-toxic paint should have low levels of VOCs in the base paint and the pigmentation used.

How can I find non-toxic paint?

Check out all the ingredients whether you find this on the paint pot or you need to request this from the brand. You could even look for an independent ‘eco’ certification for complete peace of mind.

Tiru paint Graham and Brown
Inspired by Graham & Brown’s Kabuki trend, this beautiful Tiru paint in durable matt emulsion costs from £44 for 2.5L

How to remove old paint safely

I think it’s also worth bearing in mind the negative effects you may encounter if you’re stripping toxic paint at home, In fact, some overseas studies claim the effects of VOCs can increase by 1,000 times in this situation. And, when you remove old paint from furniture, I suggest you do so outside or in a highly ventilated area with a face mask. Don’t forget paint strippers can contain methylene chloride which is a known carcinogen. I think it’s best to take every precaution so wear gloves, eye protection and a respirator mask with vapour protection. If you live in a period property, you may come across lead paint. However, a professional can remove it or you can paint over it with a lead-free paint for peace of mind.

Some of my favourite non toxic paint brands

Farrow & Ball

Now, Farrow & Ball is a great one to choose if you’re looking for a non toxic paint brand. In fact, they were the first in the industry to move to an entirely water-based collection. They class all their paints as minimal or low VOC. However Farrow & Ball say these far exceed ‘the standard’ for those categories. They also don’t test their paint on animals and never have, so I’m a great fan. In fact, we used their Peignoir and Wevet for our master bedroom project (as mentioned).

De Nimes modern emulsion railings no 31 modern eggshell Farrow & Ball
I love De Nimes on the walls, from £47.95 for estate emulsion, and Railings on the doors, from £64 for 2,5L in estate eggshell, from Farrow & Ball in this gorgeous kitchen


Water-based and free from oils, Earthborn features all the ingredients on the sides of their pots. So, this way, you can make an informed choice. Their paints are virtually VOC-free – they say they’re less than 62 parts per million, which is highly impressive. You’ll find no harmful emissions or awful paint odours so you can return to your room immediately after decorating. If you suffer from allergies, which I do, or asthma, that covers my sister and father, you’ll find no ill effects from using these non toxic paints. I also like their Ecolabel, which demonstrates how they meet strict environmental criteria in their ingredients and how they manufacture.

Kitchen with non toxic paint on the walls in Peach Baby and Secret Room on the cupboards
Adore these breathable Claypaint colours showcasing Earthborn’s Peach Baby on the walls and Secret Room on the cupboards, from £45 per 2.5L

Little Greene

Labelled as one of the first UK paint manufacturers to achieve the European environmental standard BS EN ISO 14001, this brand seems to work hard to minimise its ecological impact. In fact, they say their paints carry the industry’s lowest eco-rating and their VOC content is listed as virtually zero on their water-based paints. They also manufacture in the UK.

Carmine chair Hollyhock wall royal navy floor and Hellebore wall and floor from Little Greene
What a beautiful collection paint colours which are non toxic too, from Little Greene. Carmine in intelligent satinwood, from £73.50 per 2.5L, features on the chair and Hollyhock in absolute matt emulsion, from £47 per 2.5L on the wall. Hellebore stripe on the wall and floor, from £42 per 2.5L of absolute matt emulsion and Royal Navy, from £72 per 2.5L of intelligent floor paint

Edward Bulmer

They are an environmentally-friendly paint brand, which focuses on breathable, natural paints created by interior designer Edward Bulmer. They are made from naturally occurring raw materials from plants, such as linseed oil, or mineral raw materials, such as chalk. So, solvents, pesticides, herbicides or toxins are thankfully left out of the mix.

Indigo paint by Edward Bulmer
This Indigo emulsion, from £49.50 for 2.5L, by Edward Bulmer looks the part in this luxurious home office

Graham & Brown

Well, Graham & Brown has a completely water-based paint range, so their paints are low VOC and low odour. This way, you can decorate without the worry of any health problems or an adverse impact on the environment.

Adeline non toxic paint by Graham and Brown
Adeline is Graham & Brown’s colour of the year for 2020, In a deep, rich bottle green hue it’s one of my favourite colour ways and costs from £38 for 2.5L in durable matt emulsion

If you haven’t read my other interiors posts, you don’t know what you’re missing!

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