I get asked this question frequently. Frequently enough that I thought it was time to write a blog post about it to serve as a little mini FAQ.
Is coloured powder safe to use with animals?
Short answer: Yes, I believe it is.
The supplier with whom I choose to work makes powder that is non-toxic. It is made in the USA, is environmentally safe, and is created from high-quality materials. This powder is a mixture of corn starch and FD&C and/or D&C colours (Federal Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act approved). That means the pigment used is approved for use in foods, cosmetics and/or drugs and these products are not considered hazardous.
During a powder session, we are incredibly careful to keep powder away from animals’ eyes and airways, and we towel off excess pigment immediately after we’re done. It is important that animals do not breathe in the powder. As such, we only apply it behind the neck and along the back and only ask for forward movement so the powder is not flying into their faces.
If you would like to receive a list of all powder ingredients, please contact me and I will provide one to you.
Not all powder is made of these same, non-toxic ingredients. Please be careful should you ever source your own for your own personal projects. Animals with chemical sensitivities may be best served by using non-coloured powder, or even with powder added afterwards digitally.
The most frequent mistake/issue I see in powder photography done by other photographers is allowing the powder to interfere with the face and airways of the dog. I feel very strongly that this needs to be avoided, and the safety and comfort of the animals needs to be in mind at all times.
What about clean up?
It can get messy! At the shoot, be sure to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. Make sure to bring a brush and/or towel with you, and a plastic bag to house them in after you’re done using them.
The colour on the ground should disappear the first time it rains. It can also be washed off with a hose.
The colour on animals should largely be removed by a quick towel/brush off immediately after the session, then a visit with a high velocity dryer.
To reduce the staining on your dog, I recommend not bathing your dog before or after a session. Bathing before may remove helpful oils from the coat which serve as a buffer to the pigment. Bathing afterwards seems to make the colour hold more fast. I recommend simply having your dogs brushed to make them look presentable before a session.
Traces of colour will remain afterwards, especially on more lightly coloured animals. If staining is an issue for you, we can consider using non-coloured powder, and then we can add colour back into your images using some editing magic during the digital post-production process.
Yes, I feel that my powder sessions are safe for pets. Though, everyone must decide what is best for themselves and their animals. If you do opt to do a session with me, the results are guaranteed to be fabulous. We can cater our session to meet your needs, I’m more than happy to discuss details and possible alternatives with you well in advance of your Jess Bell Photography coloured powder session.
Any questions? Please do not hesitate to ask them!