What is Tempera Poster Paint?

What is Tempera Poster Paint?

The Tempera paint that is used in the school classroom is simply a ‘Temporary’ paint. A colourful paint that is water-soluble allowing it to be washed from surfaces quickly and easily making ideal for educational use or where groups of children are painting.

There is a lot of confusion between traditional "Egg Tempera" and todays Tempera Poster paint. Some parents that have children with allergies google 'Tempera Paint' and find 'egg tempera' and the confusion starts.

Egg Tempera:

Egg Tempera is one of the oldest mediums for fine art painting, dating back to Roman Egypt and used by most of the Great Masters of the Renaissance. It is made with egg yolk and is a permanent fast-drying paint. It is very hard to find today as few brands make it. One of the most popular brands in the artist paint world Daler-Rowney in the UK do still make this for artists. It is designed for artist use and not for school. See: www.daler-rowney.com/egg-tempera

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School Tempera Poster Paint:
School Tempera is what you will see everywhere in schools today. It is the most popular daily used art paint in the world. More preschoolers and primary school children are painting with this in cities everyday than any other paint.

It is ‘normally’ a safe non-toxic paint that is very colourful and quick drying. There are no eggs, nuts or wheat in this type of paint. It is made for kids to paint with safely as this is the main priority in paint in schools.

Tempera paint dries quickly and lasts a long time. But the paint will eventually spoil. To prevent spoilage, close the lid tightly after use and avoid returning unused liquid tempera to its original container.
Safety Concerns:

It is recommended that you carefully read the labels or read the manufacturer’s MSDS (Medical Safety Data Sheet) to see the ingredients if you are concerned.

There is a lot of very low grade product out in the market. Even some of the most well-known brand names get product made in China that is low grade as this is a very price driven market. Some are almost just coloured water. Don’t be fooled by the big brands name for quality.


The most important part of the temporary paint is to wash off. This does differ from brand to brand. Most lighter colours will wash from surfaces and some fabrics. But the darker colours are the concern as some will not wash-off surfaces and nearly all colours leave a residue stain on clothing.

Most washable brands:
We are not into naming brands that do not wash out, we will leave that to you to do in the comments below.  

If anyone has any other brand info please add it to the comments.


  1. We wrongly ordered crayloa washable last year... It had this strong smell like a floor polish. When we poured it out into bowls it just got stronger. We ended up dumping it.... Anyone else found that. We were very surprized for such a known brand...

    1. Yeah whats with that strong over powering smell?

    2. I've been looking for ingredients in tempera since I was grinding thick tempera painted by kids yearly over a sculpture in a kids' museum, and cracked off in chunks at years end; making jewelry.
      After weeding out dumb posts about EGG TEMPERA, which this article points out is RARE, I found that tempera (poster paint) can instead contain ACRYLIC RESIN, which I believe I've smelled burning when grinding beads of this paint. Modern floor "waxes" don't contain wax, but acrylic polymer, which is also in wall paint. My big concern, btw, is that I've gotten such difficulty in breathing, not touched by my asthma inhalers used for cedar allergy season here, that I'm worried about silicosis from airborn clay, being an eventual problem...It starts as an allergic reaction to silica in the lungs, so perhaps tempera workers should avoid dust as potters do. Silicosis was once known as "potters" rot" because I guess potters suffered from it.

    3. It is likely that this smell you mention might be ammonia. Some brands use some strong smelly ammonia in their binding system in the paints and this can smell like floor cleaner. It can also be too strong smelling for some schools to pour that paint into pots. It can get too much and you need use in only vented rooms or with windows open.
      Even Crayola Washable Paint in some counties can have a strong chemical smell.
      There is no Ammonia used in FAS School Paints.

  2. I have searched online and looked on the bottles on of tempera paint the none state ingredients. Not knowing if some tempera paint contain egg and other ingredients. Thanks for this info it clears a few things up for me.

  3. We use Super Tempera and Super Tempera UV Glow. They are really good. I can not say that you can wash them from clothes at all, it leaves light stains, but cleans easily from any other surfaces and skin. It doesn't smell and colours are so bright!

    1. The washing from clothes is a difficult one. Only one paint claims to wash from all fabrics FAS Total Wash and it does. But the issue here is that people want super bright tempera paint colours which require a lot of very strong pigments. But the more colourful pigments added in the formulation the harder job you have when removing them from all surfaces. It is hard to find the balance. Thanks for your comments.. Tony

  4. We've used finger paints (also works on paper) from Huuman Innovations. They wash out easy with soap and water, or in the washing machine. a little bit of marks left on some of the white clothes, but washed out of everything else.

  5. Often Finger Paints are very low in pigment concentration making them easy to clean out. But on paper reds tend to be a rosy colour, blacks are grey, and blue are kind of a sky blue etc.
    But using FAS Total Wash paint means stains even come out just by soaking in water.


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