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  • Writer's pictureSusan Van Meter

Amazing Colour - a guide to the best non-toxic paints for your home.

I've seen a lot of social media interior design posts about paint colour recently which prompted me to update my original non-toxic paints guide. So, here it is. 🎨

This interior design and decorative paint marketplace are fiercely competitive with many of the companies all claiming to be low in chemical toxicity or VOC free which technically isn't possible.

We Brits spend an enormous amount of money on our homes to the tune of £14 billion annually of which £925 million of that is on paint and wall finishes. We love our homes and have fallen in love with the interior design of our homes too.

I have picked 6 of the manufacturers I believe have the best credential for non-toxicity and sustainability although there are many other brands on the market.

First, a little background on this subject. 🎨

If you were born in the last 50 years when your parents were redecorating can you remember the strong smell the paint had – I can, and it was pretty overpowering – this smell was caused by constituents called volatile organic compounds (VOCs).

VOCs are used in paints to give them fluidity and make them dry quickly – but when they vaporise they become damaging to our health and to the environment.

That strong smell of paint that I was familiar with as a child is toxic, and is known to cause headaches and dizziness, as well as affecting asthma suffers, too.

Nearly all paints contain these chemicals to enhance brightness and create the thick and smooth consistency needed to make them easy to apply.

But, the fact is that paint can release VOCs into the air for years after they’ve been applied, potentially putting our families at risk. And, the effects of VOCs are about 2.5 times higher indoors than outdoors. 😱

Sounds pretty scary, doesn't it?

Good-quality modern paints are low in VOCs. The best manufacturers have moved from producing oil-based paints (using petrochemicals) to producing water-based ones, to eliminate the harmful toxins. The problem is that it’s just not feasible for manufacturers to eliminate all such chemicals completely, although some say that they do.

A true manufacturer of eco-friendly paints is likely to label all the ingredients on the tin, but even giving that information doesn’t mean the paint is truly environmentally friendly. For that reason, I have based my assessment on the following criteria:

🖌Where the paints are manufactured

🖌How the paints are manufactured

🖌Breathability of the paints

🖌VOC levels

🖌The use of natural ingredients

Ultimately, when you’re choosing a particular paint, you’ll have in mind which criteria are most important. It might be chemical content and minimising low indoor pollution or, possibly, how and where the paint was manufactured, thus keeping a low CO2 footprint. Hopefully, this guide will make that decision a good deal easier for you.


I like Farrow and Ball. They are working hard to be the leaders in environmentally friendly paints – and they have an excellent colour palette. Their paints have near to zero VOCs and are manufactured in the UK. F&B’s manufacturing and waste policies are exemplary. They recycle 100% of the dry waste from their Dorset factory, where right now they’re recycling 97% of the liquid waste – including that at their on-site water treatment plant – and they’re working to get this up to 100%.

F&B work with FSC®-certified printers to produce all their information materials – such as colour cards and brochures – as well as admin materials like postcards and letterheads, all printed on FSC®-certified paper and card.

F&B complies with the Energy Saving Opportunity Scheme (ESOS) across all of its UK sites and is audited by the Environment Agency to ensure compliance.

All around, I feel this paint company is making a concerted effort in all areas of its business. My builder, who has been in the business for 30 years plus, says out of all the “designer” paints, as he calls them, F&B is the best. (A few years ago a builder’s favourite would have been Dulux Trade, it doesn’t “cover” as well as it used to.)

🌿132 colours.

🌿Low VOC's

🌿Water based, as all non-toxic paints need to be.

🌿 Recycle 97% of liquid waste

🌿 Recycle 100% of dry waste

🌿 Vegan 🌿 for all but two of their ranges - distemper paint contains leather derivatives.

🌿 No animal testing 🐶

🌿Packaging made from 75% recycled material

🌿 Complies with ESOS - energy saving scheme at all of their sites

£££ Modern Emulsion, £85.00 per 5-litre tin.

Interior designer paints in london
Farrow & Ball interior paints for designers and homeowners

LICK 🎨🇬🇧

A new company launched on the first day of the government lockdown in 2020. A catchy name trying to appeal to the millennial generation of new homeowners.

Their USP (unique selling point) is the sampling. Say goodbye to buying sample paint pots and painting on walls. For £1.00 they send you an accurate as-it-is sample you can stick on the wall, which is a great idea. From an interior designers perspective, it's always a bit of a pain being able to show the accurate colour to a client on the wall.

Only sold online. If you're struggling with making the right colour choice you can have a virtual consultation with one of their experts for £45.00.

Getting colour right is incredibly difficult as there are so many contributing factors involved; orientation of the room, natural light source, if any, absorption from other materials in the room, all of these can dramatically change how a paint colour is seen - a headache for a lot of people.

🌿 50 colours (no gloss range)

🌿Low VOC's

🌿 Partners with '4oceans' clean up - 18g of plastic cleaned from oceans per tin sold.

🌿Partners with 'One Tree Planted' 🌳

🌿Water based, as all non-toxic paints need to be.

🌿 Vegan 🌿

🌿 No animal testing 🐶

🌿Peel and stick samples

🌿Packaging is all recyclable and made in the UK

££ £38.00 per 2.5 litre can

Interior designers paints.
LICK on trend paint colours for the home interior


Lakeland has an impressive list of high-profile companies and institutions that use their paints – from Facebook HQ in California to Clarence House, to Grand Designs TV show. Their paints are manufactured in the UK. They profess to be the only paint manufacturer that is VOC-free (other paint companies will say it is impossible to be chemical-free, along with the following:

From their website they claim the following:

🌿180 colours

🌿No heavy metals – No vinyl chloride, acrylic softeners, plasticisers or formaldehyde.

🌿No phthalates, alkylphenol ethoxylates (APEOs), bisphenols, glycols. No pesticides, herbicides or toxins.

🌿 VOC free (although most paint companies would say this is impossible)

🌿Free from all plastics.

🌿All packaging is 100% recycled or recyclable.


🌿 No animal testing 🐶

🌿Winner of four major environmental awards.

££-£ From £61.75 to £101.66 per 5-litre tin of emulsion paint: the cost range difference is because they offer many different types, depending on the application.

An open plan interior designed dining space.
Lakeland paints used in a modern open plan setting.


This range of paint is well known for its breathable Claypaint, it is hardwearing, thick and creamy, has almost no VOCs and therefore no paint odour.

The clay content helps to destroy airborne odours and contaminants, which is especially important in old properties where the damp is a concern. It’s perfect for use in kitchens and bathrooms where there might be a build-up of steam – a good alternative to limewash, which is the traditional form of permeable paint.

The EU Ecolabel, established in 1992 and recognised worldwide, is an independent accreditation system for goods and services that meet the strict environmental criteria of the scheme.

Earthborn paints are manufactured in Germany, which will increase its CO2 footprint through shipping. They are tinted in the UK.

🌿72 colours

🌿Eco friendly

🌿Breathable clay paint

🌿Free from plastics.

🌿Tins are made from 70% recycled metal.

🌿Vegan friendly (3 casein products are not)

🌿 No animal testing 🐶

🌿Carries EU Ecolabel.

£££ £75.00 per 5-litre tin for Claypaint Emulsion.

A kitchen painted and interior designed for the home
Earthborn paints, natural, clay based paints


VOC free, natural, breathable, and vegan meaning there have been no animals used in the testing or production of the paint in any form.

Graphenstone is a Spanish company that claims their paints absorb CO2 as the paint is made from a 98% lime base which absorbs CO2. It has received excellent reviews.

CO2 is a natural gas that we exhale as part of our breathing process and is harmless. But, it has become a global problem with major industries burning fossil fuels, resulting in high levels of both CO2 and methane emissions. This had created dangerous levels of pollution and global warming.

Manufactured in Spain and then shipped to the UK, which means it will have a higher carbon footprint than paints that have been made here in the UK, due to the transportation of the product. The CO2 absorption might offset this transportation issue.

🌿96 house colours

🌿Low VOC's

🌿Eco friendly

🌿Breathable lime base

🌿Absorbs CO2.

🌿Contains Graphene - very strong, flexible, (graphite)


🌿 No animal testing 🐶

🌿Holds multiple eco awards - too many to mention

££ £70.61 per 4 litres of washable, natural interior wall paint - Grafclean Premium

Eco friendly CO2 absorbing paints
Grapenstone super eco paints for the home


AURO has a reputation as the only paint maker in the world using exclusively natural materials . They have been perfecting paint for over 30 years with a consistent focus on sustainability and certified carbon-neutral production. Using only plant extracts, natural minerals and earth pigments, AURO has created matt paints that do not contain any plastic. They claim their paints are so pure they are compostable. It could be argued that AURO paint is the most ecologically responsible choice. 😲

Their colour palette does not have the huge selection of deep tones that you might find in others, say Farrow & Ball, for example. Their paints are breathable and vegan.

AURO natural paints are free of toxic chemicals and harmful emissions. They are mainly emission-free so you can sleep in the room as soon as it’s been painted. Their natural paints have passed some of the strictest air-quality tests in the world. AURO fully declares the ingredients used in every product.

AURO paints are manufactured in Germany, which increases its CO2 footprint. They are tinted in the UK.

🌿96 colours (emulsion)

🌿Low VOC's

🌿Eco friendly

🌿Clay based in some ranges

🌿Water based

🌿Vegan - although some ranges contain animal derivatives.

🌿 No animal testing 🐶

🌿Eu Ecolabel

££ £60–£70.00 per 5-litre tin for Premium washable emulsion, and Clay paint emulsion.

Auro eco friendly paints for the interior designed home
Primary bright eco paints colours

If you need any further information on this topic, feel free to contact me here, I'm always happy to discuss a topic I'm passionate about!

Alternatively reach out to me via one of my many social media platforms or by email: I look forward to connecting with you. 💚

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