What Kind of Paints Should I Use for Face Painting?

by Philadelphia Tivoli · 45 comments

(Okay, for all of you who have already subscribed to our free lessons or bought our face painting guide, you’ll already know this – but this is for the complete newbies, so don’t worry…I’ll have more advanced info up here soon :-) )

Using the right face paints is crucial to face painting. And choosing the wrong face paint is a common mistake that new face painters make. A lot of new face painters will just go to their local arts and crafts shop and get crafts paints, or cheap water colors thinking that it’s all the same thing. Not many people realize that you can’t just use any old paints on human skin!

Even most non-toxic acrylics just aren’t safe! It doesn’t matter if they’re water based, acrylic, or oil – if they weren’t made especially for the face and body there will be a high risk of allergic reactions breaking out on the skin. And you don’t want that to happen!

The only face paints you should use are products that have been specially made for face or body painting – it is advised that you stick with water based paints (made for the skin) because they wash off easily.

Don’t run the risk of using the wrong face paints on someone because if something goes wrong, (and it probably will) even if you have insurance, they won’t cover the cost of the damages you could be facing!!

Also make sure when buying face paint to look out for whether or not they comply with various authorities in your country (e.g. U.S. FDA.) within the guidelines for use on the skin. This might sound a little obvious but you’ll be surprised at what people are doing out there!

Happy Face Painting :-)

Philadelphia Tivoli

{ 44 comments… read them below or add one }

vicki white Tue at 3:20 pm

Wow Thanks! I look forward to reading it!


Diane Johnson Thu at 6:32 am

I bought alot of face paints plus many brushes,glitter,detailers,sponges,etc., hoping to have a great time at grandkids parties. I practised on all the little ones when they would come over, but there is a big problem. The paint stains their faces. I even put a thin coat of white on first. So now I have stopped doing it until I find some way to prevent the staining. Any suggestions?


Heather Wed at 4:09 am

I have been face painting on a casual basis for about 7 years. I have done anything from friends parties to halloween face paint to school events to College level fashion shows. I have two pieces of advice. The first is this: If you have a good brand of face paint it will not stain the skin. That said, most brands WILL stain the skin if left on for more than 2 days. Since this is not the recommended use of face paint, I think that is likely to be irrelevant. I have used many brands, but unless the skin is unnaturally dry, good brands will not stain any skin. I think snazzaroo is a good choice for someone just using face paints at children’s parties. The second piece of advice is if you cannot afford to buy new paints, and the current paints you have are non-toxic, water based paints (if they are not, it is unsafe to use them anyway) then there is a little trick I use. Buy a heavy duty lotion (such as one for “extremely dry skin”) Mix 1 part to every 4 or 5 parts paint into all of your colors. Also apply a layer of the lotion to the skin and allow it to dry before painting. This usually protects the skin from wearing.

My final piece of advice is that the best thing to use to remove face paint is makeup remover. I use the wipes. If those are not available, remove the face paint as much as possible with soap and water. Apply Vaseline to the remaining parts. Wait 30 seconds, and wipe off. The Vaseline will take the paint back to liquid form and make it easier to remove. Make sure to wash off all of the Vaseline, or the child might break-out from the oils. Makeup remover wipes really are best. I pay 3 dollars for 20 generic wipes. It takes only 2 wipes to remove a 3/4 face paint.


FairyToes Sun at 7:46 pm

Two decades ago when I was starting out and searching for good face paint, I ordered some samples from New Zealand, thinking, wow, NZ, it’s a cool place. Well, the paint was crap – greasy, gloppy, and staining, especially the red. Fortunately as the years have gone by, wonderful face paints are now available. The Starblend powders make a good base for the paint, but a light brushing of cornstarch baby powder is also a good thing to make the paint adhere to fine skin while also protecting the skin.


Jeannie Sun at 11:56 am

Snazaroo brand does Not stain


Philadelphia from FacePaintingTips.com Sun at 10:18 pm

Hi Diane,

Thank you for your comment/question Dianne! What brand of face paints are you using? I use Diamond FX face paints, and they don’t stain at all.



eric Sat at 5:06 pm



Sam Thu at 3:16 pm

I did my first face painting party at a cancer fundraiser…all tips went to the cancer cause. Absolutely the most fun! I just wish there was more schooling and or supplies in my area.


natasha Sat at 1:24 pm

I am looking to paint my face to look old for a current show is there any ideas u cud plz give me of how to have ur face painted to look old? Many Thanks


natasha Sat at 1:25 pm

Is there plz any tips i cud have on how to paint someones face so they look like an old person?

Many Thanks x


Mrs. Bunny, The Clown! Thu at 9:42 am

Hi Natasha,

Using your white, gray and black should help you make a cool old person or a creepy one, depending on the look you’re trying to get. I’d start with white on the sponge and lightly dab it all over the face. Then use the black to make lines in the forehead, the sides of the nose & mouth and around the corner of the eyes with a thin tipped brush. Next, dab over what you’ve done very lightly with a little gray paint so the lines seem to blend into the skin. You can also use brown for liver spots (gross!) on the forehead for more effect. Follow it up with crummy, old-looking clothes, a gray wig and maybe some toothless gums (their false teeth without the teeth!) for a funny looking old person. Play around with it. Have fun trying different things. The key to it is the wrinkles and the old weather-beaten looking skin. Let me know how it turns out. Happy painting!!


Rachel Wed at 10:35 am

THANK YOU ALL for the info!!


kristy Tue at 1:08 pm

I am just starting with face painting and purchased some with snazaroo. Is there a trick on how to get your paint to blend so you don’t see so many streaks. It dries quickly and I never seem to get it really smooth and blended. I thought about trying to mix some cold cream with it and see if that would help. Do you have any suggestions. I know I have seen some photos where the faces look so smooth and you don’t see any streaks. How do they achieve that?



Heather Wed at 4:19 am

Hey kristy. I have worked with snazaroo before. I usually only use it for children’s parties because of that reason, but there are a few tips you can use. 1. when applying a base coat for a medium to large area, use a sponge and dab across the face, after two layers the face should look fairly even. If the face looks a little textured still, I apply a little matching powder (usually cheap eyeshadow) with a large, loose brush. 2. When applying snazaroo paint with a brush, trying to cover a small to medium area, I usually apply it from one side to the other quickly, blending with a triangle sponge or a finger as I go. Adding 1 part lotion to every 4 or 5 parts face paint makes it dry slower, but it only helps a little bit with the blending. Use the same technique and you should have a similar result. 3. When applying lines or shapes, I would advise NOT to dilute the paint with lotion, and to use a very soft bristled art brush, not a face painting brush. That way you get solid, smooth sweeps of paint.


Jeannie Sun at 12:18 pm

Hi Kristy. Are you using a sponge to apply the face coats and then a brush for the designs? A water bottle to spray the paints instead of a wet brush/ and use of a moist sponge.


Jonjon De Guzman Sun at 4:02 am

I just want to know what is the best brand name face paint i can use? I dont want to put my kids on risk to have allergies.



Philadelphia from FacePaintingTips.com Sun at 4:52 am

Hi Jonjon,

Any of these brands are awesome!…

Paradise/ Mehron
Wolfe Bros
Ben Nye

Happy Face Painting,

Philadelphia Tivoli


Philadelphia from FacePaintingTips.com Fri at 7:48 pm

Hi Nancy,

We ship face painting supplies worldwide from:

Happy Face Painting,

Philadelphia Tivoli


Nancy Fri at 4:11 pm

Can these face products be purchased in the Republic of Ireland?


holly Thu at 5:50 pm

You can buy snazaroo at Cork Art Supplies and they deliver


M Thu at 2:15 pm

Have you ever actually heard of anyone with a bad reaction to craft paints? You can be allergic to face paints, too. I have used craft acrylic painting on hundreds of faces at school functions and never had a problem.


FairyToes Sun at 7:49 pm

You are obviously not a professional or you would have more regard for your patrons. Acrylic craft paint contains nickle and formaldehyde. “Non-toxic” does NOT mean safe for use on skin.


Jeannie Sun at 12:11 pm

I agree with Fairy Toes. Acrylic paints can stain the skin. The paints cracks when dried and ive seen the skin be red/ pink after the paints were removed. I started off with Snazaroo but am looking to try the Diamond brand to see if the Colorado are more vibrant. The expense of buying snazaroo was worth knowing that the paints are skin safe.


Anonymous Thu at 7:07 pm

http://www.WOWFACTORSTUFF.com offers FDA Approved Face Paints. Diamond FX, Kryolan, American Body Art, WOW Factor Glitter…….


Olayinkaolamide Mon at 6:38 am

Hi it’s me olayinka from nigeria,i need a original colour,brush bcos due 2 there is no original product in nigeria n i really luv dis field of face painting may be if u can hlp me out 2 get 4rm u.tks


Philadelphia from FacePaintingTips.com Tue at 3:17 pm

Very soon you will be able to buy face painting supplies from facepaintingtips.com!


Aishwarya Tue at 1:00 pm

I live in India
And Have a face-painting competition on 11/nov/2010
And I really need good facepaints
Im new to this and have practically no Idea what to buy
all I now is Im good at art
Can u please tell me the name and company of the face-paints you use or is commonly use!
please reply to me at the earliest b4 11
Cause I have to purchase them
:) :D


CowDog23 Wed at 4:17 am

Wow, I just stumbled upon this when looking up what kind of face paints to use on my face painting booth in an event for my school, and I learned quite a bit. Your work is beautiful.


Amy Nicole Thu at 5:35 am

Hi all. I’m looking to purchase face painting supplies ASAP for Saturday 6/18 or before then. Any ideas on where to buy in the city of Philly? Thanks!


AMY Wed at 2:08 am

I am i manager at a movie theatre and i am wanting to do a promotion for a kids movie coming out. my thoughts were to set up a face painting table so i went to my local craft store and bought some face paints. When i went to try them out the paint seems like there is too much water mixed in with the paints, like when i went to paint the skin it was very runny and didnt show the color very well, is there a way i can fix this because i dont really have a budget to buy more expensive paints.


Philadelphia Tivoli Wed at 2:36 am

Hi Amy, it may very well be the paints you were using. What brand were they? Liquid or cake?


AMY Wed at 4:18 am

i believe the brand is tulip and its liquid


Philadelphia Tivoli Wed at 4:28 am

I haven’t heard good things about Tulip face paints – apparantly they stain the skin – it’sd hard to wash off, especially the blue. With face paints – you really have to buy professional face paints to get professional results -there is no getting around that. When we’re talking about peoples skin especially on the face you need a product that is tried and tested – used by professionals eg. Diamond FX, Snazaroo or Paradise — Thing is you don’t need to spend too much money on it – we have professional face paint palettes from $15 and up available here:http://www.facepaintingtips.com/shop/category/palettes-kits/?shopp_orderby=lowprice


AMY Wed at 4:39 am

okay thank you, also how many faces can be painted with one of these palettes? we are a 18 house theatre and its lion king in 3D. there is a possibility i could be painting close to a thousand peoples faces…


rafael Mon at 7:06 am

excuse me i just bought a paint for face painting, i have a problem with it because it never dries. my paint is oil based paint. can you help me what kind of paint will i gonna use because of you slightly touch the face paint it becomes ugly so please help me thank yoou


Philadelphia Tivoli Mon at 7:47 am

Hi Rafael, you shouldn’t use oil paints for face/body painting. You should only use water based paints that are cosmetic grade and made especially for use on the skin, like Paradise, Mehron, Snazaroo or Diamond FX. You can buys those paints here: http://www.facepaintingtips.com


rafael Tue at 2:58 pm

Ok but im here at the Philippines and i dont where to nuy those kind of paints.


nazmi Sun at 10:18 am

i need face paints on my compition…
and it is in dec.13/12/2011
thnks 4 ur gr8 Tip…
i’m sure that i wll get!!!


Jorge P Fri at 7:33 pm

hi… i get some face paints from walmart… but i cant get the color i want…i have to apply 2 or 3 times the color in order to get it right….and whatever i do to get a desing it just look bad…i need help…i have to paint some kids next week ………or were can i get good paints im from el paso texas….please help me…….


Katy Thu at 1:32 pm

Hello! I recently bought diamond FX jungle split cake and diamond FX basic 12 pc essentials from this site. When I got them I applied them, mainly the split cake, to my face so that I could practice. Beautiful paints, I love them, BUT when I was done, ready to do a different face, I used regular make-up wipes and they left a stain on my face. I figured it must have been my wipes and the soap I used didn’t work. Finally I got a cold cream and it started coming off.( after much washing though.) Now I did read people with dry skin tend to get stained easier and my skin has been pretty dry on some parts of my face, being that its right in the middle of the hot days of summer,yet not the part that was still stained. I picked diamond FX after much research, bc from what I’ve read AND seen it was one of the best paints out there used by the pros.
My question(s) Was it a fluke that it stained my skin?
Was it just crappy make up remover wipes?
Was it too soon to take it off, or do you NEED both wipes, cold cream, and soap/water to take it off?
What should I tell the parents when taking this off?

I really love my diamond FX paints and want to continue to use them.
I also bought a rainbow split cake by TAG yet haven’t used it yet.
I do have Snazaroo paints and I know they’re good for kids, and it’s not that I don’t like that paint, but I know it’s known for being runny in hot weather bc it’s so easy to take off. HELP! :@ :D Thank you! :)


Brandy Thu at 7:29 am

Hi I am my families “makeup artist” during the Halloween season. Every year I get the paints from the Halloween isle but I really want to do a lot more. I have been looking at some of the different brands and I have a few questions. They have the liquid styles and the watercolor style what are the differences between them? I was leaning toward krylons watercolor. But I would really like some feed back on what’s best. Thank you so much :)


Brandy Thu at 7:41 am

So I totally meant kryolan darn auto correct :/


W Sat at 5:09 pm

Can Crayola Finger Paint be used for small areas?


Philadelphia Tivoli Mon at 4:46 am

We’re not familiar with this paint — if it was made specifically for use on the skin (like any other cosmetic product) then you should be fine.


Leave a Comment

− 4 = one

{ 1 trackback }

Previous post:

Next post: