Face painting is fun for any occasion, whether you’re painting faces at a birthday party or preparing faces for Halloween. Face painting can be a hobby for some, or even a full-blown career for many talented artists. Whatever your goals are, the possibilities for exciting and original designs are as wide as your imagination! Follow these steps to learn how to face paint.
1. Purchase the right face paint. Having the right face paint should be your first consideration. Keeping an eye on safety, variety, and quality will help you paint the face of your dreams.
- Put safety first. Use face paint that is cosmetic grade and contains only FDA compliant materials so it does not cause damage to the person whose face you are painting. Make sure the paint is cosmetic grade and contains a list of ingredients. Improper face paint can cause rashes, allergic reactions, or may even do permanent damage in extreme cases. If unsure of allergens and your client, have the client or parent read the ingredient listing. Avoid the following items:
- Watercolor pencils, markers, or pens. They may be “washable” on fabric, but that does not mean they are OK for skin.
- Acrylic craft paints. They may be labeled “non-toxic” but that does not make them skin safe, or “to be used as a cosmetic”.
- Avoid oil-based paints. They are difficult to remove and easily smear.
- Gather a variety of colors.
- At the very least, you’ll need black, white, red, blue, and yellow paint. You can mix these colors to create every color in the spectrum.
- If you don’t have the time to mix colors, choose a color palette with at least 8-14 colors.
2. Get the right brushes. Without the right brushes, the hard work you’ve put into choosing the perfect colors won’t pay off. The right brush can go a long way in helping you paint a face with as much detail and precision as possible.
- Variety is key. At least three types of brushes are crucial for a balanced look:
- A #2 round brush should be used for fine details.
- A #4 round brush is necessary for larger details.
- A 1-inch flat brush can help you pick up multiple colors.
- As you expand your repertoire, brushes of different thickness can help fine-tune your design.
3. Purchase makeup sponges. Makeup sponges are useful for quickly applying paint to a large area, or for adding a base color.
- Start with at least three sponges. You can cut them in half to make six.
- Having different sponges for different colors can help you avoid having to wash the sponge during a painting session. The same is true for brushes.
4. Purchase glitter to add some sparkle to your art. Gel glitters are recommended for their ease of use and controlled application. However, keep in mind that glitter can get a bit messy and may get on your paints or parts of the face you did not intend to paint with glitter.
- Remember safety. Your glitter should be FDA-approved as well. The only safe glitters for face painting are made of polyester and are round cut. Never use craft glitters as they can be made of metal and can scratch sensitive skin and eyes.
5. Purchase stencils, stamps, and temporary tattoos for variety. Having these extra tools can add some pizzazz to your finished product.
- Stencils are perfect if you’re not confident about your painting skills, or if you’re simply short on time. Some classic stencils include hearts, flowers, and moons. Make sure to have different sizes of stencils to accommodate different faces.
- Face stamps can be filled in by using glitter and face paint and can be a great addition to a painted face.
- Temporary tattoos can be used even more quickly than stencils. However, some people’s skin doesn’t react well to them, and they can take longer to remove.
6. Gather other materials for special effects. Sometimes the perfect look requires texture or something face paint alone cannot provide.
- To create bumpy noses, soak a bit of cotton wool in the paint, place it on the face, and cover it with a tissue before you paint over it.
- For warts, simply cover wheat or puffed rice with a bit of paint.
- For an extra-ghostly effect, apply a light coat of flour to your subject’s face after you’re done painting.
7. Be prepared for cleanup. It’s just as important to be ready to clean up a mess at it is to have the proper materials for painting faces.
- To prevent your subject from getting splashed with excess paint or water, you can use a plastic trash bag with a holes cut in it to act for protection. Simply cut the bag at the end of the process to avoid ruining your work.
- Have trash bags and towels to clean up as you paint.
- Have washcloths and makeup remover for your customers.
- Have access to a sink or water so you can wash your hands in between customers to prevent the spread of disease.
- Have soapy water or disinfectant to clean your brushes and sponges.
8 Don’t forget the mirror. Your subject would like to see what your masterpiece looks like–a mirror is crucial not only for showing off your finished work, but also for helping your subject see your progress along the way.