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Updated October 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Buying guide for Best face-painting kits

If you’re looking for a way to entertain your kids, face painting is usually a good bet, which is why it’s a perfect activity for a child’s birthday party. And you don’t need to hire an expert. With a face-painting kit, you can paint your kids’ faces any time you want.

These kits include paint that’s safe for use on the skin. If you’re using the paints on children, it’s essential to choose a kit that doesn’t contain any heavy metals, because there’s a risk that children may ingest the paint. High-quality paints should also be easy to remove, so you don’t have to scrub delicate skin to take it off. Some kits also provide other tools that make it easy to create a masterpiece.

If you want to find the best face-painting kit for your children or to paint your face for your favorite team’s big game, it’s essential to understand the different types of paint, decide whether you want a beginner or professional kit, figure out what paint colors and finishes you want, and identify any other tools or supplies you need.

face painting kits
Never use craft glitter on the face. It can do serious damage if it gets in the eyes. Use glitter specially formulated for use near the eyes.

How to buy the best face-painting kit

Paint type

When shopping for a face-painting kit, it’s essential to consider the formula of the paint. There are several types of face paint that differ in ingredients, drying time, and other qualities.

Grease: Face paint with a grease base is one of the oldest and most traditional types. “Greasepaint” is a theatrical term for makeup that dates to the mid-nineteenth century. It doesn’t dry and crack like other types of face paint, but it can smear and transfer pretty easily. However, it can last quite a while on the skin. Grease-based paints apply best with clean fingers and are extremely easy to blend.

Cream: Face paint with a cream base comes in squeezable tubes, so you can easily dispense the right amount. Cream-based paints don’t require water to activate, but they can take some time to completely dry. They are best applied with a brush.

Powder: Face paint with a powder base can be used either dry or wet, so it’s highly versatile. It can also work well as a base for other types of face paint. However, powder-based paints can be messy.

Paraffin wax: Face paint with a paraffin base is solid at room temperature but starts to melt as it warms up. It typically requires water to activate but dries quickly and offers excellent coverage. Wax-based paints are ideal for adding fine details and sharp edges to your face painting. They don’t smudge as easily as other types and have an attractive sheen on the skin.

Glycerin: Face paint with a glycerin base is even softer than wax-based options, but its consistency doesn’t change as it warms up. These paints are ideal for creating a base for layering on more paint because they’re very blendable and feel more comfortable on the skin. Glycerin-based paints don’t flake or crack as readily as other types.

Acacia Senegal gum (gum arabic): Face paints with a gum arabic base include a substance derived from the sap of several different trees. These paints are thinner than wax-based paints and not quite as creamy as glycerin-based formulas. They have a glossy finish and work well for drawing fine lines and details. Gum-based paints also offer better transfer resistance, but they aren’t heat resistant.

Alcohol or oil: Face paint with an alcohol or oil base is relatively water and sweat resistant. It offers excellent coverage and a matte finish that wears for a long time on the skin. These types require an activator for use and can be applied with a brush or sponge. Alcohol-based paints can dry the skin and cause stinging if used around the eyes. They’re also more difficult to remove.

Colors and finishes

All of these kits offer several paint colors so you can create various designs. However, the type and range of shades vary from one kit to the next. All of them should at least contain black and white paints because you need them for lines and other details.

For other shades, you can choose from plenty of kits with standard or primary colors. You can also find some that include neon paints for brighter looks. Some face-painting kits even contain paints with a pearlescent or metallic finish.

Beginner vs. professional kits

Beginner face-painting kits are ideal if you’ve never used face paints before or only do it occasionally. These kits contain a smaller range of colors, and the paint formulas aren’t typically designed for extended wear times or fine details.

Professional face-painting kits are ideal if you’re an experienced face painter, work as a professional, or paint faces regularly for local theater, sporting events, or charity work. These kits usually have a wider range of colors and a formula that wears for quite some time on the skin.

If you have trouble keeping your hand steady when applying paint to someone else’s face, try stabilizing your hand by resting your pinkie on their forehead.

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What features should I look for in face-painting kits?

Number of colors

While all face-painting kits include multiple paint shades, the number varies from kit to kit. Most provide at least 6 shades, but you can find some that offer more than 20. A kit with a larger selection allows for more creativity and enables you to produce a wider range of designs. If you use face paints regularly or do it professionally, you’ll want to choose a larger paint palette to make sure you have all the colors you need for your designs.

Stencils

Face painting often involves freehand painting, but even if you’re not confident in your artistic abilities, you can still create lovely designs. Some kits include stencils that make it easier to create specific designs or patterns on the face. If you’re new to this craft, a kit with stencils can take much of the guesswork out of the process. You can also purchase stencils separately if your preferred kit doesn’t include them.

Brushes and sponges

Many face-painting kits include tools to help apply the paint to the face. You can find plenty of kits that include brushes, which make it easy to do detailed work. However, some kits also include sponges, which allow you to apply the paint over a larger area quickly and easily as a base or background for your design.

adhesive tape
DID YOU KNOW?
If you’re having trouble removing glitter from your face, adhesive tape can help. First, press a piece of tape on the back of your hand to remove some of the adhesive. Apply the tape over the glitter and pull it away to easily remove the glitter.
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How do I accessorize a face-painting kit?

Makeup sponges

If your face-painting kit doesn’t include them, you might want to purchase some makeup sponges separately to aid in your painting. Smaller, wedge-shaped sponges work well for face painting because they can cover a large area but still allow for some precision.

Glitter

For some designs, adding the sparkle and shine of cosmetic-grade glitter can take the look up a notch. Eye glitter has rounded edges that aren’t as likely to cut as the square edges of craft glitter, so it’s safe for use around the eyes.

How much do face-painting kits cost?

Inexpensive

The most affordable face-painting kits are designed for children and casual use. They generally contain lower-quality paints that don’t last very long on the skin and a smaller range of shades, and they may not offer many accessories beyond brushes, sponges, and/or stencils. These kits typically cost between $10 and $22.

Mid-range

These face-painting kits usually include higher-quality paint that lasts longer on the skin. They have a larger range of colors and may include accessories like brushes, sponges, stencils, and glitter. One of these is an excellent option for cosplay or theatrical use. These kits generally cost between $25 and $55.

Expensive

The most expensive face-painting kits are designed for professionals and include very high-quality paints that last for a long time on the skin. They feature an extensive range of shades and often include accessories like brushes and sponges. These kits usually cost between $55 and $140.

If you’re using water-activated face paint, don’t spray the paint directly. Instead, dampen your brush or sponge and press it into the paint. It gives you more control and reduces the risk of mold or bacteria growth in the paint.

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Tips

  • Make sure the base layer is completely dry before adding details. If you’ve laid down a base color of face paint, it could smear if it isn’t completely dry before you apply other colors on top of it.
  • Keep a cup of water nearby. It allows you to quickly and easily rinse your brushes between colors as you paint a face.
  • Use cotton swabs to clean up any mistakes. When the face paint is still wet, you can quickly wipe away a smudge or clean up a line that isn’t sharp enough.
  • Use a practice board to improve your technique. As with most things, the only way to get better at face painting is to practice. Since you might not always have a willing person to practice on, a board with a texture similar to skin makes it easy to work on your skills.
face painting kits
The lips and eyes are very sensitive, so it’s best to avoid using face paint in those areas. Instead, use lip and eye makeup to complete your face painting.

FAQ

Q. Is face painting safe for the skin?

A. If you use a kit with paints formulated for use on the face, it’s usually perfectly safe. However, as with any products that you apply to the skin, there’s a chance of a reaction if you have sensitive skin. You might want to test the paints on a small patch of skin and wait 24 hours in case any rash or irritation develops before using it all over your face.

Never use paint or any other product not intended for use on the skin for face painting. You can risk severe reactions to the ingredients.

Q. What’s the best way to remove face paint?

A. The best removal method varies from formula to formula, so you should always follow the instructions that come with your kit. In general, you can usually use warm water, mild soap, and a washcloth for gentle removal of the paint. If it doesn’t come off easily, you can use baby oil, petroleum jelly, or makeup remover. Oils and oil-based cleansers are usually the most effective products for taking off stubborn face paint.

Q. Is it easy to paint faces at home?

A. It depends on the results you’re after. If you’re painting your kids’ faces as a rainy day activity, it’s pretty easy to create a fun design. However, if you’re painting your face as part of a costume and want the finished design to look as flawless as possible, it can be trickier. It helps to plan your design and practice it a few times to make sure you’re happy with the results.

 

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