Facepainting and staining the skin

Before I started painting faces myself I was always very wary of getting my children’s faces painted because of concerns about the “lasting effects” . It was the inevitable washing off at the end of the day that put me off, the paint would be really difficult to remove and would always leave the face looking red and sore.


My children have grown, but I still use them as volunteers to practice on , now that I am a face painter.  It is a bit ironic, but it did provide me with the desire to use only top quality products.

When I was first researching the products that I would use, I noticed that the dollar stores would sell the cheaper lines that came from foreign countries where safety in cosmetics were not emphasized.  Upon examining some of these paints, they did not offer Safety Data Sheets, outlining what the chemical makeup of the pigments were.  That was already a red flag that they would poor quality cosmetics.  Even some of the Safety Data Sheets that I did find warned about a lot of paints that were not appropriate around the eyes or on a mouth.  In particular, the NEON paints are more toxic than the regular lines for some of the upgraded lines.

Just the other day I was reminded how important having good quality face paints were. My daughter discovered some paints I had many years ago, they are even labelled ‘face paint’ which people assume means that it is going to be completely safe for young childrens sensitive skin.

To even try and paint with these so called ‘face paints’ you will be disappointed by the results. Generally these paints are hard to spread on the skin, so you end up rubbing it on harder. This can be irritating to a sensitive childs face.   This paint is also uncomfortable to wear, have you ever tried it on your own skin? In the past, the times I have had my children painted with this paint, they had been asking to take it off soon after they were painted.

When it came time to wash it off (only a few hours later) it was extreemly difficult to remove and left her skin red and covered in a rash. Never before has she had a problem with sensitive skin so it was interesting to see that sort of reaction.

Why it  is so important to use professional cosmetics – “Non-Toxic” does not mean “safe for skin”. Acrylic paints (AKA craft paints or tempura paints) are not meant to be used on the skin – nor are watercolour markers or pencils. Many people are allergic to the non-FDA approved chemicals and colourants used in craft paints and will break out in a rash when these paints are used. Watercolour/washable markers do not easily wash off skin – the term “washable” refers to their ability to wash off fabric easily, not skin. Even paints labelled as face paints can be decieving.

Professional-grade cosmetic face paints have been thoroughly tested. They are designed to be easy to work with, long lasting, comfortable to wear, vibrant and most importantly, they are safe!

I use waterbased cosmetics with the more expensive brands that have been approved as FDA compliant.  My business cards have removal instructions on the back.  We suggest a little baby oil, or soap and water to remove these paints and recommend that it not be left overnight.  The typical “watermark” with some of the highly pigmented paints might stay on the skin a little longer if the child sleeps with the facepaint on, or has very translucent skin.

We generally recommend not putting facepaint on children under 3, as their skin is more sensitive, as well as generally being too impatient to sit long.  However, if the parent feels they can stand the test of time, a good alternative is the hand, arm or leg… The skin is a little tougher there and is usually easy to remove.

There are some airbrush paints that I use that are meant to last longer, as they are often worn for movies or long days under hot lights on a set.  These, as well as latex masks, put on with glue, will take a bit more effort to remove.

Hire only credible Face Painting companies that use well known brands of cosmetics and the results will normally be much better and safer.

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