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How to face paint

Filed Under: kids, seasonal, art, entertaining

unicorn face paintAlong with Spring comes the flurry of kids' birthday parties, concerts in the park, and festivals of every sort. Face painting is part of so many of these festivities. If you think you might get dragged into face painting this spring or summer, you'd better get prepared. Knowing what you're doing will make the difference between a kid who runs to the bathroom in embarrassment, scrubbing his poorly-painted face, and one who doesn't wash their face for a week.

The two most important elements (along with a steady hand and a comfy seat) are the paints and the designs. After the break, I'll tell you what you need to know about each.

Face paint inspiration(click thumbnails to view gallery)


The paint
You can buy crayon-style paints from any craft store. They don't let you do designs that are as delicate, but they are easy to manage; if you're keeping things simple, they might be your best bet. If you want more detail, choose face paint with brushes. You'll also find these at the craft store. Whichever you choose, make sure they are labeled specifically as face paint.

The dollar store also carries face paint: cheaper ones are more likely to irritate the skin, so test them out before painting little faces. Low-quality paints will also crack more easily.

If you want to ensure that the paints are hypoallergenic, and give yourself the most creative variety with color, you can make your own. This homemade face paint recipe is a simple combination of cornstarch, cold cream, food-coloring and water.

The Face Painting Designs page from the UK is a great resource, explaining how to work with each kind of face paint.

The design

Save yourself from that terrifying moment when a child asks you to paint an Optimus Prime Transformer. Instead, have a book of designs for them to choose from. Sure, you can take requests for the color and number on the race car, but you aren't going to start painting a variety of models from Formula 1.

Having designs ready for some popular characters, like this Spiderman, this pirate, or these popular princess accessories, will be a sure hit. Check out these face painting tutorials, where you'll learn to perfect the flower face and doll face, along with a robot and a scary skeleton.

One last thing: practice your designs on real people. Remember that it is better to do a simple design well than to try something complicated and botch it completely.


  • Philadelphia from

    Hi Francesca,

    Nice post, I especially liked your last tip about keeping it simple when it comes to painting designs for the first time! As for face paints, cheap face paints and home made don't compare to pro face paints one bit, especially for beginners because pro face paints make it so much easier to handle. And when it comes to brushes I like using synthetic bristles, they're soft and smooth on the skin and easy to use.

    Keep up the good work :-)

    Philadelphia Tivoli

    P.S For simple face painting designs/cheek art check out these step-by-step video tutorials:

  • 1 Comments / 1 Pages

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