Best Tips for Face Painting

Practical Tips to Make Face Painting Easier

Face painting
Photo © Scott Gries/Getty Images

Butterflies, cats, dogs, fairies, ghosts, witches, wizards ... kids of all ages love having their faces painted. Here are a few tips to help.

Tip 1: Value Your Paints
Professional face paint and stage makeup can be expensive, particularly if you're painting a whole kids party's worth of faces. Don't leave them around where people can get hold of them and try them out for themselves. Try out different types of paint to see which you find the best for working with, such as paint in tubes or paint in stick form. Make sure you're following the safety tips for face painting.

Tip 2: Sponge, Don't Brush
If you're wanting to cover a large area or put on a base color, use a sponge to apply the paint rather than a brush, it'll be quicker. Having a different sponge for different colors eliminates the necessity of washing out the sponge during a painting session (the same applies to brushes).

Tip 3: Be Patient and Think Thin
Let the first color dry before applying a second. If you don't, they'll mix and you'll probably have to wipe it off and start again. Also, rather than applying one thick layer of paint, which may crack, apply a thin layer, let it dry, then apply another.

Tip 4: Visualize the Finished Face
Know what you're going to paint before you start, don't make it up as you go along. Kids aren't known for their patience and won't be able to sit still why you ponder what to do next. Have a basic face design fixed in your mind; you can always add special touches to this once you're finished.

Tip 5: Special Effects
The paint you're using will work as a basic glue. To create bumpy noses or big eyebrows, soak a bit of cotton wool in the paint, place on face, cover with a piece of tissue and paint. Puffed rice or wheat make ideal warts; simply cover with a bit of tissue and paint. For an extra-ghostly effect, apply a light dusting of flour once you've finished painting the face (be sure to get your subject to close their eyes tightly).

Tip 6: Use Stencils
If you're not confident painting freehand or are short on time, why not use a face painting stencil? Stars, hearts, flowers will all stencil onto a cheek. Have stencils in a few sizes to hand, to allow for small and larger faces.

Tip 7: Temporary Tattoos
Even faster than stencils are temporary tattoos. But some people's skin reacts badly to them and they take longer to remove. Glitter is also great for a quick, dramatic effect, but it gets everywhere and is very hard to get rid of!

Tip 8: Getting a Decision
If you've got a row of kids lined up to have their faces painted, ask the next kid in line what they'd like a few minutes before you've finished the face you're currently painting. This way they have a little time to try to decide and you don't lose painting time. You may suggest a few faces, to try to limit the choice to ones you're confident painting. Consider creating a chart of designs for kids to choose from; it makes it much easier for the kids to make up their minds. Include simple things such as hearts or balloons, as many kids love these.

Tip 9: Mirror, Mirror on the Wall, Who's the Most Beautiful of All?
Remember to take a mirror so the person whose face you've just painted can see the result. Also, bring a high stool for kids to sit on; not having to bend over for so long will save you from a backache.

Tip 10: Stock Up on Tissues
You'll probably use more tissues or wipes than you think for wiping your hands, brushes, etc. Face painting can be messy, but it's fun! Baby wipes work fast and easy for 'mistakes'; you can also be assured they are safe to use on faces.