I decided to share all of my favorite products, brands, and websites, as well as the research that went into finding them. Hopefully this is helpful for other face and body artists!
All of the products I use are non-toxic, cosmetic grade paints that are designed for use on skin. Never use sharpies or acrylic paint! In addition, all of my paints are vegan and cruelty free. There is a super great selection of vegan/cruelty free paint, so even if this is not a priority for you, most of the best paints out there are made without harming anyone anyway so you might as well use them!
Vegan/Cruelty Free Brands include Diamond FX, Tag, Wolfe, Cameleon, Mehron Paradise, and Ruby Red. There are different ingredients these paints are made of that will change the quality of the paint. The two most common types of face paint are wax based paints and glycerin based paints. Wax paints dry quickly, layer easily, and have very crisp edges. Glycerin paints are creamier and take longer to dry, so if you do a lot of blending they come in handy. In a way, they can be compared to acrylic vs oil paints, though that’s a pretty extreme comparison – mostly they can be used pretty interchangeably, and you can layer them together. I personally prefer wax-based paint but it’s definitely a matter of preference.
All of this info is current as of late 2019, things may change! I buy all of my paints on FacePaint.com, which has a huge selection and good prices. Other popular sites are SillyFarm.com and JestPaint.com.
Diamond FX – Wax based. This is my go-to brand!hey have a super useful variety of colors, bright neons, and the widest range of metallics. It is one of the least expensive brands as well! Mostly non-staining, except for the Sea Green – avoid this color! I like to substitute Tag Brand Teal, though Wolfe has a Sea Green as well.
Tag – Wax Based. These are very inexpensive! Overall they work pretty well but I prefer the Diamond FX because the Tag paints are very soft – they tend to get a little sticky and disappear from your palette very quickly. Also they tend to stain.
Wolfe – Wax Based. I’m new to Wolfe but they seem very similar to Diamond FX, but with a bunch of extra colors like skin tones and very dark colors! I’m definitely going to use them as supplemental colors for my Diamond FX palettes. They are a little more expensive but very comparable.
Cameleon – This is a hybrid paint and has both wax and glycerin! I’m new to playing with Cameleon but they seem to have all of the qualities I like about Wax based paint, and they have some lovely colors so I think this will supplement my wax paints as well.
Paradise by Mehron – Glycerin Based. This is my favorite glycerin based paint because it has all kinds of extra oils and scents. It is extremely popular, and the brand has a strong community with all kinds of fun competitions and activities.
Ruby Red – Glycerin Based. This is one of the most expensive brands of face paint, but what’s really cool is they have the absolute widest range of colors, including all of the tints and shades! If you prefer glycerin-based paints and you can’t find a certain color, Ruby Red will have it! They also make another popular brand called Snazaroo which is widely available in stores like Michaels, but I wouldn’t use Snazaroo unless its an emergency and I need paint super last minute because they are NOT vegan.
One-strokes, also known as Split Cakes or Rainbow Cakes, are little containers filled with stripes of paint. With a large flat brush, you can pick up all the colors at once and make beautiful, easy gradients and rainbows. They are super popular and fun and come in a range of brands such as Tag and Diamond FX. It’s easiest to buy pre-made ones, but personally I make all of my one-strokes myself. They sell empty containers and you can build custom ones which is MUCH cheaper. First I design the colors I want in my one stroke – often I line them up in a row to visualize them, and then use a small brush to imitate what the one-stroke will look like and how the colors will blend. Once I’m set on my colors I look at the size of the container, and estimate how wide each stroke will be, then cut slices of paint with a knife. It’s very much like clay and you can easily squish them into your container. If the paints are crumbly you can sprinkle a little water on them. The last step is to take a paper towel and lay it on top, pressing firmly to flatten your one-stroke and then it is ready to go!
Only use cosmetic grade glitter on someone’s body! Never use craft glitter – it can damage their eyes! Also PLEASE use biodegradable glitter. It’s expensive but so is regular glitter, and it doesn’t harm ocean-life.
Mica Powders – mica powder is naturally eco-friendly and is basically a mineral based shimmer powder. It’s mostly powdery but can also be flaky like glitter. This is the absolute cheapest option of eco-friendly glitter and great for dusting over paint, mixing into paint, or other uses like making soap. Warning: because the particles are so light, they are not very affected by gravity and will evenly coat all surfaces that are nearby. I would definitely use them outside! My favorite selection is on NurtureSoap.com. They also have a couple biodegradable holographic glitters at a good price.
Biodegradable Glitter – Most biodegradable glitter is eucalyptus based. My favorite selection is currently over at Amerikan Body Art. I have been buying glitter from them for years and years and I love all of their containers and poof bottles.
Compostable Glitter – I only just learned about compostable glitter! Apparently they are not as eco-friendly as biodegradable glitter since they are not marine safe, but they are still better than regular glitter. I would use sparingly if needed. Amerikan Body Art has a great article here.
Glitter Gels – A popular way to use glitter is mixed into a gel, so that it doesn’t fly around and you can quickly smear it on. This is great when you are using JUST glitter. If you try to use it over face paint it will smear the paint, but sometimes you can add glitter gel to the cheeks if you only paint the forehead. You can buy glitter gels pre-made, but most glitter gel base is primarily aloe vera, so I like to buy clear aloe vera and mix my own gels (you can experiment with how dense you want the glitter to be). One thing that needs to be mentioned that if you add COLORED biodegradable glitter to aloe vera, after about 24 hours the color will start to dissolve into the gel and it looks strange. I mix gold/silver into aloe vera and it seems to last a very long time – I assume eventually it will dissolve but I’ve had some that are about 6 months old that are still fine. You can add aloe vera based glitter gels over waterproof paint like alcohol/hybrid airbrush paints with no issues, though the paint may not last as long (which is nice sometimes).
Glitter Primer – The easiest way to add glitter to your body art is to use the paint itself. If the paint is still wet, glitter will stick. You can either use glitter as you paint or you can make your paint slightly damp by misting it with a spray bottle, then add the glitter. Alternatively you can use a glitter primer or other clear waxy primer over paint and then pat the glitter on.
My Color Comparisons by Brand
I made this to compare colors, lining up colors that are visually similar!
|90,45,30gm||90, 45, 30||45,32 gm||40|
|Gray||Gray||Fifty Gray||Storm Cloud Gray|
|Charcoal||Black Velvet- Black?|
|Blithe – Light Gray|
|Darkness – Black/Brown|
|Dark Brown||Coffee Brown||Dark Brown|
|Light Brown||Macchiato||Light Brown|
|Bone – Off White||Skull – White?||Nuance Felow/Tan|
|Skinz Honey Beige||Almond|
|Skins Golden Bronze|
|Blood Red||Blood Red||Red- Dark Red|
|Red||Fire Red||Beach Berry Red – Bright Red|
|Coral – Very Orange||Nuance Foxy/Orange|
|Golden Yellow||Banana Yellow||Mango|
|Mint Green||Mint Green||Wicked Green|
|Light Green||Light Green||Mimi||Lime Green|
|Absinthe – Dark Lime Green|
|Green||Dark Green||Frog Green||Amazon Green|
|Dark Green||Dark(er) Green?||Camouflage||Dark Green|
|Clover Green||Nuance Olive Green|
|Sea Green||Sea Green||Teal|
|Teal – Dark||Nuance Deep Sea|
|Light Blue||Robins Egg||Light Blue|
|Blue (Darkish)||Celadon Blue – Teal?||Lagoon Blue – Overly Bright|
|Dark Blue||Dark Blue||Blue||Dark Blue – Bright|
|Inkheart – Dark Blue|
|Paynes Gray – Blue/Gray|
|Pastel Blue||Nuance Sky Blue – Pastel|
|Plum – Deep Purple||Violet|
|Lavendar – Gray||Purple – Colder Purple|
|Purple||Lilac||Purple Poison||Wild Orchid – Dark Warm Purple|
|Leeloo||Nouance Mauve – Lighter Warm|
|Bordeaux||Bruise?||Nuance Porto – Red/Pink|
|Bollywood Pink||Dark Pink|
|Fushia Pink||Cotton Candy||Coral – Orange Pink|
|Marshmellow – Dark Coral|
|Metallic White||Metallic White||M. Crystal White|
|Metallic Black||M.Gothic Black|
|Metallic Silver||Metallic Silver||M. Sterling||Brilliant Silver|
|Metallic Gold||Metallic Gold||M. Oscar||Brilliant Gold|
|Metallic Old Gold||Metallic Aztec Gold|
|Metallic Copper||M. Steampunk|
|Metallic Red||M. Shocking Pink|
|Metallic Orange||Brilliant Orange|
|Metallic Yellow||M Colored Life – Tan|
|Metallic Green||M. Fleur de Lise||Brilliant Bottle Green|
|Metallic Forest Green – Teal?|
|Metallic Baby Blue||M. Shimmer Magic Star||Brilliant Light Blue|
|Metallic Blue||M. Victoriouse||Brilliant Dark Blue|
|Metallic Violet Purple||Metallic Fushia||M. Purple Heart||Briliant Fuschia|
|Metallic Pink||Metallic Rose||M. Shimmer Capulate|
|Metallic Rosewood||M. Rose Metal|
|M. Pum Fairy – Dark Pink|
|Neon Magenta||In love Red?|
|Neon Violette||Electric Purple|