What face paint is the best? Some info to help YOU decide!

So MANY FACE PAINTS!!! SO MANY CHOICES!!! Advice to those who haven’t tried it all.

angelo and his head

When popping around the internet reading forums or talking to painters on the phone, I hear so many different opinions about different brands of face paints.  Some love one brand and despise another, while others feel totally the opposite.  This is a rundown about the different styles of face paint that we sell at Jest Paint. It seems that they all have their pros and cons…and one person’s pro might be a different persons con so take it in with a fleck of glitter.  A lot of people keep different styles of paint to use in their kit for different reasons since some brands work best for bases, while others rock out in the line work department. Sometimes you may be dying for a color that is so amazing even though it might be a little more difficult to use.  Like they say, sometimes you can’t have beauty with out pain! With more brands and more competition the quality of face paint should keep improving over the years, so keep your eyes out for more amazing products to come!

(Side Note: Paints can vary by the batch, it is the nature of the colorful beast)

There are five types of face paint that we carry. Below are some bits of important info about each style, please leave comments with any of  your own input! 🙂

Glycerin Based Paints 

The brands: Mehron’s ParadiseKryolan’s AquacolorsFABSnazaroo

Water activated.

Glycerin based paints are generally softer in the cake.

They load more quickly and thickly on your sponge or brush.

They dry slower, and because of this they are ideal for dry blending and wet blending with the sponge or brush.

They can make small brush detail work more difficult since they usually load thickly, though most  FAB regular colors seems to work really well for details.

They may rub off easier than wax based paints if you touch them a lot.

You can set them with translucent powder to increase their durability, though you don’t have to.

They work as great bases for adding decorative powders on top, and for holding glitter.

Wax Based Paints 

The Brands: Diamond FXCameleonTAGWolfe FX

Water activated

Wax based paints are generally more firm in the cake. Though they vary by color from being like a soft clay to being dry and brittle.

They load quickly, but you get an opaque yet thinner load, more like using watercolors.

You can do fine brushwork details with them easily and also layer the colors with limited bleeding through.

They dry quickly, so you have to blend faster, or blend on your sponge or brush before applying to the face.

They are more durable on the face, though like all of the paints, they are water based and not sweat resistant.

They work great for split cakes.

Powder Based Paints

 The Brands : Ben Nye’s Magicakes (Wet) – Mehron’s Starblends (Wet or dry) – Jest Paint’s Vibrant Powders (Dry) – Kryolan’s Shades (Dry) –Kryolan Viva (Wet and Dry) – Mehron’s Precious Gem  Powders (Wet or Dry) –  Ben Nye Grande Lumiere Colours (Wet or Dry).

You can use them wet or dry depending on the brand.

If using  your paints dry, they show up the strongest when you apply a primer first. A primer can be anything that will make the skin a little bit tacky, from face paint to eye shadow primer to glycerin or oil or lotion. Just be sure to apply a super thin layer of primer (if it isn’t paint) so that your applicator doesn’t pick any of it up.

You can use mixing liquid, which will make the powders more durable against sweat and touching, and will make the colors more opaque.  Mixing liquid is best used with the Precious Gems loose powders or the Lumiere colors.

If you moisten a powder based cake, it will be hard to use it again dry since the liquid will compact the powder. Kryolan Viva claims that it is interchangeable.

Powders can be used as a base for eye masks or full face designs.

You can blend loose mica powders on top of your matte powder cakes to add more pigment and shine.

They blend smoothly and quickly.

They won’t melt in your containers on super hot days…and seem to hold up better to sweat that the other types of paints, but only if you do not touch them a lot.

They are more fragile, so you have to take special care when transporting them and when using them.

You will want to be prepared for fall out. Depending on how much you load your sponge and if you are using a primer, you may want to drape the kids to protect their clothing. You can limit fall out with practice.

They can look streaky on sweaty faces, or if a child has random sun tan lotion applied. The powders will look the darkest where the skin is moist or oily. Either have the child evenly wipe off their face, or apply a primer evenly first.

You can seal the powders with something like Ben Nye Final so that do not rub off.

Cream Based Paints

The brands: Mehron’s Fantasty FX (Many more that we do not currently carry)

No water needed.

Cream based paints take longer to dry.

Best for base work, not ideal for brush work since they are thick and creamy.

Can be set with a translucent powder for a more durable finish.

You can find them in tubes, pumps and cakes.

Good for use in hospitals since you can squeeze out individual palettes for each patient.

Grease Based Paints

The brands: Ben Nye Professional Clown Series (Many more that we do not currently carry)

Theater folk and professional clowns are more likely to use grease based paints. They are less common in the face painting industry because they require powdering and doing detailed work is very difficult.

No activation.

Do not dry, so you must set them with powder.

They are waterproof when set with powder.

Stand up well to sweat, but if you are hot and rub the paint it can smear.

Great for smooth blended bases.

Hard to use with brushes. Detailed line work is very difficult since it loads rather thickly on a brush and does not flow off of the bristles.

Are there any differences between each brands Metallic Style Paints?

TAG Pearls are soft and shimmery. They are great for sponging base work since they are lighter than many other shimmery paints. They are not all the best for linework since some colors do not apply very solidly when trying to do swirls or tear drops. TAG Pearl Green and Pearl Blue are sort of “boyish” and silvery.  They have many beautiful colors that you can’t find in any other line, like Pearl Wine and Pearl Apricot. One of my favorite blending combos is Pearl Purple and Pearl Teal…totally gorgeous.

Diamond FX Metallics have many similar shades to TAG and Wolfe, though I like their high pigmentation and opacity the most for doing brush work! They have a very bold and bright Pink, Purple, Blue and Green. You might want to tone them down with Metallic White for base work, and use them straight for detailed line work.

Kryolan Interferenz paints vary. Some have a really cool duo-chrome effect and are very shimmery, while others just have a light shimmer. Some are a bit transparent, and are best if applied on top of other colors, or mixed in to other colors. I have not tried all of the Interferenz colors, but my top faves are GB, BR and PV. PB is best for mixing with or applying on top of matte  colors…it is like the inside of an Abalone shell.  I would say that Interferenze colors, in general, are best for smooth bases, and not the greatest for brush work.

Kryolan Metallic colors are known as the best metallic out there for bases. They are rich and shiny and scream METAL!! They can clump a little on your sponge unless you load doing a lot of rubbing around to break up the metallic chunks of glory.

FAB’s Shimmers are similar to other brands of metallic and pearls, but as a bonus some have a really nice iridescent effect. The ones we carry are very shimmery. My top favorites are Ziva Blue Shimmer, Magenta Shimmer, Ocean Shimmer and London Sky Shimmer.

FAB Glitter Paints actually have a fine cosmetic glitter mixed into the shimmery paint for a magical effect! FAB’s shimmers and glitters are much better for base work than line work.

Paradise’s NEW Brilliant Colors are a step above their first line of Metallic colors. They have bright new colors and fantastically metallic Silver and Gold which are great for bases and brushwork.  The Fuchsia is a show stopper, and looks amazing blended in with the Blue Bebe.  The other shades in the line stand out for amazing bases, but they are not ideal for detailed line work.

Whew! I hope that wasn’t information overload!  In case it was, here is a simplified grid! Just click on it to see it all nice and big!

          Face paint comparison grid

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4 comments on “What face paint is the best? Some info to help YOU decide!

  1. You’re so right about having different brands for different applications – I met an artist who’s palette was mostly Starblends… of course I thought they’d be an asset in my palette… but they’re not – I’ve yet to master the application. Some painters claim they’re awesome for boys especially for full faces.. I don’t believe so because if they touch their face, it’s all over their hands and then where ever they put their hands!

    I recently bought 6 neon cakes of a new brand apparently only sold in Canada – Kryvaline. The pink, yellow & green are as neon as the Tag but not as opaque. The Orange is acceptable but Blue & Purple are definitely not neon. I really don’t care for this brand – it is way too transparent & it’s hard to blend the layers if you apply several. Customer service was cold & impersonal. I should have re-ordered TAG from you guys!! Live & learn, right?

  2. Definitely one of the best posts ever. Thank you so much for leaving it. (I kind of wish I’d seen it before I ordered all of my face paint, but it’s still helpful going ahead, and it will help me use the brands that I have already!) Thank you!!!!

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