How to Face Paint - White Face Paint Tips

All of the information posted below is based on our own research. We have talked to manufacturers, brand owners, and chemists, as well as looked into ingredients lists, MSDS's, lab tests results, etc. But, since we are not scientists ourselves or manufacturers of face paints ourselves, everything below must be taken as our opinion in the matter and by no means can be taken as legal, medical, scientific or professional advice.

How is White Face Paint Made?

White face paint is made from the combination of several binders (paraffin wax, acacia Senegal gum, calcium carbonate) and one pigment: Titanium Dioxide. Titanium Dioxide is a naturally occurring mineral that looks just like a fine white powder.

Why Does White Face Paint Get so Soft?

White face paint tends to have a high content of Titanium Dioxide. According to one of the MSDS's we have, pigment can represent up to 7% of the product. Titanium Dioxide has the capacity of holding on to a lot of humidity, the more pigment, the more water it holds. Hence, if you are located in areas with hot humid weather, or you use your white face paint often (without allowing it to properly dry in between gigs), it is likely that at some point your paint will get soft.

What can I do to Avoid Getting Soft White Face Paint?

The most important thing you can do is to never apply water directly to your face paints. Always dip your brush or sponge into the water and then activate the paint. By directly spraying on your face painting cakes, you are adding much more water than what is needed, hence overwhelming the formula and causing it to absorb all of the extra water and get soft.

Also, it is best to work with smaller containers of face paint. The large containers that can hold up to 100gr of face paint will also hold on to a lot more humidity and have a harder time drying since they are so deep. Working with the average 32gr container is always best if humidity is an issue in your area or if you will be working long hours with the same container of face paint.

Always make sure to let your face paints air dry before putting the lid back on. If you live in an area with high humidity levels it might be helpful to use a food dehydrator, or set your container near a low heat source (like a heater). We do not recommend putting your face paints inside the microwave or the refrigerator. The microwave can actually burn the wax in your paints and ruin the formula. The refrigerator is filled with potential allergens (milk, peanuts, gluten, etc) that could contaminate your paint.

Many painters use the "well" technique. Meaning, they use only the center of their cake, and as it gets used up a small well starts to build. Your excess water will flow towards that well and prevent it from getting all over your cake. This technique works very well with shallow 32gr containers.

Last but not least, always keep your paints away from direct heat sources like the sun. Heat will make the wax in your face paint soft, so it is always best to keep your paints in dry well ventilated cool areas. We understand that while working outdoors in the summer this might be hard, in which case we suggest taking some ice packs with you to put under your face paint. You should still be under shade, not only to keep your face paints from melting but also to protect you and your customers from the sun.

What Brand of Face Paint is Best for Line Work?

Choosing the perfect brand of face paint is a very personal thing. What works for some might not work for others. We can give you some tips based on our experience and research. Wax based or Acacia Senegal Gum based face paints tend to be better for line work. This includes brands like: Fusion Body ArtGlobal Body ArtDiamond FXCameleonKryvalineTAG and Wolfe FX. Superstar Line White is also a great white to work with. Across the industry there seems to be some belief that Wolfe FX is the best. Part of that comes from the fact that Wolfe FX was the first brand to offer wax based face paints, which when compared to the glycerin type face paints available at the time, performed much better when doing line work. Nowadays we have several brands of face paints that are manufactured by the same manufacturer out of its factories in China, Taiwan and Vietnam. According to sources close to the owner of the factory, the factory produces only one kind of white face paint for all of the brands they produce: Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Kryvaline (regular line), Cameleon, TAG. This is usually the case for private label manufacturers as it allows them to produce more product faster without having to empty out machines and re program them every time they switch brands. If you take the time to compare labels you will notice that most indeed have the exact same ingredients in the same order, which should indicate the amount used of each ingredient in proportion to the total. Now, companies not always follow the rule of listing ingredients in order, so sometimes the ingredients might be listed in different order from one label to another. When comparing the MSDS's of Diamond FX and Wolfe FX as we have, you can see that both MSDS are exactly the same, only the brand name changes. We have contacted a few of the brand owners and they have confirmed that their formula is indeed the same. Now, because we are not the owners or manufactures of neither of these brands, we can't tell you with a 100% certainty that this is the case; but, in our opinion, and based on the information we have, we believe the product is indeed the same, just bearing a different label. Keep in mind that some brand owners might not want to recognize that to the general public, as they would like you to see their product as unique, and so they will claim that their product has a specific formula. This might be true, although unlikely when products are being private labeled by the same manufacturer. It is then up to the end user to do its own research and decide. Since we are not the owners of neither of these brands or factories, we can't claim 100% certainty and this is just an opinion.

Now, this does not mean that you can grab a container of one brand and one of another one and that they will behave exactly the same, because even within one brand the consistency of the product changes slightly based on batches.

Since we are dealing with natural ingredients, it is not uncommon that small changes in them can affect the performance of a certain batch from a certain batch. The only things that can make white face paint be more or less vibrant or opaque are the size of the particles of the pigment used and the quantity of the pigment used. Quantity should remain the same in between batches, but the size of the pigment might vary slightly between batches making some more opaque than others.

So, in our opinion and based on our experience using all of these brands while face painting at gigs for the last 20 years, either wax based brand of face paint is equally good: Diamond FX, Cameleon, TAG, Kryvaline and Wolfe FX. Global has a slightly different formula that appears to have less issues with softness to some painters, but it is not as opaque sometimes as the wax brands can be. Global's base is not parafin wax, but Acacia Senegal Gum. A new brand has recently launched called Fusion Body Art and their Paraffin White is superb! We helped them developed the bets possible white and they really did a good job. They sourced a really high quality and fine Titanium Dioxide pigment and mixed it with the finest cosmetic grade wax from Japan to create an incredible bold and bright white. You can read more about this brand and how it compares to other white face paints in our Best White Face Paint blog post.

What Brand of Face Paint is Best for Base Coats?

Based on how they can be spread over the skin, glycerin based face paints perform better when attempting to create a smooth coat of white face paint. Brands like Paradise, GraftobianKryolanRuby Red, SuperstarMikim FX and FAB are glycerin based. Superstar Line White feels like the most pigmented one from all the glycerin based face paints. All of the brands name above, except for FAB and Superstar, come from different factories, so the paints feels and acts very differently. Ruby Red and Kryolan tend to be slightly greasier, Graftobian is super smooth and soft as well as Mikim FX. Paradise is nice and soft but its white is not as bright.

What Brand of Face Paint is Best for Super Hot and Humid Days?

If you are looking for a brand of face paint that can stand humidity, sweating and rubbing, you will have to look into brands like VIBE, Endura and ProAiirVibe is a water resistant liquid face paint that is not alcohol based. ProAiir and Endura are both alcohol and castor oil based. All of them are great, and ProAiir now has a Solid Version that can be activated using a special liquid activator. All of these brands will give you a longer lasting finished design, but the liquid ones are not particularly great for line work when using white. If you are looking for a cake style white for hot weather, Ben Nye Magicake White an Starblend White are good choices because they have a lot of Talc in them, which gives them more powdery matte finish that helps with sweaty faces and the whites don't get sticky because they are not wax or gum based.

Let's See Some Swatches

The creation of reliable swatches is not easy, as it requires for you to use the same amount of water and swipes, as well as loading pressure in order to be able to truly compare brands. Also, pictures must be taken all under the same lighting and camera settings. We have some swatches that can be used as a reference, but keep in mind that as batches change, what was true for this particular set of swatches might not be true again if we use a different batch of paint for each brand:

https://www.facebook.com/JestPaintcom/photos/a.177...
https://www.facebook.com/JestPaintcom/photos/a.177...

Resources

  1. FDA Regulations on Titanium Dioxide:
    https://www.ecfr.gov/cgi-bin/retrieveECFR?gp=&SID=...
  2. Diamond FX MSDS:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/fj0org28r6vigb6/Diamond%...
  3. Wolfe FX MSDS:
    https://www.dropbox.com/s/asx01dqx4rlv76d/Wolfe%20...
  4. Ingredients Lists: go to www.JestPaint.com and search for the product you are interested in. 
  5. Other tests results, MSDS, ingredients lists and more:
    https://www.dropbox.com/home/MSDS%20For%20products...

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