The Ultimate Face Paint Guide - Brands Comparison

After 10 years of selling the best face paint brands on the market and testing literally almost every face paint brand out there we decided it was time to create the ultimate face paint brand comparison guide for all of our customers and every one that face paints and wants to understand the differences between face paint brands and what each is best for. 

face paints by brand

This post will likely evolve over time as new products and brands hit the market, so make sure to visit it often to see the new additions!

| "Comparing over 30 brands of face paint is no easy work as each painter has a different opinion, but we will try our best at giving you and in depth review" |

We will start by breaking down the basic difference between most brands, including the base ingredients, and we will then talk about what you should look for if you are trying to do line work versus base work, or stenciling. Last, we will provide you with a full chart comparing each face paint brand that we know of.

Fundamental Basic Face Painting Kit

As we get to try new products and test them, we will add swatches, gifs, videos and more, and we will provide you with links to more in depth information about each brand so that you can read all about them.

Face Paint's Base Ingredients - The BIG Difference

Although there are several base ingredients used in face paints, a few make the biggest difference in the performance of your paints, so we will cover those that matter the most when comparing different face paint brands. When we talk about base ingredients we are referring to the ingredients that give the paint its consistency and act as a medium for the pigment. We have ingredients that work as the main element, and others that are there as preservatives, perfumes, etc. We will cover the main ingredients within this section.

Paraffin Wax Based Face Paints

Paraffin Wax is a petroleum based wax that is solid at room temperature but it starts to melt once temperatures go above 37 degrees Celsius. A lot of the most popular face paint brands out there are made with paraffin wax including brands like Diamond FX, TAG Body Art, Kryvaline regular line and Wolfe FX face paints. Paraffin Wax face paints usually have a clay like consistency and can be activated using water.

How to Activate Paraffin Wax Based Face Paints

how to activate paraffin wax based face paints

Many professional face painters like to work with paraffin wax based face paints because they dry quickly, provide very good coverage and allow painters to create very intricate details. Paraffin based face paints don't bleed, so you can create sharp lines with sharp edges, unlike some glycerin based face paints that tend to bleed a little creating a more fuzzy looking edge. 

| "Professional face painters love Paraffin Wax based face paints when it comes to creating intricate line work" |

Since the paraffin comes from petroleum, the ingredient itself is vegan and no animals are hurt to create it, unlike with beeswax based products that can not be considered vegan. Keep in mind that we don't know of any professional face paint brand using beeswax as an ingredient, but some face painting crayons and glitter pastes out there do use it as a replacement for paraffin wax.

Paraffin Wax based face paints

Paraffin wax face paints tend to be harder to smudge and have a more glossy like finish compared to glycerin based face paints.

Glycerin Based Face Paints

Glycerin is a viscous liquid that can come from animal or plant sources. The one used for face paints comes from plants, so it is also vegan. The biggest difference with paraffin wax is that glycerin is softer, yet its consistency doesn't change much when exposed to higher temperatures, so it is a bit more stable in the heat than paraffin. Extremely hot temperatures will make it turn into a cream, while paraffin turns more into a sticky marshmallow like consistency if over heated.

Glycerin based face paints

Glycerin based face paints are specially good for creating soft smooth looking bases since it is very flexible and blendable, unlike the paraffin wax that can feel a bit tighter on the skin since it is a bit thicker.

Professional face painters love to use glycerin based face paints to create beautiful backgrounds that will not crack or flake off with movement. 

How to Activate Glycerin Based Face Paints

How to Activate Glycerin Based Face Paints

| "There is nothing smoother than glycerin base face paints. They are ideal to use as a base and perfect for blending colors smoothly" |

Brands like Superstar, Paradise from Mehron, Graftobian and FAB, are all glycerin based face paint brands. Glycerin based face paints tend to be a bit easier to smudge than wax based face paints and provide a more matte look than paraffin wax based paints. Still, they come in beautiful bold colors and can withstand normal wearing conditions and look beautiful all day long if not rubbed or exposed to sweat and or water.

Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints

Acacia Senegal Gum is a naturally occurring gum that consists of the hardened sap of various species of different trees, because it comes from plants it can be labeled as vegan as well.

Acacia Senegal Gum based face paints have a consistency and behavior somewhere in between wax based and glycerin based face paints. They are thinner than paraffin based paints but not as creamy and soft as glycerin based paints. They can be used for line work with a similar result as paraffin wax paints, and have a similar glossy finish to them. They are equally resistant to rubbing as wax based paints but not as resistant to heat.

Acacia Senegal Gum

Because they are made with a plant base ingredient, just like glycerin based paints, they can be considered somehow more natural than paraffin wax based options.

How to Activate Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints

How to Activate Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints

| "Acacia Senegal gum based face paints are somehow of a hybrid between paraffin wax based and glycerin based paints" |

Brands like Fusion Body Art (except for some colors), Cameleon (except for some colors), Kryvaline Creamy Line and Global Body Art fall into this category of face paints. So far, we don't know of any other brand that uses Acacia Senegal gum as their main ingredient.

Alcohol and Castor Oil Based Face Paints

These two ingredients are mostly found in water and sweat resistant face paint brands. Their combination allows for an opaque and smooth finish with a matte look that can resist water, sweat and friction for extended periods of time. Both ingredients are plant based making them another great vegan option. Keep in mind that although those ingredients are vegan, some brands like Endura and ProAiir Ink are not vegan because they also use shellac. But products like ProAiir Hybrids and DIPS are alcohol based and Vegan.

The two most popular brands in the market using these ingredients are ProAiir by ShowOffs and Endura by European Body Art. 

| "Alcohol based face paints are a great option for events that involve water and for situations in which you need the paint to last longer than a day" |

You can find these paints in a solid version that uses an activator that has alcohol and castor oil in it, or in liquid form ready to be used. Either way, they can be used for line work and base work but they are not as easy to blend together using a sponge or brush because of how fast they dry on the skin. To blend colors it is best to use an airbrush or blend them while wet on your brush or sponge.

Alcohol based face paints

Because the alcohol tends to create a short stinging/hot sensation if applied near the eyes as they dry, we always recommend to keep these paints away from the eyes, mostly if dealing with small children. Also, they are harder to remove since they are designed to withstand friction, sweat and water, so it is best to keep them away from sensitive skin areas as removal will require some friction, soap and water.

How to Activate Alcohol Based (Solid) Face Paints

How to Activate Alcohol Based (Solid) Face Paints 

Some alcohol based face paints are called hybrid, these ones are better to be used on the face since they are easier to remove compared to non hybrid brands.

Keep in mind that when we talk about alcohol based paints we are referring to cosmetic grade alcohol (SDA 40-b) bot rubbing alcohol.

You can read more about water resistant face paints on our Water Proof Face Paint blog post.

Petrolatum Based Face Paints

Petrolatum based paints are usually the ones designed for clown and theater makeup, commonly referred as grease paint. These paints are very thick and can be applied with a makeup sponge. They do not need water to be activated since they are used directly out of the container and sponged onto the skin. 

| "These are mostly used by clowns and theater performers" |

Petrolatum or petroleum jelly is a petroleum based product, and as such it can be considered vegan. It has a very thick almost solid cream like consistency under room temperature and it is almost not affected by heat.

Petrolatum based face paints

Because they are very oily they need to be set with a setting powder so they do not transfer when exposed to friction or rubbing, but once set they are very sweat and water resistant. Most theater performers and active clowns prefer this kind of makeup over the water activated kind because of its resistance to sweat, but your ability to do detail work is very limited, usually requiring you to work with grease pencils or crayons, or using powder based paints over the grease makeup since detail brushes will not work well with this kind of paint.

Removing grease paint is not super easy and it usually requires the use cold cream, soap and water, or other oil