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.

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 based makeup removers designed to remove oil based makeups.

Mehron and Ben Nye are two of the most popular manufacturers of this kind of paint, and although their popularity is in decline by face painters in favor of easier to work with products like their water activated counter parts, they are still high quality products with a niche market. 

Talc Based Face Paints

Talc based face paints are solid at room temperature and can have a clay like consistency or a pressed dried powder consistency depending on what other ingredients they are mixed in with. 

Talc is a mineral and as such it is considered vegan.

Talc Based face paints

The most common talc based face paints are dried pressed powders that are applied dry using a smoothie blender applicator. They can be applied directly on the skin or over a primer if you want a more opaque and vibrant look. If you set them with a sealer they are fairly sweat and water resistant. They can double as eye shadow and blush. Some talc based face paints are creamier than  others depending on how much glycerin is added to the formula.

How to Activate Powder Based Face Paints

 How to Activate Powder Based Face Paints

| "Use them with a primer and sealer for a water and sweat resistant result that will last all day!" |

One of the most popular brands of talc based face paints is StarBlend, but there are several others like Ben Nye Magic Cakes (that although a pressed powder they need to be activated with water), Lumiere Powders, Ben Nye Studio Color Rainbow Palette and Elisa Griffith palette.

Acrylates Based Face Paint

There are not that many brands that use this liquid polymer as a base. We know that VIBE from European Body Art and Global Body Art (for their liquid paints) use it as a base ingredient.

Liquid face paints with acrylates as a base are fairly sweat and water resistant, yet easier to remove than alcohol based face paints, so they are a great alternative to alcohol based face paints when painting young kids or over sensitive skin areas like the eyelids. 

Acrylates based face paint

| "Great alternative to alcohol based paints with similar long lasting and durable results" |

How to Activate Acrylates Based Face Paints

How to Activate Acrylates Based Face Paints

If you are looking for an alcohol free alternative to paint on events were some water and sweating might be involved, acrylates based face paints are a great solution, just as pressed powders with primer and sealer. If a child gets hot and sweaty the paint softens but it does not drip. They are easy to remove with soap and water. 

Cosmetic Grade Silicone Based Face Paints

Currently there is only one brand of face paints in the market that uses cosmetic grade silicone as a base: Body Color Cosmetics. The combination of this base with the isododecane and dimethicone on their activator creates a water proof and smudged proof formula. This kind of face paint has a clay like consistency when in the cake, and once it is activated it has a similar consistency to that of paraffin wax based face paints. It is good for line work and base work. Based on the manufacturers claims and a test video we watched, it takes about as long to dry once on the skin (or even a bit longer) as regular water activated face paint does, which is great for blending, unlike alcohol based face paints that have a shorter drying time which makes it a bit more challenging to blend colors on the skin with.

Also, because they do not contain alcohol, they are perfect for painting little kids as they will not get the usual sting that alcohol based face paints create when first applied.

We will provide a GIF and more information soon, once we get to personally test this brand!

Best Face Paint for Line Work, Base Work and Stenciling 

Rather than talking about brands, what matters the most in this case is the base ingredients. Based on what we covered above, each base ingredient is better for a specific face painting technique.

Best Line Work Face Paint

As we mentioned above, paraffin wax and acacia Senegal gum based face paints are best for line work. They give you sharp lines with clean edges and tend to flow better off your brush with a more ink like consistency than glycerin based face paints. There are some exemptions to every rule, and that is the case for Superstar, that although it is a glycerin based face paint, it works very well for line work as well, maybe not as good as the paraffin and acacia gum based paints, but almost as good.

Line Work with Wax Based Face Paints

Line Work with Wax Based Face Paints

Line Work with Glycerin Based Face Paints

Line Work with Glycerin Based Face Paints

Line Work with Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints

Line Work with Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints

Line Work with Powder Based Face Paints

Line Work with Powder Based Face Paints

Line Work with Alcohol Based Face Paints

Line Work with Alcohol Based Face Paints

Line Work with Acrylates Based Face Paints

Line Work with Acrylates Based Face Paints

Every paint, except for dry pressed powders and petroleum jelly based ones can be used for line work, and the more you practice the better results you will have. But, wax and acacia gum based face paints tend to be the best ones and the ones you will have an easier time with achieving great sharp looking line work.

Best Base Work Face Paint

Glycerin based face paints are the ideal kind of makeup for doing smooth bases and blending colors. Their elasticity and the fact that they take a bit longer to dry once applied make them the perfect option when painting the base of your design. You can achieve great results with other kinds of face paints, but the ideal product, because of its creamy properties, is one that uses glycerin as the main ingredient. Keep in mind that most face paints have some level of glycerin in them, which is why all can do a good job, but some are just better than others.

You can watch some quick demos below on blending using different kinds of face paint. 

Blending with Powder Based face paints

Blending face painting powders

 Blending with Acacia Senegal Gum Based face paints

Blending with Acacia Senegal Gum Based face paints 

 Blending with Wax Based face paints

Blending with Wax Based face paints

Blending with Glycerin Based face paints

blending with glycerin based face paints

Blending with Alcohol Based face paints

Blending with Alcohol Based face paints

Best Stenciling Face Paint

Working with stencils can be complicated sometimes and it requires some practice in order to master them. But, there is a trick that can make your job easier. Try using dry powders over regular water activated face paints for stenciling. The dry pressed powders won't bleed under your stencil which is one of the main issues that face painters deal with when using stencils. Just keep in mind that you have to apply a thin layer otherwise the powder will cake up and create fallout when you remove the stencil. 

Don't forget to check our "Face Painting with Stencils - Instructions and Best Stencils Guide" blog post for an in depth review of how to work with stencils. 

The second best option for stenciling is a glycerin based face paint since you can get a thick creamy load that isn't too wet or inky. You want to make sure that your sponge is dry and the paint is hardly wet at all. Test it on the back of your hand to make sure that it won't drip under you stencil before stenciling on your design.

Stenciling with Powder Based face paints

stenciling with face painting powders

Stenciling with Water Activated face paints

stenciling with water activated face paints

Most Durable Face Paint

The durability of face paint depends on several factors including the raw ingredients, the weather conditions, the person wearing it and if any sealers or primers were used.

The most durable kind of face paint is the alcohol and castor oil based ones as well as the newly developed silicone based ones. These kinds of face paint don't need a primer or sealer to be able to resist water and sweat. Another great option is pressed powders when used with a primer as a base and a sealer on top. This makes the powders almost as good as alcohol based face paints.

Test: how do different kinds of face paints react to water?

face paints resistance to water test

A third option, as mentioned before are acrylates based face paints. These provide good resistance to water, sweat and friction without the downsides of alcohol based paints. Keep in mind though that the most durable option is still the alcohol based kind.

Test: how do different kinds of face paints react to water and rubbing?

resistance of face paint to rubbing and water

Regular water activated face paints are fairly resistant to rubbing if the individual is not sweaty, but they are not resistant to water. On super humid and hot days water activated face paints can start running down the face as the person sweats so you might want to first set the face with powder or switch to using pressed powders for bases since those are more sweat resistant, even if not applied with a primer and sealer.

Test: how do different kinds of face paints react to friction?

Test: how do different kinds of face paints react to friction?

Face Paint Brands Comparison Chart

At Jest Paint we have tried almost every brand of face paint that exists, and we have done hundreds of hours of research on what users think of different face painting brands to create the most comprehensive face paint brand comparison chart in existence!

This chart will be updated regularly as we try new products and as new products are introduced to the market. Please keep in mind that parts of the chart are based on our own personal opinion and experience and each painter might have a different opinion. 

Click on the image below to open the full face paint comparison chart and download a copy for yourself if you wish. Keep in mind that all of the information is copyrighted by Jest Paint LLC so the chart can only be downloaded for personal used and can not be published elsewhere without our permission, or otherwise modified, edited, etc.

Face Paint Comparison Chart

Final Notes

You might still be wondering what is the best white face paint, or the best black, or you might want to learn more about vegan face paints or water proof face paints so we would like to share some links with you (more links will be added as we write new blog posts):

Best White Face Paint

Best Black Face Paint

Vegan Face Paints

Water Proof Face Paints

White Face Paint Tips

 

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Comments

Anne Berit Røbech Heggem - June 25, 2019

Thank you so much for this extremely informative article 😍 and I L O V E the chart 👍🏼
Keep up the great work💪🏼

Love from ab.ansiktsmaling – Anne Berit

Judi Walker - June 25, 2019

Awesome article. Thanks for all that amazing information.

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