The ULTIMATE Face Painting Brush GUIDE

Welcome to the Ultimate Face Painting Brush Guide! 

If you are looking for tips on what face painting brushes to buy, how to use them, and how to take care of them, than this blog post is for you!

This post is great for beginner artists looking for the basic brushes that they need to get started, and for professionals who want to learn more about new brushes to add to their face painting arsenal. You will also learn about all of the signature lines of paint brushes that Jest Paint carries from different face painting and makeup artists!

First take a look at the brush anatomy...and then scroll on down for all of the fun!

face paint brush anatomy

ALL OF THE KINDS OF FACE PAINTING BRUSHES 

Below are two charts showing many of they types of brushes face painters use to paint designs. Each brush makes it's own unique strokes and can be used for different effects!

These brushes are not as common in face painting kits, but they open the door to cool tricks, strokes and sometimes faster face painting!

CHOOSING THE RIGHT PAINT BRUSHES

Should I use Natural or Synthetic Brushes for Face Painting?

natural versus synthetic

If you are new to face painting and have gone to some craft stores you might be debating between natural versus synthetic brushes. In general, natural haired brushes are best for oil or watercolor artists, not for face painters.

If you are using water activated face paints, then you should be purchasing synthetic brushes designed for acrylic artists or designed specifically for face painting. These brushes come in white, golden, brown and black bristles and are made of taklon or a synthetic blend of different width bristles to be slightly softer. Synthetic hairs hold their shape and give you the bounce that you need to control your strokes and paint quickly and accurately. Another great thing about synthetic brushes is that they are cruelty free.


Most natural haired brushes are either very very stiff, or become very soft and hard to control…they are kind of like using a wet mop. One exception is using natural haired blender brushes. You can load a dry brush into wet paint and do dry brush blending to give a soft airbrushed look.  


What are the Basic Face Painting Brushes I Should Have in My Kit?

Below is a list of the most used face painting brushes and how most face painters put them to work to create full face and cheek art designs.

For starters, you will want to have these 4 brushes in your kit.

Two round brushes between sizes 1 and 4
Two flat or angle brushes between sizes ½” to ¾”.

With these styles of brushes you can do fine to thick line work, teardrops, small flower petals, tiger stripes, 1 stroke face painting with rainbow cakes, and you can fill in small to larger areas with face paint.

What are Your Must Have Face Painting Brushes?

The brushes that I use the absolute most are the Bolt Thin Round #1, Bolt Firm Round Liner #2, Bolt ¾” Flat Brush and Bolt Small Angle Brush. I could paint all day with these 4 brushes! Bolt brushes have regular and firm styles of bristles. I also love the Prima Barton Round #3, the Bolt Firm Blooming Brush, the Art Factory Flora and the Blazin Brush Script Liner.

my must have face painting brushes

Just remember that every artist paints differently and some are more heavy or light handed than others. A brush that works for one artist might not be ideal for another, so there is some trial and error until you find the brand and firmness that suites you best. Also, since brushes are hand-made, sometimes they might not be exactly the same, so you might have one with some stray hairs that drive you crazy, but your friend might not have those strays and be in love with the same style brush.  

DIFFERENT USES FOR FACE PAINTING BRUSHES

Here is a list of the most common brushes and their uses. I love having different style brushes in my kit to inspire creativity! We have many more styles at JEST PAINT if you want to see them all, head here ( All Brushes by Style ) after reading this blog post. The video below shows you how to use a round, filbert, angle, petal and a flat brush.

 

Round Brushes

round face painting brushes bolt brushes

Round brushes are the most used face painting brush in any artists’ kit. A crisp pointy round brush will ensure flowing line work, tribal swirls and teardrops of varying sizes. A #0 to #2 Round will give you the ability to paint fine details for cheek art, like that little unicorn or mermaid eye with lashes! You can also use thin rounds for graphic eye looks!
With a #3 round and larger you can drag the tip and drop and press a round brush against the skin to paint teardrops and petals if the round brush has a chubbier base than the tip. You can drag the tip and then press all of the bristles against the skin while continuing to drag to create thin to thick line work. Round brush strokes
You may want your own round brushes just for your black and white to keep your white brush always bright and your black brush from dirtying your other colors if you didn’t rinse it out well enough.

Script Liner Brushes

Script liner brushes

Script liner brushes are very thin long round brushes. They have a pointed tip and they are great for painting long flowing lines around plants, butterfly wings and eye masks. You can also use these for thin tribal linework and pinstriping looks. You could paint these flowing butterfly antennas, like Kiki Lee did above, with a script liner brush!

Flat Brushes

flat brushes face painting demo pic

Flat brushes are good for filling in spaces and for 1 stroke painting. If you want to swipe a flat brush against a rainbow cake and pick up two or more colors then get at least a ½” flat to do the job. A 1” flat will pick up all of the colors in a 30 gram split cake, but you might have better control with a ¾” brush for 1 stroke designs that are more complicated then a rainbow swoosh across the forehead.

flat brush strokes

Filbert / Blender Brushes

 filbert  brush demo

Filbert Brushes have been becoming more popular with face painters over the years. The curved edge comes in handy for many reasons. They are using them for chubby tear drops, flower petals, dolphin one stroke designs, blending colors around the eyes, double dip teeth, dry blending two colors together, adding in powders and glitter and so much more! You might find that shorter filberts, or filberts with natural hair are called blender brushes in the face paint world. The natural hair blenders are good for dry blending of face paints and powders to give a soft airbrushed look to your design. 

 Filbert Brush strokes

Angle Brushes

 

Angle Brushes demo picsAngle Brushes are an alternative to flat brushes. The angle cut is very useful for painting rose petals because it is easier to create the thick to thin swoosh when wrapping one petal around another. People also use them for leaves and cheek art that benefit from the shape of the angle brush, like the nose of a dragon or the edges of a Christmas tree. I love a small angle brush for tiger stripes! Below I am showing three different simple strokes that you can make with a Medium Bolt Firm angle brush. 

angle brush strokes

Petal Brushes

Petal brushes demo face painting

Petal Brushes are a magical way to easily paint tons of flowers around a child’s face in a short amount of time. You have at least three options for loading these brushes to make colorful petals
Petal Option One – Drag brush across a few colors in a small rainbow cake so that they petals are striped from base to tip. Drag onto the skin and press for different length petals.
Petal Option Two – Press and wiggle the brush over a few colors from a rainbow cake so that the petals will have a gradient from base to tip. Press onto the skin like a stamp
Petal Option Three – Load the entire brush into a light color, dip and tap just the tip of the brush off and load into a darker color. Press the brush against the skin with the darker tip towards the center of the flower. You can repeat the process and load three or four colors if desired.

Petal brush strokes face painting

Watch this video for some additional double dipping tips!

 

Rake / Wisp Brushes 

rake brushes face painting royal aqualon

Rake and wisp brushes create strokes that are made of small portions of the bristles touching the skin. You can use these special brushes to paint grass, palm branches, fur, scratches, manes, shading hash marks, streaked rainbows and faux fabric textures like plaid or lace. If you just load and press the tips of a rake brush against the skin you can get groups of little tiny dots to add on top of rainbows or around roses, which makes them look like babies breath.

More Specialty Shape Brushes 

specialty face paint brushes dynasty black gold

Below are some examples of what you can do with the Black Gold brushes. The cool ends are amazing for creative eye masks, leaves, flowers, animals, fabric patterns and more. 

black gold face paint brushes

 

 BRUSH LINES BY RENOWNED FACE PAINTNG ARTISTS 

Jest Paint loves to carry special lines of face paint brushes by artists who have given so much to the face paint community. The artists below share their knowledge and inspire us to face paint better and use more creativity. They teach online, at workshops and conventions, and they all pride themselves in their unique style and brush work mastery. If you like supporting other artists in our industry and want to have some amazing brushes in your kit, give these brushes a try!

Blazin Brush face paint brushes Marcela Bustamante

Marcela Bustamante's Blazin Brush line features 15 brushes with deep purple handles and perfectly designed synthetic bristles for line work, 1 stroke painting and petal making! Marcela has incredible linework skills and she knows what a round brush needs to help the artists create the best lines possible with out splaying of the bristles.  Head to the Blazin Brush page at Jest Paint to see her whole collection!

Leannes Rainbow Brushes

Leanne Courtney has been wowing the world with her super bold designs and custom rainbow cake line with Fusion Body Art. Now she has a line of 3 super juicy magenta brushes that are her go to brushes for teardrops, petals and one stroke painting. The Leanne's Rainbow mini Filbert, Flower and 3/8" Angle brushes are made of synthetic golden bristles and have glossy painted wooden handles. Check out the Leanne's Rainbow Brushes here!

Nats Gold Edition Brushes face painting natalee davies

Natalee Davies is well know for her beautiful fairies, cats and butterflies. She has a Gold Line of face paint with Fusion Body art, and she is using her own line of face painting brushes, Nats Fancy Faces Gold Edition, to create amazing designs with her cakes. If you are looking for that soft blended look like Nat has, check out her Blend Set with a Mini Kabuki and Perfect Blender brush. Check out Nat's Gold Edition Brushes Here!

Prima Barton Brushes face painting brushes

Prima Barton's ethereal style of face and body painting has made her famous around the world! She has a full line of 12 expertly designed face paint brushes that can be used for all of your designs. The quality of the Prima Barton Creative Series brushes are amazing, and the endless flowing teardrops that you can make from her round brushes will delight you! 

 Mark Reid face painting and makeup brushes

Mark Reid's fantasy cats are recognizable the moment you see them! He has been teaching the art of face painting for years as a Mehron Sponsored Artist. Mehron teamed up with Mark to create the Mark Reid Signature line of brushes. They are two toned nylon brushes that have an angles tip. The number two round is one of our best selling round brushes for detailed line work. Check out all of Mark Reid's brushes here!

Bolt Brushes face painting brushes jest paint

We at Jest Paint have our own line of face painting brushes that were designed by Santi and I. The bright neon orange Bolt Brushes are being used all over the world by professional artists! Watch our intro video that we created years ago when the first series of the line was released. This will show you how to use round, petal and flat brushes. We have a Regular and Firm line too (which has the green tips or white bristles) so that face painters have more options to choose from based on their likes. Check out the Bolt Brush Line here!

We also carry THE ART FACTORY STUDIO BRUSHES, PAINT PAL BRUSHES , CAMELEON BRUSHES ,MATTEO ARFANOTTI SUPERSTAR BRUSHES, and THE FACE PAINTING SHOP BRUSHES  and more at www.jestpaint.com, so your options are almost endless!

 

 

HOW TO TAKE GOOD CARE OF YOUR FACE PAINTING BRUSHES

What is the Best Way to Clean my Face Painting Brushes?

Keeping your brushes clean while working helps limit the spread of germs and ensures that your paint will not get muddy from a color previously in your brush. Deep cleaning your brushes after your events helps prevent paint build up in the ferrule which leads to the splaying of your bristles. Below are some tips to keep your brushes clean and in good condition.

Keeping your face paint brushes clean


Cleaning Brushes Used with Water Activated Face Paints

If you use water activated face paints you will just need an antibacterial soap and  water to wash and rinse your brushes for basic cleaning. You can also use a brush cleaner like Lush Brush to do a deeper clean or to add to your water while you are painting. Brush cleaners tend to loosen up more paint that traditional hand soap. Soaps rinse out best with cold water since it is more viscous and removes soap better than warm or hot water. See all of our brush cleaners by clicking here.


Now that Covid has arrived brush cleaning has been taken a lot more seriously in our face paint community, and a lot of artists are now avoiding double dipping to keep their paints sanitary. It has been common to use one sponge per child, but many artists are now using one brush per child and sanitizing their brushes in rubbing alcohol and letting them dry before using them on another child. Watch the Youtube video that we created showing you how to avoid double dipping and clean your brushes with alcohol while on the job. Also check out our  Blog Post Face Painting and the Coronavirus for more safety ideas that you can use when getting back to work.

Cleaning Brushes that were used with Alcohol Based Face Paints

If you your paints like Proaiir Inks or Endura, you will need 90% or more rubbing alcohol or a special alcohol based brush cleaner to effectively clean your brushes. If you use Proaiir Hybrid paint you can clean them out with hand soap, but I find a rinsing them out with alcohol does a better job.  

How do I Clean Wooden Handled Brushes?

Don’t wash your brushes in boiling water, I have heard that it can melt the tips of the bristles if it is hot enough. It can also loosen the glue holding the ferrule on and loosen the bristles in the brush. Even if your brush is well crimped so the head won’t pop off, it could still start spinning around if the glue releases. Wash them in warm soapy water instead and rinse with cold water. You can dip them in 70% alcohol or higher to sanitize them and let let lay on their size or hang them upside down to dry. Drying them standing up allows water to enter the ferulle, which could cause the paint to chip if the wood swells. For a really tidy looking kit, make sure to clean the paint off the handle and ferrule using a soapy rag or sponge. Some people use magic erasers to clean off stubborn stains. Just be aware that over time it might rub off the protective coat on your handles.

washing paint brushes

How do I Clean Acrylic Handle Brushes?

Clean your acrylic handled brushes just as you do with wooden handle brushes, in warm soapy water. Even though you don’t have to worry about your acrylic handles chipping and pealing you still shouldn’t wash your brushes in boiling water, it can melt the tips of the bristles if it is hot enough. It can also loosen the glue holding the ferrule on and loosen the bristles in the brush.

And....

Don’t forget to take your brushes out of the water cup while you are working if you want to avoid damaging your handles. I like the Rinse Well because you can’t accidently leave your brushes soaking in it, as you can with a big water cup. You also can have a fresh load of water between each kid, which helps your set up look cleaner and more sanitary. 

 

masterson rinsewell clean face paint brushes

 

EXTRA FACE PAINTING BRUSH TIPS FROM THE PROS

How do I Prevent the Paint from Cracking and Chipping on my Brushes?

Avoid soaking your wooden handled brushes up to the metal ferrule because water can seep under the metal tube and soak into the wood. When water soaks into the wood, it swells up and then when it shrinks back down as it dries out, the paint on the handles can crack and chip off. Usually a couple of hours soaking won’t hurt a very well-made brush, but you just never know how well the handle is sealed so it is best to avoid risking it. I have seen chipping happen in all different brands. Also, you don’t want to soak your brushes with the brush bristles pressing down onto the bottom of the cup, or it can bend your bristles. Read farther down to learn about fixing brushes that have chipped paint. 

How do I Fix Damaged Face Paint Brushes?

Some brushes have manufactured defects and cannot be fixed, but most of the time you can save a brush if it has bent or frayed hairs. I use a fingernail clipper to snip off any stray hairs that like to flick off when I am making my swirls and twirls. If I accidently lose a brush in my kit and find with will all of its bristles bent out of shape by dip them in hot, but not boiling water. Then I load the bristles with hair gel into the shape I want and let them set for a couple of days.

clipping of brush bristles

If the metal ferrule popped off of your brush you can use a super strong glue like Gorilla Glue, or an epoxy glue to attach it back on. Allow it to dry for a day before using it again. 

fixing damaged paint brush gluing on ferrule

If you paint is chipping on your paint brush handles you can sand it down so that it is nice and smooth and then paint your brushes with glossy fingernail polish or wrap them in colorful electric tape. 

Fixing chipped paint brushes

Fixing or ditching damaged brushes is the best thing that you can do to avoid struggling with your brushes while you are painting. My son often ends up with my reject brushes, or I used them for applying glitter to my glitter tattoos. Sometimes I smash them or cut them up to make weird specialty brushes, like rakes or dot making brushes. I have one brush with no ferrule at all and I use the handles small tip for making dots and the other end for making large circles. I just rub either end in wet paint and press it like a stamp.

 

How do I keep the brush bristles together when I paint?

One thing all painters can agree on is that they love brushes that keep their bristles together. If you practice a lot and pay attention to your brush you will notice that spinning a round brush between your fingers while you paint can help make sure that all of the bristles stay together when making swirls spirals. Also, keeping any style of brush well loaded with wet paint helps prevent the bristles from separating from the rest. When 1 stroke painting, if you are doing a lot of different strokes you will need to keep reloading your brush with water and paint to keep all of the bristles pressed together for smooth strokes. 
Also make sure to load your brush in a way that keeps all of the bristles lined up, so that when you are ready to apply the paint to the skin the brush is perfectly shaped.


 Watch this video on how to load your round brushes for the best linework.

What is the Best way to Display and Store my Face Painting Brushes?

 I've tried all types of brush carriers and cups to store and display my brushes over the years, but the TAG Brush Wallet is my favorite. It has just enough space and helps me keep my brushes organized and easy to find while I am working, I just line them up smallest to largest by style. I also don’t have to worry about my brush bristles getting damaged while they are stored in my kit between gigs, and I can wash them and hang the wallet upside down for the brushes to dry. 

face paint brush wallet TAG body art storage case

 

My  Final Tip - Don't Lose Your Brushes!

Face painting brushes are a serious investment in your business. Make sure that before you leave your gigs, you take a moment to check the ground so that you don't leave any behind. If you go to face painting conventions or jams, label your brushes with a stroke of fingernail polish or strip of electric tape so that you can identify them if they get mixed up while you are painting with other artists. I have lost a lot of brushes in my day, and now I know how to prevent that from happening again. Some of them are like children to me, I depend on them for clean line work and magical brush strokes!

 

I hope that you enjoyed this brush blog and learned a little something! Please feel free to write me at anna@jestpaint.com if you have any questions at all about products used in this blog or need any extra brush advice! 

Next article Building the Ultimate Face Painting Kit!

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