A Brush with Destiny!

Welcome to our blog post about the different uses for paint brushes, and the different brands that we offer at our store. There is a lot here for beginners and maybe some new bits for the pros. I will start with the basics and get more tricky as the post goes on, so scroll down to see what brush you are curious about.

So many different brands to choose from!

Where do you start? you will notice that some brushes are more expensive than others. The quality of the handle and the brush hairs can affect cost, along with the brand name that goes with them. For example, Global and Paradise have plastic handled brushes which look nicer for longer periods of time than wooden handled brushes, which can chip and peel. When thinking about flats, consider that Protege', Prisma and Bolt flat brushes have shorter bristles for better control with one stroke moves. Look for pointy tips, a strong connection at the ferrule and bristles that are good for watercolor and acrylics. Not everyone likes the same brush.The best thing to do to find the brushes you love without spending a fortune is to head to face paint jams and try out your friends' brushes and write the names down.

Synthetic versus Natural Hair

I use synthetic hair brushes or brushes that have a blend of real and synthetic hair. The real hair brushes are very soft when you get them wet, so they are harder to control in my opinion. Brushes designed for acrylic painting, especially decorative painting seem to hold face paint well and offer a lot of control. I have met painters who use the mega fancy natural haired brushes, their claim to fame is that they hold more paint and let it out too! If you are a dare devil, give them a try, I am sure with practice they can be used nicely.

Jest Paint's New Bolt BrushesJest Paint's New Bolt Brushes

The PROtege Brush Set
The PROtege Brush Set
Global Body Art's New Full Line of Brushes
Global Body Art's New Full Line of Brushes


Besides being the best for outlining, making swirls and twirls and popping out little dots, rounds are also good for having a hey day with tear drops. By dragging the tip and then pressing down, or by doing the reverse, you will get cute little tear drops. They work best if you use a round with a chubby base and a pointy tip. You can also use them for making double loaded flower petals and for filling in spaces with paint. Click here to see the Bolt Liner Brushes make incredible tear drops!

Loew-Cornell has Great Rounds! See them here!

I always have 2 small rounds, two medium rounds and two nice fat rounds just for black and white. Round # 2 or 3, and a #4 or #6 and a #10. Why do I subject myself to so many rounds just for two colors?

It is hard to rinse all of the black out of a brush at a gig, so I just keep brushes for black so they don’t contaminate the loveliness of the other colors and so my water doesn’t get so muddy so fast with all the rinsing of a black brush. Same deal with the white, I don’t like picking up a brush that was last used with red paint, and then rinsing it and using it for white…and ending up with a whitish pink. My colors come out looking brighter and my water looks better, and I save more paint if I stick to this policy in my brush department. You can color code your paint handles with finger nail polish so you know who is who.

For all the other colors I just use another group of many sized rounds interchangeably .


Flats are another brush that I have more than one of in my kit. I have 1/2″, 3/4″, 1″ and 1 1/4″ flats for all of my one stroke painting needs. ( Yes ,I have a strong need to one stroke!)

I think the 1/2″ and 3/4″ flats are easier to control if you are doing fancy one stroke moves with a lot of wiggling the brush, and the wider flats are better for more simple strokes.

A Variety Of Flats that we CarryA Variety Of Flats that we Carry

I also love the 1/4″ flat brush for doing thin to thick line work for tiger stripes and around spider fella’s eyes. I twist the small flat while I pull it, so it looks like it goes from thin to thick to thin to thick. You can end with a really sharp line, which always excites me! Click here to see a demo video of the New Flat Bolt Brushes!


Angled brushes are commonly for one stroke painting. You can make roses with an angled brush because it is easy to make a petal stroke that goes from thick to thin, just by lifting the shorter side off the skin as you twist the brush to form the petal. The American Painter 1/2" Angle is our most popular rose brush. The American Painter 1/4" is used a lot for scallop designs in butterfly wings.

Done with a 1/2" Flat Brush
Done with a 1/2" Flat Brush

American painter 3/4" Angle brushAmerican painter 3/4" Angle brush


Petals are the go to brush for double and triple loaded flowers. They make great petal shapes when you just stamp them down, or stamp and twist them. The New Bolt Blooming Brush is demoed in this video if you want to see one in action.

Bolt Blooming Brush
Bolt Blooming Brush


Different sized filberts will open you up to different sized flowers or baby butterflies.The TAG 1/2" Filbert Brush is one of my faves. You can also use them to make large teardrops to trim the edge of a butterfly mask!

Filberts are also good for painting cheek art in general, laying down larger areas of a color, like to fill in a pony heads or other rounded edge designs. Filberts also rock my socks off when it comes to blending a darker color onto a lighter color…they make a smooth transition between the two colors. Sometimes these shorter filberts are referred to as chisels. Watch this video to see how to make fast filbert hearts!

Rakes/Wisps and other Specialty Brushes

Flat WispI love rake/wisp brushes. They are great for making tons of fine strokes or tons of tiny dots all at once. I use the larger sized flats, angles and fans the most. The fine lines add dramatic fine shading to the outer edges of butterfly wings…if you start at the edge of your wing and then pull in towards the eye. I also use them for palm trees and grass and horse hair for cheek art designs. For boy full face designs I use them a lot to add wrinkles on the nose of creepy monsters, or weird textures on the rest of the face, or fur on tigers.


Dots made with the wisp brush.My biggest use for the rake/whips brush is for making tiny little dots over black line work or around designs to add that magical fairy dust look. I load up a pretty good paste of white with 3/4" flat wisp and just stamp the tips all over and every one goes “Ohhh wow!” I am glad simple things can amaze those who watch you paint.

A regular fan brush is also a popular one in my kit. I use it for butterflies and also for wisping shag. I like to also press it into the rainbow cakes and stamp it around eye masks.

Check out our Special Brush Category to see brushes that have bristles in interesting shapes!

I love using the Aura Brush when I need some creative inspiration! You can use it for cheetah spots, leaves, chains, butterfly wing spots etc. Another fun brush is the Flora brush! You can make cute pointy tipped petals, monster teeth and cool teardrops with this one!

Loew Cornell Aura 1/2"
Loew Cornell Aura 1/2"

Loew Cornell Flora #10
Loew Cornell Flora #10

Other Tools for Face Painting

This chart can help you pick the right tool for the job, beyond brushes!

Tools for Face Painting

Taking Care of your Beloved Brushes

Before you go nuts and buy really fancy expensive brushes, make sure you have a system set up so that they stay in good shape for a long time. I am not the best mother to my face paint brushes, sometimes I even drop them on the floor and leave them at gigs, and who knows what happens to them after that! I store my brushes in a fold-able brush easel that has elastic bands to hold them in place while I work.

WASHING: You can wash your brushes in hot water, or in baby shampoo to remove paint and germs. Special brush cleaners will condition your brushes and get that extra bit of paint that hides up in the ferrule out for you too!

DRYING: It is recommended to dry your brushes either hanging upside down or flat so that when they dry, the water doesn’t soak down into the Ferrule ( the metal tube that holds the bristles onto the handle ) and mis-shape the bristles or the wooden handle . Once they are dry you can store them standing up.

USE: Another thing that is hard to resist is not to leave your brushes sitting bristle down in your water cup while you are working. This can bend them up. I have a habit of doing this, and I have to stay really conscious to rinse and put away my brush after each use. Avoiding rubbing your brushes to death on the bottom or side of your cup will also help them last longer.

Watch how you load your paint as well, making sure that you aren’t hurting your bristles by smooshing them into the hard cakes in unnatural ways. Usually we get a hang of this pretty quick…well hopefully by the time we turn 8 years old. My daughter still makes me squirm when she uses my brushes.

REPAIRING: You can snip wild loose hairs off with a nail clipper, and you can try to reshape your brushes by setting them with hair gel or dipping them in microwaved water for a couple of seconds. You can repaint your brush handles with nail polish or any other heavy paint to keep the wooden handles looking nice.

RE-PURPOSING: If you have some damaged brushes that you can't fix, you can still use them for other things, like applying glitter on your face paint designs or glitter tattoos, or by making them funkier by additional smashing or cutting to see if you can come up with a useful specialty brush! ooh la la !

Once, while making a youtube video, Oceana chewed the wahoo out of one oh my 1″ flat brushes…she bent the metal ferrule so much that the bristles would no longer be useful for one stroking. I took that dear flat of mine and double loaded the tips, smashing in head first into a rainbow cake, and then stamped the bristles onto my skin and found out it made an amazing feathered petal prints.

If you have any questions about brushes, please leave them in the comments or e-mail me…or even call me! Let us know what other brushes you would like to see at Jest Paint. Thanks! Happy Painting!

(This blog post was updated and transferred from Anna's original blog on WordPress.)

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