What is the Best Kind of Paint for Me?

When digging around the internet, reading forums or talking to painters on the phone, I hear so many different opinions about many brands of face paints. Some love one brand and despise another, while others feel totally the opposite. All of those opinions can make a new painter go wild! This is a rundown about the different styles of face paint that we sell at Jest Paint. It seems that they all have their pros and cons…and one person’s pro might be a different persons con so take it in with a fleck of glitter. Paints can vary by the batch, it is the nature of the colorful beast

If you are just starting out, just remember that the waxed based paints are very similar. If you like one brand you are likely to like the others. Pick your favorite colors from each brand. The Glycerin paints vary a little more in consistency, so talk with your friends, look at demos online or give us a call.

A lot of people keep different styles of paint to use in their kit for different reasons since some brands work best for bases, while others rock out in the line work department. Sometimes you may be dying for a color that is so amazing even though it might be a little more difficult to use. Some brands consistency varies by color too. There is a lot of trial and error when you are a face painter.

With more brands and more competition the quality of face paint should keep improving over the years, so keep your eyes out for more amazing products to come!

There are eight types of face paint that we carry. Below are some charts and bits of important info about each style, please leave comments with any of your own input!

Face Paint Comparison Chart

Choose the right paint

Glycerin Based Paints

The brands: Mehron’s Paradise– Kryolan’s Aquacolors– FAB– Snazaroo-Ruby Red

Water activated.

Glycerin based paints are generally softer in the container.

They load more quickly and thickly on your sponge or brush.

They dry slower, and because of this they are ideal for dry blending and wet blending with the sponge or brush.

They can make small brush detail work more difficult since they usually load thickly, though most FAB regular colors seems to work really well for details. With practice you can make it happen with all the brands.

They may rub off easier than wax based paints if you touch them a lot.

You can set them with translucent powder to increase their durability, though you don’t have to.

They work as great bases for adding decorative powders on top, and for holding glitter.

They tend to feel softer and more flexible on the skin than wax based paints.

Wax Based Paints

The Brands: Global- Diamond FX – Cameleon – TAG – Wolfe FX - Kryvaline

Water activated

Wax based paints are generally more firm in the cake. Though they vary by color from being like a soft clay to being dry and brittle.

They load quickly, but you get an opaque yet thinner load, more like using watercolors.

You can do fine brushwork details with them easily and also layer the colors with limited bleeding through.

They dry quickly, so you have to blend a little faster, or blend on your sponge or brush before applying to the face.

They are more durable on the face, though like most of the styles listed, they are water based and not sweat resistant.

They work great for split cakes.

Remove with soap and then soap and water. Coconut oil helps get out any faint stains.

Powder Based Paints

The Brands and how to use them : Ben Nye’s Magicakes (Wet) – Mehron’s Starblends (Wet or dry) – Jest Paint’s Vibrant Powders (Dry) – Kryolan’s Shades (Dry) –Kryolan Viva (Wet and Dry) – Mehron’s Precious Gem Powders (Wet or Dry) – Ben Nye Grande Lumiere Colours (Wet or Dry).

You can use them wet or dry depending on the brand.

If using your paints dry, they show up the strongest when you apply a primer first. A primer can be anything that will make the skin a little bit tacky, from normal face paint to eye shadow primer to glycerin or oil or lotion. Just be sure to apply a super thin layer of primer (if it isn’t paint) so that your applicator doesn’t pick any of it up.

You can use mixing liquid, which will make the powders more durable against sweat and touching, and will make the colors more opaque and water resistant for pool parties. Mixing liquid is best used with the Ben Nye Magicakes, Precious Gems loose powders or the Lumiere colors.

If you moisten a powder based cake, it will be hard to use it again dry since the liquid will compact the powder. Kryolan Viva claims that it is interchangeable.

Powders can be used as a base for eye masks or full face designs.

You can blend loose mica powders on top of your matte powder cakes to add more pigment and shine.

They blend smoothly and quickly on primed skin.

They won’t melt in your containers on super hot days…and seem to hold up better to sweat that the other types of paints, but only if you do not touch them a lot.

They are more fragile, so you have to take special care when transporting them and when using them.

You will want to be prepared for fall out. Depending on how much you load your sponge and if you are using a primer, you may want to drape the kids to protect their clothing. You can limit fall out with practice.

They can look streaky on sweaty faces, or if a child has random sun tan lotion applied. The powders will look the darkest where the skin is moist or oily. Either have the child evenly wipe off their face, or apply a primer evenly first.

You can seal the powders with something like Ben Nye Final so that do not rub off.

Remove with soap and then soap and water. Coconut oil helps get out any faint stains.

Cream Based Paints

The brands: Mehron’s Fantasty FX (Many more that we do not currently carry)

No water needed.

Cream based paints take longer to dry.

Best for base work, not ideal for brush work since they are thick and creamy.

Can be set with a translucent powder for a more durable finish.

You can find them in tubes, pumps and cakes.

Good for use in hospitals since you can squeeze out individual palettes for each patient.

Remove with soap and then soap and water. Coconut oil helps get out any faint stains.

Grease Based Paints

The brands: Ben Nye Professional Clown Series (Many more that we do not currently carry)

Theater folk and professional clowns are more likely to use grease based paints. They are less common in the face painting industry because they require powdering and doing detailed work is very difficult.

No activation.

Do not dry, so you must set them with powder.

They are waterproof when set with powder.

Stand up well to sweat, but if you are very hot and rub the paint it can still smear.

Great for smooth blended bases.

Hard to use with brushes. Detailed line work is very difficult since it loads rather thickly on a brush and does not flow off of the bristles.

You can use regular face paint on top of cream based paint if the base is set with powder first.

Remove with soap and then soap and water. Coconut oil helps get out any faint stains. You can also remove them just with oils.

Water Based Liquid Paints

The brands: Mehron Liquids- Mehron LUX- EBA Vibe- and Cameleon Airline

Some liquid water based paints are designed for airbrush use while others are for sponge and brush, and some can be used both ways.

A lot of painters who started out using liquid craft paint move over to liquid face paint since they are familiar with the consistency and application.

Liquid paints don't need water added to activate, though they can be thinned with pure water.

Depending on the brand, some liquid paints are very soft and flexible on the face, while other have acrylates in them and feel a little heavier on the skin. The heavier they are the better they are from layering.

Some painters use liquid black and white to activate their black and white make up cakes for more opacity.

You will want to be really careful that your paints don't tip or fall off the table.

Remove with soap and then soap and water. Coconut oil helps get out any faint stains.

Hybrid Liquid Paints

The brands: Proaiir and Dips

Hybrid paints can be used with an airbrush or sponge and brush.

Hybrid paints have a mix of alcohol and castor oil in them. They have less castor oil than paints designed to last for up to 7 days, so that they can be washed off with hand soap easily at the end of the day.

Hybrid paints resist water, aka they won't drip off when they get wet, but they are not fool proof since you still want them to wash off easily, and a persons skin oils will play a part too.

Apply them to clean, dry and cool skin if you want them to hold up the best.

They dry very fast so if you are using them with a sponge, I recommend loading multiple colors on the sponge and then blending them into the face all at once, or stippling the second color into the first color.

Be careful using them around the eyes. The skin might feel a little tingle when the alcohol evaporates.

You will want to be really careful that your paints don't tip or fall off the table.

Remove with soap and then soap and water.

Temporary Tattoo Paints

The brands: Endura- Cameleon Time Tattoo- La Dot- Colorini- Mehron Henna Style Ink - Proaiir Inks

This style of paint has a base of alcohol and castor oil. The castor oil makes the paint hard to remove, and they can last on the skin for up to 7 days, but I would say that they look their best for the first 2-3 days.

These are great for small airbrush or sponge and brush tattoos, or for full body paintings that needs to last for a long time.

These are not recommended for the face unless the model wants to look wild for a long time.

You will want to be really careful that your paints don't tip or fall off the table and that you have a remover to clean up any spills. I would drape the clients clothing just in case as well.

You can remove this with special removers or rubbing alcohol. 99% works the best.

Metallic and Pearl Paints

TAG Pearls are soft and shimmery. They are great for sponging base work since they are lighter than many other shimmery paints. They are not all the best for linework since some colors do not apply very solidly when trying to do swirls or tear drops. TAG Pearl Green and Pearl Blue are sort of silvery. They have many beautiful colors that you can’t find in any other line, like Pearl Wine, Pearl Teal and Pearl Apricot. One of my favorite blending combos is Pearl Purple and Pearl Teal…totally gorgeous.

Diamond FX Metallics have many similar shades to TAG and Wolfe, though I like their high pigmentation and opacity the most for doing brush work! They have a very bold and bright Pink, Purple, Blue and Green. You might want to tone them down with Metallic White for base work, and use them straight for detailed line work.

Kryolan Interferenz paints vary. Some have a really cool duo-chrome effect and are very shimmery, while others just have a light shimmer. Some are a bit transparent, and are best if applied on top of other colors, or mixed in to other colors. I have not tried all of the Interferenz colors, but my top faves are GB, BR and PV. PB is best for mixing with or applying on top of matte colors…it is like the inside of an Abalone shell. I would say that Interferenze colors, in general, are best for smooth bases, and not the greatest for brush work. Some do not fully dry, and have an oily feel to them.

Kryolan Metallic colors are known as the best metallic out there for bases. They are rich and shiny and scream METAL!! They can clump a little on your sponge unless you load doing a lot of rubbing around to break up the metallic chunks of glory.

FAB’s Shimmers are similar to other brands of metallic and pearls, but as a bonus some have a really nice iridescent effect. The ones we carry are very shimmery. My top favorites are Ziva Blue Shimmer, Magenta Shimmer, Ocean Shimmer and London Sky Shimmer. Magenta shimmer might leave some stains.

FAB Glitter Paints actually have a fine cosmetic glitter mixed into the shimmery paint for a magical effect! FAB’s shimmers and glitters are much better for base work than line work.

Paradise’s NEW Brilliant Colors are a step above their first line of Metallic colors. They have bright new colors and fantastically metallic Silver and Gold which are great for bases and brushwork. The Fuchsia is a show stopper, and looks amazing blended in with the Blue Bebe. The other shades in the line stand out for amazing bases, but they are not ideal for detailed line work. They do not come out solid from the brush.

Global Pearl and Metallic Colors have different consistencies. Some are softer when you open your container, while others have more binders to keep the shimmer on the skin, and feel harder when you start loading your sponge. The payoff is great though, since they stick really well to the skin and are easy to do line work over. I love the Pearl Magenta and Pearl Lime, and Pearl Blue, and well, okay I love them all, except the Pearl Baby Blue isn't like super pigmented like the others. The Pearl Gold is a super bright pretty gold, my favorite from all the brands.

Whew! I hope that wasn’t information overload! In case it was, here is a simplified grid! Just click on it to see it all nice and big!

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