7 Ways How To Add Glitter To Face Paint

glittery background in a rainbowlike color with a caption
Olga Murasev — 27 July 2017 —


What is the easiest and cheapest way to add a WOW factor to your design? Sparkle it up of course!

In this post you’ll find out about main ways of applying glitter to your face painting designs.

Glitter comes in all sorts of shapes, sizes, colors and glow capacity. It is up to you which one to choose, just make sure you use cosmetic grade glitter only.

Craft glitters can be cheaper and look very similar, but if it gets into eyes, craft glitter can scratch the cornea, lead to corneal ulcers and even cause blindness.

It can also stain on the skin or even cause an allergic reaction. So avoid craft glitters at all costs.

Tip: Click here to download this super useful “Top 10 products a face painter needs” handout! It’s FREE!

1. Applying glitter with fingertips

This is my favorite way of applying glitter. It gives the required control and allows to apply glitter on small and large areas.

Dab your index or middle finger onto a wet wipe to grab some moisture on it, then dip it in glitter, which will stick to the finger due to the moisture. Then gently press your finger on the surface you want to cover with glitter. This method is handy to use even if the surface is dry. The moisture from the finger will be enough to stick the glitter on it.

Applying glitter with fingertips in face painting

2. Using an applicator-brush

A special applicator-brush similar to a smoothie blender is used for this technique. The procedure is the same as the one with applying glitter with fingertips, with one exception that there is no need to moisturize the applicator-brush.

I personally don’t use this technique in my artwork, but I’ve seen other artists, like Vanessa Mendoza, using it.
Using an applicator-brush in face painting

3. Using a brush

This technique can be used when glitter is applied on a small area of skin. The glitter will stick to the surface only, which should be slightly wet eg. freshly applied paint or moisturized skin.

If the paint has dried out, you may still apply glitter with a brush on it by dipping it in water, then dipping it in glitter and pressing it on the surface. Sometimes the glitter won’t stick immediately and you will have to roll your brush over the surface.

Also, the amount of water is important. You brush should be slightly damp, otherwise, if you will carry too much water in it, you may ruin your painting.

Another trick for covering large areas with glitter is using your brush handle. Dip it into water, then dip it in glitter, lay it down flat on the skin and roll it.

a woman painting flowers on her left forearm with her right hand

4. The puffer-bottle

This method will allow you to apply glitter dust on large areas of skin. The main difference in this technique is you won’t have to touch the skin, the glitter will be blown out of a puffer-bottle and although it will stick to the skin with less density than in previous methods, this way of applying glitter is the fastest one.

Puffer-bottles can be purchased at almost any face painting shop. Be careful when making a hole in your new sealed puffer bottle. Use a sharp needle and pierce the very tip of the nozzle. Then fill in a half of the bottle with glitter, tilt it horizontally and press on bottle sides. A puff of glitter should be discarded from the bottle carried by airflow.

If the glitter doesn’t want to come out, you may have too much glitter in your bottle or the size of the hole might be too small for your glitter. To enlarge the hole, insert the needle into the existent hole and carefully rotate it, widening the hole diameter. But avoid doing a large hole! If this happens, then too much glitter will fall out of the bottle each time you will press it and it will be difficult to control the amount of glitter you want to use. That’s why you should never ever use scissors to make holes in your puffer bottles.

Tip: You can find out how to choose the best sponges in my “How to choose the best sponge?” post.

It is also important to remember, that the glitter will stick to the skin only if the paint is still damp, so give your design a couple of puffs immediately after you painted the background.

If the paint has dried out, you can still remoisturize it by spritzing it with water. But be careful, spritz from a distance of 50 cm (20 inches) and make sure that your spray-bottle is making very fine water particles, otherwise, you may activate the paint too much and ruin the design.

a girl having a butterfly face painting painted on her

5. The stenciled shiny element

With this technique, you can create precise shapes and patterns with glitter. Create a pattern just like you usually do using a stencil and a sponge loaded with paint. Hold the stencil still on the surface and while the paint is still damp apply some glitter on top of the pattern.

Either a sponge or your finger will work great for this. If you prefer using a sponge, I suggest you use the same sponge that you used for stenciling, dip it in glitter and then transfer the glitter on the pattern.

But if your sponge has large pores, glitter can be stuck inside of them forever, so that may be a case to use your finger instead. Moisturize your finger on a wet wipe, dip it in glitter and apply the glitter on the stenciled area.

This technique looks especially pretty on final stenciled images like snowflakes and stars.

Stenciled shiny element in face painting

6. The chunky glitter (powdery or gel-glitter)

One of the trendy ways of using glitter is applying chunky particles of it like a part of a design.

To make large particles stick to the skin you will need some sort of adhesive. In fact, a simple moisturizer will work for this, like water or gel. However, if you want to be certain that the glitter won’t fall off the skin after a couple of hours, use cosmetic glitter adhesive, just make sure that it is permitted to be applied on lips and eyelids and wipes off with soapy water.

Note, that this type of adhesive in NOT the same as glitter glue for glitter tattoos!

Examples of glitter adhesives.
chunky glitter, powdery or gel-glitter in face painting

In all the other cases, when you don’t require a super long lasting look, use a regular cosmetic gel.

By this, I mean any type of gel that can be used on hair, skin or mucosa. It can be a hair gel, a glitter gel or even a lubricant. Just make sure you pick up the one that has no fragrance (or has a very light fragrance) and additives that can create certain skin sensations like tingling or chilling.

No matter what adhesive you are going to use, the technique is the same. Spread a thin layer of gel/adhesive on the desired area and dab the glitter with your finger on top of it.

You can also apply a pre-made gel-glitter mixture directly to the skin. These glitter-gels in pots can be found in several brands. But you can also make this mixture yourself, by mixing glitter with cosmetic gel (aloe vera gel works great for this) and storing it in a small plastic pot.

Applying chunky glitter, powdery or gel-glitter in face painting

Tip: If you want to expand your glitter offerings, you will find much more invaluable content on this subject in our two-part Festival Glitter blog series. Learn more about adhesives, glitter brands and suppliers, creative applications, and very popular related services like bling and rhinestones!

Festival glitter trends

7. The glitter gel

Glitter-gel, aka liquid bling, is a translucent gel mixed with powder glitter that comes in a small plastic bottle with a narrow tip. When squeezed out of the bottle, it gives a nice thin glittery line that can be used as outline, line-work, dots or even for creating a glittery pattern. Immediately after being applied on skin, glitter-gel can smudge easily, but when it’s completely dry, it sticks very well on skin and is very resistant for durable wearing.

I suggest you use glitter-gels with plastic tips instead of metal ones because metal tips can sometimes lead to glitter-gel clogging.

In my experience, small bottles are easier to hold and bottle’s tip is perfect for accurate thin lines, while large bottles (by Global and new Cameleon line) aren’t as easy to hold and can give a thicker line.

Glitter gel in face painting

Glitter-gels should also be of cosmetic grade only.

Even though you may find acrylic glitter contours that look the same, these products have plenty of toxic ingredients, that may lead to allergic reactions.

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What is your favorite way of using glitter? 

 — Olga Murasev

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