Top-Quality Face Paints for Every Skill Level

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Jen Hague — 09 July 2024 —

Are you eager to create beautiful designs on children’s faces or your own, with face paints that offer great coverage, vibrant colors, and stunning results?

Maybe you’ve tried purchasing face paints from local stores, Amazon, or eBay, only to find they crack, don’t allow for sharp lines, and have dull colors.

This can be incredibly frustrating.

We understand your struggles, but take a deep breath—you’ve come to the right place!

Welcome to the ultimate face paints guide, packed with all the information you need about which paints to buy, how and when to use them, and where to find the world’s best face paints (complete with direct purchase links)!

Experience vibrant colors, sharp linework, smooth application that feels like a second skin, easy blending, and amazing designs—all achievable with the brands listed below.

But before we begin, here is a link to the premade collection with all tools ready to buy face paint from one place!
Our Favorite Face Paint Colors >>

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NOTE: This article is built in partnership with — one of the biggest and reliable face painting stores in the USA. All our suggestions are linked to Worldwide shipping is available.

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

Is Acrylic Paint Safe For Skin?

This is a very important topic to address but also a very simple one.

The answer is NO!

Acrylic paint or craft paint is not safe for application to the skin for face and body painting.

Here are several reasons why:

  1. Chemical Composition: Acrylic paints contain pigments and chemicals that are not formulated for use on the skin. Some of these ingredients can cause skin irritation, allergic reactions, or other adverse effects.
  2. Skin Sensitivity: The skin, especially on the face and especially in children, is sensitive and can react negatively to the harsh chemicals in acrylic paint. This can lead to redness, itching, and rashes.
  3. Removal Difficulty: Acrylic paint is designed to adhere to surfaces like canvas, wood, and paper. Once it dries, it forms a hard, plastic-like surface that can be very difficult to remove from the skin without scrubbing, which can cause further irritation or damage.
  4. Safety Standards: Acrylic paints are not tested or approved for cosmetic use. Face paints, on the other hand, are specifically formulated to be safe for use on the skin and meet stringent safety standards set by regulatory bodies.

For face painting, it is essential to use products that are specifically designed and tested for use on the skin so that your designs don’t cause chemical burns, terrible face paint results or turn your entire face pink for days! 🤪

Look for face paints that are labeled as non-toxic, hypoallergenic, and FDA-compliant. These products are formulated with skin-safe ingredients and are much safer to use, especially on children.

Always buy your face paint products from reputable face painting suppliers so that you can be sure you are using safe and approved painting supplies.

What Paints Are Safe for Skin?

There are a whole host of safe face paints.

The most commonly used in face painting is water-activated face and body paint, however there are also a range of alcohol-based and dry paints that are also safe for faces.

Safe face paints include:

  • Water-activated Face Paint
    • Paraffin Wax based
    • Glycerin based
    • Acacia Senegal Gum based.
  • Alcohol and Castor Oil Based Face Paints
  • Petrolatum / Petroleum Jelly Based Face Paints
  • Talc-Based Face Paints (dry)
  • Acrylates-Based Face Paint
  • Cosmetic Grade Silicone Based Face Paints

Face Paint Base Ingredients — Key Differences

Confused by all of the different face paints on the market? What are they made of and when are they best to used? We’ve got all the info you need below.

Paraffin Wax based

Paraffin Wax face paints usually have a clay-like consistency, are activated with water and removed easily with soap and water.

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. Since the paraffin comes from petroleum, the ingredient itself is vegan and no animals are hurt to create it.

Paraffin wax based paint brands include:

  • TAG
  • Wolfe FX
  • Diamond FX
  • PartyXplosion
  • Kryvaline regular line
  • Face Paints Australia
  • Kraze FX


  • Good for covering a large area
  • Great for linework and intricate details


  • Dry quickly,
  • Provide very good, even coverage for full face or large designs
  • Allow painters to create very intricate details and linework.


  • Due to dry texture, they are more difficult to blend together.
  • May smudge or wear off with sweat or water.
Tip: The trick to blending when using waxy paints is to mix a regular color with a metallic color. This makes it much easier to blend because you get the pigment from regular paint and the soft texture of the metallic paint.

Glycerin Based Face Paints

Glycerin based face paints are activated with water and removed easily with soap and water.

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 and it is a bit more stable in the heat than paraffin.

Glycerin-based paint brands include:

  • Mehron Paradise
  • Superstar (FAB)
  • Kryolan
  • Snazaroo
  • Graftobian
  • GTX*


  • Best for creating soft smooth looking bases since it is very flexible and blendable
  • Great for linework and intricate details.


  • Great for bases, more flexible than paraffin wax which can feel tighter on the skin
  • Bases will not crack or flake with movement (great for full face backgrounds and around the eyes)


  • A bit easier to smudge than wax-based face paints
  • Provide a more matte look than paraffin wax-based paints

Special Note: There is a small difference between Mehron (Paradise) and Superstar (FAB) glycerin based paints. Most of Mehron colors are great for sponging and using with filbert brushes, while linework can be a little bit more difficult. Meanwhile, Superstar paints have a more elastic texture, which gives them the flexibility to use in both sponging and linework.

* GTX Face Paints are relatively new to the market with an increased glycerin content making them more pliable specifically for the role of easily creating your own split cakes (multiple colors in one cake). For this reason, they’re gaining in popularity as of June 2024.

Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints

Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints are activated with water and removed easily with soap and water.

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 consistency and behavior somewhere in between wax-based and glycerin-based face paints.

Acacia Senegal Gum based paint brands include:

  • Fusion Body Art (except for some colors)
  • Cameleon (except for some colors)
  • Kryvaline creamy line
  • Global Body Art


  • For line work with a similar result as wax paints, and have a similar glossy finish to them
  • Great for blending.


  • Not as resistant to heat as wax-based paints.


  • A bit easier to smudge than wax-based face paints
  • Provide a more matte look than paraffin wax-based paints

Check out our BEST FACE PAINTS section for more information on the above most commonly used face paints.

Alcohol and Castor Oil Based Face Paints

Form the base for a lot of waterproof / sweat resistant face paints. Both ingredients are plant based making these vegan friendly however some waterproof brands such as ProAiir and Endura use shellac which is not vegan friendly.

Activated by alcohol if in dry form, also comes pre mixed in liquid form. Can be removed with hot water, soap and friction, alcohol based cleanser (be mindful of eyes) or some can be removed with Micellar water cleansers.

Alcohol based paint brands include:

  • Endura
  • ProAiir – ProAiir Ink, Hybrids and DIPS


  • Perfect for pool parties, hot summers and anywhere sweat / water is a risk.
  • Suitable for special effects.
  • Endura is a long lasting paint designed for several day wear and should not be used on the face but can be used for temporary tattoos and body painting.


  • Water-resistant, long-lasting and rub resistant.
  • Allows for an opaque and smooth finish with a matte look.


  • Can sting the skin on application due to the alcohol.
  • Not to be used near eyes.
  • Strong smelling (alcohol)
  • Harder to remove than water-activated paints.

Petrolatum Based Face Paints

Also referred to as grease or oil based paints these are full coverage paints often used for professional Clown and Theatre makeup. Rarely are they used by face painters for regular bookings.

They are not activated with water and applied straight with a sponge or brush. These products have a petroleum jelly base which is vegan and withstands high temperatures.

Removed by cream or oil based products and a decent amount of scrubbing!

Petrolatum based paint brands include:

  • Mehron
  • Ben Nye


  • Clown make up that needs to be sweat resistant
  • Theatre / stage makeup


  • Sweat-resistant and very durable under hot conditions.


  • Hard for line work / detailed work as thicker and harder to apply in fine detail
  • Much harder to remove than water-activated paints.

Talc Based Face Paints

Compact, dry paints that are usually applied dry (like eye-shadow makeup). Talc is a mineral and hence considered vegan.

Used with a primer these can produce vibrant results which are more sweat resistant than wax-based paints.

Note: Whilst all of the paints we recommend are FDA approved and regulated, we note that there have been some prominent legal cases against major talc powder brands due to contamination with asbestos (due to the mining process). As such we will likely see a move away from talc based cosmetics in future and face painters using talc based products should monitor developments on talc in cosmetics and face paints.

Talc-based paint brands include:

  • Mehron Starblends
  • Ben Nye
  • Elisa Griffith palette


  • Setting a base for designs
  • Applied typically with a smoothie / lollipop blender.


  • Relatively sweat-resistant and more durable under hot conditions when used with a primer and sealing spray.
  • Colors can be applied and blended quickly to form a colorful base for designs.


  • Not ideal for line work.
  • Can be used wet but once wetted won’t apply dry again.
  • Setting sprays are often alcohol-based and not ideal for spraying on the faces of children.

Acrylates-Based Face Paints

A liquid face paint product similar to alcohol-based waterproof paints but without the alcohol.

Acrylates copolymer is a film-forming agent that is used in cosmetic and skin care products to produce a water-resistant barrier to the skin. Commonly found in sunscreen and waterproof makeups.

Acrylates-based paint brands include:

  • European Body Art – VODA (VIBE)


  • Great alternative to alcohol-based liquid paints as less likely to irritate the eye area and sensitive skin on children.


  • Water-resistant and more durable under hot conditions when used with a primer.
  • Great for vibrant, long-lasting designs (can last 1-2 days if cared for).
  • Easier to remove than alcohol-based alternatives, just use soap and water.


  • Requires a different setup to water-activated – either airbrush or a paint pallet to decant small amounts for application with a brush or sponge.

Cosmetic Grade Silicone Based Face Paints

Body Color Cosmetics (BCC) are the only current supplier of this type of face paint. They are changing the face of waterproof face paints with their range of colors (including neon and a Glow in the Dark face paint!) and split-cakes.

They are a dry cake like water-activated paints but are activated with their special activation liquid instead of water.

This makes them waterproof and smudge-proof but being alcohol free they’re a great alternative for waterproof face paints.

Available in solid colors and a small range of one-strokes, these can be applied very similarly to wax-based paints.

Cosmetic Grade Silicone based paint brands include:

  • Body Color Cosmetics (BCC)


  • Can be used like wax-based paints for both base work and line work.


  • Waterproof and very durable under hot conditions.
  • Acts like wax-based paints when activated so can be blended easily.
  • Easier to remove than alcohol-based alternatives, just use oil-based remover (e.g. coconut oil or makeup remover).


  • Requires a little more thought on cleaning – using mixing solution first to remove all paint and then cleaning with soap and water.
  • Expensive compared to water-activated paints.
  • Limited color range especially in one-strokes, but an impressive entry level range and first waterproof one-strokes available.


First, you need to know that in most cases, professional face painters work with water activated paints. They can be classified into three main categories, due to the main ingredient in their formula:

  • Paraffin Wax based
  • Glycerin based
  • Acacia Senegal Gum based
Note: Professional face paints mean that they have been tested for safety, therefore they follow CSPA, FDA, EU and Australian Standards guidelines (CSPA — U.S. Consumer Specialty Products Association, FDA — U.S. Food and Drug Administration, EU — European Union).

Best face paint brands at the moment include: Fusion Body Art, TAG, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, PartyXplosion, Cameleon, Kryolan, Global Colours, Face Paints Australia, Mehron Paradise, Superstar, Kryvaline, Kraze FX.

A note on Snazaroo: we are intentionally not including Snazaroo in this list, although statistics show that most face painters start their career with this brand. Although Snazaroo is a safe product, that follows FDA, EU and CSPA guidelines, most of the paints are not as bright and vibrant compared to the other brands listed above. The paint often cracks on the skin and it is more difficult to achieve uniform coverage with it. It is also very tricky to use for linework and can leave you frustrated.

three different face paint designs - a fox a green and rose flower, and a blue and pink flower design
Tip: Check out our “Best face painting Stencils” guide too! The textures you can create with these little buddies are super easy to make, yet transfer the whole design to a totally new level!

Water activated paints

Paraffin Wax Based Face Paints

an image of three different face paints from three different brands "Tag", "Diamond FX" and "Wolfe"

Paraffin Wax based paints are probably the most popular type of paints.

They dry quickly, provide very good coverage and come in vibrant colors that are great for sponging, and are also very easy to use for linework. Also, these paints are a little bit more difficult to blend due to the dryness of the coating they provide.

On the other hand, they are more difficult to smudge, which is a great benefit, especially when we speak about face painting on small kids that tend to touch their face with less precaution.

There is just one specifics that one should know about these paints. Since paraffin wax is a petroleum-based wax, it is solid at room temperature. But once it gets in hot and humid circumstances, with a temperature higher than 37 degree Celsius (98,6 Fahrenheit), it starts to melt, transforming the paint into some sort of a gluey consistency.

Brands: Diamond FX, TAG Body Art, Kryvaline regular line, Kraze FX and Wolfe FX.

Our choice: TAG Body Art — an experienced manufacturer that constantly works on improving the formula of their paints. For example, their teal color doesn’t stain the skin at all now, unlike some other brands from the list above.

Glycerin Based Face Paints

Glycerine-based paints are softer than the Paraffin wax ones. Therefore, they are specifically used for blending.

Despite the fact that their softness makes this paint easier to smudge from the skin, the glycerin makes them more resistant to high temperatures.

These paints are a great option when it comes to creating backgrounds that won’t flake off with the movement because the glycerin helps the paint stay soft and not as dry on the skin as the paraffin wax based paints.

Glycerin-based paints work great when applied on the eyelids too! They feel much lighter and don’t crack as it can happen with the paraffin wax paints.

Brands: Superstar (FAB), Paradise (Mehron), Graftobian.

Our choice: Superstar — a Dutch brand with an incredible range of colors (about 100 tones!) of amazing quality, clean colors and lastly — these paints work as good for background and blending as for linework.

Acacia Senegal Gum Based Face Paints

an image of three different face paints from three different brands

A relatively new type of paint is Acacia Senegal Gum based. These paints behave somehow in between the previous two types, being slightly thinner than the paraffin wax based paints, yet not as soft and creamy as the glycerin-based paints.

Great linework can be achieved with this type of paint, as well as very good opaque coverage is what you can obtain with them. But be aware of using these paints in hot and humid climates!

They aren’t very resistant to heat just like the Paraffin Wax paints.

Brands: Fusion Body Art (except for some colors), Cameleon (except for some colors), Kryvaline Creamy Line and Global Body Art.

Our choice: Fusion Body Art — a revolutionary brand that was launched recently by an experienced face paints manufacturer. These paints have a totally new formula, they are very vibrant, elastic, work perfectly for linework and their split-cakes have extremely bold colors!

Tip: Want to start earning with face painting but don’t know how much to charge? We’ve collected real prices for this service from all over the world! Check them out here.


We’ve gone through all of the pros and cons of the different types of paints in detail above. But if you’ve jumped down to get to the nitty gritty of what to use when then we’ve got you covered!

Best Face Paint for Line Work

Paraffin Wax or Acacia Senegal Gums based are best for crisp linework.

For black or white linework we love: Fusion, PartyXplosion, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Kryvaline, Cameleon, Face Paints Australia (FPA).

Our preferred brands of white and black are listed below: 1. WHITE paint for linework.

Best Face Paint for Base Work

A glycerin-based paint, with a softer texture, will help you achieve nice soft backgrounds, will feel lighter on the skin when applied on larger areas and will do the best blending.

We also love a pearly one-stroke for laying down a colorful base for adding instant wow factor to your designs. Check out our recommendations here: 5. Large split-cakes for sponging colorful backgrounds.

Best Face Paint for Stenciling

This is down to preference of application really. Some painters prefer a water-activated paint for stenciling, applied with sponges or daubers. Whilst others prefer a dry talc-based face paint applied with a blender. And again others prefer airbrushing.

This one mostly depends on what you have in your kit and how good you are at applying.

My preferred method is a water-activated paint applied with a firm, dense sponge. Check out our Face Painting Stencils blog for everything you need to know about application.

Tip: Best paint consistency for stenciling is sticky for waxy paints and dry for glycerin based paints. 


Face paints are sold in round or square containers, in the amount of starting with 16 and up to 90 grams. As a beginner, you may not need singular colors in larger amounts, but some colors get used far quicker than the others.

White and black are the two most important and widely used colors in face painting, primarily for linework, but also for the background. There are many places where you can buy face paint but we recommend the providers and brands below:

1. WHITE paint for linework

Even if you are just starting out, invest in a large pot of 30, 50 gr or even bigger! You will need it for practice and for most of your designs.

Best white brands of face paints are Paraffin Wax or Acacia Senegal Gums based: Fusion, PartyXplosion, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Kryvaline, Cameleon, Face Paints Australia (FPA).

Our choice: Fusion Body Art Face Paint — Prime Paraffin White 50 gr

2. WHITE paint for the background

A glycerin-based paint, with a softer texture, will help you achieve nice soft backgrounds, will feel lighter on the skin when applied on larger areas and will do the best blending.

Best white brands for the background are Superstar, Paradise Mehron and Kryolan.

Our choice: Superstar Face Paint | Line White 161 — 45 gr

white face paint from the brand "superstar"

3. BLACK paint for linework

One pot of 30 or 45 gr, any of the brands: Fusion, PartyXplosion, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Kryvaline, Cameleon, Face Paints Australia (FPA).

Our choice: Fusion Body Art Face Paint — Prime Strong Black 50 gr

4. ADDITIONAL 30-40 colors

In case you are looking into a professional setup. But, also think about what colored face paint you may need.

If you are purchasing for a specific design (i.e. a Halloween face paint for a costume or theater production) take a moment to think about the specific colors you’ll need to achieve these looks.

Each brand offers three types of paints:

  • regular paints — matte colors
  • metallic or pearl paints — shimmery colors
  • neon (UV) paints — vibrant matte colors that glow in UV light

Check out our Face Painting Kits Guide for a complete collection of tools and to find out Olga’s favorite colors!

If you don’t necessarily need specific colors, but want to purchase a variety without breaking the bank, a starter kit or multi-color palette are fantastic and affordable options.

You may find palettes made of solo regular colors, solo metallic colors or solo UV-colors.

Examples of palettes:

You’ll get a variety of colors in a smaller version and some kits even include sponges and brushes. Take a look at these kits for an idea of what you might want to purchase.

Our choice: Fusion Body Art — Sampler Face Painting Palette — vibrant regular colors, including a white and a black.

This palette is a complete mini-set that can be used instantly on the job! Just pick up a couple of brushes and sponges and you can start painting!

5. Large split-cakes for sponging colorful backgrounds

Split-cakes are cakes of paint that contain more than one color, enabling you to load multiple colors onto one brush or sponge and lay down multiple colors with “one-stroke” technique.

Split-cakes are produced in large containers for both sponge and brush work and small narrow containers for brush work.

Tip: Big split-cakes are very helpful when it comes to sponge a wide colorful background like in this Tiger design by our School instructor Elodie Ternois.

There are multiple different split-cakes produced by different brands. We’ve presented some of the main brands in this collage for you and below you’ll find the links to the essential split-cakes that we recommend for your kit!

Our choice: if you are looking into purchasing a set of the most popular color combinations, then these five combinations will do the job for you!

1. Blue combination for Winter (Frozen) and Ocean themed designs:
Fusion Body Art Face Paint — Rainbow Cake | Frozen Shimmer 50 gr by Jest Paint.

2. Green combinations for Mermaids, Dragons:
Fusion Body Art & FX — Rainbow Cake | Mermaid Splash 50 gr by Jest Paint.

3. Coral-red combination for Tropical designs, Dragons, Tigers etc:
Fusion Body Art Face Paint – Rainbow Cake | NEW Glowing Tiger (no neons) 50gr by Jest Paint.

4. Pinky-purple combination for Unicorns and Princesses:
Silly Farm Face Paint Rainbow Cake — Purple Sprite 50 gr.

5. A rainbow split-cake for all those rainbow-lovers:
Fusion Body Art Face Paint — Rainbow Cake | Bright Rainbow 50 gr.

💎 But if your budget is tight, then invest in ONE pearly rainbow split-cake. This is a must-have for any kit!
TAG Face Paint Split Cake — EXCL Big Happy Swirl 50 gr #9.

Want to become a professional face painter?

Then you certainly need to check out our Ultimate Guide for Professional Face Painter where we’ve covered all essential topics. From safety, techniques, designs, insurance, business license, and even self-promotion.

6. Split cakes for one stroke

This is an optional addition, but it can make a big impact. You may opt-out of this purchase if you are on a super tight budget, but it will become a time savior in case you need to work on a long line of kids.

A rainbow combination is perfect for the beginning! Children love rainbows! All you need is a flat brush to use it.

Our choice: Fusion Body Art & FX — Spectrum Palette | Tropical Collection by Leanne Courtney
— a palette with all main color combinations you may need, with very vibrant colors and amazing paint quality.

Or, if you only want to purchase one split-cake for one stroke, invest in this rainbow neon option! It’s bright, colorful and will work perfectly for the beginning!

Fusion Body Art & FX — Split Cake | Leanne’s Rainbow (neon) by Leanne Courtney 30 gr

…and you can create a multitude of different rainbow designs with just this ONE split-cake! Super fast, super easy and always a hit!

Tip: Check out our “In a Flash” article for more ideas on super fast face painting designs!

7. Pearl white

Last optional tool that will take your beginner’s work to a new level instantly! Pearly white is super handy to use when you need to soften any regular color and blends nicely on the eyelids and inner corners of the eyes. It doesn’t crack like it can happen sometimes with regular colors and gives a soft uniform coverage on the eyelids skin.

white face paint from three brands

Our choice: Fusion Body Art Face Paint — Pearl Fairy White 25 gr

white face paint from the brand "fusion body art"

Tip: Did you know that there are 5 different paint consistencies that you should practice working with to achieve best results? We explained it in our “How to activate face paints to get amazing results” article.

And for those of you concerned about animal welfare, you should know that none of the face paints are tested on animals!

And as for the ingredients, here is a list of VEGAN face paints, which means they contain no animal byproducts of any kind:

  • Fusion Body Art
  • Global Body Art
  • Diamond FX
  • TAG Body Art
  • Cameleon
  • Wolfe FX Paradise
  • Kryvaline

Other brands may contain lanolin, carmine or shellac, which makes them non-vegan. If you want to learn more about this topic, we recommend this article on Vegan Face Paints: All You Need To Know About Them.

Other face paints types

There are also some other professional face paints types, that you may need for specific purposes.

For instance, alcohol-based face paints are a great option for events that involve water (pool-parties) and for situations in which you need the paint to last longer than a day (stage shows and bodypainting competitions).

Another type of “paint” are pressed powders, whose main ingredient is talc. These powders are mostly used by makeup artists or by advanced face painters to create combinations of translucent layers of powders and sweat-resistant backgrounds but still work great for any regular design such as for Halloween makeup.

Detailed information and tutorials about these specific types of paints, as well as many more professional secrets of how to use face paints to achieve the most outstanding results, are all covered in our online course at the International Face Painting School.

Want to learn how to face paint now?

Get your access to the most comprehensive course for beginners — our Beginner Course!

Beginner course - IntFPS

 — Jen Hague

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