Choosing the Right Face Paint Sponges

Best Face Painting Sponges
Jen Hague — 01 July 2024 —

Face painting sponges are important tools of the trade, just as brushes are. Artists will generally prefer one type of sponge over another, depending on their personal style of work. Some will combine a few types of them for achieving various effects in face painting.

There are a multitude of sponges with various textures and densities to use in your work.

If you’re confused by the HUGE selection of sponges available online, this is the guide for you!

In this article, you will find out what sponges for face painting you REALLY NEED for great results with your face art!

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.

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Why You Need a Specialized Face Paint Sponge

Benefits of Using Specialized Sponges

As mentioned above, craft sponges are not typically made from the correct type of sponge and will impact the quality of your face painting.

Make up sponges tend to be very dense, used for liquid foundation and are not able to be cleaned effectively so should only be used once (imagine the waste throwing out a sponge every time you used it!).

The benefits of using specialized face painting sponges are:

  • Smooth and Even Coverage: face painting sponges (when loaded correctly) create a smooth, even application of paint, avoiding streaks and patchiness for a professional finish.
  • Time Efficiency: Specialized sponges have been created by face painters for face painters. Designed to cover larger areas quickly and evenly, speeding up the painting process.
  • Comfort and Control: Ergonomically designed sponges provide better handling and control, especially during detailed work or when painting around sensitive areas like the eyes.
  • Durability and Reusability: High-quality sponges are durable, can withstand multiple uses, and are easy to clean, making them cost-effective in the long run.
  • Enhanced Creativity: Coming in various shapes and sizes, making them suitable for different painting techniques. Specialized sponges allow for various textures and effects, such as gradients, blending, stenciling and stippling.

Differences Between Face Paint Sponges and Regular Sponges

Face paint sponges differ from regular sponges in several important ways:

  1. Material Composition:
    • Face Paint Sponges:Made from high-density, non-latex materials that are designed to be gentle on the skin and provide a smooth application of paint.
    • Regular Sponges:Often made from various materials like cellulose or synthetic fibers, which may not be suitable for skin contact or even application of makeup.
  2. Texture and Density:
    • Face Paint Sponges:Have a finer texture and higher density, allowing for better control and more even distribution of paint without absorbing too much product.
    • Regular Sponges:Typically have a coarser texture and less density, which can lead to uneven application and excessive absorption of paint.
  3. Shape and Size:
    • Face Paint Sponges:Available in a variety of shapes and sizes specifically designed for face painting techniques, such as petal, round, and custom shapes for detailed work.
    • Regular Sponges:Usually come in generic shapes and sizes not tailored for precision in face painting.
  4. Durability and Reusability:
    • Face Paint Sponges:Built to withstand frequent use and cleaning, making them more durable and reusable for face painting purposes.
    • Regular Sponges:May degrade quickly with repeated use and washing, especially when used with face paints.
  5. Hygiene:
    • Face Paint Sponges:Often made from hypoallergenic and antimicrobial materials to minimize the risk of skin irritation and ensure hygiene, which is crucial for use on multiple clients.
    • Regular Sponges:Not necessarily designed with skin sensitivity and hygiene in mind, which can be problematic when used on the face.

Overall, the differences between face paint sponges and regular sponges lie in their material, texture, shape, durability, and suitability for hygienic use on the skin.

Types of Face Paint Sponges

When we talk about different types of sponges there are three main things we’re looking at — shape/size, porosity and density.

There are also specialist sponges like daubers and smoothie blenders that you may also wish to use.

Sponge Density:

  • Soft sponges — more difficult to load without super dirty fingers when loading, not idea when then touching the face as much as we!
  • Medium density sponges — the most common type of sponges, produced by TAG, Mehron, Diamond FX and many other brands. These are the ones you want!
  • Dense Firm sponges — I know only one brand so far that produces high-density sponges and those are black Kryvaline sponges.

Sponge Porosity:

  • Small pores — these are dense Kryvaline sponges and they are perfect for stenciling.
  • Medium size pores — these are usually the ones of medium density and are great for sponging color from a split cake.
  • Porous sponges — these are yellow sponges produced by Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, Mehron, and Cameleon. They are medium density sponges, can hold lots of paint at once being absorbed into large pores and can cover large areas of skin with only one load of paint.Great for creating texture, dimension, and building up shapes. As you might have guessed, these sponges are our recommendation!

Sponge Shapes:

  • Circle or half circle sponges — this is the most common shape. Manufacturers produce them in circles, which you should cut in two half circles or already cut. They are easy to hold and to use and have different sides that can be used for different purposes and effects.
  • Petal sponges — these sponges come in a petal shape and are produced by Paint Pal, AWA, Ruby Red and other several brands. The perfect shape and size for little faces, they are great for sponging butterfly or fairy wing shapes.
  • Specialist shape — winged, angled petal and butterfly sponges are specially cut sponges into shapes that will create a specific look around the eye.

Top 5 — Best Face Painting Sponges

1. Yellow porous sponges

The porous yellow sponges are medium density and will hold a lot of paint when you load them and will help cover large areas of skin quickly.

They are also great for creating texture, creating dimension by applying highlights and shade and building up shapes. These are my #1 favorite sponges.

I used a porous yellow sponge here for creating various shades in the background of this lion.

Buy: Jest Paint – Hydra Face Painting Sponge

yellow fluffy sponge

Tip: Just cut the sponge into two and use tips of the half-circles to load the sponge with paint and apply it on the skin.
a boy wearing two face paint designs — a terminator and a monster face paint
Tip: Porous sponges allow to create textures, apply highlights and shadows like in these two designs that are part of the training at the International Face Painting School.

2. Half circle sponges with small pores

The half circle sponges with small pores are the most common type of sponges. They are produced by TAG, Mehron, Diamond FX and many other brands. They work great for applying colors from a split-cake. The medium density ones are my #2 favorite sponges.

However, one of the tips to keep in mind is that some of these sponges can be too soft and make your fingers dirty in case you squeeze the sponge a bit too much.

One of our top picks is the black, Splash Face Painting Sponges.

Buy: Splash Face Painting Sponges by Jest Paint – HALF MOON

Tip: Invest in a minimum of 6 pieces, more if you have big jobs planned with lots of sponged designs!
a young girl with a colorful tiger face paint design
Tip: Use the black sponges to create a colorful background like in this Tiger design by our School instructor Elodie Ternois. By the way, here is the tutorial for this tiger design.

3. Petal sponges

Petal sponges are produced by Paint Pal, AWA and some other brands. They are small and very handy to hold and work great for sponging butterfly or fairy wings.

If you are a beginner, I highly suggest you have a number of these sponges in your kit, as they will help you fit the correct size of wings on a child’s face.

And as you might have guessed already, these are my #3 favorite sponge.

I used petal sponges above for both the wings background and the night sky.

The specific sponge shape allows you to apply paint clean and easy on the eyelids and get easy access to the inner corners of the eyes.

We recommend this set: Splash Face Painting Sponge by Jest Paint – Tear Drop (6 pieces)

an image of the collection of sponges from the brand "splash sponges"

Splash Face Painting Sponges by Jest Paint — Wing (6 pieces)
Kryvaline — High Density SOFT Black Sponge — Small Petal

Tip: Petals sponges can be used to create various designs, like this one by International Face Painting School instructor Kristin Olsson.

4. Firm sponges

Black sponges by Kryvaline are the only high-density sponges with small pores that I know so far. They work great for stenciling.

I used a Kryvaline sponge here for stenciling the pattern around the Stormtrooper.

They are quick to load and hold more paint than a dauber, and you can use more than one color on each sponge (using different areas on the sponge).

Buy: Kryvaline — Small “Never Stain”* FIRM Black Face Painting Sponge — 1 Half

Alternative: Splash Face Painting Sponges by Jest Paint — HIGH DENSITY | HALF MOON

Tip: Invest in a minimum of 6 pieces.

5. Daubers

Finger daubers are small compact sponges that fit on a plastic base onto your finger or are attached to a wooden stick.

Finger daubers are high-density sponges that work great for stenciling.

They come in packs of at least 6. Again these are a single child item on the job so pop them in with your used sponges to be washed at the end of the day.

The other two types of daubers presented in this collage are made of medium density foam and are usually used for applying one stroke combinations.

Their smaller sizes allow you to do more detailed work and get more thick paint on the sponge with less water so that nothing leaks under the stencils and ruins the design.

Buy: Finger Dauber Face Painting Sponge – 10 units

Tip: These are fragile, do not soak in water, clean carefully with gentle soap and do not clean with alcohol, or the sponge might separate from the plastic dauber. If it does reattach with glue and let dry.
boy looking ah the camera from a side. he has a cartoon burning skull with stars painted on his face
Tip: Finger daubers work great when it’s about stenciling tiny details like in this design by the School instructor Kristin Olsson.

Smoothie blenders

One last specialist sponge worth mentioning is Smoothie Blenders.

These are used for dry powder paint application (e.g. with Starblends) either to blend colors together or to apply stencils over normal face paint. As such, not every face painter will need these in their kit.

We recommend buying washable smoothie blenders that you can wash with your normal sponges and daubers.

Remember one smoothie blender per child — and don’t forget you can use both sides if you are applying more than one color.

Buy: Fusion | Face Painting Applicator — Black Washable Smoothie Blenders — 28 Pack

Tip: Want to discover how to create the perfect design? Check out my “Secret Tips for Flawless Face Painting” post.

Tips for Using Face Paint Sponges

Getting a good load on your sponge is the most crucial step in getting a good application on the skin.

How to load your face paint sponge

  1. Spritz the paint (once)
  2. Spritz the sponge (4-5 times) and rotate in your hands
    • The sponge should be moist, but when you squeeze it there shouldn’t be any water leaking out of it
  3. Move sponge on paint until paint is dry.
    • Too much water will feel slippy, not enough will have resistance.
  4. Test on your arm and repeat loading if needed.

How To Apply Face Paint With Sponge

Once your sponge is nicely loaded with color, dab it repeatedly on the skin to achieve a nicely blended and even texture.

Tip: When sponging over the closed eye, you can lightly drag the sponge over the closed eye and then dab around the socket. This will be more comfortable on the eyes of your little customers.

How To Clean Face Paint Sponges

Cleaning face painting sponges properly is essential to maintain hygiene and ensure their longevity. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to clean them:

  1. Rinse in warm water as soon as your home from the gig to get the majority of the face paint out.
  2. Warm wash — hand wash (with Jest Brush & Body Wash) or in a large wash bag in your washing machine (with sensitive washing powder and no fabric softener) with your reusable cloths, wipes, towels or table cloth used on the job. Do not wash with other personal or pet items!
  3. Rinse — if washing by hand rinse thoroughly to remove all of the soap and paint residue. Water should be running clear when you squeeze the sponge. Another way to test is to squeeze it in a white towel or paper towel to see if color comes off.
  4. Dry thoroughly before repacking in your kit. Sponges can be dried in your tumble drier (keep them in the wash bag) or line dried in direct sunlight.

Some face painters choose to disinfect their sponges regularly. Please ensure they are well rinsed and fully washed after disinfecting with chemicals to ensure no residual chemicals are put onto the skin.

Sanitizing in boiling water is also an option but impact the quality of your sponges over time. Do not use boiling water with finger daubers as it will impact the glue.

Now, when you know exactly what you need to start face painting with sponges, you may want to learn how to use the sponges correctly!

Check out our Ultimate Face Painting Beginner’s Guide and learn how to achieve amazing results in no time! 😍
Beginners Guide Cover

 — Jen Hague

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