Paints For Face Painting

Paints designed specifically for face painting can be expensive and tricky to find.

Paints designed specifically for face painting can be tricky to track down and sometimes pricey. Often they have to be mail-ordered. The cheapest sets may come with only five or six colors. It’s no wonder that the rows and rows of cheap acrylic paints at the hobby store look tempting. But even though they seem like a great bargain, acrylic paints should never be used on human skin.

Many acrylic paints are non-toxic. However, non-toxic is not the same as FDA-approved. Acrylic paints may contain toxic chemicals and potential carcinogens. They may provoke skin rashes and cause allergies to flare up. Worse, an application of acrylic paint on a particularly sensitive child might even cause a serious allergic reaction, such as inflammation of the airways.

This issue is particularly risky when dealing with children, who may be more sensitive to toxins than adults. Young children may not know yet if they are prone to allergic reactions. Or they may not care, when faced with the opportunity to have a unicorn or spiderweb painted on their face. Whether painting a few children at a party or a hundred children at the school fair, the risks are not worth it.

Another reason to avoid acrylic paints is the issue of staining. Although face paints, particularly grease-based ones, may still stain, there is a higher probability that they will come out of a child’s clothing or a parent’s piece of expensive furniture. Acrylics adhere well to fiber, making them a poor choice for face painting. Wet paint of any type feels odd and itchy on the face until it dries, and children (and adults) are all too likely to accidentally rub their face with a sleeve.

The only paints that should be used for face painting are those specifically designed for it. These paints are FDA-approved for use on human skin. Many are water-based, which makes cleanup easier. For safest use of these products, continue to use caution around children’s eyes. Ask parents if their child is known to have sensitive skin, and if so, first test the paint on the inside of the child’s arm.

The good news is that there are several reputable makers of face paints out there. The best face paints can be more expensive, but a simple six-color set of face paints will typically last a long time and will also come with the appropriate brush. After all, it doesn’t take a lot of paint to do a heart or a ghost. It’s also not necessary for the amateur face painter to have a lot of colors. Because face paints are thick, colors can easily be mixed right on the surface of the paint tub itself without affecting all of the paint in that tub. The density of actual face paints also means that your design will not drip or run as you are creating it.

The key to purchasing face paints is to do it well in advance of when you need them. That way you can order them online or over the phone. Unless it’s Halloween, it can be challenging to find face paints locally. And the grease sticks sold in grocery stores at Halloween can be hard to use for fine brush painting and difficult to remove from a child’s face and clothes.

If you order your FDA-approved paints in advance, you won’t ever be tempted by the readily available acrylic paints. Your paints will be meant for face painting and will be easier to work with. And most of all, you will know that the people you are painting are as safe as they can be.

Written by Christine Connolly – 2002 Pagewise

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