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Liquid vs. Cake Face Paint

Should You use Cakes or Liquids and Creams when Facepainting?

Home > Face Paint GuideLiquid vs Cake Face Paint by Marc Kohler

If you are a new face painter, it will make sense to ask what face paints to use. If you are an experienced face painter, you might be surprised that you can increase the quality of your work by considering using different or additional face paints, different brands, and even dropping some that you have been married to for decades. So, consider this more as an exploration. Whatever you decide to do, I want this writing to help you make those decisions. That I can give you the stepping stones across the creek on which you can step to find success.

Liquid vs. Cake Face Paint

I started with Liquids and Creams. I started with Mehron Liquid Makeup, and early on fell in love with Fardel. The Fardel Liquids worked like liquid magic - they flowed on with little or no resistance. Even with a bad brush, I could start a wide line, and take it down to a tiny thread. The Mehron Liquids can do equivalent work, but it may take some adjustment with water to get them to the right consistency. Mehron Fantasy FX Creams are very good paints, although I find they can change consistency from too much warmth or too much humidity. I had the opportunity to attend two 2-day workshops with Olivier Zegers. His command of the liquid and creams was awesome, inspirational, and the best. He would apply a circle of cream, line it with black, carefully shape the black softly up on the cream, and you could see a miracle appear as the jaw turned into a complex vision of depth. Then, with both a round #8 and #6 brush, birds, trees, clouds, and much more would appear in seconds as has hands moved around the face.

With these liquids and creams I was assured of a tacky surface to place glitter that stuck, shined, and glimmered! This seemed like a magic combination, and I used it for eight years. Then, cake makeup started to appear on the face painting scene. I saw painters using cups of color and making beautiful faces… faces that did not have wet paint or creamy creams. So, I started using soe cake facepaint. This was an important step fo rme, as Fardel had become extremely difficult to buy in the United States.

Using cake face paints was a shock for me as an experienced face painter - I found them difficult to use. When I used them, I would be carrying too much water, and drip. Other times, they were too dry and would not flow at all. Sometimes, I would blend the liquid paints with the cakes or visa versa. Then, in 
April 2012 I was able to take a full day class with Brian Wolfe (side note: at this writing, face painters all over the world are praying for Brian’s health due to his recent diagnosis of pancreatic cancer, visit Brian Wolfe's Fight For Life page to help out if you can). The hours there were as powerful as the hours with Olivier Zegers. Brian gave us all one cake of white face paint. I had brought my entire face paint kit of 50 brushes, thirty creams, and lots of bottles of liquids, but Brian assured us that everything we would do that day was going to be done with a single cake of paint, a lone number 4 brush, and his life time of experience.
Brian Wolfe Class - swirls on practice headSo, we stared with lines on practice head. Lines and lines and lines. At one point, Brian suggested that we paint lines up and down the side of the model head. I laughed and said that that was impossible. I would never have tried that my with liquids. So, Brian came up, took my practice head, and proceeded to curly cue, line, and decorate one side of the head and all the way down to the other. The cake had given his brush exactly enough color and water to keep flowing without dripping, stay consistent in color and just keep going! From then on, over the next four hours, this little #4 brush did more work than my hands have ever seen. The liquids have never been able to do this—my lines around my princesses’ eyes were never this graceful, this detailed, this luxurious. Again, at 64, I was too old to have to learn these kind of basics all over again, but I have tried.


There differences between liquid, cream, and cake makeup, are mainly to do with the differences in moisture. With cakes, you have one color. When I try to mix colors outside of their cups, the colors seem to dry too fast, or stay too wet. I do mix them in their cups, but then that messes up the color for future use. I often times will clean out a cup with a paper towel or nap. Then all is well. With creams and liquids, color mixing is easier and can be done on a palette while staying moist, giving vast variety to the amount of colors you have to use. With all types 

I take my creams and put them into 2 inch diameter art cups, available at most art stores with screw tops or snap tops. I use or make blend Mehron Fantasy FX or Fardel creams in the following colors: Red, Pink, Light Yellow, Yellow, Light Orange, Orange, Dark Orange, Lion Yellow, Light Green, Yellow Green, Green, Monster Green, Camouflage Green, Light Blue, Blue, Turquoise, Lavender, Purple, Light Indigo, Indigo, White, Yellow White, Black, Beige, Tan, Brown, Dark Brown, Dark Grey, Light Grey, Gold, Silver, Copper. I also mix liquids re-using the Mehron bottles. I make all the colors that I make for the creams in addition to more shades of orange, browns and tans, and some colors that I make up to compliment the primaries, secondaries, and tertiaries. Why? It allows me to do animals with a light lined mesh that mimics fur. My Mardi Gras princesses pick up touches a indigo which is truly an exciting color.

In summary

If you are beginning, start with cakes, and see where and how far they can take you. The only real weakness of these cakes is that they dry before you can get the glitter on. To compensate for this you can roll you’re a #8 or larger round, slightly moistened, glitter dipped brush over the section where you want the glitter to stick. Ben Nye Glitter Glue and Ben Nye LiquiSet are great products, and Sally Beauty supply makes a clear glitter glue that works very well. In time, you can start using creams by adding black and white Mehron Fantasy FX, and then let your imagination and energy be your guide. You can send any questions about this post to my email, and I will answer any that I get.

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