Face Painting Safety

Face Painting Safety

Are your face paints safe? Whether you’re a mom who likes to get creative with your kids or a professional face painter, safety should always be a top concern. Here are some answers to your most commonly asked questions about face paint safety.

How do I Keep My Face Paints And Tools Clean and Hygienic?

  1. Make sure you don’t let water pool in face paint. You may want to spray your sponges directly with water instead of spraying the face paint to keep them drier. Keep the lids on when you’re not using.
  2. Don’t allow children to touch your face paint.
  3. Toss face paint after the expiration date.
  4. Change your brush water frequently while face painting. Products like Brush Bath may help to keep water and brushes hygienic.
  5. Thoroughly clean, sanitize, and dry tools after gigs. Sponges can be microwaved for 2 minutes after washing with soap and water to kill bacteria. Parian Spirit is what I use to sanitize my face painting brushes between jobs. 

How Important is the Expiration Date on my Face Paint Container?

Pretty important. Look for the symbol on the packaging containing a number followed by the letter M. 12M means the product is good for 12 months after opening. It’s always a good idea to keep on the side of caution and toss out expired face paints. The preservatives that keep face paints from growing bacteria, yeast, and mold lose their potency after the expiration date.

What are Parabens and are They Harmful?

Parabens are a type of synthetic preservative used in food and cosmetics including some face paints. Parabens have been widely studied and found to be safe by the FDA. However, other studies have questioned the safety of these types of preservatives. To find out if a product contains parabens, read the ingredients list and look for words ending in paraben like methylparaben and ethylparaben. Just because a face paint contains parabens does not mean they are unsafe, however, if you are concerned about parabens then do some research. There are several brands of face paint that do not use parabens like Global, Mehron, Wolfe, Kraze FX, TAG, Grimas, and Diamond FX to name a few.

Kraze FX

Can I Make my Own Face Paint?

If you enjoy making your own natural beauty products and you are not face painting professionally, you can certainly try. Keep in mind that you are not likely to create face paints that have the vibrancy and staying power of professional face paints. Never use things like craft paints or any other ingredients that are not made for use on skin. This may seem obvious, but I came across a recipe for DIY face paint on a popular website that called for finger paints as an ingredient. Yikes!

Can Someone Have an Allergic Reaction to Face Paint?

Yes, an allergic reaction can be caused by just about anything. Even face paints that are labeled as hypoallergenic could potentially cause someone to have a reaction. That said, I feel confident using professional face paint brands. Most face paint manufacturers suggest testing a small amount of product on skin and waiting at least 30 minutes to 24 hours. Obviously, this isn’t easy to do in a situation where you are face painting at a busy event. If a child has never been face painted before, I strongly suggest that they get a small arm design over a full face design. I also choose face paints that contain no perfume whenever possible. Kraze FX and Global are a couple of good perfume-free options.

Is it Safe to Sponge Face Paint Around the Eyes?

You might have noticed that some face paint brands will advise against using certain colors around the eyes. That may be more to do with staining versus safety concerns. Any color of face paint, if it gets into the eye, is likely to cause mild irritation. I avoid the eye area altogether when I’m face painting at hectic gigs.

Are There Any Natural Face Paints?

It depends on what you mean by natural. Several brands of face paint like Wofle, Kraze FX, Fusion, Diamond FX, and TAG use natural preservatives instead of synthetic ones. Face paints with natural pigments are harder to find and may not preform the way you are expecting. Know which ingredients you want to avoid and why. Then read the ingredients list on products before buying.

What is the Safest Brand of Face Paint?

That’s hard to say. Some brands suggest that they are safer than others, but it really depends on your definition of safe. Professional face paints that have FDA compliant ingredients are generally considered safe.

Is Chunky Glitter Safe for Use on the Face?

Amerikan Body Art Material Girl Chunky Glitter

Chunky glitter should be used with caution. It’s advised that face painters do not use chunky glitter gels on younger children, but there are no set age restrictions. I absolutely love chunky glitter gel, but only use it on arms and occasionally on faces of tweens and older. No matter what the age of your customer, never apply chunky glitter close to the eyes.

Using a Clean Sponge for Each Face Creates a Ton of Work for me When I’m Cleaning up. Can I just Use One Sponge for Each Color During a Gig?

For me, using a clean sponge for every face is a must. Even though professional face paints contain preservatives, it’s kind of gross to think about the sweat from all those faces collecting on one sponge. I don’t even double dip my sponges, so if I find I need a little more color for a child’s face I take out a clean sponge. It really doesn’t take that long to rinse out sponges with soap and water and pop them in the microwave for 2 minutes after a gig. Don’t forget to make sure sponges are completely dry before storing.

I’m confused. Are Neon Face Paints Safe to Use on a Child’s Face or Not?

Neon Face Paint

The FDA has not tested many neon pigments for use as cosmetics. That’s why most neon face paints are labeled for use on hair and prosthetics only, not skin. Grimas face paint sells neon colors that meet EU standards for cosmetics. You may have trouble finding their neons outside Europe though. Kryolan, however, also makes cosmetic quality neons and is widely available in the U.S. 

Kryolan Neon Face Paints

Can I Use Craft Store Glitter for Face Painting?

Definitely not. Craft glitter is made from metal and has sharp edges that can scratch the eyes. Always, always use cosmetic glitter on skin. Keep in mind that even cosmetic glitter that’s made for face painting can irritate the eyes. Always ask the child you are painting to close their eyes when applying glitter and only apply small amounts.

I Love Having my Customers Sit in a Tall Director’s Chair, but I’m Scared it Will Tip Over or That the Child Will Fall Through the Back. Any Suggestions?

I love using a director’s chair too. I always make sure there is a wall to back it up against to avoid having it tipping over. I also hold the arm while the child is getting in. A stadium chairplaced over the seat might help avoid kids slipping through the chair’s gap. Really, you just have to be on guard at all times or stick with regular table-height chairs to avoid the worry.

Any Tips on Using Stencils Safely?

BAMS Stencil

I use stencils all the time. I got in a habit of asking customers to close their eyes before I place a stencil on their face. Maybe it’s just me, but I’m worried that the plastic edges of a stencil might scratch someone’s eyes.

Do you have any concerns about face painting safety? We'd love to hear from you in the comments section!  

Vanessa Tsumura is a professional face painter in Milwaukee, WI.