What Kind of Paint Is Used for Face Painting?

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Face painting is performed on bo th children and adults, usually as part of an outfit for a fancy dress party. Face paints are also worn by supporters of sports teams who have their faces painted in the style of their team’s colors or team mascot. Face painting can be a fun activity for many kinds of occasions, but choosing the wrong paint type can lead to unpleasant reactions.

Organic Face Paints

  • Many paints contain substances such as cobalt, lead, petrochemicals or fungicides, which can cause skin irritation and breathing problems if left on for too long. Organic paint is free of the toxins and chemicals found in cheaper face paints and can also help reduce your carbon footprint as it causes no harm to the ozone layer surrounding the Earth. However, avoid using organic paints intended for use on house walls as they may still be unsuitable for use on skin. Order organically produced face paints form fancy dress stores or through online outlets instead, as these will be more suitable for face painting.

Henna Paint

  • Henna originates from India and is a type of paint often used to create both facial and body art in Asia and Western countries. It is often chosen by those who want the full, intricate detail of an actual tattoo but without its being fixed to the skin permanently. Face painters who use black henna, however, may put people at risk of allergic reactions. Black henna paint can contain p-phenylenediamine, a coal tar colorant that can lead to breakouts of blisters or burns.

Cosmetic-Grade Face Paints

  • Many manufacturers produce face paint using the same ingredients contained in cosmetics products, such as eye shadow, eyeliner and lipstick. That gives the face paint a clear, vivid appearance without putting people at risk for rashes or burns. Like cosmetic products, these face paints won’t be smudged by an accidental rub but will easily wash off with water and soap. Such products usually come with a “Use By” date for added safety.

Face Glitter

  • Glitter is often the finishing touch on many face-paint designs. According to the website Expressions Face Painting (expressionsfacepainting.com/safety.html), however, glitter used in homemade greeting cards or other craft projects should not be applied to the face. That's because it's usually made from thin metal and can cause cuts if applied to the face. Polyester glitter, cut to a hexagonal shape to avoid scratches, is a safe alternative.

Arts and Crafts Paints

  • Many face painters use erasable markers or craft paints when applying paint. Although those products are usually classed as nontoxic, this does not necessarily mean they are safe for use on skin. It usually indicates that they can be washed out of fabrics without damaging them. Water-based markers may wipe off a board easily but can take days and a lot of scrubbing to remove from skin. Even craft paints may contain colorants and chemicals that can lead to rashes, itches or severe irritation. Look for face paints that are hypoallergenic and contain ingredients approved for use by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

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