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MAIN Arrow to ArtArt & Culture Arrow to Body ArtBody Art Arrow to Face Painting Face Painting

young girl shows off her cat face paintingFace painting was first used by warrior tribes who blackened their faces before going into battle. Along with an intimidating "rebel yell", the jagged designs around eyes and cheeks made them look, and feel, a lot more fierce.

Today, a more innocent reason for face painting is ... simply having fun.

It is a common entertainment at county fairs, large open-air markets and other locations where children and adolescents gather, like theme parks and festivals. At home, it's a very easy entertainment activity at kids' birthdays, teen graduation parties or just a rainy day way to break the boredom.

dog face painting template
Learn how to make
a dog face painting

Though the majority of face painting is geared towards children, many teenagers and adults enjoy being painted for sporting and special events, as well.

Basically, there are two kinds of face painting.

  • Designs that include animals, cartoon or fairy tale characters, and other designs that are "cute" or otherwise appealing to the young at heart.

Do It Yourself Non-toxic
Face Paint Recipe

1 tsp. corn starch
½ tsp. water
½ tsp. cold cream
food coloring

In a small cup, mix all ingredients until well blended. Mix a few batches using various food coloring (red, blue, yellow) ... and you're ready to go.

To get additional colors just mix the basics. For pink add more white paint to the red batch. For green mix blue and yellow. For orange mix red and yellow. Purple is a mix of blue and red.

Always do skin tests on a small patch before applying anything to large areas of skin. Some people may be sensitive to even the most natural ingredients. Find out BEFORE you apply an irritant to large parts of your body!

Make sure to wash your face before you start - it helps avoid breaking out from wearing face paint and makeup. You can use hypoallergenic baby wipes to prep children's faces.

Spiderman, princess, cat whiskers, rainbows, flowers, butterflies, and clown noses are popular designs that are accomplished with a few carefully placed strokes of the brush, using water-based face paint available at most party supply stores.

  • Designs that show solidarity with a cause or membership in a group. You'll find many fans at football games and other sporting events with faces painted to show support for their team.

Of course, adults can and often do join the fun, donning colorful "war paint" for special occasions whether it be fanatical World Cup or sports fans in their team colors, or as wild revelers during annual Mardi Gras festivities when people of all ages take to the streets to show their true party colors.

Face painting how to's:

Although the basic technique for face painting remains the same, designs are only limited to your imagination:

  1. Sit your subject in a chair and place a towel around their shoulders.

  2. Tie back long hair to keep it out of the way.

  3. Before applying face paint, wipe subject's face with a moist wipe or tissue.

  4. If you know a subject is prone to allergies, place a small amount of paint on the cheek to see if there is a reaction.

  5. Apply light colors first with a broad brush, then use smaller brushes for finer details.

  6. If you're new to face painting, start out with simple designs like stars, half moons and diamond shapes.

  7. To remove face paint, simply use mild soap and water.

Face painting around the Web

Just up ahead, discover more information and resources, expert tips & advice for kids & teen face painting focusing on party activities, face painting supply buying guides, do-it-yourself instructions, along with lots of creative ideas to be found in step-by-step illustrations & picture galleries ....


Face Painting Association - UK organization featuring an online magazine, information on painting competitions, FAQ, face painting picture galleries, membership info and contact details.

Novelty Makeup Safety Tips - Good advice from the US FDA site with tips on makeup and face paint allergies, unsafe makeup ingredients and how to spot them, plus contact phone numbers and related links to more information.


also see Halloween Makeup Ideas | Birthday Party Ideas

Toddler Birthday Party Ideas


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