What Paint Can Be Used On Face?

It’s incredible how face paint can transform you into any character or creature imaginable, making it a must for any fancy dress occasion. But choose your face paint carefully. The skin on your face is easily bothered by the harmful chemicals in some types of paint. So, you should treat your face with extra care, not smother it with gloop that will stress it out. What paint can be used on the face?

Paint that can be applied to the face should be specially formulated for use on human skin, approved by the U.S. Food & Drug Administration, and free from harmful ingredients like heavy metals and paraben preservatives. Hypoallergenic products pose less risk of allergic reactions.

Picking your face paint based on how glittery, intensely colored, or luminous it looks might help you create amazing face art, but it could also irritate or damage your skin and eyes. Here’s how to minimize the risk that your face paint will give you an itchy rash, swollen eyelids, or angry, red skin.

How To Find Safe, Effective Face Paint (Dos & Don’ts)

These dos and don’ts should help you track down a face paint that will cause only good reactions (that is, compliments on your face-painting skills, not skin irritation!).

What To Look For In Face Paint (Dos)

Face paints that let you create works of art without wrecking your skin are safe and high quality.

How To Find Safe Face Paint

Only apply face paint that ticks these boxes:

  • Specially formulated for human skin.  
  • Cleared by the FDA. Check thatthe health and safety watchdog has okayed the paint’s ingredients and labeled them safe for use on the face.Want your face art to glow in the dark? Note that only one luminescent color ingredient has the FDA’s approval: luminescent zinc sulfide. Check the full list of FDA-approved cosmetic colors (the FDA considers face paint a cosmetic).
  • Labeled hypoallergenic and paraben-free. You want your face paint to behypoallergenic to lower your risk of an allergic reaction. Further protect your health by steering clear of parabens, as these preservatives are linked to health trouble like disrupted hormones and cancer.
  • Easy to remove. Look for face paint you can gently wash off with water and a cleanser. You’ll irritate your skin if you need to use harsh chemicals and vigorous rubbing to remove face paint.

How To Find High-Quality Face Paint

These characteristics up the chance you’ll be happy with your face-painting results:

  • Professional grade. Face paint made for the pros adds full, rich color with every stroke. This premium paint is also less likely to streak and crack once applied.
  • Beginner friendly. If this is your first time experimenting with face paint, consider buying paint that you apply with an easy-to-use crayon-like tool. Kits that include stencils make it simple to ace an impressive design.

What To Avoid In Face Paint (Don’ts)

These paints shouldn’t go near your face:

  • Acrylic paint. Dare to cover your face in acrylic paint and risk all sorts of negative reactions – while wearing the paint and scrubbing it off.
  • Paint that smells bad. A sour or unpleasant odor is a sign paint has gone bad. Stinky paints belong in the bin, not on your face.
  • Paints containing harmful ingredients. Scrutinize labels and skip paints with heavy metals like lead, arsenic, cadmium, and mercury. Also, beware of common allergy culprits like nickel, chromium, adhesives, and fragrances.

Warnings About Face Paint

Even if you use high-quality face paint that doesn’t contain harmful chemicals, it’s possible you’ll still have a bad reaction.

You might be sensitive to ingredients generally considered safe or have a skin condition that raises your risk of irritation.

4 things you must know before you paint your face:

1. Nontoxic Doesn’t Mean Risk-Free

You can’t know for sure how you’ll respond to ingredients in face paint, so play it safe by testing the paint on a small area of your skin before you paint your whole face.

Paint a little patch on your inner wrist, wait about four hours, then wash off the paint and check that there are no signs of irritation.

Don’t skip the patch test if you have sensitive skin, food allergies, or have experienced reactions to cosmetics or dyes before.

Watch out for these symptoms of a serious allergic reaction (and see your doctor if you experience them):

  • Paleness
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Unexplained puffiness around your eyes

2. Injured, Acne-Prone, Or Delicate Skin Shouldn’t Be Painted

Face paint and skin conditions like acne and dermatitis don’t mix. The paint can make these conditions worse. Face paint can also irritate injured skin, so keep it away from scratches and open sores.

Plus, it’s best not to paint your eye area (even if your paint promises to be safe to use around the eyes). This skin is delicate and especially vulnerable to irritation, so treat it with TLC. Glitter paint is the least eye-friendly. A bit of sparkle around the eyes creates a dazzling effect, but it’s not worth the risk of glitter particles getting into your eyes and scratching your corneas.

3. Paint Can Become Contaminated

It’s not only what comes in the paint container you need to keep an eye on but also what you add. Suppose you stick dirty fingers into a pot of paint or stroke your brush against a runny nose while you’re painting. You could introduce germs into the paint.

Always use clean fingers, brushes, or spatulas to remove paint from containers and apply paint to a clean face to avoid contaminating the paint.  

4. Irritation Risk Increases The Longer You Wear Face Paint

Don’t wear face paint longer than you need it, and wash it off before you get into bed. Sleep with face paint on, and you’ll likely wake with unhappy, blemished skin. You might also get paint into your eyes while you sleep. And you could splotch paint all over your bedding.


No face paint can promise zero risk of a bad reaction for everyone. But you’ll cut down your chances of irritation and allergy if you use an FDA-approved, hypoallergenic paint, keep it away from your eye area, injured or inflamed skin, and wash it off before you go to sleep.

Plus, do a patch test on your inner wrist before you go ahead and paint your whole face.

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