Thursday, October 17, 2013

Halloween Make-up

I know I don't blog very often. Ok, I almost never blog. I usually do updates on my face painting on facebook page to be honest. But, with Halloween coming up, I have a lot of information to share about Halloween make-up and face paint in general. This is the time of year in the US when more people will be using more make-up or face paint than any other time.


The most important thing is to use products that are specifically made for skin. Many people think that it is safe to use "non-toxic" paints on the skin. This is a misconception. Many ingredients are non-toxic to ingest, but can be harmful if applied to the skin for long periods of time. The ingredients can be safe to swallow but may be highly likely to cause allergic reactions on the skin. Also, your skin is an organ and it needs to breathe. You can harm yourself or, worse a child, by applying something that will not allow their skin to breathe. Here are a few steps to be sure what you use is safe:

1. Never use craft acrylics, poster paints, tempura paints, or any other product that is not specifically labeled as safe to use on skin. For more information on face paint safety see my website here:

2. Never use glitter on the face unless it is specifically labeled as "cosmetic grade glitter." The wrong kind of glitter can cause damage if ingested, inhaled, or if it gets into the eyes.

3. Check my reviews of locally available face paint here:

4. Read the FDA information about "novelty make-up" here:

TRADE-OFFS: Types of Halloween make-up, advantages and disadvantages

There are many different kinds of products out there to use as Halloween make-up, here's a little guide to help you decide which one to use.

Cake Make-up/Water Activated:
This is what professional face painters use. It is a "cake" type make-up that is activated with water and applied with a brush or sponge. (Note: latex make-up sponges commonly sold do not work with water-activeted make-up, you will need to use a high-density sponge.) It dries quickly, won't smear after it is dry, and will wash off easily with soap and water. It can be used for fine details, it can be blended, is safe for bases (all-over coverage), and does not contain pore-clogging oils. This type of make-up has the most bold, bright, opaque colors.

The disadvantage is that a lot of moisture can "wash" it away. So, tears, drinks, excessive sweat, spilled or splashed water, can make it run or smear. There are professional barrier sprays available to help keep it in place. You should never have to scrub this stuff off! It should wash off with just soap (any kind) and water, however, there may be some lingering color staining with some colors. This can be removed with oil-free make-up remover. Please visit this link for instructions on the best way to remove this type of face paint:

As far as I know, there are only 3 brands of this type of face paint that are locally available. You can find them at local craft stores. Please see my reviews of them here:

On the Central Coast of California (where I live) I know you
can buy Snazaroo and Tulip Body Art at Michael's. You can also purchase a book called Face Painting by Klutz at Michael's which includes a small palette of Wolfe Brothers brand face paints. I'm not sure what is available at Beverly's and JoAnn's.

I have heard that some areas have Wolfe Brothers brand Halloween kits available at big stores like Walmart. I recommend buying them if you see them!

If you would like to hire a professional to do some awesome make-up on you for Halloween, most face painters take appointments. You can contact me here: Of course, I feel that's the best option because you can get better results and the face painter will provide the right products as part of the service.

Novelty Cream/Grease Make-up:
This is the kind of make-up you see packaged for Halloween for
very little money at stores like Walmart, Kmart, Target, etc. It is usually safe to use on skin and resists sweating,
however, this type of make-up contains ingredients such as mineral oil and petroleum. That means it is likely to cause acne break outs if you are at all prone to them. The colors go on smooth and creamy with no water necessary. They will never dry completely because of the oil base so they can smear at any time after they are applied. The colors are not nearly as brilliant, vibrant, and opaque as water activated face paints. It is very difficult to get details with this type of make-up.

There are some types of cream/grease make-up that are better than others. If you purchase professional stage make-up or clown make-up in this form, you will get much better results. It is usually recommended to set the make-up with a translucent setting powder. This type of professional quality make-up can be very expensive, of course.

These are a type of grease make-up that is in the form of an easy-to-use crayon or stick form. See "Novelty Cream/Grease Make-up" above for advantages and disadvantages. For more information see:

Professional Pancake and Stage Make-up: 
Well, you are probably not going to want to spend a lot of money on this type of make-up which is available only at costume shops as far as I know. They can be very expensive and do not come in small sample/Halloween packs. These also come in greasepaint type and "pancake" type versions. As stated above, greasepaint or cream based professional make-up is great for lasting through sweat and should be set with a powder. Please see your local costume shop for more information. I have found the people at Costume Capers in San Luis Obispo to be very helpful when it comes to stage make-up. If you would like to hire someone locally to do professional stage make-up, I recommend MJ Johnson at Ethereal FX. She is a trained expert in stage make-up.

Brands to Avoid:
There are many cheap alternatives out there that are actually labeled as "face paint" or "Halloween Make-up" that I recommend avoiding. First, if you ever see Palmer brand face paints avoid them. They have a reputation for causing bad skin reactions and for being incredibly hard to apply. I have found a similar type of "face paint" at Walmart made by Kids Craft. I do not know about safety, but feel free to read the terrible reviews here:

Of course, there are other products out there but the above information is about the most common types for the general public.

If you want to make sure you have an awesome, safe face painting for Halloween, consider hiring a professional who uses safe cosmetic grade products and is experienced in creating artistic characters with face paint - like ME. :)

call or text: (805) 550-2218
email: IamGinaW (at)
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