Bodypainting 101: Episode 1: What is Bodypainting?

bodypainting-101-episode-1Welcome to the first official episode of Bodypainting 101 where I teach you tips and tricks to getting into bodypainting! As the title says we are going to be diving deep into the question “What is bodypainting?” It’s paint that you put on your body/face right? Wrong. There is so much that goes into bodypainting and one of the biggest things that almost pushed me away from bodypainting all together when I first thought about getting into body/face painting is how many different types and brands there where I couldn’t choose. “How do I know what body paint is best for my needs?” “What brand should I use?” There are so many different types, brands fit for all of your different wants and needs. So if you are interested in getting into bodypainting but is intimidated with what is best for you just keep on reading!

Types of Body/Face Paint

There are three main types of paint that are safe for the body and face. These include water activated paints, alcohol activated paints, and cream paints.

Before we get into these paints please DO NOT PUT ACRYLIC PAINTS ON YOUR FACE! I see people all over Tik Tok put acrylic paint directly on their face as apart of a trend and the makeup artist inside of me can’t help but cringe. Acrylic paints are made to put on a canvas and contain harmful chemicals that can cause skin irritation. It is also very difficult to take off the skin so it is much safer and easier to use paints that are safe to put on the face. That out of the way, let’s go into detail of each of the body paints.

Water Activated Paints

The most common type of body/face paints is water activated paints. These paints are either wax-based or glycerin-based and have to be activated and removed by water. A few perks of using a water-activated paint is the fact that you can control how opaque the color is depending on how much water you use and that you can layer paint which is super helpful for when you make mistakes. Depending on the base of the water-activated paint is going to determine the dry time of the paint. Wax-based paints dry very fast while glycerin-based dry slower so you have a little more time to play around with them. Oh, and since they dry down on their own you don’t have to worry about setting them with a powder!

Here is an example(s) of looks using water-activated paints!

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Alcohol Activated Paints

These next paints are alcohol activated paints that are activated with 99% alcohol. They can only be removed with 99% alcohol or certain makeup removers. Just like water activated paints, you can control how opaque the color is with how much 99% alcohol you use. A perk you can find with alcohol activated paints compared to water activated paints is that alcohol activated paints apply more translucently so they make injuries look more realistic (ideal for SFX makeup). You can layer alcohol activated paints but just be careful to not use as much alcohol because the more layers can risk removing the layer underneath. Another thing to keep in mind when using alcohol activated paints is that they can be a little drying on the skin so make sure you or your model moisturizes well before starting. And just like water activated paints, since they dry down on their own, you don’t need to worry about setting them with powder!

Cream Based Paints

The last type of paints is cream-based paints. You don’t have to use anything specific (I use a melting to activate and remove cream-based paints but mastering blending them does take practice and time to get used to it. The thing I love about cream-based paints is the ability to completely block out skin tones showing through the makeup. When doing full face transformations, I always use a cream base paint because it blends so easily and it dries down slower than water and alcohol activated paints so you have more room to play with it. That being said you do have to powder it down (whether it be with a translucent setting powder or an eyeshadow) before moving on to powder products so you don’t lose the base you just worked on.

Here are some example(s) of looks using cream-paints!

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“How Do I Know Which Paint is Right For Me?”

This all depends on what you want to do with the body paint. Water-based paints are ideal for cooler, drier climates so if you or your model are planning on staying inside for a photoshoot, cosplay convention you can use all three paints easily. But if you are planning on going outside where you or the model can sweat or it’s raining you should use alcohol or cream paints because they are less prone to smudging or coming off. Water-activated paints and cream paints are great for little details and line work and alcohol-based paints are great for more realistic looks used in SFX makeup. Just figure out what you as an artist want out of your makeup and base your decision off of that. It’s all about personal preference, so don’t be afraid to play with different types, you never know which type you prefer to use.

“What Brands should I use?”

There are a bunch of different brands out there with a bunch of different price ranges so do your research and look at reviews to make a decision on what brands work with what you want to do. Though paints at Halloween stores are easy to access the quality of them is not as great so stick to the more high-quality brands. Your looks will thank you later.

Here are some brands that I know of/have had experience with.

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There are a bunch of different types of body paints that can be used in many different ways to the artist’s needs. It is up to you to do research and find out what you want to create and what paint would be the best to create it. You don’t need to be loyal to any brand or any paint so don’t be afraid to play around with different types of paints and brands to see what works best for you. As always, if you have any questions, please don’t be afraid to ask or suggest what I should talk about in the next episode!

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Until next time, see you soon!


Instagram Video for Episode 1: