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Halloween, birthday parties, even a video conference call with friends—there's really no occasion that can't be improved by a little face paint. Most sets come with detailed instruction books. Hundreds of tutorial videos online can help anyone up their application game with a bit of practice.
Even if your skin isn't sensitive (but especially if it is), read the ingredient list carefully and look for hypoallergenic products. There are many different kinds of kits—from professional-grade paints to kits suitable for a kid's face painting party.
Here are the best makeup kits for your next face painting event.
Best Overall: Mehron Paradise Makeup AQ
Mehron face paints are made in the United States and are known for being non-toxic and extremely high-quality. They have long been a favorite among professional makeup artists and novices alike.
The "AQ" in the name refers to the fact that these pigmented shades require water for application. You dampen your sponge or brush to create a spreadable cream. They're easy to blend and also smudge-resistant. They contain nourishing ingredients such as aloe, chamomile, glycerin, avocado oil, and cocoa butter.
To make them water-resistant, you can add a setting product such as powder or Mehron's Barrier Spray. These paints can be easily removed with soap and water and won't leave telltale day-after stains. Along with this basic color selection, the eight-color palette is also available in themes such as Pastel, Tropical, Nuance (muted shades), and Brilliant (metallics).
Best Budget: Creatology Face Paint
If you're hoping to experiment with face paint but don't want to drop too much cash, this simple Creatology set, which is recommended for kids 6 and up, will help satisfy your curiosity.
It comes in 12 different colors and a simple skinny paintbrush. You'll probably want more application tools. This paint is a bit thinner than some of its more expensive counterparts, so that layering may be required. You may want to start with a primer layer as the base to help these paints adhere better. These paints are liquid and don't require additional water. They can be mixed to create more customized shades.
Best for Kids: Blue Squid Face Paint Kit for Kids
Created by parents because their daughter had sensitive skin, Blue Squid products are hypoallergenic, paraben-free, and vegan. The ingredient list is refreshingly short with only eight things listed. This kit comes with enough paint for about 100 faces, so it's ideal for a school event or several small parties. You'll also get 30 stencils that can be reused, three plastic templates, and three brushes (thick, thin, and ultra-thin). Blue Squid products are Food & Drug Administration (FDA) compliant and also have European safety standard certification. They're water-based and wash off easily with a few splashes of water.
"The inclusion of the stencils means just about anybody, regardless of their artistic prowess, could get in on the fun of doing their own face paint, as well as easily putting designs on each other."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best for Groups: Snazaroo Face Paint Ultimate Party Pack
If you're planning a party that's going to include face painting, consider this affordable jumbo kit as your one-stop-shopping option. You'll get 12 different colors (including two sparkly shades, pink and lilac), two glitter gels, and several brushes and sponges for application. This kit should have enough makeup to paint 65 faces.
Snazaroo paints can be mixed and should be applied using a damp brush or sponge. The company recommends using either primer or white as a base for darker colors to avoid staining. The paints are fragrance-free and hypoallergenic and can be washed off with soap and water.
"This set distinguishes itself with great application tools and easy application (paintbrushes instead of oily crayons). It also washes off easily."—Sarah Vanbuskirk, Product Tester
Best Color Range: Silly Farm Build-Your-Own Arty Brush & Rainbow Cake Palette
This set is a serious investment but will have you covered if you're planning a birthday party or school carnival and need lots of color choices. This palette comes with a mix of Silly Farm's Rainbow Cakes as well as Arty Cakes, each of which comes with up to four different shades. Arty Cakes, designed by Arty Brush, are known for having a watercolor-like effect. Cake palettes like these allow artists to achieve a multicolored look with a single brush stroke or sponge wipe. The cakes are activated using a spritz of water and are non-toxic, free of parabens, and hypoallergenic.
Best for Sensitive Skin: Natural Earth Face Paint
Unlike many face paints that use petroleum as the base, these Oregon-made products are clay-based and have a simple list of ingredients that includes beeswax, glycerin, shea butter, and seaweed. They're also certified as non-toxic and made without nanoparticles, heavy metals, parabens, phthalates, and formaldehyde.
This set comes with six containers of face paint (colors can be mixed) and three bamboo applicators. You don't need to add water, but you should slightly moisten your brush or applicator ahead of time. The paints can be splashed off in the sink or shower, and if you're looking for extra application tips, the Natural Earth website has video tutorials for creating cat eyes, a flower, a feather, and more.
Best for Halloween: Ben Nye Skeleton Makeup Kit HK-4
Ben Nye is a family-owned company that dates to 1960s Hollywood. Its founder, Ben Nye, Sr., was a makeup artist for 20th Century Fox and worked with film icons like Marilyn Monroe and Julie Andrews.
Makeup artists love their products that are made in Los Angeles and known for being highly pigmented and providing excellent coverage. This kit is part of Ben Nye's extensive Character line—other options include Ghoul, 3D, and Old Age. It comes with everything you need to transform yourself into a skeleton.
You'll get enough for four to six applications, and the kit comes with a white base, a three-color palette, eye pencil, a flat brush, sponge applicators, makeup remover, and detailed instructions for getting that skull vibe exactly right.
Best Professional: Mehron Celebré Professional Makeup Kit
This comprehensive set is part of Mehron's Celebré line geared towards professionals preparing clients for film and television appearances. It comes with basics like foundation and two color palettes (specifically for creating bruises around the eyes) and add-ons like crepe hair, modeling putty, liquid latex, and stage blood.
It includes plenty of application tools, including a powder puff and a few different types of brushes and sponges. You'll also get two instruction guides, one for special effects and another for creating an aged look. The set comes in three different options: Light/medium, dark, and one with a mix of shades that's specifically formulated for high-definition (HD) media. Since HD lenses tend to reveal the thicker, more traditional "pancake" stage makeup, these formulas tend to be sheerer and more natural-looking while still offering plenty of coverage.
Best for Backlight: Kryolan Aquacolor UV Dayglow Palette
If you're planning to attend an event that will include black light, you'll want a special paint like Kryolan's Dayglow option to take advantage of the atmosphere. These colors already look striking under natural light, but they have an intense, electric-looking glow once they're under a black light. Its glycerin base won't irritate skin and should be applied with a lightly moistened brush or sponge. The smudge-proof paint takes about a minute to dry. If you're planning to spend time in a warm, sweat-producing environment (like a theater performance with hot lights), you can add a setting spray to make these paints waterproof. Despite the bold appearance, Kryolan products, which are beloved by industry professionals, wash off easily with soap and water.
The Mehron Paradise Makeup AQ kit (view at Amazon) is the top choice for its highly pigmented colors, ease of blending, and smudge-resistance. If you're on a budget, the Creatology kit (view at Michaels) will not break the bank. Its colors are liquid, so it doesn't require additional water. Liquid paints are easier to mix to create more customized shades.
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Lexi Dwyer is a professional writer who has written about makeup mirrors and sunscreens for The Spruce.