Body paint comes in several broad categories:
Fantasy Colors are any color other than flesh tones. These are usually very basic colors such as yellow, orange, red, purple, blue and violet. White and black are usually found in the fantasy color palette.
Flesh tones are any skin tone that can be found in human skin. Flesh colors are often iron oxides. Because theatrical makeup was developed in Europe they start with Caucasian colors and branch out to ethnic shades. Political correctness has devastated the name game so be prepared for some confusion.
Metallic Colors are made from real powdered metal or specially plated minerals to produce a metallic like appearance. Often real metal powder will oxidize in the water solution it is suspended in. Because of this, old metallic body paint will be darker than fresh. Mehron has solved this problem by providing metallic powder and a bottle of their mixing liquid so that you can make your paint on the spot.
When requesting metallic colors, it is important to make sure you are getting a true metallic. For example; if you order a gold fantasy color you may very well end up with a sun-yellow-gold pastel.
UV body paint is a paint that uses a UV-reactive pigment. It literally glows under black light. There is a FDA approved glow-in-the-dark yellowish green that will fluoresce in total darkness for a few seconds.
It is important to note that not all makers carry all the above mentioned color categories. Only a few make a metallic line. Some make flesh tones, but not fantasy colors and visa-versa. We may be the only ones who make a zombie colored palette.
What you need to know about mixing cosmetic grade colors:
The world of cosmetic colors is much different from the world of fine artistry. The FDA regulates color on a different scale than other cosmetic ingredients. Because the chemical processes to make a color are often hazardous, the FDA requires each batch to be tested and certified. Of concern, is the amount of toxins and metals. Because of these much needed regulatory processes, a cosmetic chemist has few choices. Here in the U.S.A. we might have only one or two reds, one blue and no orange or violet.
Some artists will buy the three basic color wheel colors, white and black and expect to mix whatever they need. In the world of the FDA, it is not that simple. I recommend you get as close as you can with the colors offered by the brand and only use the other colors to "influence" the others. Making orange, pink, violet or green from primary colors might take you a few hours.
One big advantage of liquid body paints is they are much easier to mix than crème colors.
Please get extra material so that you can practice mixing colors in your own time. Trying to do that on site is a bad idea. Every color has its own personality. Red and yellow mix differently than any of the iron oxides. Again, in the world of FDA colors, don't expect the consistent results that you would get from oil paints. I do recommend that you do master them so that you will have an advantage over your competitors.
Here are some other tips:
- Always test on a very small scale so you don't waste materials.
- When mixing grey, add black to white rather than white to black.
- If you want to duplicate your results, you should measure and take notes.
- I sometimes use a syringe to measure body paint if I'm making a custom color.
- Light and lighting make all the difference. Don't mix under fluorescent lighting and expect it to look the same under stage lights.
- Iron oxides are browns, rusts and blacks.
- Yellow and red pigments will stain treated hair.
- If you get a purplish grey it means you have mixed complimentary colors together.
- Don't forget that you might want highlights and shadow colors. In that case buy a foundation color, yellow and/or white to mix in for highlights and a dark brown for shadow.
- Black rarely works well as a shadow color.