Body Paint

More About Body Paint


At any given moment in time there are more than forty-five suppliers of liquid body paint and spray-able paint, but we do business with only a handful. We have been very careful to choose our suppliers based on their cost, the quality of their products and the amount of professionalism they have. Some companies have excellent products, but are far too disorganized to support their operation. Others have poor products with very aggressive marketing strategies. It is no surprise that companies with great products and well run operations become friends of Special Effect Supply.

About our Brands

Mehron is a reputable company that has been around for many decades. The advantage of Mehron is its large size option, it can be purchased by the gallon along with smaller sizes. They are one of the few companies that make flesh tones and their prices are reasonable. The paint chemistry is based on gum and/or acrylic polymers, which are good for general use. Their paint is not waterproof; it washes off with soap and water. We recommend this paint much of the time. The disadvantages are that it is not water proof or spray ready and their manufacturing facilities are located on the East coast. It usually takes about ten days for us to get orders from their warehouse. If you plan to use it in an airbrush you will need to use an additive to make it spray-able.

Ben Nye is an excellent company; they have however, discontinued their body paint until they can fine-tune their new alcohol based products.

Generic body paint is made by us or by others. The idea is to save you some money as well as offer it in sizes nobody else offers. Our self-made product is very robust as it was designed for the haunted house industry. It is not waterproof because it is gum or acrylic based. If you need a lot of body paint for an event this is the way to go. It is not ready to spray, so you will need to use an additive for use in an airbrush.

ProAiir made by Show Off Body Art and is alcohol based. It has become very popular with body artists as of late. Their chemistry is based on a blend of alcohols and their formula contains no water. Be careful around the eyes, in fact, keep it away from the eyes altogether. This paint will really stay on! Remove with rubbing alcohol. The largest size available for purchase is 4 fl. oz. This paint is highly recommended for body painting and cosplay where you will need a lot of sweat resistance (such as a contest or event where you will be out in the sunshine). ProAiir is ready to spray and dries matt.

Endura is made by European Body Art. It is an alcohol based makeup. Our customers are preferring this for film work. It is a little on the concentrated side, so dilution with an appropriate diluter is recommended. Some of our customers are saying that with dilution, the cost works out to be about the same as other alcohol based ready to spray body paints. This paint translates very well on film and digital.

About The Chemistry

Theatrical makeup has four basic components:

Pigment for color. These are all FDA approved pigments, no dyes. These come certified, meaning they have been tested for toxins and heavy metals. They contain very low amounts of nasty things such as lead or arsenic.

Water or alcohol carriers. These ingredients deliver the makeup to the skin.

Polymers or gums. These chemicals make cosmetics stick to the skin. Without the polymer or gums the pigment would just dry and dust off.

Preservatives. These are mainly used in water based formulas to prevent the growth of mold, fungus and bacteria. A virus is a parasite that can't live outside of the host body. Preservatives are used in extremely small amounts and are therefore the last ingredients on the label.

Minor components may include chemicals that soften or enhance another chemical. Castor oil may be a delivery vehicle for a pigment. Some chemicals are purely for marketing, such as a vitamin E additive.

Makeup formulas for body paint are simple and therefore costs less. You can buy a gallon of it for less than $160.00. Try going into a department store and getting the same deal…

Gums such as CMC and Zantham gum are sticky gums found in nature. These are doctored into water with a bit of alcohol or slow dissolution.

Acrylic Polymer is chemically modified into a water solution or dissolved in alcohol, usually SD40 which is denatured alcohol for cosmetic use.

About Dilution

Ready to spray makeup can be put into most airbrushes and sprayed, but it depends on the equipment.

If you don't know where to begin, start with a dilution of 25% additive to 75% makeup. It should spray well without clogging. If there is a problem try a 50/50 mixture. If you find yourself continuously cranking up the p.s.i. then you have a dirty airbrush.

FAQ on additives

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Tap water contains a lot of ions that make particles clump and sink to the bottom of your cup. Please use distilled water or deionized water instead. SES dilution fluid is made from D.I. water and preservatives.

This can be the result of one or all of the following: you put it on too thick, you put in too much polymer additive, and/or your model didn't follow your instructions and put a moisturizer on their skin.

This can be the result of one or all of the following: you put it on too thick, you put in too much polymer additive, and/or your model didn't follow your instructions and put a moisturizer on their skin.

Maybe. In theory you should be able to adjust your spray gun so that it compensates for thin paint. To compensate, you will have to layer it on.

Make a "Steve" sandwich. Clean dry skin, no lotions. One layer of a polymer such as Ben Nye Final Seal. One layer of body paint. Top coat with Final Seal.

Final Seal is an alcohol based polymer. Liquiset is a water based polymer.

You can if you want to get sued. Please do not cross chemicals. It is not wise to use industrial chemicals in a cosmetic situation. Don't forget that many chemicals you put on the skin are absorbed instantly. Those toxins like to find their way to your liver.

About Proof

Sweat proof, waterproof and water-resistant are not the same thing. From weak to strong, the proofs are:

Sweat resistant means that normal perspiration will not weaken the cosmetic bond. Soap and water will remove this makeup.

Sweat proof means that excessive perspiration will not weaken the cosmetic bond. These would be water-based body paint enhanced with a product like Final Seal, or any of the alcohol based makeups.

Water-resistant means that a one-time splash of water will not disturb the makeup. Continuous exposure to sweat, tears or water will dissolve this makeup and it will come off.

Water-proof means that water, sweat or tears will not disturb the makeup. Only a high quality alcohol based makeup can be rated at this level. Having said that, there are some oil/wax based "cover" makeups in cream form that have water-proof claims, but they are not in the scope of this article. These makeups must be removed with an alcohol based remover.

About Comfort

Body paints are designed for some kind of theatrical payoff, not comfort. It is unnatural for the skin to be layered with a coating of any kind. These makeups are also NOT designed for day-to-day use. Your actors will probably not be comfortable in them. Some of the discomfort will be caused by the pH of the makeup, the fact that it pulls on sensitive hair and the preservatives. Dark makeup may cause hot-spots when exposed to sunlight.

If you are using body paint for a promotion please choose models that are physically fit. They may have to stand for a full day.