Body Paint

Five Considerations in Picking the Right (Liquid) Body Paint for your Project

Consideration One: Color Selection

Not all manufactures of body paint offer the same selection of colors. Some offer a very wide selection of colors, while others offer only a few basics. Companies who offer a large color selection can do this because they are mixing some of the basic colors. This extra labor increases the cost and because most makers "price line" this means they raise the cost of simple formulas to be in line with the more complicated colors.

Color groups fall into four main selections, which are:

Flesh Tones, including ethnic shades.

Specialty Flesh Tones, which would be palettes like vampire, zombie, ghoul and the like.

Fantasy Colors, which are color wheel type colors such as red, yellow, blue orange, etc.

Metallic Colors such as gold, silver, bronze and copper.

Other color considerations are:

Sparkle and iridescent, which are not covered by this gateway.

A very simple summary of color groups by maker are:

Generic: Flesh, Fantasy and Specialty Flesh tones

Mehron: Flesh, Fantasy, very basic colors

SOBA: Fantasy in a large selection of custom colors, some flesh. Alcohol based.

EBA: Specialty flesh tones, some fantasy, some flesh. Alcohol based.

Kryolan: we carry only the metallic

Consideration Two: Cost

Several factors determine the cost of body paint. The three main factors are: cost to manufacture, chemistry and marketing.

The prices of cosmetic pigments has shot up in the past few years. Most pigments are imported. Some operations have been sued due to environmental damage. All cosmetic pigments are tested and certified safe for human use. All are FDA grade, but not necessarily tested by the FDA. Colors can be purchased in batches that yield a certain color, or they can be mixed by blending other colors together. Simple, color wheel type colors are much less expensive than custom blended flesh tones.

Chemistry can be divided into two broad groups; water based and alcohol based. Water is cheaper than alcohol. A four ounce bottle of water based makeup can cost as little as $10. The same product in alcohol based makeup can cost $45.

Marketing has everything to do with the end user and our old friend supply and demand. If a maker experiences a consistent demand for a product, the price will go up. Department store consumers will pay big bucks for a makeup that has been heavily advertised. You might pay $6 for a small bottle of drug store liquid makeup, but at the same time you could buy a gallon of theatrical body paint for $160.

Consideration Three: Remove-ability

Several factors determine the cost of body paint. The three main factors are: cost to manufacture, chemistry and marketing.

This is the simple part. Water based makeup can be removed with soap and water. Alcohol based makeup is waterproof and must be removed with alcohol. Please read more details on our Removal Page.

Consideration Four: Chemistry

The demands you make on the body paint will determine the best chemistry for the task. Let me put this in simple terms: Water based can be removed with soap and water, sweat or splashes of water.

Alcohol based is waterproof and can only be removed with alcohol. A professional makeup artist will most probably use 99% isopropyl alcohol for removal.

Chemistry often determines cost, please see my notes above.

Please see my separate article on The Chemistry of Body Paint

Consideration Five: The project

People will often call me saying that they want to do some body painting. This is a very broad subject. It can mean everything to painting children's faces to body painting a model. The medium also determines the right paint for the job. Still photography in a temperature controlled setting is much less demanding than someone who will be waiting out in the sun for their Comicon to open.

For advice on your project, I have made detailed notes on different kinds of projects in my projects section.