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How to Start Your Own Face Painting Business

Updated on January 30, 2014

Princess Design

Tag Split Cake


There are many different venues to start with. Do you like painting children? Prefer body painting adults? Once you decide who to paint, then you need to get quality face and body paints, brushes based upon the people you would like to paint, and a container for water. Those are the absolute basics.

You will probably want to get a makeup chair, a container to haul your paints in, glitter, "gems" to glue on, business cards, forms booking jobs, insurance and a sign or banner. These can be purchased after you have started working and decided it's worth the investment for you.

Continue for my recommendations on materials needed and advice on the other topics:

Where and What Paints to Purchase

A professional face/body painter uses only high quality, cosmetic grade paints. Brands such as Wolfe, Tag, Paradise, Mehron and DiamondFX are just a few. Snazaroo is probably the cheapest and can be purchased at AC Moore. It is not, however, very good at fine detail, but if you're just starting out, it may your best choice.

AC Moore also has the Klutz Face Painting book with Wolfe brand paints that are a very good way to get started. The book has ideas that are simple and fun to do. There are also many tutorials on the internet.

Many of the paints can be purchased online, since very few stores locally carry them. You can check costume shops if you like. I don't use any paints on a tongue depressor or in a tube.

You can start out with basic colors, but the Tag multi-colored are my favorites. Using a sponge or brush, you can apply 2 or more colors at a time, making your work look very impressive in a short amount of time.

Applying Paint: Brushes and Sponges

I like the natural hair or white, soft synthetic brushes. You want to bend the bristles over and if they snap back into place, it's a good brush. Round brushes should come to a point when doing this.

The size brushes you need depend upon whether you are painting small faces or intricate designs, larger designs or one-stroke techniques, or body painting. Since I do face painting for children, my go-to brushes are a #3 round detail brush, 3/4" filbert brush (great for snakes) and a 1" flat brush.

If you're not sure what to get, start with the flat brush. There are many ways to use it to make interesting designs. If you're going to be doing body painting, then you would want a much larger brush and/or sponge.

Sponges should be firm. You can get a kitchen or baby sponge and cut it up. I went to JoAnn Fabric and purchased a piece of strong foam to cut up into rectangular shapes. If you can afford it, purchase round sponges from an online face painting retailer. You will want to cut them in half, if they haven't come that way.

There are petal shaped sponges you can purchase that make interesting butterflies, but I haven't yet tried them.

When you're done painting, be sure to wash your brushes, shape them again and lay them flat to dry.

Have a Costume

What to Wear?

When I first started out, I had a staff shirt that said face painter. Wasn't very exciting. You want something colorful, something to grab attention. People love something different.

You can try tie dyed shirts, costumes or anything else your imagination desires. I find that people who ordinarily wouldn't talk to me, will come and talk to "The Fairy." Yup, that's right! My costume is a woodland fairy. I purchased my original costume from Frazetta's and have added to it and made several changes over the years. Since I do the same festivals year after year, I like to fancy it up a bit each year. You can see my costume at but yours should be unique.

Whatever you choose, make sure it's comfortable. Whether you're sitting or standing, comfort is important for those long days. It's also a good idea to pack extra clothes in case of rain or it's colder than you expected.

The Extras

I purchased a tall makeup chair that kids love to sit in. I have a Fat Max tool chest to haul around my paints, but you can use anything that will fit your stuff and be easy to carry around. You can use a plastic container left over from cool whip or something, to rinse your brushes in, but to look professional, you really should get a brush bucket from AC Moore or other craft/hobby store.

You can print your own business cards if you're just getting started. It will help get your name out there. I also have forms for booking jobs that include information like the customer's name and driving directions, who the party is for, how many people I will be painting, what price I quoted the customer, the date I booked the job and the customer's phone number. It's a good idea to follow up the week before to confirm the date.

If you don't have a calendar on your cell phone, then I recommend carrying one with you. When someone asks if you do birthdays, you can see if you have the date free for them.


While not absolutely necessary, if you can afford insurance, it's probably a good idea. You can purchase a policy from or check with your homeowner carrier. They may have some liability options for you.

If you're using quality, cosmetic grade paint, you shouldn't have any problems with allergies. Hopefully a parent will be forthcoming about any potential problems with a sensitive child. I haven't had anyone with a problem yet. You also want to be careful how you handle your brushes around small children. I keep a firm grip on their chin when I have a brush near their eyes, in case they squirm. Better yet, don't paint near a child's eyes.

What to Charge?

The best thing is to ask other local face painters, but I find that a bit tacky. If you're just starting out, you may want to keep your prices low.

You should take into consideration your travel time, set up and tear down time and the cost of your materials. There is a lot involved to having your own business and many consumers don't understand that it's not just painting faces, you have a lot of time and money involved.

The average price for one hour is approximately $100. You can alter that to your preference. You may want to give a discount for each hour after that.

Simple is best for small children

Keep Learning

Always be willing to learn new things. There are many, many tutorials out there. Learn a new technique or a new design and keep changing it around each year. It makes it more interesting for you and your customers.

If you have questions, leave your comments below, and thanks for stopping by!!


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