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Whether you’re dressing up, supporting your sports team, or doing a makeup tutorial for your channel, face paint is a great way to express yourself. For those with especially sensitive skin, however, the potential rashes, irritations, and breakouts definitely put a damper on things. According to Debra Jaliman, MD, a board-certified dermatologist, the best face paints for sensitive skin will skip irritating ingredients, like parabens and nickel, and the formulas are also hypoallergenic, water-based, and fragrance-free.
Cheaper face paints often “have toxic chemicals,” Dr. Jaliman wrote in an email to Bustle. The most common are “lead, formaldehyde, mercury, nickel, and parabens,” which “can all cause reactions.” Consequently, you should read your descriptions carefully and only choose face paints that skip these particular ingredients.
The best formulas, on the other hand, will be hypoallergenic as well as “fragrance-free and water-based,” Dr. Jaliman wrote. Why? Hypoallergenic formulas are designed to skip many common harsh chemicals, fragrances are unnecessary and can often irritate sensitive skin, and water-based paints (as opposed to oil-based ones) wash off more thoroughly to prevent clogged pores.
Below, you’ll find Dr. Jaliman’s recommendation for a gentle face painting kit — as well as three other top-sellers that, according to real reviewers, won’t irritate sensitive skin.
1. The Dermatologist-Recommended Face Painting Kit
According to Dr. Jaliman, the Craft Pro face painting kit is the best option for those with sensitive skin: “Ingredients are cosmetic grade, lab tested, and certified,” Dr. Jaliman wrote, not to mention “hypoallergenic, non-toxic, paraben-free, [and] fragrance-free.” The kit comes with everything you’ll need, including 16 different colors of paints (all water-based and water-activated), three brushes, two high-density sponges, 30 stencils, a guidebook with nine designs, and a travel case that holds everything. The colors are also bright but wash off easily with soap and water, which helps explains the kit’s 1,500-plus reviews and overall 4.5-star rating.
One reviewer wrote: “I have very sensitive skin and have to take great care in products I use. I used this paint for full-face Halloween on both my kids (4&7) and myself. The paint went on with his quality pigment and didn’t run. When it was time to wash it off, perfect removal with some gentle soap and warm water.”
2. The Best Individual Face Paint Colors
If you’re looking for a lot of one or a few specific colors, Snazaroo’s classic face and body paint (in 0.66-ounce containers) is the way to go. This brand has more than 25,000 reviews on Amazon and uses ingredients are cosmetic-grade. As per Dr. Jaliman’s recommendations, the formulas are also water-based, hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and paraben-free. Finally, there are dozens of colors to choose from — and in all different finishes, including matte, metallic, and sparkle.
One reviewer wrote: “Cosplayers: This is your face paint! [...] I have rather sensitive skin and this didn't irritate it at all; it's a much better option for face/body paint than oil-based types if you're concerned about breakouts. Additionally, 3 days at the convention barely made a dent in my supply. This stuff will last you a while!”
3. The Best Face & Body Crayons
Body crayons make for an easy, portable application process — and you won’t need any brushes or sponges, either. While the brand doesn’t specify that it’s hypoallergenic, this set of 24 is water-based, skips the parabens and fragrances, and washes off easily and thoroughly with soap and water. As a result, reviewers report that it’s a great option for sensitive skin. So far, they’ve earned more than 3,000 reviews and an overall rating of 4.3 stars.
One reviewer wrote: “The kids love the face paints! They have sensitive skin but no negative reactions to these paints. Easy to use and great colors!”
4. A Highly Pigmented Oil-Based Formula To Consider
Full disclosure: This Athena professional painting palette is not water-based, like Dr. Jaliman recommends. However, its oil-based formula is the reason it’s so vivid, creamy, and pigmented. Plus, multiple reviewers with sensitive skin haven’t had adverse reactions, and the formula skips the lead, fragrances, formaldehyde, mercury, nickel, and parabens. You also get 20 different colors (168 grams worth) in a sturdy, travel-friendly case, so it’s a favorite among those who use face paint often and want it to last a long time. However, it’s a good idea to do a patch test before using this if you’re concerned about reactions.
One reviewer wrote: “It’s magnificent. I used this to become a mermaid and I would give it ten stars if I could. It applied smoothly, was true in color, not sheer, had a beautiful soft finish, and it removed easily and did not make my skin break out at all, and I do have sensitive skin.”
Debra Jaliman, MD and board-certified dermatologist.