by Heather Green
When you think about your kit and the MUST haves as a face painter, most of us will agree that besides our paints, sponges and brushes are the other most important tool we use. As the owner of a face and body art supply company it is my duty to seek out, test, and make available the best tools.
Over the past 10 years I have tested A LOT of sponges. And I have found that sponges are alot like brushes, in that they are going to be a personal preference. Some prefer a soft sponge, not only for comfort but for ease of maneuvering. Others like a stiff sponge to be able to control and create edges and sharp corners. So here’s the scoop on sponges and what you should be looking for on your journey to find the sponges that work best for you.
Foam wedge sponges: These are the only sponges I don’t recommend for use with water based face paint. The main reason is because they absorb way too much paint and water and don’t really apply it evenly on the skin. Because foam latex was meant to repel water, naturally it doesn’t work best with water activation. I suggest using make up wedges with grease make up application, to apply latex for special affects and blood.
High density sponges: HD sponges are probably the most popular and common sponges used with face paint. So what exactly is a high density sponge? Basically it’s a soft porous sponge that picks up the paint and applies it evenly on the skin without a lot of extra mess and water spillage. High density sponges also hold up well in repeated use in water and blending on the skin. These sponges are made in a bunch of different pore sizes. When looking for a good sponge you want to make sure it doesn’t disintegrate in water and leave little pieces in your paint. I remember one time I purchased 10,000 sponges in bulk of some “awesome” sponges. Once they arrived and I tested one, the minute I dipped it in water the whole sponge disintegrated into sand. So if you are using sea sponges, they are known for disintegrating rather quickly and leaving sponge pieces in your paint. The pore size on the sponge also makes a difference in how the sponge blends and absorbs water. I have found that the larger the pores, the more water the sponge tends to soak in. The Wolfe and Paradise sponges have larger pores and a slightly more coarse texture. If you have seen Nick Wolfe in action he loves those sponges and they work well with the wax based paints he uses.
I prefer smaller pore sponges like the NEW Paint Pal Lux sponges, Snazaroo and Ruby Red sponges. I find them to be a little easier to use with my rainbow cakes because they don’t use as much water. I also like the softer texture. Both are great, and again it’s going to be a personal preference.
The average HD sponge lasts between 6 months to a year when cleaned with warm water and left to air dry after cleaning.
There is usually a lot of talk on the forums about using one sponge per child and how to clean sponges properly . HD sponges range in price between $1-$3 so its not usually cost effective to use one sponge per child and throw it away. I suggest using Brush Bath to clean your sponges in between children to maintain a cleanliness and avoid spraying them with alcohol. Sponges come in all shapes and sizes too.
When I first started selling sponges, only full sponges were available and we would get a sharp pair of scissors and cut them down the middle hoping not to mess up and make a bad cut. Now sponges are available pre cut for those that hate cutting their own sponges.
The red sponges pictured are the Ruby Red sponges and they are smaller in diameter than most of the sponges. Painters like them for little faces. The Middle pink sponges on the left are our old Silly Farm sponges. They are soft, and painters have liked them because they are very comfortable to use.
The yellowish orangish sponge in the middle is the Wolfe sponge with the larger pores. The cut sponges are the Paradise, Wicked sponges, and our brand new Paint Pal sponges. You can browse all our sponges here.
Petal sponges are the NEW thing! Petal sponges are shaped like a tear drop and are the BEST sponges since sliced bread- In my opinion. I love them because they are the perfect shape and size for butterfly wings and when you want to add color in the harder to reach places, like the corner of the eyes. I have met a lot of painters that struggle with placement of the butterfly wings or how to use a rainbow cake to create a full face butterfly and the tear drop sponges help tremendously.
I am always looking for tools to help speed up the most requested faces and how to improve my designs. The petal sponges have really helped me pop out those butterflies and masks.
The last type of sponges you might want to consider adding in your kits are specialty sponges like Stipple sponges, Kabuki sponges, and Maxi mops. Stipple sponges are awesome for creating scrapes and scars and to use for special effects. They are not recommended for use with rainbow cakes or when you desire a smooth even coverage. Sponge brushes like maxi mops are excellent to use when you want to block in color and keep your fingers clean. I like using the mop sponge brushes when I am using stencils like Bam stencils, and a normal size sponge is too large.
The Kabuki sponge and wedges are good for contouring and blending with creams and a more precise blending. They both have a foam feel to them and absorb a little more water than a HD sponge but they are seamless when used with cream make up.
Over the past year I have been working on adding more to the Silly Farm line of products. I have a vision of growing our brand to be able to offer great affordable products around the globe that have a Silly stamp of approval. I am excited to add our new line of Paint Pal sponges to the collection.
Our new line of sponges are the same quality you can expect from our brand and have been tested by me! So as a gift to say thank you for joining the Paint Pal family, if you subscribe to our blog you will receive a code to use on Silly Farm for a FREE petal sponge.
I think its important for you all to try a bunch of products to find out which ones are best for you. I like to see painters making the most of their supplies and loving the products they are using- which is why I try my best to share knowledge with you, in hopes to guide you along the best purchasing decisions.
Hopefully I covered all the things to know about sponges. If you still have questions or need help please do not hesitate to write or call me. I am always happy to be your Paint Pal <3
Happy Painting – Heather