The Dirt on Keeping it Clean – Face Painting Hygiene

I have always admired Jinny, she is one of the cleanest, most pristine painters I have ever met. Every time I leave a job I am covered in glitter, paint, and my kit looks like a war zone. After 15 years of face painting, I have yet to master the clean painter look. Don’t let me confuse a messy painter, with a dirty kit. No matter how messy my kit may appear, it is never dirty. After every 6 kids, I clean my space. I take a baby wipe and wipe down my paints and hands. I frequently use hand sanitizer between kids, and I refresh my water as soon as it begins to look murky.

I travel and teach face painting around the world. I get to see a lot of kits and sometimes I’m frightened that painters are using their supplies to paint on humans. Keeping your paints clean, only takes minutes of your time and can mean the difference between spreading germs and preservation of your face painting supplies.

I get asked a lot about how I rinse my sponges between children, how to keep my brushes sanitary, and how not to transfer germs. Adding alcohol to your face painting water does not help. The water dilutes the alcohol, making it inefficient and can be irritating to someone’s skin. Using one sponge or brush per child is too costly. So being aware of good hygiene tips can not only save you money, but it can mean the difference between happy, healthy customers and unhappy parents blaming you for a break out.

It’s very hard to prove a face painting related reaction. Largely in part, because face painting involves many products. We use a paint brush, water, sponges, glitter, gems, etc… So it’s hard to narrow down the exact product that caused the reaction. 99% of face painting related reactions are due to the fragrance in the make up. To avoid angry mom’s make sure to keep a clean station and ask the kids(or parents) if they have sensitive skin.

Face Painters Hygiene Tips

Brush BathAbout 3 years ago I developed a product called Brush Bath to help painters clean their brushes and sponges between kids. Brush Bath is a 100% organic brush cleaning solution and can be used as a face paint remover. Use it in your face painting water to keep it clean and fresh longer, and as a conditioner for your brushes. Brush bath is a gentle soap that breaks down oils in the hairs of your brushes that you might have picked up on the skin when you paint. Brush Bath also cleans the pigments out of your brushes so you don’t transfers colors and residue to the next color you paint with. It’s a great product and I encourage everyone to have a bottle to use on the job.

My second tip is to carry Q- Tips. I love applying lipstick on girls. Nothing brings me more smiles than a sparkly red lip stick after I’ve painted her like a princess. I avoid using my brushes on the lips, so I use a q-tip and I keep a clean cup of water next to me aside from my regular water basin so that I can always apply lipstick with a fresh start.

When I am face painting, I carry a clothes pin bag to throw my garbage in. I never like my customers to see used baby wipes, used q tips, or any other garbage that might have accumulated on my table. I bought the clothes pin holder at the dollar store and it is perfect to hang off of my table so i have a personal waste bin.

Baby Wipes! Every face painter needs baby wipes, they are extremely useful in cleaning your kit, to quickly correcting that occasional error. I have an article I’ve posted before about baby wipes.


Brush TubLastly, changing out your water is crucial. Dirty water is an eye sore and can scare customers away. It only takes seconds to dump your water and refill. I carry a gallon of water and brush bath mix to every job. I fill a 2 compartment water basin and a fresh cup of water for my lipstick. The water basin has 2 compartments. One to clean my brush and one to retrieve clean water. This helps me move faster because I am not muddying up my paints. I also love my water basin because it has paint brush holder slots along the rim so I never forget and leave my brushes soaking in water. Leaving your brushes soaking in water will ruin the tips and destroy your wooden handle brushes. The water basin I use is the Brush Tub and it’s available at Silly Farm Supplies.
Create a hygiene routine that follows after your face painting gigs. I take my brushes and sponges out after each event and clean, condition and let them air dry. I wipe down my paints with a baby wipe and leave the tops off overnight. I like to let my paints release any moisture that might have been building. The next morning I store my supplies in a cool dry place until my next event. This way, I always start my gigs with a fresh surface and clean supplies.

Are you a messy painter or know someone who is? Share this article of face painting hygiene with them! Leave a comment below and tell us about your hygiene routine.

Happy clean painting!

Wondering where to buy Brush Bath or a good water basin? Silly Farm Supplies carries ton’s of face painting supplies and equipment.
[button type=”button_solid_light nocufon” url=”″ target=”on” ]Water Basin[/button][button type=”button_solid_light nocufon” url=”″ target=”on” ]Brush Bath[/button]

10 thoughts

  1. You’re right about always looking clean & professional! It’s like going to a restaurant & seeing a dirty environment… would you eat there? Same thing with someone putting products on your children’s faces – hygiene & cleanliness should always be considered.

    Great post!

  2. Thank you Heather for this awesome blog! I used to use non-fragrance sensitive babywipes to wipe out my paints after my events, but I noticed it changed the paint in some weird way, and it left fuzz type residue in my paints. I currently spray down my paints lightly with a misting bottle and take a clean brush and wipe out my paints while holding the container slightly at an angle. If I wipe my brush on a towel after each swipe, any stray colors disappear and the paint looks clean again without wasting too much paint. Is this hygenic enough or do I need to still use the babywipes? Is there a brand or type that works the best?

    1. Dana, When she says she uses wipes to ‘clean’ her paints, she is really just wiping up any other colored paint, glitter, dust, etc. that will get on the surface of the cake during gigs. The baby wipe does not in any way ‘clean’ the cake other than appearances really. The professional grade face paints that are FDA compliant are filled with anti-microbial agents that prevent the growth and reduce transfer of microbes to the next client. As long as you are using your face paints within the expiration time, my Snazaroo has an 18 month usage before it begins to lose some of it’s protection, then your face paints will for the most part take care of themselves.

      1. Mary,

        You brought up an important point about “an 18 month usage before it begins to lose some of it’s protection” … I’m not sure how valid that can be considering that cosmetics, no matter how expensive, Clinique, for example. list that they should be replaced after 3 months.

        Is it really an FDA approval in this case or simply a statement from Snazaroo?

        I think if we keep our products clean & covered when not in use and are always mindful of the condition of the skin/child we are using them on, along with keeping our brushes clean, there is really no reason for concern.

        1. The preservative system is negligible in every day cosmetics because they are designed for one person only. That is why cosmetologists have stringent hygiene requirements and face painters do not. Even if you just break the seal on a mascara, never use it, after 3 months or so, you will have bacteria growing in it.
          I have taken classes with Mark Reid, who works the largest state fair in the US and also with Gary Cole, who also does extreme amounts of festivals and worked in the makeup industry. I also am a festival painter, and I can attest that the preservative system in any FDA Compliant face paint (not just Snazaroo) is designed for our use to go from face to face to face without the growth of microbes on our paints. And yes, they do have tests to back these claims.
          You can experiment with it yourself if you want, just take two brand new sponges, get one wet with water and one wet with face paint, then leave out in a warm environment and see which one smells bad or look under a microscope. Could be a good science experiment for any kids in your life.

  3. I couldnt agree more. I change my water after each child-care then empty my
    Used water into à large container that i also throw my sponges in
    After each use. One sponge per Child.
    The most unsanitary thing i have seen is people using à glitter tattoo stencil several
    Times. Much debate over that issue…..but hygiene is the most important thing when you deal
    With children.
    And for gosh sales…..clean your hands after each child. Baby wipes are cheap.
    Nothing worse then à painter with grey and black hands.

  4. I use a spray mister with alcohol to spray my cakes periodically during the day and before I put my paints away. The alcohol dries off quickly, but I feel sure it killed the germs lurking on the surface better than a baby wipe would. Plus it doesn’t swipe away the paint! I also always have a jar of alcohol on my table that people can see. I wash my brushes in water, then between each patron I swish them in the alcohol, then dry them and place them back in the container for use. When the alcohol gets a little murky, I replace it with fresh.

  5. OMGoodness Heather,

    My take on all of this is…The cleaner the surFACE you start with, the less debris and germs you have to deal with later.

    1. Do a brief, yet friendly surFACE check for lice, blisters, broken skin, snot, food, etc before you decide to paint. Do not hesitate…I repeat, DO NOT HESITATE to lovingly place a smiley-face sticker on the shirt an unhealthy candidate.

    2. Clean each and EVERY face, arm or body part thoroughly with a disinfecting wipe before you expose your products to it.

    3. Always remember many people have allergies to nuts, sunblock and/ or oily products. Do not allow the transference of these or any potential “toxins” to contaminate your make-up or applicators.

    4. Be mindful of your rinse water, keep it eye friendly. Make sure it is without eye irritant agents as well as pleasing to see. Keep an eye flush solution in your kit, just in case…

    5. Like a medical check up, give your make-up, applicators and kit a thorough check up with a preventative approach. Don’t wait until there is a negative occurance before you notice.

    Until we chat again…Keep it pawsitive,

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