How To Use Face Paint Safely When You Have Sensitive Skin, According To A Derm (2023)

If you plan on using face paint but are concerned about rashes and irritation, make sure to do your research before putting any old type of paint on your face. According to pediatric dermatologist Dr. Latanya Benjamin, M.D., the best face paints for sensitive skin are fragrance- free, alcohol-free, and have labels that read hypoallergenic, non-toxic and/or safe for sensitive skin. “Avoid paints that are not FDA compliant and colorful face paints that contain toxic metals (such as cobalt, nickel, lead, and chromium),” Dr. Benjamin elaborates. If possible, try to steer clear of parabens, lanolin, and perfumes, she further advises, as some people find those ingredients bother their sensitive skin, too.

Dr. Benjamin also suggests applying a gentle moisturizer before using your makeup, both to protect your skin and to make the removal process easier. (Water-based paints are easier to remove than oil-based paints, she says). When it’s time to wash your makeup off, Dr. Benjamin says to cleanse with warm water and a mild foaming face wash. To get rid of any residual makeup, such as mascara around your eyes, dab it off with a gentle makeup remover wipe or cotton pad soaked in micellar water to break down the oils.

In the majority of cases, using the wrong face paint for your sensitive skin will just lead to a rash or irritation, but Dr. Benjamin says it can cause an allergic reaction if a person is allergic to any of the components in it, so be extra careful about reading the ingredients list before using the product. Also, be sure to do a patch test ahead of time to make sure the makeup doesn’t bother your skin.

Whether you’re going to a music festival, getting ready for Halloween, or just love experimenting with makeup, scroll on to shop the best face paints for sensitive skin.

1. The Best Face Paint Palette For Sensitive Skin

If you’re in need of a lot of colors, this set of 12 vibrant face paints from Artiparty is a great option at a reasonable price. The 10 matte colors and two metallic shades are non-toxic, water-based, and easy to wash off, and you get enough of these colors to paint multiple faces without running out. Included are three brushes — just mix the paint with a bit of water and blend together to achieve your desired consistency, and build up as needed for more impact.

Relevant review: “Good quality, great for sensitive skin. Worth the extra money. My 5 year old son is sensitive to things on his face and had no redness/irritation with this product.”

2. Runner Up

This palette comprising face paint in 12 different colors packs a powerful punch, and will last through a day or night of revelry without fading or cracking. Though it is more of a splurge than the Artiparty set for the same number of colors, these hypoallergenic, water-based, non-toxic face paints have received a near-perfect 4.8 out of five-star rating on Amazon, and the colors are intensely pigmented and gorgeous. This set comes with two brushes, as well: one flat and one round.

Relevant review: “Very pigmented and not pasty, love it! Some face paints you get are pasty and clump when in use and have almost to no pigment. These are great and worth the money because of how long they last. The brushes that come in the set look nice for use on skin. Definitely the best face paints I’ve ever bought.”

3. The Best Face Paint Stick For Sensitive Skin

Mehron’s face paint sticks are good for people who are prone to dry skin, as the buildable formula is thick, creamy, and formulated with aloe vera and vitamin E so your skin won’t feel dry or cracked underneath. Mehron’s makeup is vegan, cruelty-free, and free of parabens, gluten, and petrolatum. These one-shade sticks are available on Amazon in nine different shades, so you can pick the colors you need for your look and skip the ones you don’t. Unlike the other products on this list, these are creams, not water-based makeup, so the face paint stays moist on your skin and never fully dries down. That said, it should be followed up with a setting spray or powder so it doesn’t transfer onto your clothing.

Relevant review: “I love the makeup! I’ve always had problems with water-based makeup because my eyes are sensitive and water too much for them, so I turned to a cream-based makeup. This was the best makeup decision of my life honestly! It’s super easy to apply. Though you will definitely want to seal it or it’s gonna be everywhere.”

4. The Best Individual Face Paints For Sensitive Skin

With strong, vibrant colors in finishes ranging from metallic to sparkly to matte, these Snazaroo face and body paints are excellent no matter what look you’re going for. These water-based face paints are non-toxic, paraben-free, fragrance-free, and highly pigmented, and easy to remove with some gentle soap and water. Since these are sold individually, they’re great for people who are looking to build up a curated collection of face paints.

Relevant review: “Worked wonders. Did not flake easily and painted on effortlessly with a paintbrush onto my model. She has very sensitive skin and did not react in the slightest. She said that it had a very lightweight feel to it and hardly felt like the nasty cheap face paint you can get in a local store. Three of these (different colors) covered a whole adult body and still had a ton left over in each one. Paint also came off very easily with water upon mistakes or desired removal. Very impressed overall and will definitely be buying more for body and face painting needs.”

5. The Best Face Paint Crayons For Sensitive Skin

Particularly great if you want a super-easy option that wipes off as easily as it goes on, these Blue Squid Face Paint Crayons are effortless to use and safe for all ages, even younger kids (though adults will love them, too). The 36 soft crayons are helpful for drawing fun designs, and the formula is hypoallergenic and non-toxic. Bonus: These come in a plastic carrying case so they won’t break or smudge when not in use.

Relevant review: “The product is super easy to use. Washes off nicely and did not irritate very sensitive skin. Love the product. And the crayons make it so easy to use.”

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Dr. Benjamin suggests using a foaming face wash to remove paint and other stubborn makeup, and then wiping it off with a makeup remover made with safe, hydrating ingredients like aloe vera and micellar water, which are both found in Mustela’s Certified Organic Micellar Water With Olive Oil & Aloe. This incredibly gentle, fragrance-free, no-rinse cleanser is soothing enough to use on very sensitive skin, yet it will effectively remove eye makeup and other face paint without any scrubbing or harsh ingredients.

Relevant review: “I’m an adult and use this as a refreshing facial cleanser. It has no noticeable scent and is a soothing cleanser that doesn’t require rinsing. I use it with washable cotton rounds and then just throw them in with the laundry.”


Dr. Latanya Benjamin, M.D., pediatric dermatologist and associate professor

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