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    Saturday, November 24, 2007

    First Impressions & Comparisons: Face Paints

    Received a sample of a new kind of paint in the mail and looked at the ingredients first off. I only got red, white, and blue to test, so the possible designs are limited, but the ingredient listing was already telling me something I didn't want to hear. The paints are made with food coloring. A good thing for some people, my kids are allergic to blue #1, the main pigment in the blue (and likely included in all of the greens as well). I started testing the paints with express instructions to my girls not to get any of the blue paint in their mouths. Red#40 and Blue#1 are increasingly common allergens. There was no Red#40, a gift I am thankful for.

    So far I've tried three designs to test the various techniques and styles that can be used with this paint to create new faces, and I've nearly succeeded with two. The images in this post are not indicative of my usual quality of work, rather they are what I ended up with in my two almost-successful attempts at creating something beautiful with these 'new' paints.

    * Lines: I've discovered that I can indeed get a good bright line. This sort of surprised me, as this is a cake makeup that works a lot like a watercolor. Dip your brush in a bit of water, pick up some paint and begin. Very straightforward and intuitive. If you need a lighter color in a line, mix it with white. This takes extra time out of my painting that I don't like to spend making my customers wait. I don't know if there is a way to make one's own colors in advance of a painting event.

    So it passed the bold color and line tests for paintbrushes quite nicely. I didn't have to dip my brushes any more than I do with my current paint type. Another bonus over my current paint set: it's solid almost constantly, so there's no risk of spilling your paints and making a mess, and they weigh less for travel. Fabulous.

    * Blending: The blending, shading, and light color test went a little oddly. It takes a bit of getting used to, and I eventually had to wash off the first attempt because I could not figure out the proper ration of water to paint to get it to work right. As you can tell from the photo above, applying a thin, translucent layer of paint is very simple. However, this isn't what I was going for. I was trying to get a darker blue edge, fading into nearly non-existent near the eyes. Was it too much water, not enough pressure applied to the face or to the block of paint? I guess I'll find out later when I try them more. I am not the type to give up easily on something that so many in my field say is the best on the market.

    * Layering: Putting one color on top of another (base) color provided a challenge, as these paints never fully dry, but are reactivated whenever they come into contact with moisture. This led to quite a bit of inadvertent mixing when I was trying to get bold highlights. I also had to rinse my brush more often to prevent the base color from getting into and mixing with the color in the paint pot.

    * Wear: My kids and I simply love the way this stuff feels on the skin. It feels just like skin and doesn't crack or peel. It will run if you sweat, and it will smear if rubbed, even after it is dry. It will stain your clothes if it gets on them. It's a natural side-effect of using food colorings in your paints, but it feels natural.

    * Removal: Wash with soap and water. Well, that's what the instructions said anyway. More like wash with soap and water multiple times until all of the remaining dye staining your face is finally removed. My girls both had to wash at least twice to get the paint off. Once, we had to wash 5 times, then gently sponge at facial creases with a clean damp sponge for three minutes to get it all off.

    * Instructions: There aren't any instructions beyond 'use a damp implement'. I understand why, of course; different color saturations require different mixes of paint and water, and blending is another story entirely. It'd be really hard if not nigh on impossible, for the manufacturer to describe how to get what effect on the back of the small included info sheet, and even if they tried, it'd still take some trial and error on the part of the artist to really get anything of quality going.

    * On Allergens: No matter how natural or harmless an ingredient, the numbers of people with allergies, and the number of people on earth, give cause to believe that there must be someone allergic to it somewhere on earth. Nothing is truly safe for everyone.

    * Notes: I have to say that the reason I wanted to test these paints was that I had heard some people talking about what a horrible and potentially dangerous thing it is for people to use the type of paint I have been using for over 15 years with no problems at all. I can only assume that these other people are thinking my paints are some other brand, containing toxic ingredients, carcinogens, formaldehyde, ammonia, and metal flakes. Yes those are the things I was told about the type of paints I use, not my particular brand, though it was insinuated with the broad "every paint of this type" type of comments. I have a mild case of multiple chemical sensitivity which also includes an acute sense of smell, and I've been drinking my paint water as a comedy gag for years. I think I'd know if there was something toxic in them. Let us not even go into all of the very obvious and glaring warnings, and disposal instructions there would be on a paint that contained any carcinogens in this day and age. We're talking about warnings bigger and more noticeable than those on cigarette packs. Certainly no product with these horrid ingredients would never be labeled as certified safe & non-toxic as my paints are.

    In fact, the only two 'problems' I have ever heard from a customer is that they tried the wrong removal method and ended up scrubbing their child's face pink to get it off, and someone coming up to mock-complain about how their skin didn't tan through the paint. *chuckle* 100% sunblock. How do you remove my paints? A little warm water. Wipe a wet face painting, and off it comes, easy as pie. My kids are allergic to what I am testing if they ingest it. How many other kids are too? It has been said that normally, a face painter never hears about problems caused by their paints... How many people have had problems with these other paints and nobody has said a word?

    When People who use these new paints hear people trying to talk kids out of having their faces painted, they say they hear things like "No honey, that itches, remember?" and "Remember how red your face was last time?". When I hear parents doing the same thing, I hear "It'll just rub off in a few minutes anyway.", "Honey, it's too hot, it'll just sweat off." and similar. I've had numerous parents warn their kids to not touch their paintings, and seen the looks of pleasant surprise when I show them that their designs are already dry, and tell them that the art won't come off from a simple day of hard play. My customers aren't afraid their designs will smear if their kids go into the bounce house, and the owners of the bounce houses don't worry about paint all over their equipment.

    My paints don't smear, rub off, or stain the clothes after they dry. They also don't sweat off, and they have a good long wear time. Then again, my paints, undiluted, can have a tendency to itch and peel if used on active or mobile ares of the face (ie: around the mouth). Six of one, half-dozen of the other.

    The thing is, the 'new' paints are licensed as cosmetics, clinically proven safe for use on the skin, and my paints haven't been sent through that testing and approval process. As a business aside, cosmetic grade paints are nearly free from risk of litigation, whereas my paints have none of that surety because they haven't gone through that costly process.

    My paints keep my prices exceedingly low, as they are inexpensive, but the 'new' paints cost over three times what mine do. I would have to pass that cost on to my customers.

    Neither paint is greasy or slimy, but only this other paint should be used in full-coverage body painting. I know the limits of my supplies.

    * Conclusion: These paints are about equal to mine, but for different reasons. Beyond what I have already said above, there are a few things I need to add. I have to paint much faster with my paints because they dry so quickly while the other paints lend themselves better to blending and art that takes more time and nuance. I would have to completely re-learn how to paint larger designs with the new paints, since they cannot be layered. The 'new' paints feel better on the skin and can be used for advanced shading.

    * Questions: Finally, I have some questions for you my beloved reader;

    Should I try other cosmetic-tested paints, just to see if there is anything as good or better than what I currently use, or should I stick with what I know?

    Which would you want on your child's face, or on yours for a day at the carnival?

    Why do you answer that way?

    I am a participant in NaBloPoMo.

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    TheRambleman said...

    Can't answer the question(s), but I like both of your designs/creations in this blog. :-)

    Moosie said...

    from personal experience, anything labeled for facial use has bat poop or someother horrid substance to it. knowing what you normally use, i can say that i have painted angel's random limbs with it and would do so to sarah too. it wasnt pretty, but it sure was fun. she just happened to say the wrong thing to me while i had a plate of paint and a good sized paintbrush in my hand. and the great thing about the normal paints, it stays ON the skin, and does not soak into the skin like the other appears to do. though i must say i really like the on on littlebits face. also, from personally experience, i can say that the other stuff does give me a horrid itchy rash and makes me get all oily and break out something horrid. I say stick with the stuff you got.

    ender said...

    i can understand wanting to use paints that run less risk of litigation. and i can see why you're torn on the two different kinds of paints you discuss. certainly the feel of the new paints might be a real bonus if you can get the shading technique down the way you like.

    i'm curious, do you maybe offer a "care" sheet to the parents after a face painting? b/c i'm thinking that might be something that would address the over-scrubbing of the face later on at home. (maybe. then again, how many people read those directions?)

    the feel of the paint on the skin, the feeling of being nearly free of the risk of litigation ... vs. the different clean-up, the price and the layering issues.
    seems to me that's the real set of issues. much of the rest is just getting used to the "new" medium.

    i don't have an answer for you, really. i think you ought to continue using what you've got and continue experimenting with the new stuff and with other paints as well.

    i know it took me about 3 or 4 different brands of markers before i discovered ones that i could really work with. (Copic markers) was a frustrating process that i wish i hadn't had to go through as art markers aren't particularly cheap, either; but a process that gave me excellent results eventually.

    (and thanks for the Who Are You mention!! :) )

    Evil said...

    I think you should keep trying new paints but keep to your standerds for the paint.

    Id like to see a paint that does not crack or itch, drys fully, and has a long life.

    Between the two you explained I would go with the one you use now. My kids are rough on them self and would be very sad if they lost the paint early.