How To Body Paint: Key Steps To Brilliant Results

Michael Daly
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How To Prep Your Skin Before Body Painting

First off, you'll need to prepare the body.

This may involve shaving, trimming, waxing, and sometimes even skin bleaching. Exactly what you do depends on the style of painting and design you want.

Basic preparation may be as straightforward as removing any body hair and cleaning the skin, but if you want a specific “effect”, you may want to do more.

You may want to bleach the skin to white (if you're doing a white bodypaint) or to black (if you're doing a black bodypaint), but you may want to do more if your color scheme is too dark.

Step outside your comfort zone and try something that's a bit more involved, like removing the hair from your arms or legs or bleaching a bigger area.

Be careful before you start this type of preparation – bleach is strong and potent chemicals.

If you're not sure what you should be doing, talk to a professional.

TIP: If you want to do a color bodypaint that includes pink, you'll have to do bleaching. Even if you're a man.

Importance of skin prep

The most important thing is to prep the skin; this is part of the fun of body painting. It is usually done with rubbing alcohol or baby wipes.

A lot of people find the rubbing alcohol really helpful as it will sterilize the skin and also give a nice cooling sensation as you apply it. Don’t forget to rub in the alcohol before and after washing the area with water.

The best way to take off the painting is with a few rounds of soap, acetone and a wash cloth. This requires a little bit of preparation, as you need to put a shallow glass bowl under the area you are getting painted.

The acetone is found in nail polish remover. It is great as it will evaporate faster than the water. It is used to loosen up the paint and to get rid of the excess paint on the skin.

A word of warning here, the acetone is vile stuff. Don’t just let it drip. Also, don’t ever inhale it in, as it can be harmful.

You may also use glycerin or baby oil to get the paint off your body. This method usually works best if you are using a blush or some kind of fake tan to paint.

Shower + barrier / setting spray

How To Apply Body Paint

Body painting is quite a unique art form in today’s world and the most important thing to remember when you apply body paint is to be confident. It will require you to move, stretch, bend and sometimes lie down. Once you take your clothes off, you will feel very vulnerable. But the time to get used to this part of the art comes after you have finished applying the paint. So before you strip off, stand in front of the mirror and take a good look at yourself.

Decide which parts of the body will be covered. This is the best time to figure out which pattern you want to create. Once you have the pattern, you can begin applying the paint.

As mentioned earlier, your body needs to be wet for the paint to stick. So don’t forget to apply a little moisturizer or baby oil on your skin and blot off the excess. You can start painting with your skin still slightly damp rather than wetting your skin again. Make sure you are not overdoing it even if it looks good. At the end, when your body paint is dry, you can go back in and add an extra layer to make it more vibrant.

Plan Your Painting

When it comes to body painting, planning is key and it is something I worry about at the onset of every session.

Take some time to map out your design and consider the following:

  • The body parts you want to paint
  • The colors you wish to use

Body Painting Brushes

I’ve always had a love for painting, but I never knew that I would become so enamored with body painting.

There are several kinds of water-based paints available on the market, from craft paint to theatrical make-up. Body paints are easy to clean up and can be used on many surfaces. I’ve used body paint on my skin, canvas, balloons, and jeans.

There are two types of paints that I tend to use: all-purpose and airbrush paint. The all-purpose paints are created for large areas and are typically less expensive. Airbrush paint is more expensive, but is more opaque and even covers up hair better.

It’s best to have a variety of colors around to match your skin tone, but I try to keep light and medium shades on hand at all times. I love using fluorescent paints because they’re vivid and fun to work with.

One of my favorite body paints is Ben Nye Final Seal. It basically acts as a sealant to protect the paint from fading or smearing during the first 24 hours of wear. It’s easy to apply and won’t change the color of the paint. It’s also a water-soluble formula, which makes it easy to wash off at the end of the night.

High Density Sponges

The most frequently used sponge is the high density face sponge. You’ll find a number of beauty sponges for sale that are actual face sponges. The thing is that – unless you’re painting a fairly large body area, there is no need for this to have a high density. And you want to keep the high density use for a larger area. The beauty sponges are good because they’re 2-sided, and you can use the hard density on the paint to get nice, rich coverage.

The Best Way to Use Sponges

You know what? The best way to apply body paint uses two sponges. One sponge is a wet sponge, and the other is a dry sponge. The wet sponge will bring the paint into the skin and wet the surface. The dry sponge is applied after the wet sponge. So, you would use the wet sponge to get the paint on the surface, and then, use the dry one to kind of spread it around, push it into the skin, and then, blend it out.

=== Why Pay Attention To Sponge Size? ===


An airbrush is a tool that is capable of spraying very fine and thin patterns on different surfaces. It is a precise way of creating beautiful designs and patterns on fabric in a manner that is different from the traditional way of painting.

A compressor is used to blow air into the device in order to obtain an even and consistent pattern. The best thing about airbrush tattooing is that it is extremely convenient and easy to use. So, if you are a beginner and you want to try your hand at it, an airbrush tattoo machine can be your ideal choice.

Setting Spray After The Body Paint Has Been Applied

After you've finished body-painting your partner, it's a good idea to go back and mist spray some setting spray onto her body. I like to use the Urban Decay All Nighter Airbrush Makeup Setting Spray.

This will briefly set the body paint in place so it can dry. Make sure to do this before the body paint dries.

How To Remove Body Paint

Once you have achieved your masterpiece, there is the task of removal. How long this takes will be dependent on the type of paint you use, and what you are doing when first applying it. The thicker the paint, the harder it will be to remove.

If you have only just applied the paint then it can still be removed by washing the area with soap and water.

If you have had the paint on for more than eight hours, the best course is to make an appointment with your local beauty salon. DO NOT attempt to remove the paint yourself, as you can make your skin extremely irritated.

There are a few tips I would always give to anyone covering themselves in body paint, especially if you are going to a festival (as I'm sure you know they wash the paint off actors on the red carpet and it takes a painstaking 1-2 hours to remove).

Remember if you must apply anything to your face, always ensure you have an environmentally clean area. I have seen many people applying products to the face, that left them with skin damage and scarring.

Face-painting is becoming more popular at the moment and there are amazing products on the market.

Water-Based Body Paint Removal

Where necessary, applying paint can be a delicate process. Even with patience and grace, some clothing can be difficult to remove. While office or business attire might pose less of a problem, when it comes to removing paint from clothing less likely to be worn outside, you’d be best working in a safe, clean, and organized environment free of kids, pets, and other sources of distraction.

Water-based body paints – which is pretty much all of them – soak into the skin, whereas oil-based paints – often used in tattoo removal – are genuinely absorbed. Thus, water-based paints can be removed with water, soap, and rubbing without damaging the skin.

Rinse your paint-covered body first with warm water and a mild detergent. Apply, apply, and then rinse again, using soapy water. Beware using stronger chemicals such as acetone – it may damage your skin. Once you have a relatively clean canvas, you can then use a more abrasive solution, such as rubbing alcohol, to remove the remainder of the paint.

Oil-Based Body Paint Removal

Body paints are made of oils and resins-nature's perfect combination for transfer of pigments. Oils are attracted to water, and will stay on dry skin unless you wash or give your skin time to absorb them. And the pigments are so finely ground that they'll stay embedded in your skin for a long time-often days or weeks.

The same process that makes body paints long lasting and waterproof also makes them difficult to remove. For this reason, many women have experienced body paints or henna tattoos that have turned their skin orange, red, or even purple.

Lipstick, greasepaint, and other pigmented cosmetics can also create problems. Body paints, however, are the most common offenders since they are more difficult to remove or hide.

To avoid having body paint colors stain your skin, here are some tips that will help with removal:

Cleanse and dry the areas where you applied body paints or henna as soon as possible.

Use a humectant skin cream (e.g., lotion, shea butter) immediately after application.

Wear a dark-colored, loose-fitting undershirt or blouse to prevent the fabrics from causing body paint stains.

Becoming Better At Body Painting

A really good body paint doesn’t just happen, no matter how talented the artist. Body painting is as much art as it is technique. If you want to be a body painter, familiarize yourself with the following tips.

Step 1: Drawing

Any good body painter starts with a decent drawing, which should be transferred accurately to the subject. This takes a good eye and plenty of patience.

If you are naturally gifted, your life will be easier. If you are not, take time to practice with a sketchbook. Even if you don’t think you have much talent, sketching will help you develop an eye for proportion and relation.

To create a drawing that is truly beautiful, you have to put in the time and effort. Follow the simple principles of proportion and geometry to create the ideal human form. The body is a precious shape, and you must respect it.

Step 2: Image Retention

Some body painters have more than one design idea on the go at a time, while others keep it one-track at a time. Decide for yourself which way is best for you.

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Body paint is a hot new trend in fashion right now. However, if you have never tried it before, you may not be sure what to expect. How difficult is it? What do you wear? And what about those pesky body paint stains afterward? Here is a detailed rundown of what to expect when you plan on getting body painted.

The Process

Getting body painted is a pretty fun process. Once your make-up artist is finished with your design, you sit in front of a huge fan for a few minutes to let the paint dry. Then you are finished!

If you are a little nervous about showing too much skin, you can wear what you feel comfortable in, but most people wear bathing suits or underwear. However, if you have a more risque design in mind, it might be better to wear nothing at all to avoid any lines in the paint.


After you get body painted, you will probably be itching to wash off your paint. However, as soon as you get out of the studio, your best bet is to reach for the hairspray to set your design. This will help the paint last longer.