Body painting basics

Body painting is probably one of the oldest forms of makeup, it’s been around for thousands of years. Body painting was done for a variety of reasons, ranging from ceremonial uses, camouflage, intimidating enemies and more. 

Body painting can be used for a few different effects. If you want to dress as a character with, for example, blue or green skin, you can use body paint to give yourself that skin colour. You can also use body paint to paint patterns on your natural skin to make it look like ceremonial or warrior body paint. Or you can use your body as a canvas for a full painting with lots and lots of details. 

Here we will cover the basics of body painting.

What do you need?

-Mild soap

-Setting spray

-Body paints




How to do body painting, the basics:

Step 1:

Before you start applying the paints on your skin, it’s important to prep the skin first. Otherwise the paint won’t stick to the skin properly or the paint won’t last as long as you would like.

Start by taking a shower and washing your skin with a mild soap. You don’t need to do any excessive exfoliating or scrubbing, you just need to wash off the dirt and oils.

Step 2:

Start with applying a thin layer of setting spray on the areas of your skin you’re planning to apply the body paint. This will help in making the body paint last longer.

Step 3:

You can start applying the body paint. 

Depending on the type of body paint you want to do, you can now proceed in different ways.

If your plan is to have a simple body paint, with mostly just a different skin colour, you can start with building up the base colour. You need to use some water to moisten your sponge or brush, it doesn’t need to be soaking wet. Rub the moist applicator over your paint until you have a good amount of paint on it. You can now apply the paint to your skin, building up the layers until you have an even coverage. You could also use a body paint spray to build up the base, and even the colour out with regular body paint and sponges/brushes.

If you don’t want to paint your full skin, but only paint some patterns, you can paint your design using the same techniques. It can be a good idea to draw out your design on paper first, just so you have a guideline to follow. 

Step 4:

Once your base is nice and even, you can start adding shading, highlights and other details. By applying a darker shade on the areas of your skin that naturally have shadows you can create more depth to your body paint and it’ll look more realistic. Placed to add shading are, for example, the hollows of your cheeks, underneath your jawline and following the creases of your muscles.

With a lighter shade, you can add highlights to the areas of your skin that catch more light, such as the apples of your cheeks, the bridge of your nose and the more bulging parts of your muscles and body.

If your character needs any other details, like freckles, certain textures or patterns, you can apply those last. Use smaller brushes for these details to make them look subtle and natural. 

Step 5:

When you’re done with the body painting, apply another thin layer for setting spray to protect the paints. Setting spray will help prevent sweat and water from ruining your hard work. 

Step 6:

To remove the body paint, simply hop back in the shower and wash the paint off with warm water and soap. Depending on the paint and sometimes even the colour you might need to scrub a bit to get it off. 

Check out our collection of body paints here.