Tuesday, 19 August 2014

What You Need To Know When Hiring a Face Paint Artist

Face painting is more then just a 'pretty face'!

Whether it’s for a large corporate event, a festival or a small private party, you need to know that the face paint artist you hire will adhere to standard practices of safety and hygiene.

It’s up to the educated consumer to protect themselves, their children, and their patrons by asking the correct questions.

Short and Sweet:
We advise all our potential clients when looking for professional face painting to look and ask for:

~ Materials Made Specifically for Cosmetic Use
Must be non-toxic AND hypoallergenic paints and glitters. Non-toxic by itself does not mean safe for skin, and glitters must be cosmetic grade, as craft glitters contain metal and can cause damage if it gets in the eyes. Any skin glues should be cosmetic and latex free. Ask the artist you are thinking of hiring to provide you with an MSDS (Material Data Safety Sheet) for their paints, they should keep this info in their kits in case asked.

~ Clean Hygienic Applications
Artists should practice frequent water changes and use of hand sanitizer between each guest as well as other practices to avoid the spread of bacteria, such as sanitizing brushes and sponges after use near the eyes, mouth, and nostrils. Look for hand sanitizer and a container clearly marked 99% iso alcohol on the table. Artists should also not paint on or around open/healing sores, or on children who are sick. Ask the artist you are hiring about their their hygienic practices (see more on this below).

~ Fully Insured
Every professional face painter should be fully insured and carry proof of insurance in their kit. If in doubt, ask them to email you a copy of their insurance certificate.

Further Reading:
Some face painters get into the business when they saw someone else doing it and thought to themselves, “I can do that.” But unless they have someone knowledgeable to mentor them or great responsible resources, many can fall into unknowingly making many errors along the way, which can put your guests at risk.

What Kind Of Paints Do They Use?

Seen Here: Super messy & dirty kit for sure, but also notice the 'Artists Loft' bottled acrylics in the upper left hand corner.

Only face paints should be used for face painting. If it's not rated for use on skin and cosmetic use, then it should NOT be used on the skin. Period.

More Examples:

Craft Paints being used for face painting at a school fair

Bottled Acrylic Craft Paints being used as face paints

Why Are Proper Paints Important?
 Rash from Acrylic Craft Paints being used on the face

Unlike craft paints, cosmetic products have undergone vigorous extensive testing and meet high standards. Craft paints are not designed for use on skin and therefore do not meet these standards. In fact, many craft paints have common allergens and carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) in them. The paints MSDS will also advise 'Not intended for use on skin' as these paints were not designed for such use and could result in rashes, scarring, blisters, etc.

More Examples:

Keep in mind that most painters who use inappropriate products do so because they just don’t know any better. They aren't evil-doers twirling their mustaches with glee at the thought of harming your child or guests. Though sadly some do just want to save money by buying cheaper products. This is not only bad for public health but it also leads to some parents thinking that all face painting isn't safe because their child had a bad experience or got a rash.

I've heard it all from so called 'face painters' who use craft paints in their kits
"I’ve used craft paints for years, and have never had a problem."
"It says 'Non-Toxic' on the bottle".
"I use this on my own kids!"

While face painters who use craft paints will tell you they even use it on their own kids, what they fail to realize is that not all kids are the same. Some kids will have sensitive skin, and others won't, younger children will have more sensitive skin, how old were her kids when she painted them with craft paints? They claim to never had a problem, but how to you get in contact with a face painter from an event if you didn't take their business card, or they had no card? Finally about 25% of the population have metal allergies of some kind, and even more so in young children.

And as for the claim of  'non-toxic'.....

The Truth About NON TOXIC:
A rash followed by permanent scaring from craft paints being used for face painting.

Non toxic only means that you can ingest/eat something bearing that label and probably not die as a result. The stomach has powerful acids to dilute or digest the particles to render them with minimal harm to the digestive system. Products absorbed through the skin go through no such process. Bottom line: Non toxic means non-fatal if accidentally consumed, not to rub on the skin. As well the term 'washable' means for fabrics, not skin.

Why Is Cosmetic Glitter Important?
Pictured: This local Vancouver face painter used metal table confetti and glitter on this child. Big no-no.

Craft glitter is made from metal, so any child with a metal allergy will break out in a rash from having this on their skin. Many children have metal allergies they grow out of as they get older, but some have this allergy all their lives. Another danger from using any type of craft glitter with face painting is that it could get into the eyes of children very easily. Glitters purchased in the craft department however are often metallic and are bigger pieces so they sparkle in a bolder fashion than needed for makeup. Metallic glitter feels gritty when rubbed between the fingers.

Seen here: A local Vancouver Face Painter using craft glitter (blue container with white lid)

Cosmetic grade glitter is cut finer and in an octagon, or circle shape and is made of polyester. This means that should it get into the eye, it won’t scratch the cornea. While it may cause some discomfort akin to getting an eyelash in your eye, it will do no harm otherwise. Polyester glitter feels very soft when rubbed between your fingers.

Rash from Craft Glitter

Too Sick For Face Painting?

Face painters should never paint models with open sores, cold sores, fevers, coughs, runny noses or those who are obviously sick. This is just common sense. Painting on a sick child opens the artists paints up to a cross contamination infection that can then be spread to other children. Professional face painters should have a 'Well Child Policy' and someone who has been face painting for a while will have a usually have stickers or a temporary tattoo (the kind you moisten and stick on an arm or leg) to offer as a substitute for face painting. Although the model may be disappointed, believe me the people in line behind that person will be relieved that such action was taken.

What About Cleanliness?

Pictured: Dirty kit and rinse container that have never been cleaned. Food/drink on the table.
This local Vancouver face painter also mixed 99% alcohol in with their water. Yikes!

Face painters should clean their kits after each gig, and try to maintain clean water, brushes and setup on the job to the best of their ability. Food and drinks should never be on the makeup table, as they pose a cross-contamination risk to the paints. Crumbs could get in the paints and start to mold. The face painter should also be using hypoallergenic good quality moistened wipes, or other methods to clean away dirt on the face or food from around the mouth as needed before the painting starts. It is not necessary to add disinfectant to the water as professional face paints already contain antibacterial agents in them, and any disinfectants such as alcohol would be diluted in the water making them useless, and would only saturate the water with alcohol, which could be harmful if painting near the eyes. If the artist is using a 70% - 99% alcohol to sanitize their tools, it should not be mixed in with the water.

More Examples:

Local Vancouver Face Painters Dirty Kit

Local Vancouver Face Painters with Food & Drink all over the makeup table

Circus Face Painter with dirty kit

Are They Insured?

It is highly recommended that face painters carry insurance. It also indicates a level of dedication to their business and that they probably understand safe practices. This is not just for their protection but for yours as well.

How Many Faces Can They Paint In An hour?

Many non-artists under estimate the time it takes to paint a face. I was once 'told' by an organizer I should be able is paint 100 faces in an hour. I had to explain to them why this was not realistic.

When you stop and think about it; there are 60 min in an hour, at 5 min a kid that's only 12 kids an hour, 3 min a kid would be 20 kids an hour, BUT remember that not every minute is spent painting. Kids getting in an out of the chair, asking what design they want, pinning back hair, cleaning cake off the face, showing them in the mirror etc. It all takes time, a minute here and there adds up quickly

A proficient face paint artist should be able to paint anywhere from 10 – 15 full faces per hour. This will depend of course on the designs chosen. But they should have some quick options to offer when time is of the essence. Keep in mind anyone who claims to be able to paint more then that is probably misrepresenting themselves to you so you will hire them.

What About Small/Cheek Art?

It is also a misunderstanding that most people have to think that cheek art is faster. While some designs can indeed be faster, on average it's not. Cheek art traditionally involves many more little details and to look good the model must sit extremely still with no distractions (very difficult for little ones). Believe it or not a full face painting can take less time as it uses broader strokes and is a more forgiving if the model moves during the painting. While some small cheek designs are indeed faster, they are not all created equal.  I have a series called 'Fast Faces' which all the small or fast designs that take about 2 min or less to do and allow me to paint up to 25 faces using only these super fast designs.

Of course, super simple hearts and stars on the cheek are faster - but then why are you hiring a professional face paint artist in the first place if this is all you want? Face Painting is all about the transformation into something beautiful, scary, powerful or fanciful that is the attraction of face painting. If all you want is for each person to have something done really quick like a heart or star…then I recommend getting some temporary tattoos to hand out instead.


We want to make sure that face painting is a 
happy and safe experience for all!
Thanks for Reading!

For more information, read the companion article
Good Things to Know Before You Get Face Painted

For more about clean face painting kits:
8 tips for face painters for a clean and tidy setup

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