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Body painting tips and techniques

For such an ancient art as body painting, it’s surprising that there’s very little information available on how to go about it. It’s not surprising to hear of body painting taking about 12 hours to do, but with better techniques, it can be done faster. Here’s how:

Markers: Crayola has special markers that are safe and can be washed off easily. You could use a wide tip Crayola marker that could make a stripe of about 8 mm thickness and are available in red and black. They don’t pull or wrinkle the skin.

Airbrush make-up: Use this for safety, flexibility, and speed, though more expensive than the acrylic airbrush. You could also try using Dinair and Mehron. For best results, apply a thin opaque coat of paint.

Paints: Since professional face paint is expensive, use simple face paint recipes that will wash off with warm water. Alternatively, you could buy paints from Mehron. This is water-based “liquid makeup” that comes off easily. When it dries, it becomes streaky and cracks. Don’t use it if your model sweats but use it for a “non-slick” look. It can be washed off.

You can also buy grease-based makeup from Mehron in 0.75oz sticks in many colors. Apply it, smoothen with a damp sponge, and cover with translucent powder and brush off excess powder with a powder brush. Sometimes, the powder rubs off, so be careful if your model touches her bare skin with painted skin—it might just smudge. The cheapest method of taking off grease-based makeup is to rub baby oil into the skin and then towel off.

Liquid latex: This comes as make-up material in a range of colors and is advantageous because once it sets; it isn’t as messy as paint, sets quickly and cleans off easily. You can also get many textures, effects and colors with latex, mix it in metallic powder or sprinkles and create dimensional textures with beads or sand. If you apply multiple coats, it peels off easily.

Tempera: Tempera is both inexpensive and safe and is therefore very popular as body paint. It looks good when wet and flakes off quickly when dry. This makes it messy and is therefore not liked.

Henna tips:
  • To change your henna designs, wipe off excess henna with a cotton ball dipped in alcohol.
  • Use a flat-edged toothpick or matchstick, a small, disposable pastry piping tube, a plastic cone or bag with a small hole to make the designs.
  • If you have excess henna paste, remove by applying oil and then scraping off with a card. Don’t wash your hands for several hours after this.

Nudity in body painting: Different groups of people interpret body adornment differently. One such instance of body expression is complete body painting such as the World Naked Bike Ride where painted cyclists go cycling along a designated route. Or take the Painted Solstice Cyclists ride during the Summer Solstice Parade & Pageant that takes pride in displaying its creative expression. The idea behind these festivals is for participants to shed their body inhibitions and express themselves and “be colourful.” Often, their bodies convey political messages or beautiful designs. This is a good way to meet up with like-minded people.

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