How to Safely Apply (and Remove) Halloween Face Paint Like an Expert

Halloween is here, and that means costumes!  But, no costume is complete without the finishing touches of face paint and/or makeup.  While moles, and green skin are the norm on Hallow's Eve, it's just not so glamorous on any other day.  Here's how to have fun, without the zits.  Whichever you choose, face paint or makeup, let's just take a moment and audit your products.  Chances are, you'll be wearing body paint, or at least layers of makeup.  I'm sure that you don't want pimples, or acne cosmetica as your Halloween treat.  

First we'll provide the fundamental tips and tricks to minimize acne.  Followed by how to remove it.

Let's start out with the application of makeup and face paint.  Here are some tips and tricks to prevent your acne nightmare.  For the sake of simplicity and time, I'll keep it brief as possible with the essentials in mind.  


  • Choosing the right paint involves more than choosing your favorite color.  

  • Don't use old makeup.  

  • Test makeup and paints for irritations before applying it to the face

  • Use Primer

  • Do yourself a favor and buy a variety of paint brushes for face painting

  • There're many ways to remove makeup and face paint, here are some that might work for you. 

1. Choose the right makeup and paint.

Typically, face paints from costume retailers are oil based.  Please don't buy these!  Too much of anything is never a good idea, and that includes oil.  Acne prone individuals can attest to this.    Granted some oils won't clog up your pores comedogenic, but why take a risk?  Try to find products that are labeled with these terms, oil free, non-comedogenic, and "won’t clog pores".  Note that some oils are good for certain things, like olive oil which is known to be comedogenic, however, you won’t be keeping it on for very long.  You’ll see this in the makeup and face paint removal steps.

You should also see what type of skin you have.  

2. Don't Use the Same makeup from last year

With a cornucopia of paints and makeup products, you might want to save some cash and stick with the ones you've used last year.  Bad idea.  The bacteria and other airborne contaminants will bring more than their fair share of skin and eye infections, as well as, irritations to your skin.  The Food and Drug Administration advises disposing of old makeup after 3 months.  Think of it as a petri dish of bacteria growing inside the makeup for a year.  Green egg and ham anyone and not from that eccentric cat in the hat.  

Not all makeup is the same. As a result, you should always test what works for you.  Since, contact dermatitis can be a very harsh reality.  Some signs you may encounter are itchy skin, rashes, noticeable dry skin, burning sensations, stinging, and hives.  Not a pleasant experience.  While this is not a public broadcast announcement, it certainly isn't something to take lightly.  Test before applying onto your face by rubbing a sample of the product on your hand or arm.  

With all the fake blood, gore, and prosthetics on your face, testing the face paint, makeup and latex can save you a lot of trouble down the line.  

3. Prime, Prime, & Prime!

It's no joke getting acne cosmetica or really any acne for that matter.  So, what is the first defense besides a clean face?  Primer.  A good primer can do just about anything.  It can moisturize, and keep your makeup in place.  Especially on Halloween, it is particularly helpful, since it's more than likely you'll be piling on more than usual.  

Getting acne cosmetica or more commonly called "cosmetic acne" can be frustrating. It might seem like, no matter how hard you try to prevent it, it finds a way onto your usually smooth visage.  Well, it can take up to 6 months to develop, so that crazy night out last year might have been the culprit. 

That's why a great primer can do just about anything.  It can moisturize, keep your makeup in place, fill in any blemishes or balance the texture of your skin.  Especially,  when you apply a lot of makeup, it can be your first layer of defense.  Whether it's for theater projects, costume parties or Halloween!  It acts as a perfect pre-layer that holds everything in place all day.  

4. Paint Brushes Should Only Be Used For Face Painting!

Well, let me clarify. It's not a hard rule of thumb, but you probably don't want to ruin your favorite makeup brushes with paint.  It also might not be the right tool for your needs.  Especially, when fine details are involved.   Try looking for a wide variety of thin to larger brushes depending on your needs.  Also, rinse and dry your brushes before you leave for trick or treating or heading out to a party.  It isn't just a good practice, but also it keeps it nice for later use.  If not, the bristles will become unusable.  

Pro tip: Use cheap cosmetic wedges

Similar to your makeup brushes, it is not a hard fact, but, it won't feel like a complete waste of money at the end of the day.  For what you are using it for, it's good enough.  When you want to get a single color spread evenly on your face and even extended onto your body, it might be beneficial to use a disposable makeup sponge.   Plus, its corners make it easier for those hard to reach places like under your eye and nose.  

Makeup brushes

Removing Makeup and Face Paint

So, you came back from your trick or treating escapades, or maybe partied till you dropped.  Either way, you probably want to remove that makeup and face paint stat.  There are various ways to accomplish this, from a few steps to many.  I'll start with the easiest, since it'll be available in most nearby pharmacies or convenience stores. 

The Home Remedy 

Step 1: Vaseline

Vaseline, a.k.a. Petroleum jelly can dissolve just about any kind of makeup, which is perfect, since it is safe to use around the eye areas.  Keep in mind that it can prompt outbreaks if you have acne prone skin, but in this case, we aren't keeping it on for very long.  

Step 2: Dab and Rub Olive Oil

The remaining stains on your face can be further removed by using olive oil.  It is a great product when you are in a pinch, and need something extra.  While other types of oils work, (please do your due diligence) you'll probably have olive oil at home.  Olive oil can help eat away the oil in your makeup.  Remember that science experiment where water and oil are mixed?  Water attracts water and oil attracts oils.  Word of warning, olive oil is comedogenic which means that it can clog pores.  Which triggers breakouts.  But, since we are applying it temporarily, it shouldn't be a problem.  

olive oil

Step 3: Apply Makeup Remover

Some places hold more colors, and that is where makeup remover comes into play.  There are two types of makeup removers, which, in simple terms, are water based and oil based.  Similar to the oil example, oil attracts oil and water attracts water.  So, buying the right one will depend on what type of makeup you're wearing.  

Method 2

Step 1: Use your preferred makeup remover

It's more likely that you'll have to repeat this process a few times.  Similar to the previous process, it will determine which (water or oil based) products you have used.  

Step 2: Cleanser Time

While the makeup remover, removes the makeup, this is where the acne prevention comes in, which is essentially your morning, or nighttime skincare routine.  

Step 3: Toner Pads

This will balance your skin's pH levels and even moisturize it.  Which is exactly what we need, since all this will definitely affect your skin.  If this is a normal day for you, it'll probably be fine, but for others, it might be something you will want to look into.  


With a little digging, and prep, you can avoid the dreaded pimple mayhem of the holidays. I'm sure that you'll have more on your mind during that time.  So, do yourself a favor and do a little legwork now.  It isn't very difficult and doesn't have to break the bank.  


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