Having A Skin-Friendly Halloween: Face Paint & Removal

As you prep to look your most horrifying, are you thinking of the horrors that may await your skin? Is that just me? Face paint and costume makeup are imperative for Halloween and can take a costume from lacklustre to drop dead fantastic.

However, you probably have an idea that it is not the most fantastic for your skin. Even the slightly higher-end, supposedly suitable for sensitive skin brands contain bucketloads of drying talc. Talc, I hear you say, the very thing that we tap on to babies’ posteriors? Talc is technically a mineral, so you would think that I’d be all for it. Talc is an incredibly absorbent mineral. In some cases, this is seen as a positive.

What it does is soak up oil from the skin which is sometimes why it is used in cosmetics. However, if you are dry-skinned or prone to skin dehydration, talc may take you from getting on okay to cracking, tightness and irritation. On the flip side, some face paints are heavy and oil-based, Ă  la grease paint - if you are a congestion-prone hooman, you will know that this spells disaster.

The oils and fats being used in many of these formulations are actually the very same ones that I advocate for for drier skin types, like cocoa butter and almond oil. These are incredibly beneficial ingredients, full of essential fatty acids and incredibly moisturising when used on the right type of skin. On oilier skins, they will contribute to a film of oil that will feed spots.

Skin-friendly face painting advice

  • Always opt for credible brands and big names when it comes to facepaint as these will be the brands that won’t stain the skin and usually that will be the most skin-friendly
  • Keep facepaint to small areas rather than going for a full face of it
  • Substitute face paint with a loose mineral pigment (like Fuschia Loose Mineral Blush, €14.50) mixed with a primer, sunscreen or balm-type product
  • Create a layer between your face and any face paints by dusting a mineral powder across your visage before starting your work of art

The aftermath of face paint and Halloween makeup

It’s all fun and games when it is the artistic, creative part but how are you going to deal with the mess you’ve made? Many scrub and tug at dried face paint and makeup with just a warm cloth but often you need to turn what is on your face into an oily emulsion that can be easily lifted off.  

Cleansing off face paint

The key to this is an oil-based or cream cleanser plus the Cleanse Off Mitt (€5.95). When you add an oil to dried face paint, it will return the dried in product to a more liquid state and help to lift it from the skin. It will also help to loosen liquid latex and other SFX materials without you having to give yourself an impromptu vellus hair wax.

skin-friendly face paint

The Avène Gentle Milk Cleanser (€14.99) is an option for this as it contains mineral oil. Now, mineral oil is an opinion-splitter in the cosmetic industry - some believe it has no place in skincare (even pharmaceutical grade mineral oil), others see it as fine. Mineral oil is not so much a beneficial ingredient as it is an ingredient. In moisturising and barrier products, it works as an occlusive to lock moisture into the skin and prevent irritants from getting in. In a cleanser, as it is here, it works to remove makeup (in this case, facepaint). That’s pretty much it. The primary benefit is skin that is free from makeup - exactly what it says on the tin.

Apply your oil/cream cleanser, remove gently with the Cleanse Off Mitt - you may need to re-rinse the Cleanse Off Mitt a few times depending on how much art you have on your face. Saying this, you should still follow up with a cleanser that will have benefits for your skin, whether it hydrates it, balances it or helps to decongest your pores.

For my oilier and spot-prone friends, follow it up with a salicylic acid cleanser. Salicylic acid penetrates into the pore to dissolve sebum, dead skin cells and debris so you won’t be left with residual face paint blackheads or angry spots! The IMAGE Clear Cell Clarifying Cleanser (€36.00) is a potent one that contains tea tree & neem leaf, antiseptic and anti-inflammatory ingredients! For those whose skin will be left parched or even a little annoyed after potentially drying costume makeup, the IMAGE Ormedic Balancing Facial Cleanser (€35.00) could be for you. It is full of hydrating aloe leaf extract as well as soothing green tea extract, chamomile and oat kernel extract.


All should go for a comforting hydration mask the night of, if you can manage, or the morning after. There are millions of hydrating masques that I could recommend - it comes down to skin type, budget and a huge range of factors! The Académie Scientifique de Beauté Gentle Re-Hydrating Cream Mask (€31.20) is a nice one as it contains aloe vera, imperata cylindrica extract, a plant extract that helps our skin to hold on to moisture long-term, and glycerine, which pulls moisture into the skin. The brand recommends that you apply for 10-15 minutes… Realistically, you could leave it on for 30 minutes or more. I would even say leave it on overnight but I am a risk-taker.

Removing face paint stains

Some face paints and darker cosmetics can leave the skin stained… Terrifying in itself! However, I will still guide you on how to get these stains gone so you are not going into work with devil horns on your forehead. Say it with me: exfoliation! I don’t mean scrubs, I don’t mean brillo-padding off the marks. I mean using chemicals to tell the skin to increase its turnover, thus aiding those stained cells in the uppermost layer in scooting their boots. Opt for an exfoliating acid cleanser, like the aforementioned IMAGE Clear Cell Clarifying Gel Cleanser, or an enzyme mask, as enzymes are slightly gentler than exfoliating acids for those with sensitive skin. If this fails, grab a dry oil like the YonKa Huile Detox (€40.00) and rub it into any stained areas - this should help to lift the stains!  

Now go forth and have a fantastic (and spooky) bank holiday weekend with all the trimmings.