Face painting tips

Our face painting expert tells you everything you need to know for your PTA fair

Face painting expert, Marilyn Grose explains how PTAs can get the best from their face painting stall and – more importantly – make volunteers more likely to step forward!

1) Be realistic

Don’t try to offer loads of different designs – three or four will be fine. Once you have mastered those to speed, then you can add a few more. It’s also a good idea to have a couple of small designs ready as these are useful for pre-schoolers or secondary school students. As a starting point, Marilyn recommends a pink cat, pirate and tiger. The latter is popular and is suitable for both boys and girls.

2) Practise!

Keep it simple, get some basic training if you can and put in plenty of practise. It’s the ‘hands on’ experience and regular practise that will improve your skills, confidence and speed. This, in turn, results in you taking more money for your PTA on the day. Sit with a brush, sponge and a pot of paint and ‘doodle’ on your hand in front of the TV. Pull together a group of willing helpers a couple of evenings before your event, throw in a bottle of wine or two and try your skills out on each other. Or, better still, round up your children and their friends and try it out on them instead! Agree which designs you’re offering and practise some basic techniques.

3) Health and safety

You will need to complete a risk assessment for your face painting stall. Think about sponges, brushes, water supply, allergies and unwilling children, as well as your own health issues, such as whether you will sit or stand to paint, and include the need for regular breaks.

4) What you’ll need

You don’t need lots of kit when you’re starting out. Keep costs down by streamlining the kit you have, which will improve your profits. Consider how many customers you’re likely to have and how many volunteers you’ll need – draw up a rota that allows people a break. You won’t all be able to use the same paint pots at the same time, so you may need to invest in several pots of the most popular colours such as black and white. You only really need two or three different brushes, but it can be helpful to have more than one of each to avoid customers (and members of your team) having to wait – time is money after all!

5) Make it pay

Sticking to a small selection of designs means that you will quickly learn how to do them well, which means people will be willing to pay a bit more. Every area and school will be different when it comes to deciding how much to charge, but this will usually be between £1 and £3. However, remember that parents and children have a lot of different activities they want to do and you don’t want to put time, effort and money into face painting only to find you have priced yourself too low. Generally, young children just want their face painted, so keep it relatively quick and simple to avoid having queues, and agree a price point accordingly.


  • Marilyn Grose runs Encore The Show Business in Saltash, Cornwall – supplying fancy dress and theatrical costumes, accessories and face painting kit, as well as running training workshops for face painting, theatrical makeup and casualty effects. If you would like to get in touch with Marilyn, please email her on marilyn@encoreshowbiz.com.
  • For step-by-step guides and to buy skin-friendly, non-toxic, washable face paints, head to the Snazaroo website.