How to: Homemade Face Paint (That Will Wash Off)

My two-year-old son and six-year-old daughter love dressing up and putting on face paint, whether they’re at home being superheroes (who watch cartoons on the sofa), or trotting off to Trick Or Treat. But they absolutely—and understandably—hate the vigorous scrubbing involved in removing the oil-based and chemical-laden paints from their faces. After lots of experiments, this is hands down our favorite recipe for fast and easy homemade face paint. And best of all, it comes off with just soap and water.


1 teaspoon corn starch
1 teaspoon diaper rash cream (also known as “butt paste” in less sophisticated households, like ours), or any thick-ish cream
A few drops washable paints, natural food coloring, or (if you’re extra crafty) homemade dyes
Small containers for storing and mixing
Paintbrushes, sponges, or simply fingers to do the actual painting
A paint palette (optional)


Mix-and-match colors to invent your own hues. (Photo: Navdeep Singh Dhillon)

  1. Find a child. Instruct them to use a small container and mix in equal amounts cream and cornstarch. The consistency should be smooth and thick. This will be your base. Using separate containers for each color, repeat this process for however many paints you will be making.
  2. This is where the fun begins! Let your kids decide what colors they’d like, and add a few drops of natural food color into each container. Mix colors to form new ones and experiment with additions, like glitter. Google will become your best friend if you have a kid like mine who is a Potter-head and wants the color of Hermione’s dress at the Yule Ball. Explain that periwinkle is whatever blue three drops makes, and you’re in good shape!Optional: To minimize caking, you can add around half a teaspoon of vegetable oil (or substitute water).
  3. More fun! Transfer your paints to a palette, a paper plate, or simply dip directly into the different containers. Feeling artistic? Try using a variety of brushes, from thick to thin, square to round. If you’re a freewheeling parent, let the kiddos use their fingers—and rest easy knowing that the clean up will be a breeze compared to drawing intricate Disney characters on little cheeks.