I’ve recently been experimenting with homemade body paints, and after trying all the recipes online and getting bad results, I did my own series of experiments using cheap items I had around the house. I’m glad to report that you can get very good theatrical makeup results with cheap materials.
First, I’ll tell you what didn’t work: any recipe that uses corn starch or flour will flake off soon after drying. Any recipe that uses oil will hardly resemble paint as it stays pale and shiny. And any recipe that uses food coloring will leave a stain on your skin. Some people want a semi-permanent stain and some don’t, so let that be a guiding principle.
How to Make Body Paints
I’m not going to give exact proportions, because the proportion will depend on the result you are looking for. These are merely combinations of ingredients and the results I got:
1. Body Lotion and Food Coloring: This combination results in the deepest stain. Mix any body lotion with food coloring, paint it on your body, wait 20-30 minutes and rinse off. You will have a nice tattoo-like stain. Watch the video below to see what this arm looks like after rinsing.
2. Hand Sanitizer and Food Coloring: This is the fastest-drying body paint. The results will be deep and translucent. If you want an opaque (or lighter) color, add a bit of white poster paint to the recipe. This body paint will not flake or rub off and also will not stain the skin as deeply as the first recipe with hand lotion. It comes off easily with soap and water. This is the combination I used for the black paint in the cat lady image above.
3. Body Lotion with Water Colors or Powdered Eye Shadow: This combination is what will give you theatrical-style body paints with vivid colors. I used a tiny bit of white poster paint in my experiments (see cat lady above) to make the colors stand out more. You can use body lotion alone to blend the colors even after they dry. Since you can buy water colors and eye shadow at The Dollar Store in the U.S., this is a very affordable alternative to high-end body paints. This body paint works with any powdered eye shadow including metallic colors!