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Best Black Face Paint: The Latest Test

You have already seen our Best White Face Paint blog and learned all about white face paints, now it is time for us to put black face paints to the test.

We will be testing several brands of black face paints, and comparing them with a series of tests so that you can see how they perform and choose the one that works best for your needs and based on your expectations. Keep in mind that as always this is just our opinion based on our professional knowledge, as well as the reviews from our thousands of customers that provides us with feedback over the last 10 years.

The Ultimate Black Face Paint Test

Let's be honest, finding the perfect black face paint that can do it all is not an easy task. Some are great for base work but not as great for line work, some do amazing line work but crack when used over large areas, some have a glossy finish while others have a matte finish, some look more like charcoal while others are more of a true black. Which one is which?

Unless you want to buy 15 different black face paints and find out for yourself, you might want to read the following post as we have made a selection of our top choices and compared them. Keep in mind that at JestPaint we sell many many brands and have two pages of black face paints available for you to choose from.
Also keep in mind that each face painter will have a different opinion, so take this post as that, our opinion based on our own professional experience. 

For this test we have chosen to work with the following brands: Fusion Body Art, Superstar, Global Body Art, Diamond FX, TAG, KryvalineWolfe FX, Paradise, Mikim FX, Kryolan, and ProAiir. We have made this selection based mostly on what brands are most popular at JestPaint. There are other great brands out there like Graftobian, Cameleon and more, but we wanted to narrow our selection in between those we sell the most, and Fusion Body Art, which is a new brand of face paint which will likely become well know by their AMAZING new Strong Black.

The Opacity Test

Although most black face paints tend to be very opaque since black itself is a very dark and opaque pigment, we still felt the need to compare them and see some differences. The main difference you will notice is that wax based or acacia Senegal gum based face paints tend to deliver a more opaque and more true black finish. We tested all of the brands and our test concluded that all of the brands performed really well, with the exception of Kryolan, ProAiir and Body Color Cosmetics that were a bit harder to create a full coverage. In regards to the last two we think is mostly related to getting the right consistency, which is a bit harder than when working with water, than with the pigments themselves. 

Best Black Face Paint - Opacity Test

The Layering Test

Using your black face paint to add line work and details over other colors is very common, yet it can be a challenge if your black is not opaque enough or if it doesn't flow off your brush the right way. Because of the water-based nature of face paints, it is hard for them to go over each other without picking up the color underneath although in general this is not an issue with black face paint. We tested all brands of paint to see which black face paint was able to better cover the color underneath and these are the results.

Best Black Face Paint - Layering Test

All of them did really well with the exception of Kryolan. ProAiir and Body Color Cosmetics had a bit of a harder time covering the blue paint as well but that is because they are not water activated and the blue was a water activated color. Keep in mind that although we always try our best to keep the technique, load, pressure and other factors the same, slight changes on application can affect the results.


The Blending Test

When painting beautiful smooth backgrounds one important aspect to consider is how easy it is to blend your face paints. The rule usually says that glycerin based face paints are best for blending as they stay activated and blend-able for longer, while wax based face paints tend to dry faster and hence can be harder to blend unless re-activated. There was no exception to the rule, Superstar, Mikim FX, Kryolan and Paradise outperformed all other brands here as they are glycerin based. Superstar (and the other glycerin based brands) stays soft and blendable for longer periods of time, allowing you to keep blending colors while on the skin. These paints are also soft enough to do "dry" blending better than any of the other brands we tested, which is a perfect attribute when you are trying to do shading.

Best Black Face Paint - Blending Test

The Glossy vs Matte Finish Test

As you can see on the image below, different brands have a different finish. In general, wax or acacia Senegal gum based paints have a more glossy finish while glycerin based face paints have a more matte finish to them. The exception to this rule were TAG and Global, that looked more matte than the rest of the wax/acacia based paints.

Best Black Face Paint


The Line Work Test

All of the acacia Senegal gum and paraffin wax based paints performed really well, and it would be hard to point one as better than the other ones. It is also worth noticing that Superstar, a glycerin based face paint, performed really well too. Superstar has done some serious work on developing a flexible and soft glycerin base black that can still provide you with sharp looking lines. Kudos to them for their work!

So, brands wise, Fusion, Global, TAG, Diamond FX, Wolfe FX, Kryvaline and Superstar outperformed the rest in regards to paint flow and sharpness of the lines.

Best Black Face Paint - Line Work Test

The Base Work Test

In general glycerin based face paints like Superstar, Paradise, Graftobian and Kryolan are best for base work because of how flexible and smooth they are. From the brands mentioned above, Superstar is the darkest, most opaque black face paint within the ones better suited for base work. Superstar provides a very smooth finish that feels soft and flexible, allowing the skin to move freely without cracking.

If that is what you are looking for, then Superstar is the choice. If you are more concerned about the base looking solid black, almost like if the skin was painted with house paint, then you should look into the Acacia Senegal Gum and Paraffin Wax based face paints (Fusion Body Art, Global Colours, TAG Body Art, Diamond FX, Kryvaline, Cameleon, Wolfe FX).


The Smudge Test

This is a very important test since there is nothing worse than black face paint smudging all over your design. As you can see on the GIF below, all of them did really well except for Paradise which had a little smudge.

Best Black Face Paint - Dry Smudge Test

Brands (left to right): Fusion, Global, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, TAF, Kryvaline, Superstar, Kryolan, MikimFX, Paradise, ProAiir, Body Color Cosmetics

We have tried some other brands before, and if smudging is an issue, personally we would avoid brands like Ruby Red, Graftobian and Mikim FX (the black did really well, but other colors don't). Although they are all good brands, they tend to be very easy to smudge due to their higher glycerin content. All four of those brands are tremendously soft and flexible, and blend like heaven because of their consistency, specially Graftobian, but they are not very resistant to smudges. 

Below, you can see what happens when you get them wet and when you run a finger through them once they are wet. At first all brands can hold their ground, but once you run a finger through them only Body Color Cosmetics and ProAiir stayed unaltered, and that is because only those two were designed to be water resistant.

Best Black Face Paint - Water Proof Test

Best Black face Paint - Wet Smudge Test

Brands (left to right): Fusion, Global, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, TAF, Kryvaline, Superstar, Kryolan, MikimFX, Paradise, ProAiir, Body Color Cosmetics

Consistency While In Cake Form

We have all heard stories about black face paint turning into a soft paste, and we know that all brands can do that if exposed to very hot and humid conditions. Superstar and Paradise have been the exception as they have both been very stable under the most extreme conditions. Although we have to keep testing Fusion's black, we did expose it to hot and humid weather, leaving the cake really wet and closed for a few days (don't do that at home as bacteria can develop), just to see if it would turn into a sticky paste, and it did not. Clearly these are not scientific tests, and things might be different under other circumstances, but at least you can use this as a reference. 

On this test only Wolfe FX, Diamond FX and Body Color Cosmetics got stuck to the sponge, which means they were slightly stickier than the other brands.

Best Black Face Paint - Consistency Test

Brands (first to last): Fusion, Global, Wolfe FX, Diamond FX, TAF, Kryvaline, Superstar, Kryolan, MikimFX, Paradise, ProAiir, Body Color Cosmetics

The Washing Off Test

One of the most important things to consider when comparing black face paints is how easy they are to remove. We have all heard of some stories were the kids looked like they were wearing black eye liner for days. In our experience, paraffin wax based paints like Wolfe, Diamond FX, Kryvaline, Cameleon and TAG tend to be a bit harder to wash off when compared to brands like Fusion, Global, paradise or Kryolan. They can all be washed off with the proper care, but we wanted to show you what the skin on the arm would look like after just rinsing with water and then after applying soap and water and rubbing gently with a sponge.

The first image shows what happens when you just run water over the skin and rub it off with your fingers. Beyond Body Colors Cosmetics and ProAiir that are water resistant, the rest of the brands started to come off, Wolfe FX and Diamond FX being the ones that left the most residue (before using soap).

The GIF underneath shows what happens once you apply soap and use a sponge to was the paint off using just the normal amount of scrubbing you would use when removing water activated face paints. All the water activated paints washed off without leaving any stains. ProAiir broke down almost completely and Body Color Cosmetics was not very affected by this. This last brand is certainly the hardest one to remove (it was designed to be that way), but it can be removed with some extra scrubbing, or using the activator or a makeup remover.

Best Black Face Paint - Washing Off Test

Best Black Face Paint - Washing Off Test

Other Things to Consider

A few other things that you should keep in mind is potential allergies to specific ingredients, special requests from costumers (like vegan face paints), water resistance needs and price (if you are on a budget). Of course, whatever your choice is, make sure that the face paint you are using is compliant with your own country's regulations and that you have done your research to make sure the product is safe, hypoallergenic and overall good quality. All brands mentioned in this article are considered professional grade, safe and high quality. 

Our Final Choice

As mentioned above it is hard to choose just one top brand as many are very comparable and equally good and it would not be fair to just choose one over another one if we can't find a specific reason. The one we use the most is Fusion Body Art followed by Superstar. We use them both because of how well they perform and how easy to wash off they are. We have also done extensive use of Global, Wolfe FX and Diamond FX with very good results.

You won't be able to have just one black, and we will leave the choice up to you, but we hope that our blog has helped you choose the best black face paint for your needs. 

Please leave us your comments with your experiences so others can read too!

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Next article The 6 Best Face Paints of 2019 - FAQs


Roberta Rhau - February 15, 2023

What if the base color is silver metallic will it pick up under the black ? Or should I do the lines first with black and paint the metallic around it ?

Cheri - September 17, 2019

Great review! I love the side by side comparisons. Thanks.

SANTIAGO J MASSANO - September 10, 2019

Hi John, thank you for your comment. We don’t currently sell Body Color Cosmetics but we are working with the manufacturer to bring her product to the store as soon as possible. She is just starting and wants to make sure that she handle the volume of sales we can generate for her before we start to sell it. Hopefully it will be at JestPaint soon!

John Gabriel Medina - September 10, 2019

Hi! Great review! Do you sell body color cosmetics here? Thanks!

Cynthia - September 4, 2019

Thanks, I really appreciate the examples of all the different side by side comparisons!

I use diamond fx and love its performance. But I know it is difficult to remove completely and that it gets sticky. Trade offs!

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