by Julie Snyder
Halloween can be a perfect time to soar through a child's imagination. Allow them -- better yet, encourage them -- to explore their fantasies and transform into a favorite hero, character, or historical figure.
Does that costume need a bit of enhancement? Is your child unable to find the duds to dress up perfectly? Face painting can finish up "the look."
Many kids prefer face painting to wearing a mask. They say it's more comfortable or that it looks more awesome. It's also a safer option for those going out trick or treating!
Consider adding face painting as an activity for your child's Halloween party or school festival. You're bound to be a hit!
Face painting 101
✓ Use only paints that state they are for face painting. Non-toxic doesn't mean safe for skin contact! Consider making your own using natural food sources.
✓ Set up a station with individual disposable bowls for each color.
✓ Cut sponges in halves or thirds depending upon size. Designate one sponge for each color to easily cover large areas.
✓ Have small brushes on hand for each color to do more fine drawings.
✓ Have pony tail holders, hair bands, or clips to keep hair away from the face.
✓ Keep baby wipes handy for easy corrections and clean-up.
✓ Unless you're an artist, keep designs simple. Consider creating stencils to use or buy some from a craft store.
✓ Present limited options in a party setting to avoid getting trapped into a design that is too complicated, time-consuming, or both!
✓ Older children may want to be the artist. Show them how to do a few easy patterns, step back, and watch the fun.
Make your own face paint
Most of us wouldn't knowingly put harmful toxins and metals on our children's sensitive skin. Unbelievably, however, the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics found that 10 of 10 children's face paints tested contain low levels of lead.
Since no amount of lead is considered safe for kids, why not create your own face paints using natural food sources or food-grade colorings? Start with a base of safe, unscented lotion, pure cocoa butter, or safe, fluoride-free toothpaste.
Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, avocadoes, turmeric, spirulina, chocolate, carrots, and a variety of herbs and spices all can be used for colorful options. You can visit our "Kid's Activity: Natural Dyes" for options. Combine and mix in the base for the perfect shade.
Designs and ideas
Do you need some ideas to inspire your creativity? Use these face painting ideas to give your imagination a jump start.
Full Face Designs
• Shades of green bring to mind a witch, warlock, Hulk, commando, or ghoul. Stick a rice or oats to shape the perfect wart or mole and then paint over it.
• Orange, yellow, and black can create lions, tigers, and bears!
• Brown/black and white can make a puppy.
• Use red, white, and blue for your little patriot!
• Grab colors of their favorite sports teams and let them show off their team spirit!
Draw or stencil patterns on a cheek or two, around the eyes, or to appear like a "tattoo" on the back of a hand or arm.
• Pumpkins, cornstalk, scarecrow, or "cornucopia" -- all perfect for harvest time
• Popular and simple options for girls are hearts, flowers, butterflies, lady bugs, bees, stars, and rainbows.
• Boys may like snakes, fangs, spiders, bats, sports balls, webs, dinosaurs, trains, or planes!
Have you or your child experimented with face painting? What design is your favorite?
Photo courtesy of iStockphoto.