It’s so easy to spend hours at the art supplies store inspecting and comparing brushes. Every time you find an awesome tool, you can probably think of a hundred great ways to use it. But who has time for that? Use this guide to determine which brushes will work best for the designs in your idea book – make sure that you have everything you need for your next party or event.


A brush collection tends to grow exponentially as a face painter gains more experience. You can never have too many! Still, it is important to make sure that you have at least one brush from every category instead of focusing on gathering a variety in just one area. Because brushes are not at all disposable, quality is extremely important. Your brushes should be able to stand up to repeat cleansing.

  1. Area Brushes

You can always recognize a good area brush by size and thickness. Brushes cannot hold quite as much paint as a well-sopped sponge, but they do use paint more efficiently. Area brushes come in all sizes and shapes, but are usually just large flat or round brushes. The flat brushes are great for rainbow cakes – just make sure that the width of your flat brush matches the width of the paint tin.

  1. Detail Brushes

Detail brushes are usually small and thin, flat or round. The round brushes are ideal for outlines and intricate details. Look for brushes with stiffer bristles for more control and look for brushes with softer bristles for smoother lines. The flat brushes are fun to use for lines as well because you can make thick or thin lines depending on how you hold it. These are great for lines that vary in thickness with each stroke.

  1. Accent Brushes

You will never run out of new accent brushes to try. The most common accent brushes have shapes similar to rounded triangles or flower petals – they are ideal for teardrop shapes, flowers, and other curvaceous details. Other accent brushes include fan brushes (for long series of tiny dots), ribbon brushes (with a V-shape cut out of the middle for dual lines or fun shapes), hollow brushes (for cheetah spots and wispy polka dots), and superfine line brushes (for temporary tattoo kits).


The ideal choice for large parties and events, sponges are the go-to solution when you need something machine-washable or disposable. Sponges come in many different density levels; the densest sponges offer better control and coverage, but the lower density sponges can hold more paint and moisture. It’s nice to have a wide variety of sponges but try to focus your purchasing efforts on buying in bulk if you plan to paint professionally.

  1. Area Sponges

There are two types of sponges best suited to area coverage. Blender sponges – the kind shaped like acorns – can hold a great deal of paint and have a thin point to make it easier to paint around the eyes, nose, and mouth. Round sponges are the other option. These look like thick flat discs. Most face painters cut them into wedges and use the flat side for area coverage and the edges for details.

  1. Detail Sponges

We already mentioned that you can use the edges of sponge wedges for details but they are not nearly as clear or accurate as brushes. This is where detail sponges come into play. You can find firm, shaped sponges attached to paintbrush handles at nearly any art supplies store. They often look a lot like chisel or flat brushes.

  1. Accent Sponges

Because sponges are not quite as easy to control as a brush, you might have to get creative when it comes to details and accents. Look for dotter sponges and stamp sponges. Dotter sponges are often just a flat round piece of sponge attached to a brush handle. They’re great for polka dots, baseballs, bubbles, and any other round or crescent-shaped accent you can imagine. Stamp sponges are similar but come in different shapes like flowers and hearts.

A complete brush collection is an effective brush collection. Make sure that you have at least one of every type of brush that you’ll need before you start expanding to new shapes and sizes. With careful tool selection, you’ll be able to have a “complete” set without spending a ton of money!