You can’t do the job without brushes! There are standard paint brushes that you can pick up from the local craft store that will form the foundation of a good brush set. Basically, you’re looking for the short handle brushes marketed for acrylic paint. Brush sizes are not universal but generally speaking, look for rounds and flats with synthetic bristles (i.e. Taklon) in sizes #2, #4, and #6. Body Painters may want to pick up a few larger sizes, in the one to three inch arena. (Once you get passed size #12, I believe, they begin labeling them by inches.) The tip should be firm, but not coarse( I don’t think you want hog bristle), and it should snap back to its original shape when you run a finger over it.
As far as specialty brushes go, you might see rakes, fans, dagger stripers, mops, script liners, and fountain brushes re-marketed as face painting brushes. Most of these can still be found in a typical craft store. I find Fountain brushes a little more rare but I rarely use mine so… I guess that’s fair. Anyway, these guys are fun to keep around and if they play to your strengths, go for it! I find myself reaching for a good ol’ #4 round most of the time.
Looking for more toys? Saunter on over to the makeup aisle of the local drug store and pick up a Kabuki brush. It looks like a blush brush on a stump instead of a handle. I’m telling ya, smoothest blending brush you’ll ever use.
Your first brush holder will probably be a red solo cup and that’s just fine. Maybe you’ll get creative and pick up a large piece of soft foam to carve your own brush holder. Hey, hey it’s an idea!
I really liked the stand alone brush easels that could be folded and carried a couple different ways. They are re-marketed to face painters and marked up 150%. I’m not kidding. Check Amazon or any artist supply store like Utrecht , Jerry’s Artarama, or DickBlick . You can usually snatch up a decent brush easel for around $10. I can cram 24 brushes in mine (pictured above). I double them up in the holders. I don’t want to upgrade because this is the perfect size for my case right now, though I could use a second one.
At any mainstream craft store like Michaels or AC Moore, they have the soft, roll-up style brush holders. I keep one around for my spares but it wouldn’t be convenient for organizing brushes on the job. Brushes fall out super easily.
Sponges are life savers. I use a mixture of sponges and brushes on any job. They are versatile, cleanable, and disposable. Use sponges to cover large areas or for painting large crowds. The PROBLEM with sponges is that face paint retailers like to juice-up their prices. I do my sponge shopping at the flooring section of Home Depot. If you’d rather not wrestle with scissors, you can buy the same exact tiny round sponges that most retailers carry. They go by the name “tack sponges” and I’m sure they come from the same factory in China. Here’s a 12 Pack for less than $5. Black edging sponges, frequently found at hardware stores, are also a staple of my kit. In a pinch? Pop into the local super store and snatch up a couple car wash sponges. Yep. Cut them to a comfortable size and you’re all set.