How To Seal Body Paint and Avoid Smudging (Explained)

seal body paint

Body painting is done for a variety of reasons, including Halloween, stage performances, festivals, cosplay, or just to feel good about yourself, however, it can be difficult to seal body paint.  It’s simple to put on, but keeping it in place can be difficult, especially in hot weather or when you have to wear it for an extended period of time. 

It is always disappointing after you put in a lot of hours into a full-body showpiece when you see it smudged and destroyed so quickly. However, when you take a few simple precautions, you can extend the life of your body paint and keep looking great all day or night. Here are a few techniques for keeping your body paint in place.

How do you keep body paint from smudging?

To prevent body paint from smudging or smearing, use a setting spray. It will help attach the paint to the skin and protect against the smudging effects of touching and sweat.  The alcohol-based setting spray works primarily through rapid evaporation, which aids in the adhesion of the paint. 

You can check some of the best body paint setting sprays and sealants available.

So when you spray it on, the alcohol evaporates but leaves behind a thin polymer protective finish.

There are also professional-grade body paints that are already alcohol-based and designed to adhere to the skin. These natural adhesion properties already provide resistance to smudging while providing a consistent and matte finish to your body paint. Unfortunately, many of these products are costly.

Apply your body paint correctly

One important step to prevent smudging is to follow a few steps before applying your body paint. Using an exfoliator and moisturizer on the body part where you are going to apply the paint is extremely important.

If you don’t put on your body paint well, chances are it will end up smudging. First and foremost you must dry your body paint.  

Water-based paint must be set with a liquid before it can be applied. 

While grease paint has a glossy finish and does not completely dry unless it is set with setting powder. Setting sprays consist of a mixture of water, alcohol, plus a few ingredients that allow for a better base for the paint to latch on.

Applying body paint

How do you seal body paint?

Before pulling out the setting spray and dousing yourself from head to toe, consider when setting and sealing are truly necessary. 

Should I seal my body paint?

The three things you should consider are the kind of paint you have, the part of your body you want to paint and how much will you be moving

Remember, there are parts of the body that are prone to sweating especially when you have to move a lot like dancing. Also, the quality of the paint can make or ruin your body painting

Setting and sealing is an excellent preventative measure that aids in the long-term preservation of artwork on the skin.

Some types of paint such as acrylic and tempera cannot be properly sealed with hairspray as paint and hairspray do not mix well. There are also hairspray formulations that may cause the paint to melt or become gooey. 

However, most of the time, hairspray is an effective option to seal body paint

There are other alternatives for sealing the body, try clear or paste wax and poly products to protect the painted finish, they are not visible to the eye. Also, they prevent the wax from changing color. 

These are excellent options if you need a low-cost and low-gloss finish. Just remember, before using a can, make sure to read it thoroughly.

Cheap method of sealing body paint

A cheaper method of sealing requires the use of hairspray and baby powder. What you need is an aerosol spray, not a pump spray. 

First, spray hairspray on the body. Be sure to hold it away from an appropriate distance and just apply a light coat across your body paint. 

The baby powder comes next. A light, dusted coat will be required. It should be applied thick enough to adhere to the hairspray, but not so thick that it clumps or significantly alters the finish of your body paint. 

Pour the baby powder into a soft kleenex, poke a hole in the end, then hold and apply it to your skin. Only a small amount of powder is allowed out of the kleenex so that it will not interfere with the paint. 

But if you have an assistant, he or she can place small amounts of baby powder on his or her hands before carefully patting you down with it.  

How do you stop body paint from rubbing off?

Most gatherings are not typically comfortable environments considering the close, crowded quarters, poor or no air conditioning, and people brushing up against you. The last thing you want is makeup on your costume, sweating it off, or getting makeup on someone else when you pass by, or on a friend you hugged. 

The paint is prone to rubbing off due to sweating. It is also important to note that the paint contains alcohol. Spritz your skin with a barrier spray and allow it to dry, but make sure that your skin is clean first. 

If the environment cannot be controlled, you must use the proper type of body paint. You can be sure of the body paint you chose by testing it first

Paint a patch of skin in the morning, maybe in your stomach so it is hidden, and if it’s still there at the end of the day, you are good. 

Better yet, run a series of test patches with different products or different product layerings.

How to wash off your body paint

After enjoying and keeping your body painting the whole day, your final act is how to wash it off properly. Never sleep with your body paint on you, as this is not good for your skin.

A citrus-based soap that has acids that help break down the paint and an exfoliant is the best way to remove the body paint. You might also want to try olive oil with sugar as this mixture can soften your skin and exfoliate it at the same time.


Body painting is an extremely enjoyable and rewarding art form. However, it can be difficult to know exactly how you should apply your body paint, and take the necessary measures to avoid smudging. 

If you do use the right product and the right steps in applying your body paint such as setting and sealing, you will not have to worry about it smudging. Enjoy the experience until the next body paint again.

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