First Time Bodypaint Model’s guide: 4 tips to follow

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So let’s say that you’ve lined up a modeling gig with a bodypainter. Your first time as a bodypaint model is thrilling, exciting, intimdating and a little scary, even. How do you know what to expect? What should you know beforehand? What kinds of things do you need to bring to make the experience a great one for everyone involved? The following is a first time bodypaint model’s guide, 4 tips to follow and a link to a checklist of things to bring to make it a great time.
First things first: Good job! Modeling for a bodypainter is fun and rewarding, and now you get to BE the art. Enjoy the experience. You get to take part in something that not everyone can. The simple fact that you found an artist who believes you’re the perfect canvas to showcase their talents is an incredible complement!

Now that you’ve got the gig, there’s a lot to know that isn’t immediately apparent. The Model’s Guide to Body Painting” on Model Mayhem is probably the best guide on what you need to bring to the shoot and what you can expect once you get there. Follow every word of it as if it were your bible for this shoot. It’s an amazingly through piece that will really, really help you.

I love those instructions a lot, but here are further things that you can do to keep yourself comfortable and happy during this amazing opportunity to become living art.

1. Do you have dry skin, or live in a harsh, dry climate? I do, I’m in Colorado, and the dryness is seriously punishing. Average humidity here is usually below ten percent, and we’re at altitude, which means we’re at least a mile closer to the sun. It’s rough. Everyone here, even people with oily skin, have to use lotion at least once a week. No exaggeration there.

So, when I used to bodypaint weekly, I had a tough time getting my models to follow the “no lotions or cremes anywhere on the skin” rule. They used to flat-out refuse. Being empathetic to their plights (I have such dry skin that it bleeds if I don’t use lotion at least daily), I developed a method to keep my models comfortable before and during a paint session. You’re seriously gonna thank me for this one.

Go to your nearest “health grocery” and get a small tub of shea butter.
If you’re not in a place where there’s a store like that on every corner (reasons to love living in Colorado, LOL), get it on Amazon or Jet.

If you’ve never used shea butter, it’s the semi-solid secretion of the karite tree, native to Africa. It’s the best skin product in the whole world, IMO. It’ll make any skin softer.

Get about a peach-pit sized scoop of shea butter out of the tub and rub it between your hands until it’s really soft and slightly oily, then slather it on your skin. Do this two nights before the shoot. Shower right before you leave to get painted, and use a really gentle, unscented soap (unscented, because scents are usually alcohol based in all personal care items, and alcohol dries out the skin). If you do this, your skin will retain more moisture.

Make sure you only follow the directions above in a dry climate or during a weather period where the atmospheric humidity is below 30%. Also make sure to follow the timeline listed above, because if you do it too close to the day in which you are to be bodypainted, it can really screw up whether or not the body paints apply evenly and stay on well.

2. Getting fully bodypainted is sometimes hard on the feet. You’ll be standing for a long time. It might get a little uncomfortable. The tip to bring some flip flops is a must because of that. But it doesn’t solve the fact that you’re on your feet for that long, it just helps.

To solve the problem, make sure your flip-flops fit really loosely. Then, before the bodypaint session, go buy the cheapest, thickest, most cumbersome maxi-pads you can find, and take 6 to 8 of them with you. Unwrap one when your feet are starting to ache a little, take the backing off of the adhesive strip, and stick it to your flip-flop. It’ll immediately ease any discomfort. Replace it when it starts to get really flat.

3. Bring a sizable (and full) bottle of smart water with you (or electrolyte water, it’s cheaper and just as effective). The electrolytes in it help your body retain that water in your tissues and organs, so you get thirsty less often. And being a bodypaint model is very thirsty work. BTW, no, gatorade is not a substitute for Smart Water/electrolyte water, because it has sugar and other additives in it. Gatorade is a good addition to the things you’re bringing, but is not a good substitute.

4. Other helpful items to consider bringing with you:
hard candies – standing for a long time in one position can affect your blood sugar levels and make you feel dizzy, unusually restless or even nauseous sometimes, if the fluctuation is drastic enough. Hard candies are an instant fix. Ask your bodypainter if you can put a little pile of them on their table for easy access.
altoids (original flavor) – original altoids are an instant cure for nausea, if you have issues with that while standing in unusual positions for an extended period of time.
Cute hair clips – Most bodypainters do not do hair. If you’re self conscious about that, bring some stuff that will easily suffice for undone hair. Flower clips are magical for making a person look “finished” without doing much. Also, those hair combs that have a beaded weave between them can be a lifesaver in situations with undone hair, and are sometimes an even quicker way to get your hair out of the way during the paint session.
quick and easy essential makeup – some body artists do not include the face as part of the bodypaint design. If you are self conscious about being photographed with a bare face, prepare a small bag with your easiest makeup essentials in it, just in case. Always at least grab mascara, since not a lot of bodypainters carry it in their kits, as it cannot easily be shared. Also consider putting this in a small cosmetics tote so it all stays in one place and you can access it easily, since time is often of the essence at photoshoots.
nail polish – for touchups. I know I often find I have small chips out of my fingernaill or toenail polish, and it’s not the best look for photos. Since the color you have on your nails may not (and probably isn’t) something your artist usually carries in a kit, bring the polish that matches whatever you’re wearing on fingers and toes, for touch-ups.
a razor and travel-sized shaving creme or gel – I cannot count the number of times I’ve had to cancel a shoot because my model didn’t shave. Shaving off any hair in the areas to be painted is a pretty essential requirement, but forgetfulness can strike even the most experienced models. If you pack a razor and shaving creme, even stubble that you didn’t expect to be an issue (but is, on the day of the shoot) can be vanquished and conquered.
a couple of bobby pins, a couple of safety pins – These have saved the day during a shoot more times than I can count. For unforeseen circumstances, these are indispensable.
a travel sized bottle of hairspray – There are a thousand reasons besides hair emergencies that I have used hairspray for! This one is for unforeseen circumstances as well.
a lighter, a couple of bandaids, a phone charging cable that fits your phone-
 Also good items to have on hand to handle the unforeseen.
 a portable vape (if you smoke) – this comes in very handy, since breaks are often not on the same schedule a bodypainter, or your wish to smoke, is on.
a very small bottle of rubbing alcohol, a very small bottle of cold creme, a travel pack of makeup remover wipes –
 If you’re removing the paint right after the shoot, these items come in handy for stubborn areas where the paint sticks, despite washing it off with soap. These are also of great help to an artist sometimes, if they forget them and make a mistake while painting.
A second pair of comfy shoes, some socks, (maybe even a hoodie, depending on the season) – It’s surprising to me, the number of times I have seen even seasoned models forget that, after the shoot, they’re gonna have to go out in the snow, the rain, the not-made-for-flip-flops weather. Be prepared for weather that has changed too! Watch the news at some point before you go, within a day of the session, so you know what to expect from the weather. Also keep in mind, if it gets colder after the sun sets where you live, that a the temperature when you leave for the shoot, may change during the time in which you are there, and that the next time you go outside, especially after the sun sets, it may be much warmer or much colder. Make sure to plan accordingly, especially if you’ve travelled a long distance or are in a place you are not as familiar with as your home turf.
extra thong or pasties – 
good for mistakes, adhesive failures, etc. Just always good to have spares on hand at a shoot.

Last thing: Here’s an interactive online checklist, with all of the items listed above plus those listed in “A Model’s Guide to Body Painting” to make it easy for you.

I hope your first experience being bodypainted is as thrilling and exciting as you’re hoping it will be, and I hope that this First Time Bodypaint Model’s Guide will help make it easier and more comfortable to be the work of art you’re about to be.


~Audra Hughes, Owner and Chief Creative Officer, Prophetics Cosmetics

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