Author: Breanna

Breanna Cooke is a Dallas-based graphic designer known for her award-winning body paint and costume creations.

6 Tips to Make Your Body Paint Kit More Eco-Friendly with photos of bio glitter, bamboo paper towels, and reused containers.

6 Tips to Make Your Body Paint Kit More Eco-Friendly

Over the last few years, I’ve been working on small changes to my body paint kit to make my work a little more eco-friendly. I hope to keep improving on this list, so read on to see if some of these ideas are a good fit for you! (For a general list of all my various art, website, and supply resources, visit my Resources page or read this blog post about the paints I use for body painting.)

Quick disclaimer: Some of the links in this post are referral links, and at no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission for referring you. This helps me continue doing what I do! These are all products that I have experience with or use personally. 

#1. Switch to biodegradable glitter

Bio Glitter | Tips to Make Your Body Paint Kit More Eco FriendlyWhile it’s crucial to use cosmetic glitter in body and face painting (don’t use craft glitter on your face because it often has sharp edges or metal!), some cosmetic glitter is still considered a micro-plastic. Micro-plastics have become a huge pollution issue as they make their way into our waterways and oceans and are ingested by fish and other organisms. In order to reduce the number of micro-plastics I send out into the world, I’ve made the switch over to biodegradable glitter from Amerikan Body Art in Florida, Body FX in New Zealand (available in the US from Silly Farm), and from Universal Soul in Los Angeles.

Biodegradable glitter is made from biodegradable film which is derived from sustainable sources, such as cellulose film made from eucalyptus trees.  It’s completely shelf stable and the degradation process will only begin in soil, waste water or compost where micro-organisms are present. Bio glitter suited for dry, water-based, or oil-based applications. There are  bio glitters available from different vendors and I’m currently trying to use options that are available in the US to reduce the shipping distance for the small quantities I use. I apply the glitter with Got2b Glued Hair Gel or aloe vera gel.

#2. Use paper towels made from bamboo

Paper towels are often necessary to have around in order to keep makeup and body paint application and cleanup sanitary. I’ve switched over to using bamboo paper towels from Who Gives a Crap because bamboo is a much more sustainable resource than using trees. I also like that the rolls from Who Gives a Crap are wrapped in paper, not plastic, plus they also donate 50% of profits to build toilets for those in need. (Speaking of toilets: if you try their toilet paper, I prefer the premium bamboo toilet paper over the recycled paper. It’s a little less…errr…lint-y).

Save $10 on your first order from Who Gives a Crap!

#3. Recycle empty cosmetics at Credo Beauty

I always keep a few makeup staples in my body paint kit like mascara, foundation, or lip gloss. I’ve been testing out a lot of eco-friendly and recyclable replacements, but for some products, I haven’t found the perfect match (yet) of product durability + sustainable packaging. So in the meantime, I recycle the old beauty products at Credo Beauty. They’ll even take products that aren’t from Credo PLUS you get reward points for every full size item you bring in. Credo has partnered with TerraCycle, an environmentally-friendly recycling program, to help keep cosmetics out of our landfills. To recycle your items, bring them to your local Credo store.

#4. Cut cleaning cloths from t-shirts

Not all cleaning tasks require a paper towel. For cleaning the paint off my airbrushes and stencils, I use cleaning cloths that I’ve made from t-shirts. A lot of clothing ends up in landfill despite our best intentions to donate them. I love giving my clothes a second life as a cleaning cloth. I do recommend getting a good pair of fabric shears (I have these Mundial Cushion scissors and only use them on fabric). It makes cutting up clothes go so much faster.

#5. Reuse paint bottles and cases

I like to reuse my empty paint cases first before I recycle them. While recycling is an important component to being eco-friendly, I try to start first with the “Reuse” part of the “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle” saying. The lids from paint cakes are great for holding loose powder or glitter when I’m powdering it all over a body. When I’ve used up all the paint in a container, I clean them out and use them as a dish for mixing Mehron Metallic Powders and Mehron Mixing Liquid. When my ProAiir hybrid airbrush paint bottles are empty, I rinse them with 91% alcohol and keep them in case I need to mix a custom color or I need to share paint with a colleague.

#6. Use cotton swabs with cardboard sticks

Cotton swabs are another necessary item for sanitary makeup application, especially for glue application or doing a touch-up near someone’s eyes. I look for ones with cardboard sticks so that they eventually biodegrade. If you haven’t seen that heartbreaking image of the seahorse in the ocean holding on to a plastic cotton swab, you can view it here on National Geographic. It definitely made me rethink the need for the single-use plastic in cotton swabs.

Do you have any eco-friendly tips for your kit? Let me know in the comments!

breanna cooke body painting

Paints I Use for Body Painting

Which paints do I use? It depends! I use different paints based on availability and my project’s needs. Below are some products that I use most frequently. For a general list of all my various art, website, and supply resources, visit my Resources page.

Quick disclaimer: I do not speak for all body painters, everyone has their own preferences for various reasons. I’m listing products that I have personal experience with. I am also not representing any of these companies and I also can’t vouch for how any of the products will work for you and your process. That said, some of the links in this post are affiliate links from Amazon and the like, and at no additional cost to you, I’ll receive a small commission for referring you. This helps me continue doing what I do!

Shop Local: While ordering online is often necessary, I also like to support local businesses whenever possible. If you live in Dallas, TX, you can purchase some of these products locally at Camera Ready Cosmetics (order online then pickup in store, too) or Norcostco Theatrical Supply.

Water-Based Body Paints


Cameleon: The eye-popping colors first drew me to Cameleon paints (no, that’s not a typo in Cameleon). I love the opacity and they’re great for line work too. The baseline Cameleon paints are free of any animal origin ingredients, are BSE free, and are not tested on animals. They are glycerin-based and use paraffin wax as a binder. Cameleon Paint is FDA and EU Compliant and is paraben-free, sulfate-free, with no perfumes and no drying agents. I typically use these (and the other cake paints listed below) with a brush and occasionally a sponge. Cameleon paints are not available locally in Dallas but you can find even more colors from their US distributor.

Mehron Paradise AQ: When I first got into body painting, I started with Mehron Paradise cakes. They are lovely for blending and once they’re activated with water they have a creamy consistency. Mehron Paradise AQ is vegan and is not tested on animals and is unscented. If you want to try a lot of colors in small quantities, check out the Mehron Pro Face Paint Palette with 30 colors. Mehron Paradise cakes are available in Dallas at Camera Ready Cosmetics or Norcostco Theatrical Supply.

Wolfe FX: I primarily use the Wolfe FX white and black because they are excellent for bold line work, but sometimes they are hard to find in stock. I’ve used TAG black and TAG white, or Cameleon black and Cameleon white as an alternative. Diamond FX black and Diamond FX white are also good options but I have limited experience with them. Wolfe FX paints are sometimes available locally at Norcostco Theatrical Supply, otherwise I order them online.


Hybrid and Alcohol-Based Body Paints


Hybrid Paints: I like to use ProAiir and FAB hybrid paints because they’re great for vibrant colors and opacity. You can get a lot of coverage very quickly with them. Plus they are water-resistant and sweat-resistant, so they’ll hold up for an underwater photoshoot or an acrobatic performance. Some of my favorite colors are the ProAiir electric blue and cobalt. For some extra staying power, I seal it with ProAiir Prolong Extender. Hybrid paints are made with 100% cosmetic blend alcohol (same alcohol that is used in hair sprays, mouth wash, eyeliner, etc.). The ProAiir paints are made in the USA and are scented (similar to green apple scent). I usually use an Iwata Eclipse CS airbrush to apply ProAiir, however you can also use a sponge or kabuki brush to apply to large areas. When I use my Iwata bottle-feed airbrush, I often use the ProAiir Snorkel Adaptors to connect directly to the bottle of paint. ProAiir is available locally in Dallas at Norcostco.

Alcohol-Based PaintsThe Endura paints from European Body Art (EBA) are my other go-to for long-lasting airbrush paints. These alcohol-based paints are water- and sweat-resistant and work best with an airbrush. I personally tend to use them for more subtle effects or lighter coverage but you can also build them up. I apply these paints with an Iwata Eclipse CS airbrush or an Iwata bottle-feed airbrush. EBA paints are available locally in Dallas at Norcostco.


Glitter and Metallic Body Paint


Glitter: I’ve switched over to biodegradable glitter and feels good to have more environmentally-friendly products in my kit. I’ve ordered bio glitter from Amerikan Body Art in Florida, Body FX in New Zealand (available in the US from Silly Farm) and from Universal Soul in Los Angeles. The Bio Glitter from Body FX is produced from biodegradable film which is derived from sustainable sources and Universal Soul’s glitter is made with cellulose film derived from eucalyptus trees.  It’s completely shelf stable and the degradation process will only begin in soil, waste water or compost where micro-organisms are present. They’re both suited for dry, water-based, or oil-based applications. While it’s crucial to use cosmetic glitter in body painting (don’t use craft glitter on your face!), some cosmetic glitter is still considered a micro-plastic and doesn’t biodegrade once it goes down the drain. It can make its way into our waterways and oceans and get ingested by fish and other organisms. There are quite a few bio glitters available from different vendors and I’m currently trying to use options that are available in the US to reduce the shipping distance for the small quantities I use.

Metallic Effects: The Mehron Metallic Powders are my go-to for a cost-effective full body paint metallic finish. You can find these in gold, silver, rose gold, copper, bronze, and lavender. Be sure to purchase Mehron Mixing Liquid to mix into the powder. Mix small amounts of the Mehron powder with Mehron Mixing liquid and brush it over the body. For a more yellow gold, I’ve brushed on a gold Mehron Paradise cake (the product photo looks a bit like tan, but it is really a more yellow gold) or gold Cameleon cake, then applied a gold shimmer powder from Ben Nye. The Mehron and Ben Nye products are usually available locally in Dallas, TX at Norcostco Theatrical Supply.


Body Paint for Specific Looks


Avatar: For my personal Avatar body paint costumes, I used the Kryolan Aquacolor in baby blue for the base coat. For the stripes, I used the Avatar Rainbow Cake from Silly Farm. It has a dark blue and a light blue side. I use the darker blue for the stripes, then I add a highlight on top of the stripe with the lighter blue. For the white dots, I use Wolfe FX whiteCameleon white, or TAG white.

Breanna Cooke 1st Place at Texas Body Paint Competition

Texas Body Paint Competition 2018 – 1st Place

Echoes of Passion and Pain” was the theme for the 2018 Texas Body Paint Competition, hosted by Beyond The Canvas. On November 10, 2018, U.S. and international body painters gathered in San Antonio, Texas to present our interpretations of the theme. Once again I was assisted by my wonderful friend and body painting colleague, Anja Yamaji. We had 6.5 hours to paint our model (and vocalist!), Angela Reign. We are so thrilled that our team placed 1st!

As with some of my past competition body paint pieces, my design features a personal story. The theme of “Echoes of Passion and Pain” focused on how the experiences of our past influence who we are today. The day I received the event theme, I was listening to a story about immigrants who were losing their Temporary Protected Status and would be sent back to their country of origin. Some had been in the US for 20 years because their home countries had continued to be unsafe for return. In that moment, I realized I had been in the US for 20 years, albeit under very different circumstances, and the memories of my immigration experience came flooding back.

My design is about my journey to U.S. citizenship.  I grew up in Toronto, Canada, and like the Monarch butterfly migration, my family immigrated from Canada to the US. It takes lots of paperwork to become a permanent resident (and later a citizen). The layers of papers and checkboxes start on her right leg (with a suspicious eye peeking through), then wrap up onto her back and move up into the headpiece. You get fingerprinted and have a physical exam. The blood vials on her leg represent the blood tests to check for tuberculosis and other diseases. When you receive your “green card,” which includes your fingerprint, your status is “legal or resident alien”. The US customs agent on the back is a reminder of the scrutiny I felt at every border crossing, despite being so well-documented.

As the piece comes around to the front, the documents on the back blend into the labyrinth on her stomach, which represents my memories of the interview process feeling like a maze of waiting rooms and long lines. The flowing, green fabric on the front takes inspiration from Lady Liberty’s draping fabric and includes elements of the seal, color, and lettering from my naturalization certificate. The process culminates with taking the Oath of Citizenship, seen in my portrait on the front. When I became a citizen in 2010, I was finally eligible to vote. The voting stickers on the front are drawn from my actual voting stickers, which I save after each election.

The whole process of immigration is long, expensive, and draining. Most natural-born citizens are not aware of what it entails. But with more understanding, we can get to a point of more empathy with each other.

Thank you to the 2018 judges: Craig Tracy, Hyun Yong Jin (Moona Weaver), and Scott Fray.

Thank you to Tomas Vasquez and Beyond The Canvas for hosting a wonderful celebration of art and humanity.

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Living Art America 2017 – 3rd Place at North American Bodypainting Championships

Heal the body, heal the world” was the theme for the 2017 North American Bodypainting Championships, hosted by Living Art America. On October 14, 2017, U.S. and international body painters converged on Greensboro, NC to present our interpretations of the theme. We had 6.5 hours to complete our pieces and this year I was assisted by my friend and body painting colleague, Anja Yamaji. I’m so pleased to share that we were awarded with 3rd place in the professional category!

In preparation for this piece, I spent hours researching and brainstorming and eventually, a personal story emerged.  The final result became an illustration of my experiences from the past year. During the presentation to the judges and audience, I gave the following explanation as our model, Emma Dubin, walked the runway:

“This piece is about the analogy of a seed for healing our bodies and healing the world.

“Individual seeds need nourishment and care. Last year, I was dealing with anxiety about climate change and the planet and my body and brain were suffering for it. Friends around me noticed, and encouraged me to go back to basics with nourishing foods for my body. Next, I reconnected with nature through gardening and rediscovered the childhood joys of watching a seed grow. Like a seed, my roots were developing and I found that there were others around me who were concerned about climate. I participated in marches and saw the phrase, ‘They tried to bury us, but they didn’t know we were seeds.’ We may feel buried by stressors, but we’re still growing. I joined an organization that empowers citizens to reach out to their representatives in Congress about climate. I went to Washington D.C. with them in June and I’ll never forget the moment when over a thousand of us walked in front of the U.S. Capitol building on our way to meetings with our members of Congress. We were like a swarm of seeds, coming together, and lifting each other up by reaching out and supporting those around us.

“While I was in D.C., I also learned about Our Children’s Trust (represented in the faces on the front of the torso). It’s a group of young people from across the United States who have brought a lawsuit against the U.S. government to secure the legal right to a safe climate and a healthy atmosphere for all present and future generations.  Their efforts send a message that the next generation of seeds is rising up, changing the landscape, and actively seeking to heal the world.”

Scroll down to my photo gallery for more images and a peek at my sketches. The Greensboro News & Record’s photo gallery captured some behind-the-scenes of the event too.

Thank you to the 2017 judges: Craig Tracy, Robin Slonina, Jinny Houle, and Alex Barendregt. And thank you to Scott Fray and Madelyn Greco for organizing such a wonderful event!

Connect with me on FacebookInstagramTumblr, and Twitter.

The caption with our names is incorrect. View the full photo gallery here: http://www.greensboro.com/gallery/all_galleries/bodypainting-championship/collection_587259b7-04f3-5600-9e36-873fd7c38db0.html#3

Living Art America 2016 – North American Bodypainting Championships

Living Art America 2016 - Bodypaint by Breanna CookeOn September 24th, I was one of many U.S. and international body painters who converged on Greensboro, NC for Living Art America’s 2016 North American Bodypainting Championships. This was my first time in the professional category and there were some phenomenal competitors. We had 6.5 hours to complete our pieces and many artists worked with an assistant (I’ll be looking for an assistant next time!). The theme for the event was “Face of Change” and my piece is about changing the face of climate change.

I care deeply about the environment and my initial research and design was focused on so many of the negative images of climate change. I was being dragged down into despair each time I worked on the piece. However, a week before Living Art America, I attended the National Drive Electric Week event in Dallas and my spirits were lifted. I met so many inspiring people who are passionate and vocal about renewable energy and promoting change. After attending that event, I revamped my design with only a few days left before heading to Living Art America. I turned the focus from the negative and focused on the positive scientific discoveries and renewable options that already exist. A friend shared a research study from the University of Illinois at Chicago about artificial leaves that can turn CO2 into fuel and I made that story the main focus of the design (Read the full article here). Keep in mind, my design is just my artistic interpretation of their research, it’s not what the artificial leaves look like.

Presentation to Judges

Below is the description that I presented to the judges of Living Art America:

Living Art America 2016 - Breanna Cooke

“Carbon dioxide, the invisible yet leading factor in global warming, has caused some of the most sensitive organisms on our planet to become the face of climate change. Events such as widespread coral bleaching from warming oceans (seen on her shoulders), have become the saddening images we associate with climate change. On her forearms and lower legs, we have bioluminescent plankton, that light up when they’re disturbed. Her hands and feet are covered in them to represent our human impact and disturbance of nature.

“However, in order to slow the prevalence of these images and events, scientific discovery will be, and must be, the new face of climate change. In July this year, engineers created a new kind of artificial leaf (shown on her stomach) that efficiently converts atmospheric CO2 into a burnable fuel, and it only uses sunlight for energy (shown on her chest).  It is essentially doing photosynthesis, like plants. So instead of producing energy in an unsustainable one-way route from fossil fuels to greenhouse gas, we must reverse the process, remove excess CO2 and find ways to fuel greener, more sustainable cities (seen on her thighs).

Living Art America 2016 - Bodypaint by Breanna Cooke“But until we can implement new discoveries like this on a wide scale, we must actively cut our carbon emissions. This means embracing the renewable energy sources that already exist, such as energy from wind and solar (seen on her back and sides).

Our world has already changed with rising temperatures and sea levels (shown in the waves encroaching on our cities), but with science, we can go forward.”

Stage Presentation

After judging, the models have an opportunity to present the work on stage. I chose the song “Save Our Planet Earth” by Jimmy Cliff since it has a powerful yet upbeat message about protecting our planet.

Awards Gala

At the Living Art America Awards Gala, I received a Special Judges’ Award from judge Robin Slonina (Skin Wars’ Judge, Owner of Skin City Bodypaint), in recognition of the message and design I had chosen. I was absolutely thrilled by the award and left feeling inspired to keep sharing the message to #saveourplanet.

 

For more photos, connect with me on Facebook, Instagram, Tumblr, and Twitter.

UPDATED: 10/19/2016 – Correction to “University of Illinois at Chicago,” instead of “University of Chicago”.

Headdress Workshop with Breanna Cooke on March 5th

Headdress Workshop with Breanna Cooke in Dallas, Texas

Come create with me! Join me on March 5th for a headdress workshop and learn how to build a lightweight headdress base. You’ll get hands-on experience with a variety of materials, such as EVA foam. Contact Anja Yamaji to register (see the image for contact details) or use the PayPal button below to pay.

Cutting Mats

We will be sharing some of the tools, like cutting mats, in this workshop. If you already have a cutting mat, feel free to bring it to class.  If you want to buy a cutting mat, you can find them at Michael’s (don’t forget your 40% off coupon) or try this Fiskars 18×24 Cutting Mat on Amazon (it’s what I have).

Register Online via PayPal

To register for the class, click “Pay Now” to complete your transaction with PayPal.





Mystic Costume from the Dark Crystal

Mystic Costume by Breanna Cooke

I finally made a Mystic costume from the Dark Crystal! It’s been on my costume wish-list for a long time. There are still a lot of improvements to be made, but I got the costume to a wearable point just in time for the May Dallas Comic Con in 2015. Keep scrolling down to see my process photos.

Mystic Head

1 – Cut foam shapes from Poly Foam;
2 – Sculpted with razors and engraved lines with a soldering iron;
3 – Covered with tissue paper and spray glue;
4 – Brushed on liquid latex from BITY Mold Supply;
5 – Painted with airbrush and various acrylics. Glued on wig and hair segments.
6 – Done! Photo by Alan Tijerina Photography.

Mystic Costume by Breanna Cooke

Mystic Feet

1 – Pool noodles and pipe insulation carved with razors and utility knife;
2 – Covered with spray glue and white tissue paper;
3 – Brushed on liquid latex from BITY Mold Supply;
4 – Painted with airbrush and various acrylics.

Mystic by Breanna Cooke

Mystic Hands

1 – Poly foam and pipe insulation carved with razors and utility knife (hat tip to Courtney and Scotty at Zod Fabrication for sharing their raptor hand photos!);
2 – Covered with spray glue and white tissue paper;
3 – Brushed on liquid latex from BITY Mold Supply;
4 – Painted with airbrush and various acrylics.
5 – Attached to costume. My real hands are in the front hands. Photo by Alan Tijerina Photography.

Mystic Costume by Breanna Cooke

Mystic Body

1 – Poly foam pieces glued with Barge Cement. (I made paper templates before cutting each piece of foam);
2 – More poly foam (looks like an armadillo!). Tail made with a white bedsheet and stuffed with poly filling;
3 – Arms made with pool noodles;
4 – Arms covered with poly foam;
5 – Shirt made from two bedsheets and hand-sewn to fit;
6 – Final costume worn at #DallasFanExpo

Mystic Costume by Breanna Cooke

Mystic Armor

1 – EVA foam (anti-fatigue mat) for armor pieces. Shaped with heat gun. (I made paper templates before cutting each piece of foam);
2 – Traced each piece of armor in fabric;
3 – Glued fabric to EVA foam with spray glue;
4 – Glued pieces of tan fabric for details, painted with airbrush and various acrylics;
5 – Closeup of bracer;
6 – Final costume worn at #DallasFanExpo

Mystic Costume by Breanna Cooke




 

How-to make a 1920s Flapper Headband for Late Night at the DMA

 

DIY 1920s Flapper headband by Breanna Cooke

This Friday, the Dallas Museum of Art is traveling through the decades at their Late Night event. Costumes are encouraged and they invited me to write a guest blog post. I’ve put together a DIY 1920s Flapper headband tutorial, along with some ideas for the rest of the outfit. Check it out over on their blog, Uncrated: https://uncrated.wordpress.com/2015/08/19/speakeasy-star/

Screenshot of DMA blog