How to Apply Camouflage Face Paint

Face Paint 1

You just spent a couple hundred bucks so now you’re wearing the newest Real-Oak X-Treme 3-D Disappear camouflage outfit.  You’re camouflage gloves cover your hands and wrists.  You’re boots are not only matching camo, but scent blocking rubber.  You’re trusty boonie hat is blending in nicely with your other camo and now you’re ready to head to the woods.  The only problem is that the deer see a moving bush (they may be ok with that) and a human face floating through the woods.

The human face is perhaps the most recognizable image.  Humans begin recognizing the human face as infants.  Even as we grow older, we can pick out a human face hidden in the woods quicker than any other shape or object.  Although deer aren’t quite as accustomed to picking out what we look like, seeing a human face (even if everything else is camouflaged) is certain to give you away.

There are a few options on how to handle this problem.  I’ll briefly discuss a few of them and then I’ll discuss face paint specifically.

Practice, Practice, PracticePerhaps the simplest and most convenient method of camouflaging your face is to wear a hat and some type of camouflage wrapped around your nose, mouth and chin.  There are quite a few products available for hunters (or snipers) to use.  I’ve found that this method works best for sitting in tree stands or ground blinds.  However, I don’t like doing this if I’m going to be moving at all.  The wrap always seems to fall down to my neck and becomes an aggravation trying to keep it in place.  Additionally, if it’s hot, I don’t like breathing through anything as is seems to only make it feel hotter.

Another method available is to use a netting material specifically designed for hunting (and/or sniping.)  This netting is very thin so the wearer can see through it.  However, it is thick enough that a few feet away, the face disappears and all that is visible is camouflage netting.  A major positive for this type of cover is that it also functions as a bug net.  I’ve always shied away from this type of camouflage as I’ve always worried that at just that crucial moment (trophy buck, 20 yards, bow drawn,) the netting will be just enough in the way that I can’t get a clear view through me peep-site and 20-yard pin.  Maybe I’m just being paranoid.

If I’m going to be stalking or moving around much at all, I always go for the camouflage face paint.  After it’s applied, I don’t have to worry about it any more for the rest of the day.  Perhaps if I was a sniper and my life depended on it, I’d touch it up from time to time.  But for deer hunting, I just set it and forget it.  The only real drawback to using face paint is that it is a little aggravating to remove.

Back in my early military days, the only real option was the tubes of military issued facepaint.  They were painful to put on (especially if a drill sergeant saw an area that wasn’t camouflaged and applied it for you.)  They were also really difficult to remove.  Fortunately, there are a lot of manufacturers available now.  Most often I purchase Hunter’s Specialties face camouflage and it seems to work fine.

This post is supposed to be about applying face paint.  So, let’s get to the meat and potatoes of it.

Face Paint 2

Choose colors that are found in your environment.  Greens don’t work well in the desert and may not work well in the fall.  Pay attention to the areas you’ll be hunting and try to match the colors you see.

Although some black is probably OK, avoid using too much black.  If you pay attention to nature, there is very little true black, even at night.  Too much black will stand out.

The human face has natural light and dark areas.  The light areas include the cheek bones, just above the eyebrows, the ridge of the nose, the chin, and some jaw bones.  The dark areas include the area around the eyes,  the area around and under the nose, the lips and the area directly under them.  Apply face paint in a manner  that breaks up these areas.  However, be cautious of making a human face “negative.”  In other words, if you simply make your face the opposite (eyes brights, cheeks dark, etc.) you will still look like a human face even though the shades are reversed.

Face Paint 3If you’re going to be wearing a hat or something else over your head, consider what it will cover and paint everything that isn’t.  I typically leave my forehead, ears and neck unpainted as my boonie hat covers my forehead and ears.  And my beard and hunting jacket covers my neck.  However, if you don’t wear similar items, it would be a good idea to cover these areas so that they don’t stick out like a sore… ear.

Since I just mentioned it, having a beard makes this process a lot easier as it covers a large portion of you face.  The photos I’m using for this post were taken earlier in the year while I was still clean-shaven.  However, by opening day, a thick, long beard will cover my jaw, chin… pretty much everything below my nose.

Practice makes perfect.  But it should be noted that this isn’t a math test.  You don’t need to do it perfectly, only good enough.

To remove face paint, I’ve found that baby wipes work well.  I generally go through two or three each time I clean my face.  If there are any little bits left in your eyebrows or pores, a nice hot shower will certainly do the trick.

Face Paint 4

That’s all it takes to camouflage your face using face paint.  If you have any questions or comments, feel free to let me know.  If you have other methods of doing this or any other thoughts on how to camouflage your face, I’d love to hear about it!

2 thoughts on “How to Apply Camouflage Face Paint

  1. Grease paint like that drives my skin absolutely bonkers, and hunting companies aren’t to the stage yet of producing stuff that works well with sensitive skin (I’m look at you, too, Scent Killer body wash and shampoo). My job sort of unofficially requires my face to look conventionally attractive, so I go with a netting mask like you mentioned, at least when it’s still warm. I just ganked mine from the bf- it has an eye hole like a ski mask does, and elastic bands that go around the back of my head to hold it in place. In colder weather, I wear a fleece-lined, camo neck gaiter so my nose, cheeks, and lips don’t freeze. I just pull it up to under my eyes, and wear a warm beanie. I should get some snow camo, but honestly, hunting in late season when there’s deep snow and extreme cold really, really sucks, and I avoid it anyhow.

    • I’ve seen those types of face masks and they look like they’d work pretty well. As far as the cold weather hunting, I start worrying less and less about being camouflaged and more and more about being warm. That being said, I enjoy hunting and being out in the woods when there’s a lot of snow and little mercury. My tactics change because I move around more, but it makes for pretty enjoyable days.

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