Happy Clown Makeup Tutorial

So you’d like to create a happy clown face that will make your friends smile, not cringe in fear?

Happy Clown

While there are a lot more complicated costume ideas out there, the happy clown face does require a little direction. It can easily go from happy to horrifying if you don’t know what you’re doing. So if you want to keep your costume on the sunny side, keep reading! 

Just to be clear, this is not the tutorial for professional clowns. We have several posts on that topic. Check out these if you're interested.

1) How to Apply Clown Makeup     

2) The Different Types of Clowns

3) Tramp Clown Makeup

4) Makeup Mishaps

This how-to is for those of you who need a little inspiration for your happy clown costume. 

Happy Clown Tutorial


First let’s talk makeup supplies. You don’t need much in order to achieve a really fun clown face, so no need to fork out a ton of cash.

The very basic face paint colors you will need for this tutorial are black, white, and red.

A great basics face paint palette is Diamond 6 Color Palette. The extra colors will allow you to get a little more creative with your happy clown face.

Happy Clown

You could also use individual containers of face paint like TAG in black, white, and red. I love TAG because it’s great for creating smooth bases and detailed line work. These are water-based face paints and will work fine for a costume, but will not hold up if you will be sweating a lot.

If you are taking baby steps towards becoming a professional clown or you need your clown face to last all day, then you may want to go with an oil-based palette. This type of makeup won’t smudge even after hours of clowning around in hot weather. The Ben Nye Clown Makeup Kit in Whiteface or Graftobian Clown Makeup Kit Whiteface are both great options. Application of this oil-based makeup takes a little more practice than with face paint, so be sure to read up on our “How to Apply Clown Makeup” post.

Blue, yellow, pink, and green are additional colors you can use to add some pizzazz to a basic happy clown face.

Glitter is a fun way to add sparkle to happy faces. Mama Clown Iridescent Glitter is as industry classic and works well over any color of face paint. 

Happy Clown

Face gems also add personality to a happy clown face. Some face gems are self-adhesive and others are not. Always use products that are made for use on skin and read the label. Some adhesives can be removed with soap and water, but tend to fall off if you start to sweat. Spirit gum, which will hold up under sweat and water, requires a special solvent to remove.


A round brush and sponge are pretty much all you need for a basic happy clown face.

Happy Clown Roxy

A #6 round brush or #4 round brush are versatile and can be used for both defining areas that you’ll fill in with color, adding character lines, and coloring lips. The smaller the number of the brush, the finer the detail you’ll be able to achieve. Larger number brushes can be used for bolder lines.

A 1/2” filbert brush is perfect for creating exaggerated eyelids and smile.

A sponge like Kryvaline High Density is best for applying an even base or filling in areas defined by a brush. If you are not going to cover the face in white face paint, then you can skip the sponge and go straight to the brushes.

Happy Clown

A small spray bottle is useful for dampening sponges.


Get inspiration for your happy clown face by searching online. Then get out some paper and crayons and sketch out a personalized design. Use that as a guideline as you apply face paint.

Beware! The happy clown face can quickly take a turn for the sinister. Here are some tips for avoiding a horror movie clown face.

1) Use a bright red face paint as opposed to a deeper, blood red color. TAG red and Paradise Beach Berry are good options.

2) Go easy on the black lines. Black lines that are too bold can look severe. A smaller round brush will help you create more narrow lines. Remember, the lower the number, the finer the line.

3) Eyebrows with a soft arch or “sad brows” that are turned upwards towards the hairline are cute. Eyebrows that are too severely arched or point down towards the nose are creepy.

4) Applying red lipstick within your natural lip line without creating an exaggerated mouth can appear unfriendly. Make sure you create a nice big smile and paint lips that turn upward.

5) Don’t forget the rosy cheeks! A soft blush as opposed to garish circles will help to convey an air of affability.

6) Don’t let face paint run. If you need your clown face to make it through a long day that involves sweating or having water splashed in your face then use oil-based professional clown makeup. Otherwise, occasionally check your face to make sure everything’s in place. Carry some baby wipes to fix any smears and reapply face paint if necessary.


Happy Clown

Now let’s talk about how to apply face paint. If you are applying an oil-based makeup, please refer to this post for directions.

Remember that when you are applying face paint, it’s very important to let the first layer dry completely before painting over it. It doesn’t take long for face paint to dry, about 30 seconds to a minute. Being patient during this step will save you from having to fix bleeding lines.

If you are applying a base, dampen a high density sponge and pounce the white face paint all over your face. You’ll likely need a second application for a smooth, opaque finish.

If you are skipping the base, then use a round or filbert brush to apply white face paint all over the lids and up above the eyebrow.

Use a round brush and black face paint to create overstated eyebrows. You can also add some lines or triangle shapes on the eyelids and just below the eyes.

Use a filbert brush to apply white face paint to make an exaggerated smiling mouth.

Use a round brush and red face paint to fill in the lips and extend a smile at the corners of the mouth. This layer goes over the white face paint. 

Happy Clown

Outline the white area around the eyes and mouth with black face paint on a round brush. 

Take a damp sponge and red or pink face paint (blush works well too), and pounce some color right onto the apple of your cheeks.

Paint a red round dot on the tip of your nose and add some glitter while the paint is still wet.

If you’d like to add a little more color to your happy clown face, try filling in the space from your eyelid to your painted brows with rainbow colors. 

Gems at the outer corner of your eyes are a cute finishing touch.   

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