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Native American Makeup Ideas

The first of our Native American makeup ideas is a thin war mask in red, a color that symbolizes strength and power.Culturally accurate makeup for theater productions and more.

Traditional face paint has been a prominent part of Native American culture for thousands of years, offering social distinction and playing a part in cultural and spiritual ceremonies and rituals. We’re fascinated by the symbolism and power that’s entwined with these face paint traditions—that’s why we’re exploring four Native American makeup ideas below.

1| Strength in Red
Shades of red, especially in war paint, are said to symbolize strength, power, energy, and blood. Across various tribes, this vibrant color was often painted in stripes or bands on the face. Try a modern interpretation by applying Mehron’s Paradise AQ Cake Face Paint around your eyes to form a narrow mask (pictured). A face painting sponge will do the trick for application.

2| The Returning Warror
Victorious Great Plains warriors returning from battle often painted their faces entirely black and left just the tip of their noses bare. Mehron’s easy to apply, highly-pigmented Fantasy FX Face Paint is a good choice for those looking to emulate bold-faced and winning warriors.

3| Peace’s Partner
White paint made from white riverbed clay was often applied to symbolize peace or peaceful endeavors. Start spreading peace yourself by adding dime-sized dots around your eyes (pictured). If you can’t get your hands on riverbed clay, Graftobian’s ProPaint in White Swan applied with a #4 brush will help you achieve this Native American makeup look.

4| Shoshone Symbols
Shoshone tribes reside in the American West, in Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, and Nevada. Their approach to face painting was a detailed one: instead of simple lines, they chose to create small snakes, bears, and horseshoes. If you’d like to create your own intricate face paint designs, grab a Kryolan AquaColor 12-Color Palette. You’ll find that this delicate and moist medium is perfectly spreadable, and ideal for small designs. You will also need a pair of brushes in fine and medium, so try Graftobian’s 5/0 Fine Detail brush and the #4 Flat.

Celebrate Native American culture by incorporating one of our Native American makeup ideas into your next stage production, costume or reenactment. For all of the products used in this post and a growing collection of costume and makeup ideas, visit us at