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A face-up is the application of varied mediums to a doll's facial surface to create various aesthetic effects. Face-ups come in a variety of styles and purposes; they can enhance facial features, create a different appearance from the original face, or simply give the blank face a finished look. Face-ups are sometimes referred to as "make-up" as it often consists of adding make-up effects such as lipstick, eyeliner, and blush.

Face-up may sometimes be spelled "faceup" without the dash, or, less commonly, "face up" with the words separated and no dash.

Purpose and Information

A face-up can give a doll its own unique look and personality. Even with the same sculpt, a face-up can dramatically change the look and mood of the doll. Some face-ups are natural-looking while others are more dramatic; the variations are endless.

Face-ups can include such features as:

  • Blush
  • Freckles
  • Moles
  • Shading and highlighting to contour the face
  • Wrinkles
  • Eyebrows
  • Eyelashes (painted on or applied false eyelashes)
  • Eyeshadow
  • Lipstick
  • Tattoos
  • Scars

Face-ups are usually done once any subtractive or additive modification (such as etching or raising the surface of the resin to create a scarred look) is completed.

Most companies offer face-ups as an option on dolls for an additional fee. Usually the face-ups provided by companies are a default look, though in some cases, a customized look is offered. Some include face-ups as part of the price, but usually this is offer for limited edition dolls. There are many independent artists who also provide face-up services. Prices vary from each company and individual artists, including whether the custom version would cost more than the default. Many individual doll owners choose to do their own face-ups to help in customizing their doll to their liking and also view it as part of their "bonding" time with the doll.

Face-ups are considered non-permanent, as the pigments may fade over time, the sealant used may yellow, or the face-up may wear or chip due to damage or play. Plastic face protectors may be purchased to protect a doll's face-up during travel or storage, but most face-ups will have to be redone after some time to fix fading or damage.

Materials for Face-ups

A wide variety of materials are available to create a face-up. Which materials will be used depends on the particular style of the face-up artist, the look they would like to achieve, and sometimes, the local availability of the items. In some cases, some of the materials used may even be a little unconventional, but the general thing that's kept in mind is that as long as it doesn't harm the resin or cause anything permanent, just about anything goes. Generally, the higher priced materials produce better results, as they have a higher proportion of pigments in smaller particles, create smoother and better-blending of colors, and the overall quality is much desirable. Many of the same materials used for face-ups are also used for body blushing. Most companies offer supplies and materials for customizing dolls, and their products are considered safe to use on resin dolls.


These materials are widely regarded as always or almost always good to use on resin dolls for face-ups. Note that these are generally water-based or water-soluble. Alongside the good list are recommended and reputable companies/brands that are considered best to work with.


  • Soft pastels (also called chalk pastels) - Rembrandt, Derwent, Mungyo, Pan Pastels, Zoukei-mura, Sennelier
  • High-quality acrylic paints and flow medium - Liquitex, Zoukei-mura, Hobbycolor, Jo Sonja, Tamiya, Games Workshop Citadel, Mr. Color, Golden
  • Gouache paint
  • Watercolour pencils - Prismacolor, Derwent, Caran d'Ache
  • Watercolour paints


  • Mineral-based shimmer/pearl powders - Pearl-Ex, Zokuyema Shimmer Powder
  • Liquid/Acrylic-based - Liquitex Pearl
  • Mica Powders
  • Glitter - Usually the more finer/smaller grained type is preferred


  • Mr. Super Clear or Mr. Super Clear UV Cut (a.k.a. MSC) - Flat is the popular norm for most general face-ups, but some can use the semi-gloss or gloss for other effects.
  • Testors Dullcote
  • Games Workshop Purity Seal Satin (UK version may be different than US)
  • Zoukeimura Finishing Powder
  • Gunze Mr. Topcoat


  • Acrylic gloss - Liquitex Clear, Tamiya-X22, Jo Sonja, Gaia


  • Water-soluble white glue - Elmer's Glue, Aleene's Tacky Glue


These materials are usually fine to use on resin, but may be a problem under certain circumstances.


  • Human makeup that does not contain any oils (such as mineral eye shadows where you can check the ingredients)


  • Super Glue - Tends to be almost too permanent and one may have to sand or chip the residue off and risk damaging the resin, but great if you know you want something more permanent. This can be borderline okay/bad. Only use if you want a permanent result.


These materials should generally never be used for face-ups, and may stain or otherwise permanently damage the resin.


  • Most spray sealants or topcoats - unless you know it works on resin and won't ruin the face-up, don't risk it!


  • Clear nail polish (some may yellow over time or react badly with resin - not worth risking it)
  • Lacquers that are designed for materials specific to other materials other than resin (such as the kind for wood)


  • Regular colored pencils of any sort (they use a wax binder)
  • Oil pastels
  • Oil paints
  • Crayons
  • Human makeup containing any sort of oil
  • Sharpies or other permanent markers
  • Nail polish


  • Cement Glue, Epoxy/Apoxy Clear Glue (too hard to remove to risk it)

Removing Face-Ups

A face-up may eventually need to be removed or redone due to damage, fading, or just wanting to change the doll's look. Removing a face-up can be a difficult and sometimes risky process, so it is very important to do it properly to avoid damage.

Many of the cleaners commonly used for removing face-ups are solvents, meaning it is made to dissolve another material. This makes them great for removing sealants, paints, and pastels... but it also means that they can be risky to use on resin. Some solvents may change the color of the resin, especially on tan, dark skinned, or otherwise pigmented dolls. Some solvents may soften the resin, making it subject to bending, cracking, or breaking; often the softening is temporary, but sometimes it is not. Some solvents may cause pitting or etching, or otherwise weaken the resin.

Whether or not a particular solvent affects a particular doll varies greatly depending on individual resin formulations, resin pigments used, and the exact method of application. French resin may react differently from urethane resin. Even the "same" resin from a particular company may react differently due to its particular formulation on the day it was mixed, so it's not possible to say that a particular solvent is always 100% safe.

Any solvent used should have these qualities:

  • Clear and unpigmented
  • No fragrances
  • No oils
  • No moisturizing or conditioning additives
  • As few ingredients as possible - look up any additives as it may not be clear that an ingredient such as lanolin is an oil/wax.

When using a solvent, try to follow these recommendations:

  • Avoid soaking a doll in any cleaner - soaking may be helpful for deep yellowing or removing dye, but shouldn't be necessary to remove a face-up or sealant
  • Always gently clean with q-tips or lint-free cotton pads - never use any abrasive or combine any solvent cleaner with a melamine sponge.
  • Always test first on either an unneeded piece, such as a spare part, or somewhere that won't show, such as the inside of the headcap or torso.
  • Always use a glass or nonporous container for any solvent cleaner - not plastic, waxed paper cups, styrofoam or metal (most metals have a chemical reaction).
  • If the resin has softened at all from cleaning, clean it with soap & water, and do not continue using any kind of cleaning tools on it until it has re-hardened.
  • To help speed re-hardening from solvent use, you can put your doll in a cloth bag and put it in dry rice to help draw out any moisture. Discard the rice when done - do not eat it.
  • Always clean off your doll parts when using any solvent, using oil-free soap and warm (not hot) water.


  • Volks Makeup Remover
  • Nail polish remover with or without acetone
      • Nail polish remover that is colorless, fragrance-free and moisturizer-free is recommended.
      • Avoid using nail polish remover on resin and vinyl! Nail polish remover can be used in a pinch but should be avoided as it can be damaging to the surface it was applied to!
  • Pure acetone
  • Isopropyl alcohol (at least 80% or above preferred)
  • Winsor & Newton Brush Cleaner (original only, not the gel)
  • Most thinners/brush cleaners for acrylic paints


  • Clear mineral oil (baby oil) for cleaning/keeping dust down in sanding, be sure to clean off with soap and water immediately afterwards
  • Plain, non-moisturizing dish soap (not hand soap)

Cleaning Tools

  • Melamine (magic eraser) sponge - do not use together with solvents or anything stronger than a bit of water
  • Q-tips (regular is fine, but makeup q-tips are especially good as one end is usually pointy, allowing access to nostrils, insides of ears, mouth corners, etc. and are lint-free)
  • Lint-free cotton pads

Face-Up Tools

These tools are often useful in doing face-ups. Not all tools will be necessary for all face-ups or all artists, but are here as a suggestion.

  • Paint brushes - medium to high quality (cheap brushes usually shed), generally medium, small, or tiny in size. There are many different types of bristles such as sable or nylon, and is mostly a matter of personal preference and style.
  • Pastel grater or small kitchen mesh sieve. - Should only be used for art stuff (not for food). This is a good way to get a fine powder, easy to mix colors and have less wasted. Powders that are left over can be stored/mixed for later use.
  • Q-tips - Regular is fine, but makeup q-tips are especially good as one end is usually pointy, allowing access to nostrils, insides of ears, mouth corners, etc. and are lint-free.
  • Gloves (cotton, latex, or non-latex) to prevent smudging. Cotton may be least desirable of the three, as it is absorbent and can still smudge if pastel powders or other substances get on it, without wiping it off. Other materials can be wiped clean easily.
  • A specific cup or glass that you won't be using for food or drink, used to rinse brushes.
  • Paint palettes for holding paints or grated pastels - any non-porous surface will do, but a palette may make for easier use and blending.
  • Brush cleaner - soap and water can be used, but won't keep the brushes in as good of condition over long term use. Solutions specific for brush cleaning is recommended.
  • Small palette knife to mix paints.
  • Kneaded rubber eraser, for fixing minor errors or to soften the intensity of a pastel color.
  • Soft eraser, for fixing moderate errors and for certain effects on pastels.
  • Stencils or masking tape - useful for doing eyebrows, tattoos and other details; masking tape can also be useful to cover areas you don't want to color or protect.
  • Airbrush kit
  • Cotton pads (lint-free preferred) - for removing excess pastels or blotting brushes.
  • Sponges - natural or synthetic, for doing texture effects.
  • Proper respiratory protection (a mask) when spraying sealant.

Face-Up Tips and Tricks

  • Always seal well before beginning the face-up, and let the sealant dry thoroughly between each application. This protects from staining the resin and gives a good "tooth" to the blank face so pastels will adhere. 2-3 coats of sealant is usually recommended.
  • Keep your hands clean, or wear gloves to prevent smudging.
  • Use proper safety gear when using materials that give off fumes or dust - this means safety goggles and proper respiratory protection.
  • Keep your tools clean, sometimes even during the face-up process, and make sure to clean them off between colors or materials.
  • You can always seal partway through your face-up process to "save" what you have done already. This lessens the risk of ruining the previous work and makes for easier cleanup of mistakes.
  • Use masking tape and tissue paper to keep medium to larger areas covered and protected from smudges, staining and being tampered with while doing face-ups and modifications.

Face-Up Tutorials

List of Suppliers