Let’s face it

It takes guts to wear make-up as a man. I suppose the same goes for either gender when the dominant colours are gangrene green and cow-dung brown.

It’s only the truly committed who slap on camouflage face-paint before launching themselves into plastic combat. I’ve only done it once at a night game. And even then it was only a token dab because lots of others were doing it (honest, officer).

According to Professor Google, facial camo only came into widespread military use during WW1, with the advent of night raiding. Raiders would dull their bayonets with grease and smear their faces with burnt cork.

Today’s face-paint technology would be unrecognisable to veterans of that conflict. Well, actually, it wouldn’t. True, it’s bug-repellant and infra-red reflective, but it’s still muck-coloured stuff you slap on your face.

A handbag essential.

My handbag essential.

I use a three-colour compact. It has a mirror in it, which is handy, but it’s even better if you can get a fellow player to help apply your camo. Be sure to return the favour. In the military they call it the ‘buddy’ system. In some ‘alternative’ clubs on a Saturday night, they call it something else, but I digress.

There’s an art to applying facial camo. What follows is dimly recollected from a cadet force training lecture some time in the 80s, and various online sources, most of them British.

The trick is not to try too hard. Some Latin American armies seem to be sponsored by Estee Lauder. The reality is, the longer you spend on your face-paint, the less natural it will look, and the less effective it will be in stopping your opponent get an easy hit.

  • Use warm make-up. It goes on easier. If it’s cold, keep it in an inside pocket for a bit until it gets to body temperature.
  • Put on an even base layer of brown. Rub it in so it looks nice and flat. The aim of this layer is to reduce the natural shine of your skin. If the paint is too thick, it will have a shine of its own, and so defeat the object.
  • Don’t forget the less obvious areas. On and around your ears. Your eyebrows. The back of your hands, if you’re not going to be wearing gloves.

    Just don't overdo it.

    Just don’t overdo it.

  • Now it’s time to get artistic. But not too much. Using the green paint, break up the natural shape of your features by applying a few rough diagonal stripes. Don’t overdo it. Just make sure the natural contours of your nose, mouth and chin are disguised.
  • If your compact has black in it, don’t use it. Take a look around you the next time you’re in the woods. How many black things can you see? Stick to brown and green, and you won’t be seen. Hey, I just made that up. Clever, eh?

Face-paint is perhaps one of the least essential items of airsoft kit. It may or may not give you an edge on the field. But it adds to the fun of the game, and that’s the whole point, isn’t it?


2 thoughts on “Let’s face it

  1. Just some advice ignore if you wish. Your face has natural shadows, around your eyes for instance it’s darker where as your nose is lighter due to the contours of your features. As humans our brain is hard wired to pick up these shadow patterns subconsciously. To make your concealment more effective use light tones on the dark areas of your face and dark tones on your lighter areas. Ps no idea why I’m suddenly advising airsoft players but I like your blog and your first blog I read, about not wearing unit insignia touched me a little. Good hiding my friend.

  2. Thank you for your constructive addition!

    It certainly sounds like you know what you’re doing. Please tell your fellow professionals that not all airsofters are [insert your preferred derogatory word here]!

    Keep safe.

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