DIY Bath Paints: Kid & Tub Safe

Jan 4, 2017

Years ago, a friend of ours brought over four little jars of homemade bath paint. It turned out to be the best gift we never knew we needed.

My daughter, who was 2 at the time, loved throwing fistfuls of paint almost as much as she loved eating them. “Painting time” inevitably turned into bath time — for both of us.

photo of paints

Although I could never be accused of being clean or tidy, even I started taping paper to the tiles and brought up washable paint to create a painting studio right in the tub. I would let my daughter unleash her inner de Kooning (Elaine de Kooning, that is) and everything but the paper would get painted — which was great — but it quickly became clear that actual bath paint made a lot more sense. It’s cheap. It’s easy. And making the recipe was also a simple project we could look forward to during those endless wintry afternoons, the kind where you’ve lost your last shred of sanity and even the clocks (and time itself) seem frozen. You know those days? 

Here is what you'll need:

  • ¾ cup (white) kid-safe conditioner
  • ¼ cup kid-safe shampoo
  • 1 cup cornstarch
  • 4 tbsp water (or as needed)
  • food colouring
  • empty plastic containers to store paint
  • paint brush

Makes approx. 2 cups of paint (or enough for one super-fun bath time!)

Step One:

Combine cornstarch, conditioner, and shampoo (I use a whisk). Add 2 tablespoons of water. Dip your brush to test consistency. If it’s too thick, add water a teaspoon at a time until you’ve reached a good viscosity for painting. If you add too much water, simply dash in some cornstarch to thicken it up again. 

Step Two:

Divide your liquid into 1–4 sections (depending on how many colours you wish to make). Add drops of food colouring into each section until you’re happy with your colour.

different bath paints lined up along the side of the tub

You'll also love: DIY Bath Bombs

Step Three:

If you are concerned about staining, test your bathroom grout in a discreet area. I didn't have any issues with my paint (and my bathroom has white tiles and grout) but it's always best to play it safe. Speaking of which — this paint can be slippery, so rinse the tub well when you're done.

bath paint on tiles

Now your paint is ready to use!

PRO TIP: Bath paint is also a great distraction when you're trying to wash your child's hair. Every hair-washing night at our house lately is like a newly-minted, high stakes hostage situation, one in which I need to think quickly to resolve the crisis without ever looking weak or worried. You’d think I’d birthed the Wicked Witch of the West (“I’m melllltinnnnggg!”).

Bath-Time Bonus Content:

Here are a few hair-washing tricks which have worked for us:

  • Pretend your child is a flower and bring a watering can to the bath party.
  • Use a slightly damp wash cloth and slowly wet their hair. If someone else can read a book (or distract them via jig, magic trick, or ukelele), all the better. I also offer them a dry washcloth to hold onto (and my daughter used to use this to cover her eyes). Rinse with a damper wash cloth.
  • Play log or...long buoyant thing (insert official name trademark here). Get them to lie down in the tub and show them how they float. This actually worked a few times. My daughter thinks she can hear the ocean when she’s under water. I haven’t told her otherwise.
  • Enclose their favourite drawing or character between two sheets of clear contact paper and suction-cup it to the ceiling. You can also use bath paint (that’s why we’re here) to draw pictures on the tiled ceiling of your shower/tub. Or let them paint on the wall above them while you rinse their hair. Anything to get them looking up. Mere seconds count!



TYLER CLARK BURKE is an artist, writer, illustrator, and freelance brainstormer. In her past life, she co-founded indie record label Three Gut Records; hosted huge art-music parties on Captain John’s Seafood Ship; imported miracle berries; and contributed art and design to various Canadian musicians. Now, the mother of two young children, Tyler is busy working on her second picture book about two globe-trotting beavers. Her first book, Bill Bowerbird and the Unbearable Beak-Ache (Owlkids) is now available on Amazon! You can find Tyler on Instagram and Twitter all too often. 

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