Best Oil Pastels

Enjoy the peacefulness of sitting down and creating some artwork while the wind howls and the rain pours? Me too!  

Oil pastels are a great medium to work with too, providing you with the freedom to create and blend beautiful colors. 

Whether it's a rugged landscape waiting for Heathcliffe to pop out on the moors, a detailed portrait of your granny, or your child's next creation destined for the fridge, oil pastels are a great medium to be using. 

You get the ability to get your hands dirty, working the pastel into a range of media to create some beautiful pieces.  

Best oil pastels

Whether you are a professional artist, a student branching out, someone looking for a relaxing hobby, or a way to entertain your children on a rainy day, finding the best oil pastels for yourself can be a challenge!

There are so many to choose from, and such a range of price and quality. 

But before you throw the towel in, rejoice, for the hard work has been done for you! 

Keep reading for the best oil pastels, our handy buyers guide to help you make your purchase, and the FAQ section to answer all your pastel related queries and get you creating! 

OUR TOP PICK

Sakura ESP50 50-Piece Cray-Pas Specialist Assorted Colors Oil Pastel Set

Sakura’s cray-pas is described as a specialist set of oil pastels that does not fail to deliver on high-quality pigment! 

Decently priced, although, on the slightly pricier side, the kit offers 50 colors with extremely high-quality. 

Sakura’s pastels work well layering over one another, allowing you to create even more wonderful tonal colors in your work!

These pastels are 65mm in length. Designed to work across multi-media such as paper, cardboard, canvas, and wood, these diverse pastels are a great choice! 

Sakura’s pastels are great for any level of ability, whether you are a novice, or expert these will be a great set for you! 

These pastels are designed with a creamy texture that allows excellent blend-ability. Some customers did find these pastels a little hard to use, which can impact their blending issues.

However, this does mean you can get a good edge with these and may find they blend better on softer surfaces such as paper. 

These are great for building up color, allowing you to add shadow and depth to your work with ease. 

Each specialist is performance rated for light-fastness. The pastels are square-shaped to provide increased flexibility and an edge, great for diverse creations! 

Pros 

  • Excellent quality 
  • Multimedia uses 
  • Non-toxic 
  • Ideal for all levels of ability 
  • Soft and easy to use

Cons 

  • Harder than competitors, making them slightly difficult to blend on some surfaces

EDITORS CHOICE

Sennelier Cardboard Oil Pastel Set, 24 Count (Pack of 1), Portrait

More expensive than others on this list, but any oil pastel connoisseur will tell you, you get what you pay for with Sennelier’s pastels!

Known for their outstanding quality, Sennelier offers an oil pastel set designed specifically for portraits. Whilst that might not appeal to everyone, it provides you with 24 great colors to paint your muse.

The set caters to a range of skin tones, offering 12 different colors specifically for skin tones.

These pastels are very soft and easy to blend. Sennnelier’s pastels are great for multimedia uses too.. Some customers would have preferred more colors for a wider range of skin tones.

Pros

  • Outstanding quality
  • Designed specifically for portraits
  • Multimedia friendly
  • Soft pastels
  • easy to blend 

Cons

  • Expensive 

BEST VALUE

Faber-Castell Creative Studio Oil Pastel Crayons – 36 Vibrant Colors

Faber Castell offers a set of 36 pastels praised for its vibrant colors.

The wide range of colors has excellent opacity and provides smooth color, great for those wanting a bold piece that will pop.

These pastels in particular are great for blending with other mediums and can be mixed easily with your finger, white spirit, or baby oil, making them very diverse to use.

These pastels are extremely lightfast, resisting fading over time, great for those wanting prolonged use and display of their artwork!

Listed as acid-free, you will have peace of mind while you create your piece.

Soft and creamy pastels that work well on cartridge paper for a smooth stroke.

Some customers found that these would be better for beginners rather than professionals as the colors do not layer on top of another easily and can leave ‘crumbs’ on the page.

The bright, vibrant colors are sure to make your work stand out and are a great introduction to the world of oil pastels.

Pros

  • Wide range of colors
  • Opaque colors
  • Smooth and blend easily
  • Extremely lightfast
  • acid-free

Cons

  • Designed more for beginners than professionals, not as diverse as other options

RUNNER UP

Pentel Arts Oil Pastel Set, 5/16 x 2-7/16 Inch, Assorted Colors, Set of 25

A very affordable option for those looking to give oil pastels a whirl is Pentel’s 25 piece set.

The pastels are acid-free and ACMI certified, meaning you can rest easy knowing these pastels are made from non-toxic materials.

These are ideal for use on paper, board, or canvas, great for multimedia uses.

The pastels provide vivid colors which are pigment-rich, great for those after good colors that won’t break the bank.

These pastels are great for artists, beginners, or children, and thanks to their non-toxic nature, you can give these to your children worry-free!

Pentel’s pastels blend easily by hand and customers were particularly impressed by how easy the product was to clean off their hands after use. A win, especially with small children!

Some customers did find that these pastels broke easily, something to consider before purchasing!

Pros

  • Affordable
  • Non-toxic
  • Blend easily
  • Good pigmentation
  • Multi-media friendly

Cons 

  • Some customers found they broke easily 

RUNNER UP

Mungyo Gallery Soft Oil Pastels Set of 48 - Assorted Colors

Decently priced, Mungyo offers a 48 piece set of oil pastels made to a professional standard. 

These pastels deliver a smooth touch and consistent high-quality color, great for any ability level. 

The colors are intense, with excellent covering power. These pastels, unlike competitors, are extremely opaque, so those looking for strong colors perhaps for background or multi-dimensional landscape need look no further! 

The smoothness of these pastels mixed with their low residue allow for neat and accurate work, great for those looking to create intricate designs. 

Mungyo’s pastels meet professional standards and would make a great starter pack for art students experimenting with oil pastels. 

The colors are praised by customers for their thick and creamy color. The pastels are on the shorter side compared to other brands, which provides less chance of breakage, great for those long creative sessions!

Thanks to the opaqueness of the colors, the shorter size won’t impact the amount of use you get out of them, a welcome relief for those of us on a budget who don’t want to replace pastels regularly! 

Mungyo also guarantees no dust fall out too, making for cleaner use of oil pastels, a real winner! 

The 48 piece set does only offer a few shades of each primary color, so it's worth checking they have all the colors you desire before making your purchase!  

Pros

  • Decently priced
  • 48 pastels 
  • Thick and creamy 
  • Smooth professional standard 
  • Great for art students

Cons

  • Not many shades of primary colors

Best Gel Pens For Coloring Buying Guide

Not sure where to start or what’s best for you? Check out our handy buyers guide below for tips on what to look for! 

Individual or set?

When purchasing your oil pastels you will see that you can either buy your pastels individually, color by color, or as a whole set. This comes down to personal preference. 

If you are just starting to experiment with oil pastels and not sure what you will be creating, a set is a great way to get a good variety of colors, and usually at a good price! 

Sets generally come in handy packaging that makes great storage or travel containers for your pastels too. 

For those more seasoned, perhaps just after a few top-up colors, lots of the brands we have mentioned sell individual colors at great prices. This is a great way to top up your collection, or just get the colors you need. 

Consider what you will be using your pastels before making the plunge! 

Consistency

Consistency is key, and it's important to get the consistency that best suits your needs. 

Oil pastels are waxy, generally designed to be a thick and creamy consistency great for those after a vibrant look with their pastel work. 

Those wanting a good outline, or something more child friendly, then a harder pastel will be better for you. A harder pastel is generally less likely to break too, great for children that don’t yet know their strength! 

From the choices here you can see a range of creamy and soft pastels, as well as the harder ones so you are sure to find one that will suit your needs!

Pigment

Making sure you are getting the most out of your pastels is important, especially when you are parting with your hard-earned money. 

Pigment refers to how strong the color will be in the pastels. The buzzword to look out for her: lightfast. This relates to how much light can affect the pigment of the pastels. Exposure to sunlight, as we have read, can damage your pastels, causing the color to fade over time. 

Lookout for pastels that are described as lightfast, as these will be resistant to fading from light exposure keeping your colors brighter for longer. 

Lightfastness testing is done on these products to see them stand the test of time against artificial light to see how they will hold up. The results of these are often available on the product information, so be sure to check it out for long-lasting color! 

Storing your oil pastels out of direct sunlight will help with this and preserve them for longer also. 

Added extras

You can, of course, use the pastels and blend them out with your fingers and achieve excellent results. But for those looking for any extra tools, or with a little budget left to treat yourself, there are some tools that you can get. 

Tortillion is a handy tool for blending palettes. It's a paper rolled tightly to form a tip at the end which can help blend the colors smoothly.

Palette Knife is a versatile tool that can help scrap any excess paint off. This will create sharp and clean edges that can be tricky to create with your pastels. 

Turpentine is a solution that can help make the colors creamy and soft to blend, handy if your oil pastels are stiffer than expected. 

Using a brush to dip into the solution you can apply it to the area you want to blend. This will soften the wax in the oil pastel, aiding in its blending. These areas can then be cleaned with a small cloth. 

Color Shaper is great for blending oil pastels thanks to its shape resembling a brush. Usually made with a silicone or plastic end which is great for blending detailed areas in an oil painting (and easy to clean!). 

A primer is a great tool, as artists, the world over will tell you. The primer sits on the surface before your pastels go on, and helps to give a smoother space to work on. 

Without a primer you can struggle to blend colors or work with strokes, if you were to invest in any tool, this would be the best to go for! 

Fixative is another great tool to consider. Unlike other liquid paints, oil pastels do not dry out, leaving them vulnerable to heat and other elements. 

Most artists find themselves with two options here to protect their work: framing, or fixative. Framing can be costly to frame every piece. Fixatives are a cheaper option that will preserve the work from dust and discoloration long-term, keeping the work fresh. 

While these are all added extras that can be helpful, remember that there is no need to spend the extra money. Those starting may just want to try the pastels to see if they enjoy the medium first. 

Art students or people enjoying the hobby may want to consider a primer or fixative to enhance your pastel color, and protect your work!

Price

Oil pastels can range in price quite dramatically, so it is best to set a clear budget in mind before buying. 

Consider how often you will be using them and what they will be used for. If these are for children or trying out a new hobby it may be worth trying a more affordable option first to see if you enjoy them. 

However, if you are an art student or using these pastels as part of your career, it may be worth spending more and investing in good quality pastels that will last. 

Remember that you don’t need to spend loads to get good quality pastels, be sure to check out our options to find the best oil pastels for you! 

Frequently Asked Questions

Any last-minute questions? Check out our FAQs before you go! 

What are oil pastels?

Oil pastels are made of wax and mineral or linseed oil, which allows them to have great vibrant colors. Usually designed in a stick or crayon form, they are soft which makes them nice to hold whilst painting. 

They are generally thick, which can make them difficult to blend on rougher surfaces. 

Unlike other pastels, all oil pastels ask of you is to be kept out of direct sunlight. 

Are oil pastels toxic? 

Oil pastels are considered to be safer than other pastels, as they do not have any dust issues. 

Some can contain toxic pigments which can be harmful if ingested. However, there has been a lot of work in recent years, especially with ACMI (The Art and Creative Materials Institute, Inc.) working to promote safe art materials. 

You’ll see from our list that a lot of oil pastels are now listed as ACMI certified, making them non-toxic. 

Look out for pastels listed as child-friendly and acid-free too, and always be sure in the case of ingesting to seek medical help! 

What can I use them on?

These days, most oil pastels are designed to work well on a range of surfaces. This should be written on the packaging or description of the pastels, so be sure to check this before you purchase them! 

Generally, you can use them on paper, canvas, and cardboard, making them a diverse tool to have in your art kit! 

It's worth remembering that due to an oil pastels thickness, you might find it a little difficult to blend them on rougher surfaces.

WonderStreet is not affiliated with any of the brands mentioned in this article. However, we sometimes receive a referral fee from online retailers when our readers buy on their website after clicking from our website to theirs. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases, which supports the operation of our blog and helps to keep all our content free for everyone. In any case, when we conduct our analysis, our intention and focus is to remain objective and unbiased at all times.

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