Top 10 Best-Rated Soft Pastels In 2023

  • Pastels come in various forms and can be used on various surfaces.
  • Soft pastels are a dry art medium of pure pigment combined with a binder, usually a mixture of gum Arabic and chalk.
  • With various brands, types, and colors available, choosing the right soft pastels can be overwhelming.
  • The best soft pastels in our guide can help you narrow down your options and find the perfect set of soft pastels.

Soft pastels are a popular medium for artists of all skill levels, appreciated for their vibrant colors and rich texture. You’ll find many options available on the market, so selecting the set of soft pastels for your artwork can be overwhelming.

To help you decide, we have compiled a list of the top soft pastels for 2023. Whether you’re a professional artist or a beginner, these pastels will inspire you to create stunning and unique works of art. This list includes something for everyone, from traditional to modern colors and from creamy to powdery textures.

So, let’s dive in and discover the best soft pastels of 2023!

List Of Best Professional-Grade Soft Pastels

Professional-grade soft pastels are designed to provide exceptional quality and performance, making them popular among pastel artists. This article will take a closer look at the best soft pastels available today.

1) HA SHI Soft Chalk Pastels


HA SHI Soft Chalk Pastels
Buy Now

HA SHI chalk pastels are non-toxic, making them safe even for kids. These pastels are made from high-quality pigments and are ideal for blending, layering, dry wash, and graduation to create depth and texture in your artwork.

Use them on different types of paper and other surfaces, such as sidewalk blocks and blackboards, or mix them with acrylic powder to use them for nail art. The pastel’s narrow side is perfect for a delicate touch, while you can use the wide side for a bold touch. 

HA SHI chalk pastels are an excellent choice for beginners. They come in a fantastic range of colors for minimal layering, color studies, and quick packing for outdoor activities.

Things We Like

  • Excellent quality at an affordable price
  • Wide range of colors
  • Blend easily
  • High pigmentation
  • The plastic cap reduces the risk of breakage

Things We Dislike

  • The sticks can be too small for some types of artwork
  • The package can arrive messy

2) Faber-Castell


Buy Now

Faber-Castell is a well-known brand in the art world, and its soft pastels are no exception. The vibrant colors of these soft pastel sticks come from the high pigment content. The full set includes 24 mini sticks with a smooth flow of intense color, making them ideal for filling in fine details and shading bigger areas. 

They work great with various types of paper (flock paper) but can also be used on other surfaces thanks to their rich pigmentation. To blend, use your finger or a pastel brush.

Faber-Castell’s soft pastels mini sticks are ideal for everyone who prefers simple designs, simple blending, and rich colors. They are an excellent addition to your toolkit due to their low cost. Compared to other soft pastels, they can be slightly dusty, but they shouldn’t leave a huge mess. Overall, they are simple to use and offer vibrant colors.

Things We Like

  • Great pigmentation and color saturation
  • Multipurpose and ideal for everyone
  • High-quality pastels
  • 24 vibrant colors
  • Well packaged 

Things We Dislike

  • They are not as soft
  • Some of the colors may contain chemicals

3) Sennelier


Buy Now

Sennelier soft pastels contain high-quality pure pigment ground with a natural binder. The amazing composition is mainly because of the ideal balance of pigment and binder. The paste is not compressed during the manufacturing process, so this pastel can dry naturally in the open air. The pastel and substrate quality ensures the longevity of the work. 

They have an unrivaled pigment intensity and are water-soluble. You can produce a strong line of incredible color even with a light stroke. This half-stick set of 120 pastels is amazing for a wide range of applications and is praised for its durability and affordability. The soft pastels are lined with foam, so they will be safe and withstand rough handling and travel.

Things We Like

  • Many luxurious colors are available
  • Produced using high-quality, pure pigment
  • Excellent for traveling
  • A fantastic gift for any professional pastel artist
  • A good price for a very good quality product

Things We Dislike

  • The original tones can be lost by fixing the final layer
  • Some sticks can be too dry or hard

4) Royal & Langnickel


Buy Now

Royal & Langnickel, soft pastels in 36 assorted colors, excel in quality and performance, making them popular among professional artists. These sketching pastels are made with finely ground pigments to keep their look for as long as possible. 

You can use them for drawing, illustration, or coloring. Use the stick tip for a linear stroke and its side for bigger areas. Also, high-quality pastels are great for blending. You can create a polished blend using your fingers, brushes, or blending stumps. 

The soft pastels have an excellent color range, and more importantly, they provide consistent coverage. These are so easy to use, making them great for beginners and helping you produce beautiful images quickly and with little effort.

Things We Like

  • Excellent quality and performance
  • Available in many vibrant colors
  • Blend easily
  • Easy to use – even children can use them
  • They provide amazing coverage
  • Well-priced

Things We Dislike

  • Too many browns and a few doubles of other colors
  • Limited availability in some regions

5) Mungyo


Buy Now

Mungyo is a South Korean brand that produces high-quality soft pastels popular among professional artists. The Non-Toxic Mungyo Soft Pastel Set is a top choice for those looking for high-quality, vibrant colors without worrying about harmful chemicals. These pastels are made with environmentally friendly materials and are safe to use, making them ideal for artists who want to work with a clear conscience. 

There are up to 64 colors available, but this set comes with 48 assorted colors of square chalks. They are soft enough to cover big areas with color. 

They can be a bit brittle, and the corners can break if pressed too hard, but they do not crumble like Rembrandts or other brands of soft pastels. With these pastels, you can draw easily and smoothly and apply all pastel techniques, including dry-washing, graduation, blending, etc. Mungyo are some of the best soft pastels that don’t fade over time.

Things We Like

  • Vibrant and blend extremely well
  • Amazing colors
  • Fade-resistant
  • Made with the best materials
  • Non-toxic soft pastels

Things We Dislike

  • The white color is not pigmented enough
  • It can be prone to breaking if not handled carefully

6) YoCosii


Buy Now

The YoCosii Soft Pastel 64 Color Set Square Chalk is a fantastic option for artists of all ages. This set has a nice variety of pigmented colors that work well together. The square shape of the chalks is unique and provides a comfortable grip, making them easy to work with for extended periods. The soft texture of the pastels allows for easy blending and layering, making them ideal for various effects and techniques. 

It is best to layer these pastels since they are sheer, which is great since artists can always build up color. Use them to create beautiful skin tones, and you can use them over watercolors and alcohol markers. These soft pastels can be very useful for blending and smoothing out base layers of color.

Things We Like

  • Don’t fade over time
  • Wide range of vivid and pigmented colors
  • All pastel techniques can be applied
  • Durable and resistant to breakage
  • They provide a comfortable grip

Things We Dislike

  • Expensive compared to other professional-grade soft pastel brands
  • They are quite small

7) CiaraQ


Buy Now

The CiaraQ Polymer Clay is an excellent choice for artists, hobbyists, and craft enthusiasts looking for a versatile and easy-to-use clay set. The set includes 50 blocks of colorful, non-toxic, safe polymer clay. 

The clay is soft and easy to mold, making it perfect for various projects, from pottery to modeling. It is oven-bakeable, which means that once you’ve finished your creation, you can easily bake it in the oven to harden it into a permanent form. You can also boil it or dry it with a hair dryer. The clay is stretchy and does not stick.

The set also includes various sculpting tools, perfect for creating patterns in your creations. The CiaraQ Polymer Clay is perfect for beginners and children.

Things We Like

  • Non-toxic and eco-friendly
  • Easy to shape
  • Very soft, smooth material
  • Does not stick to the hands
  • Great accessories

Things We Dislike

  • The dark colors can stain your hands
  • The clay can be dry

8) Paul Rubens


Buy Now

The Paul Rubens Oil Pastels set is a high-quality, versatile medium for vibrant, colorful artwork. With 50 colors, the set offers a wide range of highly-pigmented vivid hues. 

The pastels’ creamy texture makes blending and layering easy, which is ideal for creating different effects. They resist fading and blend easily with other mediums, such as acrylics, watercolors, and oils. If you are interested, you can also check acrylic paints for beginners.

These soft oil pastels produce smooth blends without pilling, making them ideal for scraper and blending techniques. Because they are creamy, they work and blend great on paper and other smooth media. The pigmentation on these superior oil pastels is smooth and even, and the cylindrical shape allows you to control them easily. 

Things We Like

  • Creamy texture
  • They don’t fade easily
  • They give even pigmentation
  • Artists of all ages can use them
  • Easy to clean

Things We Dislike

  • These oil pastels can be greasy
  • Too soft



Buy Now

KOH-I-NOOR is a Czech Republic-based brand that has been producing high-quality art supplies for over 200 years. Sharpen these easy-to-use soft pastel pencils with a pencil sharpener without a blade. This is an excellent pencil set for professionals and beginners who can learn to use the medium without investing too much money. 

Because of their creamy texture, they blend smoothly without leaving any hard edges. The soft pencil texture allows using numerous techniques, including blending, drawing, and toning. The pencils also have a durable casing that protects the soft pastel core and prevents breakage, making them perfect for artists on the go. 

The set includes several skin tones, making it perfect for portraits, but they also work great for landscapes. KOH-I-NOOR is a good choice if you want the versatility and control of a pencil with the vibrant colors of a soft pastel.

Things We Like

  • Reasonably priced
  • They sharpen easily
  • Blend smoothly
  • Ideal for painting portraits
  • Come in a good casing

Things We Dislike

  • With too much pressure, the point can break
  • The colors are not too vivid

10) Ifergoo


Buy Now

The Ifergoo clay set is an amazing option for anyone looking for a fun and creative way to create sculptures and other craft projects. The set includes 50 vibrant colors of air-dry clay, sealed bags, a tutorial book, and a few clay tools, perfect for creating intricate details.

Make new colors by combining any of the existing ones. The non-toxic clay will harden within 24 hours, making it a safe and easy-to-use option for kids of all ages. 

The clay is soft and pliable, easy to stretch and shape, and dries to a smooth and even finish. It is as light as foam once it completely dries. It is designed to hold its shape and allows you to treasure your children’s artwork for a long time. Once the Ifergoo clay fully dries, you can paint it.

Things We Like

  • Rich colors and smooth texture
  • The clay is hypo-allergenic
  • Ultra-light clay material
  • Easy to shape
  • Non-sticky

Things We Dislike

  • A bit pricey
  • The clays are small

What Is a Soft Pastel?

A soft pastel is a dry art medium of pure pigment combined with a binder, usually a mixture of gum Arabic and chalk. This mixture is then molded into sticks or pencils and dried to create a solid form that can be used for drawing and painting. 

Soft pastels are known for their vibrant colors, ability to blend easily, and velvety texture, which makes them a popular medium for artists of all skill levels. Use them on numerous surfaces, including paper, board, canvas, and fabric. You can also extend your knowledge by learning more about paints for cardboard. 

Many people love pastels for their ability to create delicate and nuanced effects in the artwork. Shortly put soft pastels are a versatile and dynamic medium that can help you create incredible works of art.

How Does a Soft Pastel Work?

Soft pastels contain pure pigment combined with a binder. The amount of binder used varies from brand to brand, but soft pastels generally prefer a high pigment-to-binder ratio.

The same pigments are used in other painting mediums, such as oils and acrylics. However, the pigments in soft pastels are ground to a much finer powder, allowing them to adhere to the surface of the pastel paper or canvas.

We must note that despite their many benefits, soft pastels are not without their challenges. One of the biggest challenges is their fragility. Soft pastels can easily break or crumble, especially if you drop or jostle them, making transporting and storing them challenging. They also tend to create dust, which can be problematic if you have allergies or respiratory issues.

Different Types of Pastels

Pastels come in various forms and can be used on various surfaces. Here, we will explore the different types of pastels available.

Soft Pastels

Soft pastels are beloved medium artists seek and are known to produce brilliant colors and delicate, nuanced effects. Their smooth texture makes them versatile in application—use them dry or with water, alcohol, or other solvents. Through blending or layering, artists can create truly unique and masterful works of art.

Hard Pastels

Hard pastels are similar to soft pastels but contain less pigment and more binder. This gives them a harder texture for creating sharp lines and details. It is best to use them with soft pastels to create precise lines and contours in a piece of artwork.

Oil Pastels

Oil pastels consist of a mixture of pigment, oil, and wax. They have a creamy texture that can be easily blended, making them a popular choice for artists who want to create smooth, flowing lines and gradations. Unlike soft pastels, oil pastels do not produce dust, making them a cleaner option.

Water-Soluble Pastels

Water-soluble pastels are similar to soft pastels but are designed to be used with water. You can apply them dry and then blend with a wet brush, or you can apply them directly to wet paper or canvas. With this type of pastel, you can create many unique effects that are difficult to achieve with other pastel types.


Pastel pencils are similar to traditional colored pencils but are made from the same materials as soft pastels. They have a hard texture that is better suited for creating sharp lines. Artists can use pastel pencils alone or in conjunction with other types of pastels to create different effects.

How to Use Soft Pastels?

Soft pastels are a popular medium for creating rich, vibrant, textured artwork.

Choose Your Soft Pastels

Choose the right materials. Many different brands and types of soft pastels are available, so choose the pastels that feel right to you and match your artistic style. Also, consider factors like the intensity and range of colors, the pastel’s softness, and the binder’s quality.

Prepare Your Surface

Once you have your pastels, prepare your surface. You can use soft pastels on several surfaces, including paper, canvas, and board. Choose a surface appropriate for your needs, and prepare it by applying a fixative layer to prevent the pastel from smudging.

Getting Started

Choose the colors you want to use and begin by making broad strokes across the surface. Blend the colors using a blending tool or your fingers, like a soft brush. Work in layers, starting with light colors and gradually building to darker colors to create depth and dimension. Use different techniques to create a range of textures and effects.

Blend and Layer

To blend pastels, use a blending tool or your fingers to soften and blur the edges of different colors. To layer pastels, start with a light layer and gradually build up to a heavier layer to create depth and texture.

Fix Your Work

Once you have completed your artwork, it’s important to fix it to prevent the pastel from smudging or rubbing off. You can use a fixative spray to seal the pastel, but be careful not to apply too much as it can cause the colors to darken or change.

Soft Pastels Buying Guide

Buying soft pastels can be overwhelming with a range of brands, types, and colors available. Let’s explore the key factors to help you choose the right set of soft pastels.


High-quality pastels contain more pigment, resulting in more vibrant and long-lasting colors. Lower-quality pastels may contain more binder and less pigment, leading to duller colors and a shorter lifespan. To determine the quality of soft pastels, look for well-known and reputable brands within the art community. 


Soft pastels come in several different types, each with their characteristics. The most common types of soft pastels are:

  • Handmade Soft Pastels: Made by hand, these pastels contain more pigment and less binder, resulting in richer, more vibrant colors. They can be more expensive than machine-made pastels, but the quality is often worth the cost.
  • Machine-Made Soft Pastels: Produced by machines, these pastels are less expensive and more consistent in texture and color. They may contain more binder and less pigment than handmade pastels, but they can still produce beautiful results.

Consider your style and needs when choosing the type of soft pastel that will work best for you.


Soft pastels come in various colors, from vibrant bold to soft and muted. Consider the colors you use most frequently in your artwork and the colors you may need to create different effects or moods. Many brands offer a soft pastel set in pre-selected color schemes, such as earth tones, portrait colors, or landscape colors. 


Some pastels may contain toxic ingredients, such as heavy metals or solvents, that can be harmful if ingested or inhaled. To ensure the safety of your soft pastels, look for brands that are non-toxic and free of harmful chemicals. Additionally, work in a well-ventilated area and avoid eating or drinking while working.

Stick Size (Small, Medium, Large)

A smaller pastel stick is ideal for adding fine details and creating precise lines, while larger soft pastel sticks are better suited for covering larger areas and creating broad strokes. Consider the size of your artwork and the level of detail you want to achieve when selecting the size of your pastel sticks..


They come in various prices, from budget-friendly options to high-end professional soft pastel sets. While price is important, remember that higher-priced professional-grade pastels may offer better quality and pigmentation, resulting in more vibrant and long-lasting colors.  

Online Reviews And Ratings

To determine the quality and effectiveness of a product, you should read online reviews and ratings from other artists. Look for reviews from professional pastel artists who have used the pastels similarly to how you intend to use them. Pay attention to comments about pastels’ texture, pigmentation, and blend-ability. 

Tips To Use Soft Pastels Effectively

Whether you’re new to working with soft pastels or looking to refine your technique, here are some tips for using soft pastels effectively and getting the most out of your materials.

Start With a Clean Surface

Pastels work best on textured or pastel paper, which helps hold the pastel particles in place. However, if the pastel paper is dirty or has oil or grease on it, the pastel may not adhere properly. Use a soft brush or cloth to clean the surface of your paper before you begin gently.

Experiment With Different Soft Pastel Techniques

You can use soft pastels, from blending and layering to stippling and scumbling. Some artists prefer to work with a wet brush to create a watercolor-like effect, while others prefer to layer the pastels to create a rich, velvety texture. And here are some watercolor paint sets you can check out.

Build up Layers Gradually

Soft pastels are a forgiving medium that artists can layer and blend to create depth and texture in their soft pastel artworks. Build up layers gradually to create a more realistic and dimensional effect, starting with light colors and gradually adding darker colors and shading.

Blend With Your Fingers or Tools

One of the unique aspects of working with soft pastels is the ability to blend and smudge the colors to create new hues and textures. You can blend with your fingers, art easel kits or tools, such as blending stumps or chamois cloths.

Use Fixative to Protect Your Artwork

You can easily smudge or rub off soft pastels, making preserving your artwork difficult. To protect the artwork and ensure it lasts for years, use a fixative spray to seal the surface and prevent smudging.


Soft pastels are an amazing medium for artists of all levels, offering many different colors and textures that artists can use to create unique works of art. Whether you are a beginner or an experienced artist, investing in high-quality soft pastels can make a significant difference in the quality of your work. With so many options available today, choosing the best soft pastels for your needs can be challenging.

Narrow your options to find the perfect soft pastel set for your artistic vision. Remember to consider color range, quality, and affordability when choosing. Don’t be afraid to experiment with different soft pastel brands and techniques to find the best ones for you. With the right soft pastel set and a little practice, you can unlock your full creative potential and create beautiful, expressive works of art.

FAQs About Soft Pastels 

1) What brand of soft pastels are best to buy online?

Choosing the best brand depends on your personal preferences and budget. Some popular options include Sennelier, Faber-Castell, Mungyo, and HA SHI.

2) What is the shelf life of soft pastels?

It varies depending on the quality of the pastel and how you store it. Generally, high-quality soft pastels can last many years if stored properly in a dry, cool environment. However, lower-quality pastels may deteriorate more quickly and may only last a few years.

3) What type of pastel is best for painting?

Soft pastels are an excellent choice for painting, as they are versatile and easy to work with. However, other types, like oil or hard pastels, depending on your preferences and projects, may also be suitable.

4) What material is best for soft pastels?

When working with soft pastels, it is important to use a surface to hold the pastel particles in place. Some popular materials for soft pastel work include pastel paper, sandpaper, and sanded pastel paper.

5) What is the difference between pastels and soft pastels?

Pastels refer to a type of art medium that comes in stick form and is made from pigment and a binder. Soft pastels are a specific type of pastel made with a higher proportion of pigment and less binder, resulting in a softer texture that can be easily blended.

Share this on


About the author

Related Articles

Exit mobile version