16 Best Soft Pastels: Perfect Brands For Your Needs In 2021

Soft pastels and how they look on paper

Soft pastels are a type of chalk-like paint that you can apply in layers to blend and smudge. They are best applied dry, but you may use some pastels for wet application. These qualities make them very versatile for many types of work, from drawing to painting. Today we will review the best brands on the market and give you some tips on buying soft pastels.

Our Top Picks

Faber-Castell Gelatos Pastels Color Set
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Best Overall - Faber-Castell Gelatos Pastels Color Set

• Acid-free
• Water-soluble
• Lightfast colors

Mungyo Soft Pastel (US Version)
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Best for Kids - Mungyo Soft Pastel (US Version)

• Uses high-quality pigments
• Vivid and lightfast colors
• Non-toxic

Best for Art Classes - Sargent Art Colored Square Pastels

• Dry and soft to touch
• Non-toxic formula
• Vivid, semi-permanent colors

    1. Faber Castell 128324 Soft Pastels

    Faber Castell 128324 Soft Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • 24 colors in one set
    • Intense colors
    • Blends well
    • Compatible with several surfaces
    • Affordable
    • Poor water solubility
    • Colors may blur if not sealed
    • Used up easily

    What Customers Have to Say

    Someone who has never tried using pastels happily posted an image of her work using this soft pastel set. Although she did struggle at first, she got her artwork done with excellent results.

    Why We Think It's Great 

    The Faber Castell 128324 soft pastels are very affordable, easy to use, and come in 24 different colors. They blend easily without that chalky and dusty finish you can usually observe from other brands.

    The best part is that they're compatible with several surfaces, so you can get creative with your art projects. The colors are also vibrant and intense, so you'll love working with these soft pastels. Faber Castell's soft pastels have adequate size for better grip and control than other tiny brands.

    Who Should Buy It

    The Faber Castell 128324 Soft Pastels are the perfect choice for beginner artists because they have enough colors and the right size for practice work.

    2. SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastel Squares

    SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastel Squares
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     Pros Cons
    • High-quality synthetic Kolinsky sable brushes
    • Genuine leather travel case
    • Triple-crimp ferrules
    • Short metal handles
    • 5 brushes in one set
    • Some colors included are not soft
    • Chalky finish

    What Customers Have to Say

    The SoHo Urban Artist soft pastel squares offer great value to novice artists, the colors are incredible, and students love them for their school work. Even professionals love this set.

     

    SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastel Squares

    Why We Think It's Great 

    SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastel Squares uses high-quality, pure pigments that blend easily and provide exceptional color saturation. You also have 48 colors in one set, including 4 neon colors, 2 whites, and 2 blacks.

    You can use them on virtually any surface, including paper, canvas, wood panels, or fabric. They're also non-toxic and acid-free. You don't have to worry about your health or safety when using them. The sturdy cardboard box and the plastic inserts make these pastels easy to store. They're just the right size, too, at 0.4x0.4x2.56" each.

    Who Should Buy It

    SoHo Urban Artist Soft Pastel Squares are the perfect choice for artists who want to experiment with pastels.

    3. Faber-Castell Gelatos Pastels Color Set - Best Multi-Purpose Soft Pastels

    Faber-Castell Gelatos Pastels Color Set
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     Pros Cons
    • Acid-free
    • Compatible with various surfaces
    • Durable clear case
    • Water-soluble
    • Lightfast colors
    • Bleeds through thin pages
    • Does not include a detailed instruction manual

    What Customers Have to Say

    Everyone who loves doing art will love Faber Castell Gelatos because it is versatile since you can use this set to achieve a watercolor effect. They are also easy to blend. Some users find it challenging to overlay with watercolors, though.

    Faber-Castell Gelatos Pastels Color Set

    Why We Think It's Great 

    The Faber-Castell Gelatos Pastels Color Set is the perfect gift for any artist. It comes with 24 vibrant colors that are acid-free and water-soluble, so they're easy to combine and blend.

    Each color comes in a case to keep it compact and a durable clear case that keeps everything organized and safe from dust or dirt. Faber-Castell Gelatos also have lightfast colors, so there won't be any fading over time either.

    You can use these pastels on various surfaces like paper, canvas board, wood panels, fabric, and more. These vibrant colors will help you achieve whatever look you desire.

    Who Should Buy It

    This kit is an absolute must-have for artists who love experimenting with different mediums and techniques.

    4. Ha Shi Non-Toxic Soft Pastel Set

    Ha Shi Non-Toxic Soft Pastel Set
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     Pros Cons
    • 64 colors in one set
    • Good adhesion
    • Non-toxic
    • Excellent for blending and dry washing
    • Professional-grade pigments
    • Colors are not individually packed
    • Chalky and dusty
    • Very small

    What Customers Have to Say

    The set is very affordable, but the colors are very vibrant. Some used these soft pastels after dipping them in water, resulting in fascinating textures. 

    Ha Shi Non-Toxic Soft Pastel Set

    Why We Think It's Great 

    The Ha Shi Non-Toxic Soft Pastel Set is a perfect choice. Each set has 64 colors, so it's ideal even for professionals. They have good adhesion and are non-toxic, making them great for kids too. Pure pigments ensure that your artwork will look vibrant every time.

    You can use them to create stunning drawings, paintings, sketches, and more. Whether you want to make an impressionist painting or just add some color to your sketchbook, you can use these soft pastels.

    Who Should Buy It

    The Ha Shi Non-Toxic Soft Pastel Set is an excellent choice for professional artists.

    5. Mungyo Non-toxic Square Chalk

    Mungyo Non-toxic Square Chalk
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     Pros Cons
    • Non-toxic
    • 64 colors in one set
    • Resistant to fading
    • Silky smooth finish
    • Affordable
    • Shorter than standard-sized soft pastels
    • Dusty and chalky

    What Customers Have to Say

    It blends beautifully, according to those who have used these soft pastels. Many users also believe it's a great set, and they recommend it to fellow artists of any age.

    Mungyo Non-toxic Square Chalk

    Why We Think It's Great 

    With Mungyo soft pastels, there is no need for messy paints or smelly markers. This set of 64 colors comes in a convenient cardboard box with a plastic insert that keeps the soft pastels from unnecessary breakage.

    The non-toxic formula means you don't have to worry about harming yourself or others when using this product. It also won't fade over time as other brands do, so your artwork will stay beautiful and vibrant for years.

    Who Should Buy It

    This pastel stick set is a good starter kit for hobby artists trying to find new ways to create art. Each soft pastel measures 0.4x.04x1.4 inches long, shorter than the usual 2.5-inch length of pastels. However, considering its price, you still get a good value for your money.

    6. Mungyo Soft Pastel (US Version) - Best for Kids

    Mungyo Soft Pastel (US Version)
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     Pros Cons
    • Uses high-quality pigments
    • Vivid and lightfast colors
    • Easy to blend
    • Smooth feel
    • Non-toxic
    • Messy
    • Very soft and crumbly

    What Customers Have to Say

    The Mungyo soft pastels are small since they come only in half sticks, but they are also easy to apply. The variety of colors makes lovely art on almost any textured surface.

    Mungyo Soft Pastel (US Version)

    Why We Think It's Great 

    The Mungyo Soft Pastel is an excellent choice for anyone who wants to explore their artistic side. It's easy to blend and has a smooth consistency that makes it great for beginners. With its lightfast colors, your artwork will last a long time.

    You can use these soft pastels on any surface, from paper to canvas and even wood or metal. The set has 64 colors, including reds, yellows, oranges, greens, blues, purples, browns, and black and white, which are longer than the rest.

    Who Should Buy It

    Artists of all skill levels will fall in love with these half-stick pastels because they are easy to use and clean up, even if they're a little messy to use.

    7. Savoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels

    Savoir-Faire Sennelier Soft Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • Premium-quality pigments
    • Minimal binders
    • Lightfast
    • Smooth and consistent finish
    • Sturdy case with foam insert
    • Expensive
    • Colors included are specific for a theme

    What Customers Have to Say

    Some artists love the half-stick sizing of these soft pastels as they are easy to manipulate while drawing with them, though some of them resent the high price. They also have a smooth buttery texture.

    Why We Think It's Great 

    Sennelier Soft Pastels contains the highest quality pigments and minimal binders. They have a smooth, consistent finish that is perfect for creating a lovely art project. 

    The set comes with a sturdy case and a foam insert to keep your pastels safe and organized. The case measures 7.4 x 5.75 x 1.35 inches, while each half stick measures 1.4 inches long. Each set has 30 lush and vibrant colors, so your landscapes look alive. 

    If you want a draw seaside scenery, you'll also love the seaside set that comes in different shades of blues to capture that lovely coastal plein air.

    8. Faber-Castell FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons

    Faber-Castell FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons
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     Pros Cons
    • Intense colors
    • High-quality pigments
    • Easy to blend
    • Economical
    • Adheres to several surfaces
    • Messy to apply
    • Powdery

    What Customers Have to Say

    Some artists use this soft pastel set for various art projects - bible journaling, plein air, and other similar projects. Some customers also appreciate the very responsive customer service.

    Faber-Castell FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons

    Why We Think It's Great 

    The Faber-Castell FC128272 Creative Studio Soft Pastel Crayons are the perfect choice for any artist. They make intense colors that blend easily and adhere to several surfaces.

    They're non-toxic, so even younger kids can use them. And at this price point, these crayons are an economical option compared to other brands on the market today. The set has 72 colors, organized by color family in a plastic insert that fits the individual sticks well. They're a bit dusty, though, so people with allergies best stay away from them.

    Who Should Buy It

    This set is perfect for artists who love to have a good soft pastel set without spending too much. It works well for beginners, too.

    9. Sargent Art Colored Square Pastels - Best for Art Classes

    Sargent Art Colored Square Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • Dry and soft to touch
    • Non-toxic formula
    • 144 sticks (24 colors)
    • High-quality pigments
    • Vivid, permanent colors
    • Whites are too dull
    • Doesn't blend well

    What Customers Have to Say

    Artists who have used it tout it as the best they have used, and the number of sticks in the set makes it perfect for large-format drawings, portraits, and landscapes.

    Sargent Art Colored Square Pastels

    Why We Think It's Great 

    Sargent Art Colored Square Pastels are the perfect way to add color to your artwork. You can create vivid pictures using these bright, permanent colors. The dry and soft texture also makes them good enough to blend into any medium or project.

    Each set has 144 sticks (24 colors x 6 sticks/color), so you have enough for everyone. If you want to use it for large drawings, you’re sure you won't have to stop halfway because you used up your soft pastels. They have a non-toxic formula, making it safe for you and your children or art students.

    Who Should Buy It

    We recommend this set for art teachers to do art tutorials for kids and artists who work on large pastel drawings.

    10. Honsell Gallery Artist's Handmade Soft Pastels

    Honsell Gallery Artist's Handmade Soft Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • Hand-rolled pastels
    • Buttery consistency
    • Vibrant and brilliant
    • Blends and mixes well
    • Sturdy cardboard box
    • Not as soft as other brands
    • Pricey

    What Customers Have to Say

    Though some artists want a softer one, others love the texture of Honsell Gallery soft pastels, and some want to invest in a bigger set. One artist even used it to face up her dream dolls.

    Honsell Gallery Artist's Handmade Soft Pastels

    Why We Think It's Great 

    The Honsell Gallery Artist's Handmade Soft Pastels come in a sturdy cardboard box and are hand-rolled by artisans worldwide. Each stick is unique and vibrant, making them perfect for all of your artistic needs.

    They have a buttery consistency that makes them glide easily on paper and blend well with other colors. The set has 30 colors, organized according to color family in a snug foam bed and enclosed with a sturdy cardboard box. Each stick has a paper wrap for the less messy application.

    Who Should Buy It

    The Honsell Gallery soft pastels are best for artists on the go because the snug foam bed helps keep the soft pastels intact even when traveling.

    11. Sargent Art Colored Square Chalk Pastels

    Sargent Art Colored Square Chalk Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • Velvety texture
    • Easy to apply and blend
    • Rich pigments
    • Non-toxic
    • Safe for children over 3 years old
    • Chalky finish
    • Breaks easily


    What Customers Have to Say

    Many parents bought this set for their kids to use in school. They offer good value for your money. 

    Why We Think It's Great 

    It's never been easier to mix your colors with these vibrant, soft pastels from Sargent Art. The velvety texture affords easy application and blending for a professional look every time.

    They come in a wide range of colors, so there's always something perfect for any project. It's safe for little ones over the age of 3, which means they can have tons of fun coloring right alongside you.

    Who Should Buy It

    We recommend this set for young artists. Use with adult supervision, but it contains no harmful ingredients and allergens, so it's safe for kids to use.

    12. Colour Block Soft Pastel Art Set

    Colour Block Soft Pastel Art Set
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     Pros Cons
    • 100 colors in one set
    • Non-toxic
    • ASTM D-4236 certified
    • Wooden case
    • Individually-wrapped
    • Crumbles easily
    • Spotty finish

    What Customers Have to Say

    The colors are stunning and very versatile to use. It's a great set for beginners, and the wooden packaging helped keep the soft pastel from breaking during transit.

    Colour Block Soft Pastel Art Set

    Why We Think It's Great 

    This set comes in 100 colors, so there's no need to buy multiple sets of pastels. They're non-toxic, and ASTM D-4236 certified, so it's safe for kids to use. Each color is individually wrapped in paper and arranged inside the wooden case – making it easy to take on the go.

    There are endless possibilities for creating beautiful works of art with this amazing set from Colour Block. You can use these soft pastels alone or combine them with other mediums like watercolors or markers for even more creative fun. They also make great gifts because they come in an elegant wooden box that will look great on any desk or shelf.

    Who Should Buy It

    The Colour Block Soft Pastel Art Set is the perfect gift for anyone who loves drawing and painting. This pastel art set is also ideal for beginners and amateurs alike. It's a great way to start practicing your pastel drawing skills.

    13. Mungyo Gallery Soft Pastel Squares

    Mungyo Gallery Soft Pastel Squares
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     Pros Cons
    • High-quality pigments
    • Vibrant colors with a smooth finish
    • Affordable price
    • Comfortable grip
    • Smooth consistency
    • Chalky and powdery finish
    • Not as soft as other pastels

    What Customers Have to Say

    The color saturation is nice, it passed the lightfastness test some artists tried, and it blends well, making it a great tool to use even for professional pastel artists. Another artist shaved it and added it to her polymer clay projects with fantastic results.

    Mungyo Gallery Soft Pastel Squares

    Why We Think It's Great 

    Mungyo Gallery Soft Pastel Squares has vibrant colors with a smooth finish, owing to the high-quality pigments used for making these soft pastels. The set has 48 colors, arranged according to their color family plus a few extras - fluorescent colors, light vermillion, pale orange, fuchsia, and light apricot.

    This soft pastel set glide like butter on textured paper, have a velvety consistency, and have a very smooth finish. They also blend easily with soft overlays that artists love.

    Who Should Buy It

    We highly recommend this set to beginners who want an affordable but quality set to use for practice.

    14. Masters Square Chalk Pastels

    Masters Square Chalk Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • Vibrant colors
    • Lightfast colors
    • Uses high-quality pigments
    • May be used for wet and dry application
    • Well-package to prevent breakage
    • Breaks easily
    • Messy and chalky to apply

    What Customers Have to Say

    The users love the colors and the option to use it wet for a unique finish. 

    Why We Think It's Great 

    If you love drawing, you'll also love Masters Square Chalk Pastels with their high-quality pigments that come in vibrant colors. You may use them for wet or dry application on various surfaces.

    The soft pastels come in a sturdy cardboard box with a molded foam insert to prevent breakage. Beginners and professionals can use them alone or blend them to create your unique color palette.

    The 0.3x.3x2.3-inch soft pastel sticks do not have paper wrapping each but have the brand name embossed to them, so you're sure you're getting the right product. You can also get this set at a very affordable price, making it a perfect supply for every artist's arsenal.

    Who Should Buy It

    This set is great for artists looking for a soft pastel with a wet application option.

    15. Arteza Soft Pastels

    Arteza Soft Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • Comfortable, no-mess grip
    • Blends well
    • Snug foam bed
    • Minimal binders
    • Non-toxic
    • Harder than ordinary soft pastel
    • Powdery finish

    What Customers Have to Say

    These soft pastels are harder than expensive soft pastels but not as chalky and dusty as cheap ones. The colors are also deep and rich and are easy to blend.

    Arteza Soft Pastels

    Why We Think It's Great 

    Arteza soft pastels are the best way to get started with your art. They're easy to blend so that you can create beautiful colors and shades. The 72-color set features vibrant colors and even includes 4 glow-in-the-dark colors, so you can use them on your black paper to make interesting effects.

    The square shape makes them comfortable to hold, while minimal binders mean you get more colors without that rough finish on your work. They make subtle blends to give you a fine quality as if done by professional artists.

    They're also non-toxic, so your kids can use them without any trouble. However, it leaves a dusty or powdery residue characteristic of soft pastels and may cause allergic reactions. The snug foam bed helps keep the soft pastels intact during travels, and the individual paper wrap keeps your work from getting too messy.

    Who Should Buy It

    This set is best for any artist working with soft pastels but wants something hard enough to make fine details.

    16. Reeves Soft Pastels

    Reeves Soft Pastels
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     Pros Cons
    • Lightfast colors
    • Uniform consistency
    • Blends well
    • Great for detailing
    • 24 colors in one set
    • No dark pastels
    • Powdery and dusty

    What Customers Have to Say

    Parents love this soft pastel set because their children enjoy using them. They can make lovely artwork with just a few swipes. They are also easy to keep organized with the case and plastic insert.

    Why We Think It's Great 

    Soft pastels are the perfect medium for those who want to create vivid, detailed works of art. They're also great if you like working with your hands and don't mind getting dirty. Reeves soft pastels come in 24 colors, so you can find the right color every time. They also blend well together, so it's easy to get just the look you want.

    Who Should Buy It

    Reeves Soft Pastels work best for children and younger artists who want to make a beautiful and professional-like artworks.

    Soft Pastels Buyer's Guide

    • Safety

    Soft pastels are chalky, powdery, and dusty because the pigments used are in powder form. Some pigments contain heavy metals like cobalt or cadmium, and although they are not edible, there is still that fear among users, especially younger users.

    Some manufacturers do not disclose the complete list of ingredients, while unscrupulous manufacturers claim that their product is non-toxic when, in fact, they have not conducted a test or their product failed the test.

    Aside from the toxic component of some pigments, the main concern among users is the dust from the soft pastels. It may cause allergic reactions. However, if you exercise caution like working in a well-ventilated area and keeping the pastel on paper, you can use a soft pastel medium without any issue.

    • Budget

    The quality of pigment and the amount of fillers and binders used in a soft pastel set determine its price. That is why student-grade pastels are less expensive than professional-grade pastels.

    • Quality

    Most professional-grade paints have a good degree of pigment. Student-grade soft pastels are harder because they contain more binders and fillers (chalk) and are more affordable for students and parents. Extra soft pastels have fewer binders than harder ones.

    They also have lower lightfastness and are less intense in colors. They don't crumble easily as professional-grade soft pastels, making them appropriate for use by school-age kids without much soft pastel drawing skills.

    On the other hand, professional-grade pastels have more pigment and less fillers and binders than student-grade soft pastels. As expected, they crumble more easily but have more intense colors and longer lightfastness.

    • Color selection

    Unlike other painting and drawing mediums, soft pastels do not mix well. The pigments used are usually pure or mixed well before adding fillers and binders. With this limitation, soft pastels need to include many colors in a set as you cannot mix them.

    Soft Pastels FAQ

    1. Are soft pastels the same as chalk pastels?

    Soft pastels may feel chalky and have a powdery finish, but you can't chalk or anything like blackboard or pavement chalks. They are semi-permanent when applied on paper, unlike chalks.

    Soft pastels contain a small amount of chalk, but mainly, it contains pigments and a binder, usually gum arabic, clay, or starch. Manufacturers try to add less binder to the soft pastels so you can have as much pure pigment as you can.

    They feel a bit rough to touch, but they are very smooth when applied on paper. The colors are usually intense, primarily if they use high-quality pigments. Some soft pastels work with water, but always be mindful to check before wetting it.

    2. What is the difference between soft pastels and oil pastels?

    Soft pastels have a matte finish and look dry. They also don't adhere to the paper or the surface you applied so that you can brush some of the colors off. They are also easy to smudge and blend. Some artists shave and mix the colors before applying them on paper.

    Unlike oil pastels that are best applied on slightly textured paper, soft pastels require a more textured surface so the soft pastel can cling to these surfaces. However, they are similar when blending as they both use several techniques and tools for blending.

    On the other hand, oil pastels are more color intense, but the paper needs gesso priming so that the colors don't dull after some time. Soft pastels also need tools to blend the colors.

    3. What is the best way to store your soft pastel drawings?

    As mentioned in the above FAQ, soft pastels do not adhere well on paper, so it needs extra care to protect the drawing. Some artists recommend applying a layer of fixative on the pastel painting. 

    We don't recommend it, though, as the fixative has adverse effects on the quality of the drawing, leaving a wet and grainy finish. The best way to store your soft pastel drawings is to place them on a flat surface and lay a piece of parchment paper over it so that the pastel does not smudge.

    4. Can I use soft pastel on canvas?

    Canvas primed with gesso or pastel ground is good enough for applying with soft pastel. The primer gives the canvas the needed texture or tooth for the soft pastels to adhere.

    5. How can I blend soft pastels?

    There are several ways to blend your soft pastels, similar to blending oil pastels.  When using a plastic palette knife, make sure that it is flexible and has a slight texture on the edges. Metal palette knives don't work that well for blending soft pastels. 

    Rubber shapers create textures on your soft pastel paintings, so you can add grass, leaves, and other textures.  Although artists usually use micropore sponge tools to blend pan pastels, you can also blend soft pastels. They are more compact than a regular sponge and blending with micropore sponge results in soft textures on your painting. 

    Blending directly with colors is more like layering by swiping a different color in upward or downward motions to blend your colors. Catalyst tools work for adding texture and moving your medium on your canvas or paper. To add texture, you can use this texturizing tool.

    Conclusion

    Today we've reviewed the best soft pastels on the market and given you some tips on choosing your set. From this, here are our top picks: Our top pick for the best multi-purpose soft pastels is the Faber-Castell Gelatos Pastels Color Set because it is acid-free, water-soluble, and has lightfast colors. Can an artist say no to a multi-purpose supply?

    Next on the list is the Mungyo Soft Pastel (US Version) for the best soft pastels for kids. These soft pastels are vivid and lightfast colors. Best of all, they're non-toxic and safe enough, even for very young children.

    Lastly, this set is for art teachers. We picked out the Sargent Art Colored Square Pastels, 144 Count, for your art classes because the set has 144 sticks from 24 different colors. Before you go, if you feel like giving up on your soft pastels because of the mess, we have the perfect solution for you! Check out our review for pastel holders. They will surely blow you off.

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