How Do You Use These Prosthetic Things, Anyway?

Latex Makeup Tutorial

 Hi all, and welcome to our first actual topic!

This month, we’ll be talking about slush cast latex appliances and how to apply them. It’s pretty simple stuff and a good starting point.

Latex appliances are great because they’re tough enough to withstand several applications, and inexpensive enough that anyone can buy them. Application can take some practice, however, since latex edges are usually rather thick and need a lot of blending to make it work.


 Materials we'll need

Without further ado, here’s what we’ll need to get started:

  • Astringent, such as witch hazel
  • Cotton ball
  • Prosthetic latex appliance – here I’ll be using our ‘1-Gear Burn’ prosthetic wound
  • Pros-Aide Prosthetic Adhesive (other adhesives, like spirit gum, will work fine too, but there may some slight differences in how they’re applied)
  • Makeup to color the prosthetic and help blend the edges (I’ll be using Kryolan’s 24-color Pros Rubber Mask Grease palette)
  • Adhesive remover
  • Cotton swabs
  • Makeup sponges
  • Makeup brushes
  • Setting powder and powder puff or brush
  • Pros-Aide remover
  • Two small cups: one to hold powder, one to hold adhesive
  • Makeup/paint palette (or paper plate or whatever else you may have)
  • Makeup spatulas (wooden craft sticks work fine, too)

Pour a little of your adhesive in a small plastic cup or bowl so that you're not dipping straight from the bottle. This makes it easier to dip your sponge/brush into, and keeps everything hygienic so you're not contaminating the contents of the bottle with anything that may come from your or your model's skin. Do the same in the other cup for your setting powder.

Alright, now that we’ve got everything together, the first step is to clean the skin so the adhesive sticks better to it. Put a little astringent on your cotton ball and swipe it around the area where your prosthetic will be placed and let dry.


Adhesive on back of prosthetic appliance

Once dry, use a paint/makeup brush, cotton swab or makeup sponge to dab some Pros-Aide on the back of the prosthetic, just in the middle. Leave those edges alone for now.

You only need a very thin layer of Pros-Aide, too: this stuff is quite strong, and the more you put on, the longer it will take to dry. If you want an especially strong adhesion, you can also dab a thin layer onto the skin where your prosthetic will be. Let the adhesive dry a bit until it is tacky – Hint: if you’re using Pros-Aide, its color will turn from white to clear.


Prosthetic placement and adhesive under prosthetic edge

Press the appliance down onto the skin, starting in the middle and working your way out.

Now take your makeup brush or cotton swab with adhesive and get up under the edges carefully, rolling your brush/swab up and outward to keep edges from rolling under.


Prosthetic glued down

Make sure your edges are as flat against your skin as possible (You can see mine has a couple rough edges - that's my fault for hurrying this makeup. Do as I say, not as I do!)


Layer of adhesive over latex prosthetic

When dry, sponge another thin layer of adhesive over the whole appliance and a bit out past the edges to blend it out. This also makes color application easier: otherwise, the color may look different applied to skin vs. applied to latex, and that’s a good way to make your edges painfully known. If I’m using a makeup sponge for this part instead of a brush, I’ll tend to tear off tiny chunks so that when I dab it on it’s more mottled – this helps to blend it in just a bit (I’ll do this when applying color, too). You can see in the third picture how far past the edges of the appliance I went, though going that far may not be necessary, depending on the application.


Powdering prosthetic after adhesive

Once the adhesive is dry, powder it to get rid of the stickiness, and brush off all the excess powder so it doesn’t get mixed up in your makeup.


Base skin tone makeup color over prosthetic

Using the makeup spatulas or craft sticks, scoop out a tiny bit of each color of makeup you'll use onto your palette. This makes it easier to dab your sponges and brushes into, and again, keeps your original makeup contaminant-free.

Now you can start applying color. Since my plan was for a mostly-healed burn scar, my first step was to find a good base skin tone to build off of. If it was a fresh burn, I might have opted to start with a more red color instead. Here, I used another torn-up makeup sponge to slather it on, just to get that first layer down. If you’re using RMG like I am, remember to powder each layer of makeup to set it or all of your colors will start blending together and get muddy and gross-looking (and not in a good way!).

I used #072 from the Kryolan palette for my base coat. It’s a little too yellow for my skin, but I knew I’d be adding red onto it, so it wouldn’t matter much.


Adding red makeup to burn wound

After the base coat, I started adding reds and darker flesh tones for the burn. If you’re just starting out – or even if you’re relatively familiar with it - reference photos are great to go off for coloring the wound. My first layer of red-ish was #036 (sort of a tan rose/dusty rose) blotted loosely over the whole area with a small piece of torn-up sponge, followed by #075 (darker dusty rose, more red) loosely blotted closer to the middle and rubbed over the top of the burnt gear mark – powdering in between layers, of course. I also mixed a tiny bit of #046 (dark reddish brown) with #075 and blotted a little with a brush to add some depth.


Healing gear burn scar special effects makeup finished

After that, it was just a matter of matching skin tone and finalizing the blend.

I say ‘just’, but this is probably the most arduous process. For those new to it (and even sometimes for those not so new!), matching and blending skin tone may be mostly guess-work. I’m still fairly new to application, and yes, I still am learning how to match skin tones. I did several layers of different colors trying to get it just right – as you can see, in the end I opted to just let it look like the whole hand was burned instead of just where the gear was. This is partly due to the fact that the light I was using was more yellow than expected, so while I thought it was pretty well matched, my camera showed me otherwise! (Keep that in mind: the light you use has a big effect on your makeup!)

I’d list off the colors I used for the skin tone, but I actually don’t remember all of them; #072 and #4W were in there with a couple other skin tones, plus a smidgen of blue in the more veiny areas.

One last powdering to set it all, and you’re done! If you like, you can spray it with a makeup sealer to make it really last. And if you want a fresher burn, make it more red and top it off with glycerin (like what you would find in a tube of KY Jelly) for that sort of wet look.

*When finished, be sure to clean your palette and brushes with alcohol


Well, there you have it: our first blog topic and first quick tutorial. Let us know if you have any questions or suggestions, and if you’ve done your own latex application, add a picture in the comments below! We’d love to see what you all are doing!

Thanks for stopping to check us out, and happy FXing!

Chris Nelson

Practical FX Creator


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