Beginners Guide to Using Prosthetic Makeup

prosthetic makeup

Prosthetic makeup, also knowns as SFX makeup, transforms the appearance of an individual by adding new features to their body. From horns to zombie teeth, prosthetic makeup is usually made of latex, silicone or a soft plastic material. Applying prosthetics is an artform and challenges even the most professional FX makeup artists. However, with practice, it is possible to apply realistic prosthetic makeup at home. Today we’re going to give you an introduction to the use of prosthetics, plus how to attach and remove them safely.


What is Prosthetic Makeup?

If you think of SFX makeup as a second skin, you’d be right! It’s adding layers of prosthetics onto your skin to transform your appearance. One of the oldest and most well-known uses is during the 1920’s for the Phantom of the Opera and The Wolfman performances. Actor Lon Chaney used prosthetics when playing these characters and he was so successful, that some even consider him to be the forefather of the FX industry.

Nowadays, prosthetics are used frequently in films, theatre, TV and when wearing costumes for Halloween or a costume party. Commonly made with latex, silicon, foam and even gelatine, prosthetics can be custom or ready made for application. If you are wanting a custom fit prosthetic though, a life cast is essential (and yes, we do those too!).

How to Apply Prosthetic SFX Makeup

YouTube is one of the best places to learn how to apply FX makeup. Our YouTube channel has plenty of step by step tutorials, plus SFX makeup ideas for you to try yourself.

It’s important to have all the makeup tools and accessories ready before you start, as this makes your job so much easier. Once you’re ready to begin, here’s what to do:

  1. Clean your skin around the area you want to apply the piece.
  2. Use Spirit Gum or Pro-tac Prosthetic Adhesive to attach the prosthetic to your skin. Brush it onto the piece which will attach to your skin with a thin even coat.
  3. Do the same on the skin area required and allow both sides to get tacky, colour will turn  clear.
  4. Press onto your skin. You can roll a brush handle along the edge when doing this for a smooth edge.

Remember to apply makeup right up to the piece to ensure it looks as seamless as possible. Shaving before applying spirit gum is also recommended.


How to Remove SFX Makeup

Removing your prosthetic piece is easy. Using a specially designed makeup remover such as isopropyl myristate, rubbing alcohol, or even shaving roam will assist in a smoother removal process. Rubbing oil or warm water and soap can help to remove left over residue and makeup from your face. Don’t forget to clean your pieces to be able to reuse them in the future.

Take a look through our online SFX makeup shop to order your prosthetic makeup today.