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10 Essential Makeup Kit Items You Can Buy in a Supermarket

A makeup kit is essential for any artist who is going to be applying lots of prosthetics with a professional finish. Our Complete Makeup Kit includes everything you need to apply prosthetics and includes over 30 appliances plus an instructional DVD making it an economical purchase, and there are off-the-shelf items that you can buy in your local supermarket to build up your stock of consumables and build out your own personalised kit.

Makeup Kit
If you’re going to apply a lot of prosthetics, you need a well stocked kit

1. Tweezers

There are a lot of different styles of tweezers available, and you’ll find many types in the cosmetics department of the supermarket. Standard tweezers are great for lifting the edges of prosthetics to allow you to get glue underneath, and blunt ended tweezers are great for working around the eyes where to don’t want to wield sharp objects. Angled tweezers are great for getting into difficult areas, for example around the nose. As you do more applications you will get a feel for the type you need to add based on the way you work.

Angled tweezers are ideal for lifting prosthetic edges in difficult areas
Angled tweezers are ideal for lifting prosthetic edges in difficult areas

2. Tissues / kitchen roll

There’s no avoiding it, applying prosthetics is a messy process. With adhesives, paints and glues being used during the makeup session, you are going to need to clean your hands often and sometimes you may need to protect your models clothes during the application. Have both tissues and kitchen roll close to hand, because you don’t want to have to stop in the middle of a paint job and go hunting for something to wipe down your hands while the makeup is setting. Also have some adhesive remover nearby as you will get glue on your fingers at some point and it will need to be cleaned away so it doesn’t interfere with your work.

3. Cotton swabs

You are going to go through a lot of cotton swabs. They can be used to apply adhesive to both your prosthetic and the skin and they are disposable, unlike a brush. They can also be used to blend the edges of gelatine prosthetics, apply blood to wounds and generally do anything that you don’t want to use your fingers for because it would be too messy or don’t want to use a brush for because it would render it useless after the first application. Standard swabs are available in any supermarket and you can also find larger single ended swabs online that can be handy to have in your kit.

Cotton Swabs
Think of cotton swabs as disposable makeup brushes

4. Sponges

There are an awful lot of makeup sponges out there, some are cheap and some are strangely expensive. Some makeup artists will say they can’t do without their ‘special’ makeup sponge, but generally speaking any sponge or foam you can buy in the supermarket will do the job just fine. The cheapest option is to buy basic washing up sponges, pull away the green scouring portion and cut the sponge section into triangles with scissors. You can use sponge to apply adhesive, paint and blood, so make sure you cut up more than you think you’ll need before you start so you can throw away used pieces as soon as they become to sticky or clogged and regularly reach for a fresh piece.

Makeup Sponge
A few minutes with scissors and you will have a good supply of disposable makeup sponges

5. Breath mints

This may seem like a strange one, but if you’re planning on applying prosthetics to someones face, you’ll soon realise why it’s courteous to use a mint before you start (or at least your model will). You are going to be spending hours very close to someone elses face, and they don’t need to smell what you had for lunch while you do it. Stick a tube of mints in your kit and be kind to your model.

6. Disposable cups

The easiest way to handle adhesive, blender, remover and alcohol during an application is to pour each liquid into a cup before you start. You will find lots of different sizes in the supermarket from pint cups to shot glasses, and usually the smaller the size the better; you won’t be going through gallons of liquid and you need to be able to dip your sponge or cotton swab into the cup easily. White plastic 200ml cups are the standard and therefore the most economical, and they can be cut down easily with scissors to create smaller ‘dishes’ which are easier to use and less likely to get knocked over. Write on the cups with a marker pen so you don’t get your materials mixed up – mistaking adhesive for makeup sealer isn’t an error you want to make!

7. Talcum Powder

Talc can be a very useful product to have around during an application. It can be used to help map out where your prosthetics will go so you know where to put adhesive on the skin (see the video below), and it can also be used to help set cream makeup and knock down shine. There are more expensive powders available, but regular old talcum powder is a must-have for your kit and will come in handy again and again. Buy a good quality powder as cheaper products can be gritty, and make sure you and your model aren’t breathing it in excessively.

8. Hair clips / combs

Unless your model has very short hair, it’s easy for it to get in the way while applying a prosthetic. Combing it back and clipping it out of the way will avoid getting their hair caught up in the application – no one wants prosthetic adhesive in their hair! You may also want to apply gels, wax or hair colouring sprays after your application is complete so you’ll need a comb handy to draw it through the hair evenly. After use, make sure you clean your comb and use a mild disinfectant to make sure it’s ready for the next use.

9. Hair gel

If your model has unruly hair, just combing it back and clipping it may not be enough. Apply some hair gel, comb it back and give it a few minutes to set before you start applying your prosthetics – just make sure you don’t get any on the skin where your prosthetics are going to be placed as it will stop your adhesive from working. Gel is also a quick and easy way to get a dank, bedraggled look, especially good for zombie makeups.

Another fantastic use for hair gel is to add it to cuts and wound prosthetics to add moisture or ‘goop’. If you are applying a prosthetic that looks diseased or rotten, adding a little yellow hair gel can give a truly disgusting look!

10. Disposable razors

One of the biggest problems in getting prosthetics to stick cleanly to the skin is hair, and the worst offender is mens stubble. It’s short and spikey and will hold the prosthetic off the skin no matter how much adhesive you use. So many times we have had men come to our workshop and even though they know they are going to have prosthetics applied, there is still a hint of stubble that is going to make the process impossible. We keep a stock of disposable razors and shaving cream so we can send them off to the bathroom to get cleaned up before we start, and if you want to get good applications you should keep a stock too. Just make sure they don’t nick themselves, or cleaning the skin with alcohol is going to be a very unpleasant…


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