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5 Essential Steps Before Applying a Prosthetic

When you have a cool prosthetic to apply, it’s easy to rush into it because you can’t wait to see the final effect. But if you want your application to last, there are a few things you should do first to make sure you the process goes smoothly and you have a good, solid application that will last for your whole photo shoot or party.

Tom Applies a Prosthetic

1. Prep your work area

Make sure you have all of your tools and materials laid out and ready to use. There’s nothing worse than being half way through an application and having to stop to find more adhesive or mislaying the brush you need to complete your paint job. Dedicate a clean area of a table and lay out everything you will need for the whole process; pour adhesive, blender and makeup sealer into small cups so they are easy to use and make sure you have ample cotton swabs and makeup sponges to hand (more than you think you will need). If you don’t have a professional makeup kit, check out our post on essential items you can buy in any supermarket.

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

2. Pre paint as much as you can

It’s far easier to paint colour into wounds before you apply a prosthetic – especially if you’re applying it to yourself. Use a fine brush and take as much time as possible to add details, highlight edges and create shadows; it will look amazing once it’s applied! Even non-wound prosthetics (zombie brows for example) can be pre painted if you like. Add a base tone, veins and spots and then once it’s applied you only have the task of blending your skin to match the prosthetic which can sometimes be a far easier job. If you are applying zombie prosthetics, watch the video below for a complete painting guide.

3. Clean your prosthetic

You should never assume your prosthetic is 100% clean and ready to apply. If you have cast your own prosthetic, you may have used mould release which will stop adhesive from sticking to it; if you’ve purchased a prosthetic (for example, from Nimba Creations!) It will have been handled during the packing process and you will also have handled it when you removed it from the packaging. Trace amounts of sweat and natural oils from your skin will be transferred onto your appliance, so you need to clean the back of it thoroughly right before putting on adhesive. Use 99% alcohol (or IPA) on a sponge, and allow it to dry out completely. You can buy IPA at most pharmacies and at various places online including Amazon UK and Amazon US.

4. Clean your skin

It’s equally important to clean your skin before you apply your prosthetic. For a long lasting bond you want the adhesive applied to grease-free skin, so use some 99% alcohol on a sponge to wipe the area you are going to apply to. Don’t use too much (although it is safe for the skin) and do not smoke or have the alcohol anywhere near naked flame is it’s highly flammable.

5. Decide on placement of your prosthetic

Before you add adhesive, offer up your prosthetic and get a clear idea of where you are going to apply it. Placement is often vital so you want to think about this carefully before you commit to sticking it down. Once you have the prosthetic in the ideal area, tap around the edge with a little talc on a sponge; this will leave a ‘ghosted’ area on the skin so you know exactly where to apply adhesive and a good visual clue as to wear the prosthetic needs to be when it’s finally time to stick it down.

Gelatine Prosthetics

This little bit of extra thought will pay dividends when you start the makeup process.

If you are applying a prosthetic to yourself, watch our 3 minute video guide below to see some basic tips and techniques.

Got a makeup FX question or comment?

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