CHARACTER MAKE-UP MATERIALS
Many special materials that a make-up artist must have
to do various character make-ups see little or no use
for straight or ordinary corrective make-ups. These are
listed here in alphabetical order rather than in impor-
tance, and their use is briefly explained. More infor-
mation as to specific uses will be found in the chapters
on character make-up. It is not necessary to carry all
these items in the kit all the time, but in most cases,
a bit of each that the artist may find important should
be part of the everyday make-up kit.
We reiterate the statement that these are not or-
dinary materials and that some performers may have
allergies to some of the products or solvents. If this
occurs, discontinue their use on that particular
ACETONE A highly volatile liquid that is one of
the main solvents of adhesives, sealers, and pros-
thetic plastics. Also used for cleaning the lace
portion of hair goods after use.
ADHESIVE TAPE Some new varieties of this old
material are translucent and porous and have ex-
cellent adhesion. The 1-inch width is best.
ADHESIVES This describes a very wide category of
make-up materials and changes often as new items
are researched and discovered. The original ad-
hesive material for make-up was called spirit gum,
which was nothing more than a solution of rosin
in alcohol or other solvents (still made by many
theatrical supply companies). Although it had
fairly good adhesion, after a short while the dried
gum took on an unwanted shine and, in the pres-
ence of excess perspiration, lost much of its ad-
hesiveness and cracked off the skin. Today,
although rosin is still one of the ingredients of
most hair goods adhesives of that type, other
materials have been added and combined in the
manufacture to make an adhesive that not only
has better stick but also does not have unwanted
shine and, in some cases, stands up to the ravages
To disguise the lace portion of a hairpiece or
beard, a firm bond must be made to the skin,
and in most cases, old spirit gum darkened when
any foundation make-up was placed on the lace
or even close to it. A strong line of demarcation
often occurred, necessitating removing the piece,
cleaning it thoroughly, and re-adhering it. When
the foundation to be applied was to be deeper
than the color of the subject’s skin, this presented
a constant problem of maintenance. However,
some of the new plastic adhesives have solved this
problem (See “PMA Matte Lace Adhesive”).
One way to take some of the shine out of spirit
gum is to add some clay material (such as Kaolin
or Attapulgus Clay) into it and stir thoroughly
until the powder is well suspended in the gum.
Although this will provide a gum with little shine,
under some conditions it will whiten (or gray,
depending on the shade of the clay) and therefore
show—particularly on lace hair goods.
Matte, or nonshining spirit gum, was origi-
nally made by adding a very fine silica material
to it and mechanically mixing the powder in.
This produced a thicker gum and provided less
shine but was not as flat as clay in matting.
RCMA researched all these gums and matting
materials and provides a series of matte adhesives
for various uses and conditions.
RCMA MATTE ADHESIVE This material was intro-
duced in 1965 and is made by combining mi-
crosilica materials of various micron sizes with
the resin mix under high shear. In this way, the
smaller-sized silica particles hold the larger ones
(the latter provide better matting) in solution and, at the same time, adds considerably more
adhesion to the final mix due to the molecular
structure of the finished material. RCMA Matte
Adhesive can be employed both as an adhesive
for hair goods or lace to the skin as well as a skin
sealer with residual tack.
rcma MATTE adhesive #16 A superstick adhesive for
hair goods that contains additional solids plus a
plastic material to aid adhesion even when a sub-
ject perspires more than usual.
rcma matte plasticized adhesive An adhesive de-
signed for use with latex appliances that provides
more all-ways stretch capability and the tackiness
required for holding slush cast or foamed appli-
ances to the skin.
rcma special adhesive #1 Specifically designed to
adhere any lace goods or hair to plastic bald caps.
Normally, the bald plastic cap or front is attached
to the subject with RCMA Matte Plasticized Ad-
hesive or one of RCMA’s Prosthetic Adhesives
and then the hair goods are attached. Special
Adhesive # 1 is a very fast-drying heavily matted
adhesive/sealer that will form a film that incor-
porates itself into the plastic bald cap while ad-
hering the hair or lace to it. The product must
be thoroughly shaken before use and applied over
the lace as the hairpiece is held in place. Foun-
dation make-up may be applied directly over
RCMA Special Adhesive #1 without darkening
the surface of the lace (also see pages 213—215).
rcma special adhesive #2 A neoprene-based ad-
hesive for attaching velcro or other items to ap-
RCMA PROSTHETIC ADHESIVES These are adhesives
from the medical profession that have found var-
ious uses by make-up artists.
Prosthetic Adhesive A This is a solvent-based,
clear, quick-setting contact adhesive that has
a very low irritation factor to the skin. It is
less affected by perspiration and water than
other adhesives, so it can be used for scenes in
the rain or water. Diluted with Prosthetic Ad-
hesive A Thinner, it can be sprayed on body
surfaces to attach large appliances or hair goods
(also see pages 256 and 257).
Prosthetic Adhesive B This is a water-based, milky
white (but dries clear) acrylic emulsion adhe-
sive that sets less rapidly than Prosthetic Ad-
hesive A and also has a low irritant factor
because it does not contain any strong solvents.
Although the dried film is insoluble in water,
the liquid can be diluted with a few drops of
a mixture of isopropyl alcohol and water.
A word of caution: Take great care in testing
or using some of the new superadhesives made
for industrial use as they are extremely difficult to remove from the human skin without serious
Ben Nye, Stein’s, and some of the other the-
atrical make-up manufacturers produce various
adhesives of the spirit gum style but do not fur-
nish any matte type of sealers or adhesives. They
also have stage bloods, nose and scar waxes, and
so on for character stage work. Also see Appendix
A for full listing of these and other items of a
Adhesive Remover RCMA makes a cleanser that will
dissolve and remove from the skin any type of
plastic sealer, adhesive, scar material, or such
made for make-up use, leaving the skin soft and
lubricated. It is not for use in cleaning adhesives
from lace goods or in cleansing the face before
applying hair goods as it contains a moisturizing
agent that prevents proper adhesion. A new variety
of remover in a cream form, called ADKLEN, is
made by RCMA for cleansing adhesives from the
skin. If it is applied to the edge of appliances and
worked under them with a brush, it will loosen
and then cleanse the adhesive from the skin in a
very gentle manner.
Alcohol Ordinary drug store rubbing alcohol is only
a 70 percent type and is not a suitable solvent
for make-up use. A 99 percent isopropyl alcohol
should be stocked because many adhesives and
sealers have a mixture of 60 percent acetone and
40 percent isopropyl alcohol as solvents. Alcohol
is also a good sterilizing agent to clean tools and
Artificial Bloods The search for realistic-appearing
human blood has led to many products from cas-
ein paints to food-colored syrups. RCMA makes
the following types:
COLOR PROCESS TYPE A A water-washable material
that is very realistic in appearance and flow. It
is nontoxic and does not cake and dry but appears
fresh looking for some time.
COLOR PROCESS TYPE B A resin plastic formulation
designed for use where a blood effect must remain
in place and not run during a long scene. It is
solvent based and sets quickly, remaining shiny
and fresh flowing in appearance. It is removed
with RCMA Adhesive Remover.
COLOR PROCESS TYPE c A soft creme variety serviced
in a tube to make bloody areas for an effect where
the blood does not have to run.
COLOR PROCESS TYPE D A rapid-drying liquid sus-
pension of a brownish tone employed to simulate
dried blood on bandages. Not for any fresh blood
effect or skin use.
Artificial Tears and Perspiration A clear liquid that
can be used to simulate tears when placed in the corner of the eye. It can also be stippled or sprayed
on the skin to simulate perspiration.
Beard-setting Spray A solvent-based artificial latex
material that is used to set pre-made laid hair
beards on forms. Not for facial use as a spray (also
see pages 198-200, 252-253).
Gelatin Capsules These capsules are obtainable in
various sizes from most drug stores. They can be
filled with RCMA Color Process Type A Blood
and then crushed with the fingers or in the mouth
for blood flow effects. Don’t prefill these for fu-
ture use because the artificial bloods will soften
them too much.
Hair Whiteners RCMA makes four shades of cream-
style hair whiteners: HW-1, Grayed White; HW-
2, Pinked White; HW-3, Ochre White; and
HW-4, Yellow White. In addition, there is a
Superwhite that can be used for highlighting.
These are for small areas of whitening only, and
full head graying or whitening should be done
with sprays of liquid for this use. Nestle-LaMaur
Company makes the following shades of liquid
sprays in cans: White, Beige, Silver, and Gray.
It also makes other hair colors such as Brown,
Black, Blonde, Auburn, Light Brown, and Gold
as well as Pink and Green for special effects. Very
realistic hair changes can be done with these sprays
(see page 258).
Latex There are many grades of latices for specific
PURE GUM LATEX An unfillered pure gum rubber
that air dries to a tough elastic coating. It is not
suitable for casting but is excellent for making
inflatable bladders (see pages 187 and 191).
CASTING LATEX A latex compound employed for
slush or paint-in appliance making. Can be tinted
to any shade with colors (see page 187). Casting
Filler can be added to this product to control
buildup density and stiffness of the finished item.
FOAM LATEX A three- or four-part combination of
materials used to produce foamed latex appli-
ances, the actual latex portion being a heavy gum
EYELASH ADHESIVE A special latex form that has
excellent adhesive qualities for attaching strip and
individual lashes as well as for an edge stipple for
latex appliances (see pages 65 and 66).
RCMA OLD AGE STIPPLE A compound containing la-
tex made specifically for wrinkling the skin. Not
just any latex material will act in the same man-
ner. RCMA Old Age Stipple is made in four
regular shades: KW-2, KW-4, KM-2, and KN-
5, and special colors are available on order (see Artist) materials are made by RCMA for profes-
sional use and encompass some interesting new
special materials. PMA Molding Material is a
paint-in type of plastic for making small or flat
appliances. It dries rapidly and builds up well.
It is supplied in three shades: Light (KW), Deep
(KM), and Dark (KN) colors, as well as clear (also
see pages 204-205).
Plastic Cap Material The lightly tinted variety is
used for making plastic bald caps and fronts. It
is also available in Clear for coating plastalene
sculpture (see pages 173, 203—204).
PMA Press Molding Material A clear, heavy liquid
employed to make press molded appliances (see
pages 205-207). Also comes in shades.
Appliance Foundations RCMA makes a series of
prosthetic bases or AF foundations for use with
latex appliances in three dilutions of the basic
earth colors, plus a Caucasoid skin series and two
color stages of bright colors (see page 272).
Scar Material A slightly matte scar-making material
with a tinge of pink color that dries on application
to form very realistic incised scars. Can be re-
moved with RCMA Adhesive Remover (see pages
235-236) or ADKLEN.
Scar- or Blister-Making Material A molding plastic
type that can be formed into scar tissue or dropped
on the skin to simulate second degree burns or
other blister effects (see pages 234—236). Serviced
in a tube for easy application.
Sealers One of the first sealers used by make-up art-
ists was flexible collodion that was gun-cotton
dissolved in ether with castor oil as a plasticizer.
Employing build-ups on the face with successive
layers of spirit gum, cotton batting, and a cover
of collodion was the method employed by Jack
Pierce to do the first Frankenstein Monster on
Boris Karloff. This was a laborious method and
did not guarantee a fully controllable surface or
buildup. Most theatrical make-up books em-
ployed this procedure for many years, and un-
fortunately, some actors still thought it was the
only way to change features (see story on Lon
Chaney’s Frankenstein Monster on pages 142—
143). The resultant film over the cotton did not
have much flexibility and hardened as the day
went on. The surface could also be easily marred
Next came the vinyl plastics, one of which was
called Sealskin, a medical sealer made from a poly-
vinyl butyral that was too slow in drying. A
similar type, but faster drying, was George Bau’s
Sealer #225. Unfortunately, both these sealers
(and many of this type on the market) dry with
a glossy, objectionably shiny surface, and foun-
dation make-up slides off it easily.
The RCMA sealers combined various varieties
of polyvinyls and added matting materials to pro-
duce sealers that had not only good adhesion and
no shine but also sufficient tooth to hold make-
up foundations better.
RCMA MATTE PLASTIC SEALER Can be employed both
as a surface sealer for wax buildups or as an ad-
hesive for lifts (see pages 110 and 232). It can
also be used in conjunction with other materials
to cover eyebrows and seal latex pieces and wher-
ever a film former is required.
PMA MATTE LACE ADHESIVE A sealer/adhesive that is
very fast drying and suitable for use with hair-
pieces, blocking brows, and so forth (see page
Toupee Tape A number of varieties are available but
a product called Secure is a colorless, two-sided,
very sticky tape that is excellent for holding down
toupee tops (see page 255).
DENTAL WAXES (See page 234.)
Black Carding Wax Useful for blocking out teeth
for a toothless effect,
Red For simulating gum tissue,
Ivory A hard wax that can be used to form tem-
MOLDING WAXES Although some grades of morti-
cian’s wax may see some make-up use, old nose
putty is seldom used today. A new type of micro-
synthetic-wax material is made by RCMA and
comes in various shades and is less affected by
body warmth than the mortician variety (see page
RCMA PMA PLASTIC WAX MATERIAL
Light Pale shade White
Women KW-3 color
Men KT-3 color
Negro KN-5 color
No-Color A clear wax that can be tinted with
RCMA Color Process founda-
Violet Matches RCMA Color Process Violet
and is used to make raised bruises.