Makeup artists use specially-designed makeup adhesives to stick down hair lace wigs, prosthetic pieces and false eyelashes. Knowing which glues to use for which situation is really important – wrong glue and not only could the items not stick too well, but you could ruin the item and, even worse, someone’s skin. Knowing what to use to remove a particular glue is also important. Here’s a look at some of our favourite adhesives and what removers to use.
WM Creations: Super Matte/Xtra Hold Spirit Gum
- Created by American makeup artist Matthew Mungle.
- Easy to use and last well.
- Matte finish.
Uses: Gluing hair lace items (wigs, facial) onto skin and prosthetics. Laying on hair. Body decorations.
Application: While other spirit gums need tacking, this brand is simply applied to the skin and the hair lace/item pressed down onto the skin.
Removal from skin: surgical spirits, spirit gum removers, abschminke, mineral oil. From hair lace: IPA, acetone.
Where to buy: International suppliers
Ben Nye / Kryolan: Spirit Gum
- Less expensive than spirit gum made by WM Creations. These brands are perfectly good to use and great for working on a tight budget.
- Spirit gum is also known as mastix, and remover can be called mastix remover.
Uses: Sticking hair lace items (facial, wigs) onto skin and prosthetic appliances (gelatine, silicon, foam). Laying on hair. Body decorations.
Application: These glues need to be tacked to increase their adhesion ability – tap a finger or brush on/off the glue until the stickiness increases. It is then ready for the hair lace to be pressed down. Once hair lace is stuck down, you really need to press it into the skin. Use a dobber, end of a comb or powder puff – be careful, remember there is someone under the glue!
Removal from skin: surgical spirits, abschminke, mineral oil, spirit gum removers. From hair lace: IPA, acetone.
Where to buy: Pro makeup and FX suppliers
Pros-Aide®: Original / The Sequel
- Pros-Aide® is a safe, professional water-based acrylic adhesive intended for use on skin.
- When dry, Pros-Aide® adhesive gives a long-lasting, non-irritating and waterproof bond to skin.
- Will eventually break down with sweat.
Uses: Adhering prosthetic appliances (gelatine, foam latex) to skin. Also used to “fill in gaps” with prosthetic pieces. Mix with acrylic paint (e.g. Liquitex) to create PAX paint for use on skin and foam latex. Body decorations. Do not use on hair lace items like wigs or facial!
Application: Basically, glue is applied to the underside of the prosthetic piece and onto clean, oil-free skin where the piece will sit. Allow to dry, then press piece onto skin – the more you press, the firmer it will stick.
Removal: Pros-Aide® Remover.
Where to buy: Pro makeup and FX suppliers.
Premiere Products: Telesis Silicone Adhesive
- Comes in numbers 4, 5, 6 and 7. This simply represents the release order onto the market, not how strong it is. It’s down to the individual makeup artist to decide which number they prefer.
- Telesis is a medical-grade silicone adhesive that is pressure sensitive (the glue sticks when pressure is applied) and non-flammable.
- Works well under strenuous conditions.
- Water- and sweat-resistant and performs well in high-humidity situations.
- Does not contain any known carcinogens, ethyl acetate or cytotoxins.
- Over time/use, the glue can thicken. Use the corresponding thinner with the adhesive (e.g. adhesive 5 use with thinner 5) to thin the glue.
Uses: Adhering prosthetics (silicone, foam latex) to skin.
Removal: Super Solv (Premiere Products), Bond Off! (Ben Nye), Agent X Adhesive Remover (FX Warehouse) or Isopropyl myristate.
Where to buy: Pro makeup and FX suppliers.
Ardell DUO: Eyelash Adhesive
- A waterproof makeup adhesive that is long-lasting.
- While used without problem by many people, it is a latex-based product – check if someone has a latex allergy before using it. If you’re not sure, do a patch test on the inside of the wrist/behind an ear.
- Comes in Dark Tone (dries dark to blend with brown or black lashes) and Clear (white on application, but dries clear).
Uses: False eyelashes. Body decorations.
Application: Apply a little directly along the edge of your false lashes, leave for 30 seconds, then apply to your eyelid. Press down carefully all the way along the lash line – a cuticle hoof stick can help here.
Removal: Eye makeup remover, oil will also break down the latex (e.g. olive, mineral).
Where to buy: Online | Beauty retailers/suppliers.
Tips for Application
Do a skin test. Most artists know what aggravates their skin, but you should ALWAYS do a skin test at least 24 hours prior to application. Use cotton buds to apply a dab a little of the adhesive and the remover to separate areas of skin, somewhere inconspicuous, like behind the ears or inner arm.
Apply a clean item onto clean skin. Skin needs to be clean, free from oil, makeup, dirt, sweat and so on. Hair lace needs to be clean and dry. Prosthetics appliances should be cleaned first of any residue, like powder, talc, release agents and anything else used during the making process.
Save your brushes! You don’t want to apply glues using your nice and possibly expensive makeup brushes – once glue has dried in a brush, it is ruined. Use old makeup brushes that are no longer any good for makeup application, or get inexpensive art brushes, like the multi-packs you get for children. You can also use sponges (good for large areas) and cotton buds. It’s a personal thing, so use what you can work best with.
On-set for individual artists: you can get brushes in art shop that have hollow plastic handles and bristles (usually nylon, and they can be cut to your required length). You fill the brush with whatever glue, and then simply squeeze the handle to get out the glue. Perfect for using on-set without having to open bottles of glue, and quick. Keep the bristles clean – use IPA to keep them from going hard.
Find Out More:
- Professionals must be aware of the material safety data sheet (MSDS) information for potentially hazardous products like glues: Pros-Aide | W.M.Creations spirit gums |