Oct 042011

DIY zombie makeup

DIY Alternative to Latex

Before you start special effects makeup school, practice with Fauxtex!
This is my third year working to perfect a recipe for a homemade alternative to latex, and the results are better than ever!
After much tweaking, I found something that is easy to work with, very cheap, extremely non-toxic, fairly quick to set up, and made from ingredients you can get at a grocery store. No, it does not behave exactly like the more expensive synthetic latex, but it is a good “starter fx makeup” that you can use to practice before going to film school, for creating wound simulation, or to use for fun anytime.
Since tapioca flour has always intrigued me for its rubbery consistency when mixed with a hot liquid, I wanted to use it to give my product a suppleness that not even latex has. Unfortunately, tapioca alone has no “hold.” For structure, I added gelatin (which you will see as the basis for most homemade FX makeups). This combination had both hold and suppleness, but was too tacky, making it a bit tricky to handle with your hands. The addition of coconut oil (which cools to a solid state) gave what I now call FAUXTEX a little bit more manageability without affecting the structure of the FX makeup.
It takes about 5 minutes to make a batch of fauxtex, then about 15 minutes until you can begin to use it either directly on your skin or on a sheet of plastic for later use. After 30-40 minutes, fauxtex can be squeezed out of a decorating funel (or sandwich bag) to make shapes such as bumps on skin, scales, or brains. It can also be shaped further after it congeals by using a hot knife as a carving or smoothing tool. Fauxtex is very flexible and comfortable to “wear” and feels more like flesh than latex. Its flexibility allows you to shape it on a flat surface for later use on a 3-dimensional surface. And, again, it is safe to use for anyone who is allergic to latex.

How to Make and Use Fauxtex

Put cold water in a sauce pan and mix in the tapioca flour, gelatin and coconut oil. Stir until the tapioca flour is dissolved (you can add liquid foundation makeup to add the desired skin color if you want). Turn on the heat and stir continuously until the mixture thickens to a pudding consistency. Cook for an additional minute, turn off the heat and let cool. This video shows how to make and use fauxtex (you can switch between English and Portuguese narration).

I now make fauxtex with three different structures: one for soft skin; one for moldable, but still soft matter; and the third for somewhat rigid structures such as ears. Here are the three recipes:

Latex Substitute Recipe

Recipe for Soft Skin: 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 packet plain gelatin, 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil.
Recipe for Moldable Brains: 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup tapioca flour, 1 1/2 packets plain gelatin, 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil.
Recipe for Ears: 1 cup cold water, 1/4 cup tapioca flour (or corn starch), 2 packets plain gelatin, 1 tablespoon solid coconut oil.

The first thing you are probably going to ask is “can I use corn starch instead of tapioca flour for all the recipes?” and I will answer “yes, but you won’t get the same skin-like results.” A recipe with corn starch will set up rigid rather than soft. You may actually want this result sometimes–say, for exposed tendons and ligaments–but I think you will like the tapioca version of fauxtex for most FX makeup jobs.

How to Apply Fauxtex

fake breastFauxtex can be applied directly to the skin while it’s still warm, or you can spoon it onto a piece of plastic film, let it set at least 30 minutes, then apply it to your skin. If you are applying a congealed form to your skin, use a bit of left-over fauxtex as adhesive: warm it up for a few seconds in the microwave and rub it on your skin like glue, then apply the fauxtex form onto it. To make shapes, you can either build up the fauxtex a bit at a time, or let cool 20-30 minutes after cooking, put it in a cake decorating funnel and squirt onto a piece of plastic to set. You can also shape it after it’s set with a heated butter knife (for carving or smoothing the surface). One thing that makes fauxtex easier to use than latex is that you can form it onto a flat surface and, after it congeals, it will still conform to a 3D surface such as your face.
Variations: You can make a couple variations on the fauxtex recipes above for scars or fake breasts. Use the first recipe without the coconut oil for fake scars, and (depending on how perky you want your breasts) use any of the recipes above without the gelatin for false breasts (click on the image for instructions).

This research was fun, and I hope you have fun with Fauxtex and save a ton of money with this simple recipe.
PLease “like” and share with friends!

You May Also Like:

Video: Fautex Tips and Tricks (learn to make ears, noses, etc)

  192 Responses to “How to Make “Latex” for Special Effects Makeup”

  1. Hi Marta
    How long does it last before it loses it’s pliability/needs to be discarded? Can you use a piece more than once?

    • Good question. The answer depends partly on the nature of the “prosthetic.” I was able to reuse the brain piece several times over three days before it dried out too much. But anything thin or with really thin edges is going to be harder to re-use, as the edges will get destroyed when trying to remove it. When I came up with this recipe I had in mind a one-time use for a photo shoot. Getting it to last longer than that is icing on the cake.

  2. Thank you for putting your how to videos online. I have a question about making ear prosthetics. Can you substitute wax for the hot glue? If it is possible is there anything you need to add to the mold to help keep the shape? Just putting together a shopping list for a few batches of the Fautex and molds before we dive right in. I appreciate any advice you might have.

    Thanks again,

    • Good questions. I think wax would be a terrific substitute for hot glue. In fact, I think I’ll make the switch myself (I keep the outer skins of Baby Gouda for such things). I’m also thinking that nylon screen mesh might be just as good as wire mesh for the ear. All you need is a little bit of structure–nothing too rigid.
      I’d love to see the end results of your experiment!
      P.S. If you don’t find solid coconut oil, skip the oil altogether.

  3. Olá, desejo fazer o cérebro pra uma festa, mas tô com medo de soltar… Não tem condições de eu colocar morno, pq vou fazer de manhã pra colar a noite. Me ajuda? Como faço pra colar bem? A pessoa que vai usar é careca.
    Há, só achei óleo de coco líquido, serve?

    • Pode fazer o cérebro o dia antes e deixar firmar até a noite seguinte. Faz as “tripinhas” como eu mostro num papel de cêda ou plástico, e quando for hora de aplicar, é simplesmente levantar delicadamente e colocar na cabeça. Vai ser bem fácil coloquar numa cabeça já careca. Esfrega um pouquinho de fauxtex esquentado (morno, não quente) na cabeça para preparar a pele. Rsss. Se não encontrar óleo de côco sólido, deixa sem. Não pode usar o líquido. Boa sorte. Quero ver fotos, tá?

  4. Olá Marta, posso te confessar que estou chocado com a qualidade de seus trabalhos e posts e muito orgulhoso por você ser Brasileira.
    Estava pensando em fazer a maquiagem da Malévola, e gostaria de saber se vc acha que o fautex iria funcionar para criar as próteses faciais ?!
    Qual seria a melhor maneira de fazê-las ???
    Creio que pelo que pude ler devo seguir a receita para pela macia correto?
    E tenho uma pele que tende a ficar muito oleosa depois da maquiagem. Você me aconselharia aplicar a prótese sobre um micropore ou diretamente sobre a pele e depois aderi-lo com um pouco mais do produto ainda morno?
    Você acha que ele ficaria fixo a pele por um bom período de tempo?

    Agradeceria imensamente seus conselhos profissionais sobre isso.


    Marco Aurelio

    • Desculpa pela demora em responder, Marco. Já experimentei com maquiagem de Malévola e não gostei dos resultados. Vou ter que experimentar mais e escrever outro “Como Fazer” aqui, tá?

  5. I am an amputee & wear a devise that is covered in “new skin”. I’m not sure if its latex or not but it looks kinda like what a soft plastic doll is made of. It is really, really expensive to have cracks, wore spots, etc.,
    repaired & when you are on a strict budget it’s extremely hard to come up with the money for repairs, etc., unless you take out a loan… lol. Anyway, I was wondering if the fauxtex would stand up to jeans rubbing against it, pressure points, so on & so forth & it wouldn’t have to re-done all of the time. Will it dry & not be tacky once applied? Thanks in advance.

    • Thanks for asking, JB. Unfortunately, fauxtex is a cheap, disposable alternative to the good stuff. And it won’t stand up to the kind of abuse real skin would take. Wish I could come up with an inexpensive substitute that did. :(

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