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!

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Easy Body Paints

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

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

  1. Can you make masks out of this?!?!?!

    • This won’t work for reusable masks. It’s only a one-time gummy substance that can be used to make a mask directly on your face for a day of fun. Hope you enjoy using it!

  2. Hi, I’m participating in a cross-dressing pageant in a few weeks to help raise money for muscular dystrophy. I really want to go all out for this and make my self a pair of fake breasts (I am a sculptor) but I don’t want to spend the $70+ on the latex to make them. So I was wondering how long it took for the recipe with the latex paint in it to dry and how long they lasted. I only need them to last about 2-3 weeks while I do this. Also how fragile is the final recipe? Does it crack after a few days? How do they feel?

    • Richard, in response to your question, I waited hours for the tapioca-with-latex recipe to dry and it wouldn’t dry, so I gave up on that recipe. I suggest trying out the fake breasts tutorial on this site for the best solution. I’m pretty sure these will last a couple weeks, and assuming you’re going to wear clothes with them, they would be even more realistic than latex breasts because they’re soft like real boobies. Besides, the ingredients are so cheap and easy to work with, you can make a new pair every day IF you want. Have fun and raise a lot of money!

  3. 1. Once the “Almost latex” has cooled, how long do you have to work with it before it sets?
    I plan to have about 20 kids 1st thru 4th grade make alien hands by taping two fingers together on household rubber gloves and then covering the tape with the”almost latex” so the finger is still pliable.
    2. Do you think the “almost latex” will work for this type of application?

    • Sueallen, that sounds like a fun project with your kids! The thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t really set. It’s just a workable gum that can be used for this type of FX makeup for a day or so (for playtime/movie-making). I’ll try your idea tomorrow and make a little video so you and your kids can see how to do it and will put a link to Youtube once it’s done. Stay tuned!

  4. Ei, para fazer uma máscara de velho, realística, tipo essas: http://www.siliconemasks.com/images/view/the-elder-mask-large1.jpg

    essa massa é adequada?

    • Experimente! Sei que a massa sai bem macia. Não vai parecer resecada como a cara desse homem, mas vai parecer enrugada sim.

  5. so I looked this up to see if it could cover up scars, I had back surgery a couple years back(the scar is rather deep and make-up never covers it with out leaving the indention) and for a big dance I wanted to cover the scar sense my dress was strapless, anyway when I put this mix on would it leave lines of where the latex stopped? or if easyier would this be ale to be poured and made into thin shets and then placed over? also does it move when you move or would it break and chip off?
    if anything I thought there was nothing I could lose trying and seeing if it worked for the purpose I wanted.

    • Samantha, thanks for stopping by. First of all, good for you for going strapless after back surgery! As for using this “almost latex” recipe for covering a scar, I’m afraid I would advise against it. From playing with it, I don’t think it would hold up under the rubbing of a dress strap. For your purposes I think real latex will do a good job. Even though it’s expensive, you’d only have to use a little each time, so it would last many dances! Here’s a link to a sample size on Amazon: 117 (4.5 Oz, Soft Beige) Mehron Liquid Latex
      I hope your night is one you will want to remember forever!