How to Use Liquid Latex

Nychole Price
Nychole Price
Glitter can be added to liquid latex for movie or stage makeup.
Glitter can be added to liquid latex for movie or stage makeup.

Liquid latex, also known as body paint, is a type of special effects makeup that is used to simulate skin. The ingredients of liquid latex include natural latex, water, ammonia, dimethyl thiuram disulfide and zinc oxide. It is applied like paint and provides a seamless appearance. This product is used in movie production, by sports fans and for Halloween costumes.

For people allergic to liquid latex white glue can be an appropriate substitute.
For people allergic to liquid latex white glue can be an appropriate substitute.

Rubber paint is the preferred form of body paint, as it doesn't contain any petroleum products. This means that it won't clog pores and the skin is allowed to perspire as normal. Unfortunately, many people are also allergic to latex, and will experience a severe reaction to the product. You can achieve a similar look using white glue, without the allergic reaction.

Sports fans often used body paint to show their enthusiasm for their team.
Sports fans often used body paint to show their enthusiasm for their team.

Body paint works by remaining in its liquid state until it is applied. It is applied by paintbrush or sponge and cures at body temperature. When it dries, in about five to ten minutes, it shrinks about three percent, causing it to fit like a second layer of skin. The drying process can be sped up with the use of hair dryer.

When applying liquid latex, it is recommended to remove the hair by shaving or using a product such as Nair®. It will make clean up much easier and is less painful. This should be done no sooner than 24 hours before application, as your skin is more prone to irritation after hair removal.

Apply the body paint to a very small area to test for an allergic reaction to the product. If no reaction is observed after several hours, apply the liquid latex to the desired area. Allow it to cure for fifteen minutes between each additional layer. It takes three to four layers to achieve the full effect of fake skin. Generally, it takes one quart (0.95 liters) to cover a full body, head to toe.

Removal of liquid latex is very easy. The natural body oils and perspiration lift the latex up and away from the skin several hours after the initial application. When it comes time to remove the latex, it is peeled away and the skin is washed in the usual manner.

There are many special effects that can be achieved with the application of liquid latex. They include cuts, wrinkles, thick wounds, and burns. Glitter effects can also be added to the rubber paint. You can find many ideas on how to apply rubber body paint online or at your local book store.

How To Use Liquid Latex

Liquid latex is relatively easy to use, even for beginners. The very first thing you should do is an allergy test, as you can't know if you're allergic to this substance until you either come into contact with it or get a blood test. If you do have a latex allergy, you may experience the following symptoms:

  • Hives
  • Rash
  • Cough
  • Wheezing
  • Itchy and watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Sneezing
  • Difficulty breathing
  • Scratchy throat
  • Itchy skin
  • Redness

In the worst-case scenario, you may experience a potentially deadly condition called anaphylaxis. However, if you only apply a small amount as a test, you can identify an allergic reaction early and seek medical attention.

Apply Petroleum Jelly

If you don't want to shave but still want to apply the latex directly to your skin, then you'll need a barrier. Should you skip this step, you'll end up pulling out your hair when removing the dried latex.

One substance you can use as a barrier is petroleum jelly. Simply apply a thin layer everywhere you plan to use the liquid latex. If you want to skip petroleum products, you can use lotion or vegetable oil instead.

Shake Bottle

You should always shake the container before applying liquid latex. Shaking is an easy way to mix the contents, ensuring even consistency throughout.

Apply to Sponge or Brush

Always use a sponge or brush to apply liquid latex, as this creates the smoothest results. Once you've applied the base layers, you can start adding texture as desired.

Wash Application Tools

Make sure you wash your tools right away, as latex dries fast. If it dries on your tools, it can gum them up and leave them unusable. To wash away liquid latex, use soap and water.

What Is Liquid Latex Used For?

One of the reasons liquid latex is so popular is its versatility. Many people apply it to their bodies, but it's also valuable for art, crafting and even minor home repair. For example, you can apply liquid latex to the bottom of rugs to create a non-skid surface.

Special Effects Makeup

Do you want to make realistic-looking scars and wounds? Then liquid latex is the secret ingredient. Since it has a skin-like texture and is extremely thin, you can easily use this substance to create the illusion of gashes and raised scarring. Professional SFX artists and Halloween enthusiasts alike apply liquid latex to create the perfect texture, then use makeup to blend the dried results into their skin.

Nail Polish Application

Nail polish influencers working with traditional formulas often use liquid latex as a barrier to protect their skin. For example, people using stamps or sponges may apply latex around their cuticles. Since nail polish remover contains acetone, an extremely drying ingredient, most nail artists avoid using it on their skin too often. Liquid latex allows them to apply nail polish, remove the barrier and any stray polish and eliminate the need for nail polish remover.

Mold Making

Liquid latex is invaluable when creating your own molds. Since it's flexible, it's easy to pop the finished projects out. It's also relatively easy to make the mold:

  1. Create or locate the object you want to replicate.
  2. Apply a thin layer of liquid latex to one-half of the object.
  3. Keep applying layers until the mold is strong enough. Make sure you let each layer dry before moving to the next.
  4. Remove the mold from the object.
  5. Repeat with the other side.

Does Liquid Latex Expire?

Yes, liquid latex can technically expire. When you purchase it, you'll notice an expiration date on the container. However, it doesn't rot the way dairy products do. Instead, it becomes thicker and more difficult to use.

Shelf Life

One thing to keep in mind is that once liquid latex comes into contact with air, it's going to dry. That means you need to put the cap back on the container whenever you're not using this substance, as the longer it sits, the thicker it'll get. That said, an airtight container can last a long time -- up to a year, as long as you store it in a dry place at room temperature. After a year, it'll start to thicken.

Diluting Liquid Latex

Is your liquid latex thick, stringy or lumpy? You shouldn't throw it out just yet, as you can dilute it.

The first step is to get filtered water. It absolutely must be filtered, as regular tap water may contain minerals that can interact with the latex. Next, add the filtered water to the container a little at a time. Shake the container to mix the solution, then test the thickness. Keep adding water until the solution reaches the desired consistency.

Discussion Comments

anon338717

Nice art. I know that Liquid Latex body paint is printable, and you have to pour the foam stuff into a mold (at least I think that's correct). I want to make and sell costume facial prosthetics, as well as keep a few for my own use. People are saying that foam latex looks more natural when blended in, but then again, I don't know for sure!

DavidF

I would like to find out if liquid latex can be used in layers to form high cheek bones in order to use it for my Elvis Presley shows.

anon228891

Oh right, I do love liquid latex. I did use wax from Ben Nye. It's called Nose and Scar Wax. This one is more convenient, but I hate how it sticks and it is hard to wash my hands after I get it done. Plus it almost got out of shape during my night for halloween.

If you are up for a small scar or apply fake grasses on it, it works well, fast and easy. I think the price is OK for me. Only if you use a lot of it, it would surely be expensive. I just hate how it really, really sticks and is hard to get off your hands.

I use liquid latex as well, but I'm one of those people who is allergic to it. My feet have been itching ever since Halloween and it's the middle of November, now. It has been more than a week. I am wondering if there's any possible way to avoid it, because I love liquid latex, it's not very expensive for me and good for making any kind of scratches, scars or wounds. It's the best special effects make-up product I have used so far.

As for white glue, I never use it, but I used fake eyelashes glue. It doesn't work as well as latex, plus it dries slowly and I can't use a huge amount of it or there will be a lot of waste. I wish there was a zombie walk here. God I love zombies!

aishia

@ahain - No special mixing required, you really do just paint the white glue onto your skin and let it dry. For a more textured effect, try painting it on in layers, letting the previous layer dry before you add a new one.

I've experimented a lot with white glue effects instead of latex foam, not because I'm allergic but because liquid latex just costs too much for my meager hobbyist budget of pretty much nothing.

White glue is dirt cheap, and you can find it almost anywhere, so it works much better for spontaneous projects like, say, filming a ten-minute random zombie flick in the backyard for YouTube. (Yeah, that's what my hobby is -- shush.)

You will have trouble with the white glue peeling more than liquid latex, but it's a pretty good substitute if you can't use latex.

A neat technique I made up for white glue layering is to put on a layer, let it mostly dry, then pinch it up in places to add some texture before painting over it with more glue. it makes a neat uneven effect that works great for scars and burns.

It's also pretty cool to take advantage of the peeling aspect of the glue and let a layer dry, then rip it up and peel the edges over, then paint over it again. Finish with a coat of regular makeup you may or may not have nabbed from your girlfriend's purse when she wasn't looking, and you've got some pretty killer fake injuries.

malmal

@Hawthorne - Ha, thanks. Zombie walking is fun, you should try it sometime!

No, I haven't ever done any latex mold making. I mostly use liquid latex for making nasty looking surface wounds and believable bits of skin hanging off.

Liquid latex alone is pretty good for coating the skin, but to get a particularly gnarly wound effect, I use toilet tissue along with it.

To make a nasty injury, take a few sheets of dry toilet tissue and place it over a bare section of skin, then paint the liquid latex on using a small paintbrush. The toilet tissue gets soaked with the liquid rubber and adds a great lumped up skin effect; you can shape it into ridges for the edges of cuts, bumps for blisters, and more.

Once you have a shape you like, then you paint more liquid latex onto the edges to make them smoothly blend with your real skin. Let it all dry out nicely (as the article says, a blow dryer helps speed this up a lot) and you're ready for the final step: makeup.

The latex isn't the makeup -- use regular cosmetic makeup in browns, grays and pinks to paint over it and get a flesh look, then add spots of yellow, purple and green for a convincing bruising effect. Last but not least, if you made a cut, add some oozing or dripping fake blood and voila -- instant gore.

If you're having trouble with technique, there are some great photo and text walk throughs on how to do this kind of special effects online. You can also find many videos on the subject. Have fun!

ahain

The article says you can use white glue to make a similar effect to liquid laytex. I'm allergic to laytex stuff, and I want to do a burn scar effect on my face.

My question is, how do you use glue to do that? Just like paint it on, or do you have to mix it in any special way, or what? If you just wipe it on, based on what happened in school whenever I got some on my hands it's just going to peel off when I move my face at all. Help?

Hawthorne

@malmal - Awesome hobby you have there. Do you do any liquid latex mold making, or just basic stuff that is painted on?

I've always been fascinated with the idea of being a "master of disguise" and making myself a new nose and stuff. I think it would be just hilarious to use makeup and make myself look like a celebrity, or to look like a complete stranger and see if my family and friends can tell it's me.

Gore is a creative use for it, too, though. How big do you usually make the "wounds"? I'll bet if you made them too big, they would rip a bunch of hair out, so probably pretty small, right?

malmal

I love liquid latex for wound special effects! It makes the best torn skin effects, as well as bloody scrapes, burns, blisters and other fun gross stuff.

While many people dress up all scary for Halloween, it's not my big event of the year. Instead, my friends and I attend a zombie walk once per year -- an event where hundreds of people all show up in one spot dressed up as convincingly as they can as zombies, and then shamble and groan their way around the streets in a city.

It's surprisingly fun and relaxing to shamble around -- and hilarious to watch the reactions of people who aren't participating in the zombie walk when they first see the "zombie horde" meandering slowly their way.

It's even better if you have really convincing wound effects as a part of your costume. Zombies are supposed to look dead, and possibly like they have been decomposing for a bit, and liquid latex helps make that work so much better! I always keep a bottle on hand.

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    • Glitter can be added to liquid latex for movie or stage makeup.
      By: Yeko Photo Studio
      Glitter can be added to liquid latex for movie or stage makeup.
    • For people allergic to liquid latex white glue can be an appropriate substitute.
      By: bergamont
      For people allergic to liquid latex white glue can be an appropriate substitute.
    • Sports fans often used body paint to show their enthusiasm for their team.
      By: duncanandison
      Sports fans often used body paint to show their enthusiasm for their team.