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.
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.
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:
- Itchy and watery eyes
- Runny nose
- Difficulty breathing
- Scratchy throat
- Itchy skin
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.
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.
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:
- Create or locate the object you want to replicate.
- Apply a thin layer of liquid latex to one-half of the object.
- Keep applying layers until the mold is strong enough. Make sure you let each layer dry before moving to the next.
- Remove the mold from the object.
- 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.
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.