Prosthetic Adhesives for the Stage or for Halloween
When choosing the right prosthetic adhesive for applying prosthetics, wigs, or facial hair, many variables affect your decision. Variables include skin types, sensitivities, prosthetic weight, how often it’s removed and reapplied throughout the show, etc… Sometimes nothing work well, but be assured that you have several viable options. It may take a bit of trial and error to find the right one, but these ideas will help you along your way.
Spirit Gum is commonly used for applying prosthetics, bald caps, fake mustaches and more. Apply it directly to clean dry skin with brush or fingers directly. Secure prosthetic to the area, press and smooth to ensure adhesion. Remove with Spirit Gum Remover followed by soap and water.
If you’ve had sensitivities with Spirit Gum or issues with it not sticking, try Pros-Aide “The Original” Adhesive, a water-based, non-toxic medical grade adhesive designed not to irritate the skin, and safe for all skin types including sensitive areas. It is the leading adhesive for medical prosthetic applications and the standard in the industry for adhering prosthetics and other make-up components to skin. It provides a strong, long lasting, water (and sweat) resistant bond.
To use, apply to clean skin and the prosthetic, wait until product becomes clear and tacky (about 10 minutes, although you can use a hair dryer to speed things along). Next press the prosthetic appliance onto the skin and as the adhesive come in contact with itself, it will bond. Do not shift the prosthetic around during this process.
For removal, you will want Pros-Aide Remover, although in a pinch, you can use coconut oil or olive oil to remove the adhesive.
You could also try toupe tape, which a high quality, branded medical adhesive tape. This option is great if you have a lot of wig and/or beard changes throughout the show. The brand that I recommend is Topstick, which is clear, double-sided, hypo-allergenic, and waterproof. It comes in various size strips such as 1″ x 3″ and 1/2″ x 3″ and is designed for securing wigs, hairpieces, wardrobes, home decor, and much, much more. The average hold time (length of stickiness) is 3-5 days; however you can put Spirit Gum onto the tape to reapply the tape if the stickiness wears off.
Another out of the box option is Fashion Tape, especially if you need to remove a prosthetic while onstage without a mess. Most fashion tapes, including Fashion Fix, made by Topstick, is basically medical adhesive tapes that have been branded and repackaged. It can secure costumes as well as prosthetics.
Surgical adhesive is a good alternative for anyone with latex allergies, as it is made of silicone The brand Skin Tite dries fast, can be applied directly to the skin with no release agent. When you’re ready to take it off, it peels off with soap and water. It can also be tinted with a silicone pigment such as Silc-Pig Silicone Pigment.
When using adhesive, its always a good idea to create a barrier from the skin like Mehron Skin Prep Pro or Ben Nye Final Seal Matte Sealer. This will keep the actor’s sweat from getting to the adhesive. Also, apply the barrier over your makeup to help seal it as well.
It may take a little trial and error to find the best adhesive due to varying skin types. However, I hope that this list of products and brands which are well known and used in the industry give you a good starting point. Best of luck, and let me know what you’ve used or tried that works (or doesn’t work) for you!