Special effects makeup, dubbed SFX for short, is a makeup style that can be used to create realistic injuries, art, or cosmetic changes on one’s body. It can involve the use of prosthetics or advanced makeup products that you wouldn’t find in your average makeup artist’s supply kit. For example, the most universal SFX product that is a staple for artists is liquid latex, an adhesive substance that dries with a skin-like finish to create wounds. If you wanted to try SFX makeup, liquid latex would be the most important product to have, as it creates the foundation for an entire makeup look.
Halloween stores are not year round, so some SFX products can be hard to come by. Products like scar wax and latex may be expensive in the off season, so it is better to invest in something high quality that will last a long time. A little bit of product goes a long way; the long term impact on your wallet will be minimal (my favorite brand is Ben Nye- find their closest official retailers on their website). Not everything has to be pricey, though. As long as the base of your look is solid, the dressing of the wound is very simple. This is where drugstore makeup can come in handy: a foundation that matches your skin tone and any eyeshadow palette that has red and purple tones are perfect. Many brands have these products for cheap, such as NYX or e.l.f. Cosmetics.
There are also ways to make certain products at home, if other products are hard to come by. Eyelash glue can serve as an alternative to liquid latex or cosmetic grade glitter glue. As for scar wax, a material that can be mounted on the skin for a 3D effect, mixing equal parts flour and petroleum jelly with foundation for color should do the trick. For fake blood, colored chocolate syrup is both realistic and edible.
Starting a look can be daunting for a lot of people, but it’s actually very simple and it’s easy to cover mistakes. To start off an injury, use a cotton swab to layer liquid latex and single ply toilet paper on your desired area. Try not to get latex on any body hair, as it acts like wax when it needs to be removed. Let the latex dry between layers. Once the thickness and texture resemble skin, blend using your foundation and carefully use scissors to cut any way you please. Fill in the cuts with black and red paints (I prefer grease paints) and then use the eyeshadow in purple tones to mimic irritation and bruising around the cut. If you find this difficult, use a reference photo. Use scab and liquid blood to add the finishing touches, making sure to drip some down or splatter it realistically.
The most important thing is to keep your workplace clean and organized. Many SFX products are sticky and will stain clothes and skin, so it is critical to keep track of your materials and clean your brushes and sponges after using them to kill bacteria.