How To Use Spirit Gum
How To Use Spirit Gum
What is Spirit Gum?
If you have an interested in special FX Makeup professionally or even for one Halloween costume, you’re bound to have heard of spirit gum.
Spirit Gum is a classic “old school” adhesive that has been around since the 1870s. It is derived from mastic gum and is harvested from the mastic evergreen shrub or tree.
Technically it’s the combination of resin (the “gum”) from the shrub and alcohol (the “spirit”) as a solvent that it dissolves into. Since the solvent is alcohol, alcohol-based removers are how you can dissolve the spirit gum again after it’s been applied.
Spirit Gum has been used as a glue for almost everything – from special effects appliances to hair pieces. It’s a particularly popular product in the theatre community!
How to Apply Spirit Gum
1. Begin by cleaning the skin so that it is free of all oil and makeup. This can be done with Witch Hazel or rubbing alcohol.
2. Once the skin area is clean, use a Q-Tip or brush to apply a thin layer of spirit gum onto the skin. Allow this to slightly dry until tacky – you can check if it’s ready by tapping the area with your finger.
3. Once the adhesive is tacky, place the appliance onto the skin and press firmly.
How to Remove Spirit Gum
2. Start from one end of the appliance or hair piece. Using circular motions, work this area with your wet brush or cotton ball until the edge of the piece lifts.
3. Continue working under the edge, gently pulling on the appliance just enough to keep the tension as you work the remover in circular motions.
4.Dip your brush or cotton ball into the remover as needed.
Spirit Gum Alternatives
You may need spirit gum alternatives for a variety of reasons:
Skin-safe spirit gum alternatives: If you’re having trouble finding spirit gum but still need something skin-safe, Pros-aide would be your best option (but it could be even harder to find), or you can look at using Liquid Latex.
Spirit gum alternatives that won’t work: You might have some white glue (PVA glue) or superglue (Cyanoacrylate) sitting around your house, and while they aren’t particularly harmful to put on your skin… they won’t work. Superglue may seem to work initially, but it’s so brittle that as your skin moves, it will start to peel off.
Spirit gum alternatives that just aren’t safe: Other adhesives might be great for costumes or crafts, but you should stay away from using them on your skin. These include everything from Barge Cement (which you shouldn’t even breathe in) to nail glue, which might seem safe because you use it on the body, but it should not be put directly on the skin (your nails are a little tougher).
Pros-Aide vs. Spirit Gum
The main difference between Pros-aide and spirit gum is that Pros-Aide is almost universally a better adhesive than spirit gum. It lasts longer, holds up better to the elements, and is more gentle on the skin. It can also be just as affordable as spirit gum if you have a good supplier.
Spirit gum is still fantastic for loose hair and lace front wigs because of the way it grips; on the other hand, that also makes it harder to remove.
Spirit Gum Vs. Liquid Latex
The main difference between spirit gum and liquid latex is that while it can be used as an adhesive, liquid latex is primarily meant to create effects rather than glue them down. It’s quite a bit weaker than spirit gum as an adhesive and at best used as a temporary fix.
– If you are using Spirit Gum to glue down a lace hair piece, and it starts to lift up mid-performance, you can reactivate the glue with alcohol! This saves you from layering on more and more layers of Spirit Gum (which can end up getting bulky and messy).
– Make sure to gently and thoroughly clean the lace of your hair piece upon removal. You can do this using the same removal products as previously discussed and/or alcohol!
– Spirit Gum is a viable option for applying on prosthetics and FX appliances! However, for projects where your makeup needs to last a long time, we recommend using stronger adhesives such as Pros-aide.