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With Halloween right around the corner, odds are you’re planning an awesome costume. If you’re planning for any gory wounds, prosthetics, eye masks, or anything that requires a little sticking power, you’ll want to know about spirit gum. This inexpensive adhesive will be your best friend when applying spooky makeup.
Spirit gum sounds like something that will freshen your breath, but it’s really an adhesive for your skin. The name is more fitting than it initially seems: it’s made of alcohol (or spirit) and resin (or gum). It’s used to affix wigs, false beards, and other fake hair, plus various other items like prosthetic facial items, fake wounds, and masks. It is often used in professional theatrical makeup, but it’s so easy to use, you can take your own costume up a notch with it.
It’s not available everywhere, but spirit gum does become more accessible around Halloween. It can always be ordered online, but at this time of year it is available in most party or costume stores. Most of it comes in a nail polish-sized bottle with a similar brush applicator, typically running under $5. You may be able to get it with spirit gum remover; if you buy it alone, you can use rubbing alcohol to remove it later.
One of the most important things to know about spirit gum is that it won’t stick straight out of the bottle. After brushing it on the item you want to stick to your skin, wait 45 seconds to a minute to let it become tacky before pressing it to your skin. If you apply it too soon, it won’t stick to your skin, so check it by touching it with your finger gently to see if it has become sticky.
It is generally best to avoid applying spirit gum directly to your hair or eyebrows, but it isn’t the end of the world if some comes into contact with your hair or brows. In fact, some people use spirit gum to cover their eyebrows for certain makeup looks. You have a couple of options if you are going to be sticking things to your eyebrows. To protect them, you can use Kryolan’s Eyebrow Plastic before using spirit gum. You can also apply the spirit gum to something that will be in direct contact with your eyebrows; just make sure that you carefully use spirit gum remover or rubbing alcohol (don’t get it in your eyes!) to very gently remove the gum afterward. If you still want eyebrows on November 1st, make sure that you don’t yank the stuck-on items, just apply remover until it comes off easily.
Strings can take away from the dramatic effect of a mask, but spirit gum can stick it directly to your face so that it appears to be staying put on its own. If you have a light eye mask, you can apply spirit gum to the back (making sure to avoid parts that could come into contact with your delicate eye area), wait until it gets tacky, and press to your face.
Can’t find a store-bought mask that fits your costume? Make your own! You can use liquid latex and latex paint to create your own lightweight mask, using another mask as a guide for how to shape it. For Batman’s foliage-covered foe, Poison Ivy, cut a few fake ivy leaves (available with silk flowers at your local craft store) from the vine and remove the stem. Plan out how you want to apply them on your eyebrows before applying the spirit gum, then attach them to your eyebrow area to create your own custom Poison Ivy eye mask. If you plan to be a fairy, try applying crystals or rhinestones to the outer corner of your eye and the temple area. You could even take inspiration from Chanel’s recent show and apply the crystals and glitter to your eyebrows.
To attach your prosthetic wounds to your skin, simply apply spirit gum to the back of the wound, let it get tacky, then apply it to your skin. Use foundation to blend the edges of the faux wound into your own skin.
This Halloween, stock up on spirit gum. Your costume will stick to you like glue, so you can mingle without constantly readjusting.