LATEX MAKEUP by Cathi Singh

Sometimes in the makeup world, we are not given a lot of time to research and prepare for a project and have to think on our feet for a quick solution.

Such was the case for me a few weeks ago. One of my long-time corporate clients called with a big idea that involved hair, makeup and costuming; only thing was we had a day and a half to accomplish it before the print deadline!

They were launching a new product and their marketing team wanted a “superhero” custom made for their company. As an added challenge, I would have to incorporate the new product, an innovative knee brace for high profile athletes, into the design so it featured the brace without being too flashy of a costume.

Initially, the company thought it would be adequate to purchase a superhero costume and make simple tweaks. One of the main problems was our model was very well built, very tall, and did not fit the “average” mold of costume.

Not only was there not enough time for extensive tailoring, but at the end of the day, it still felt like we were playing dress up. There is a fine line between corny and cool and we were walking it.

I made some calls, researched some body suits and came across a costume shop with a large inventory. After picking their brains via phone the idea for liquid latex was suggested. Knowing that my creative director loves to push the envelope visually, I quickly presented the idea detailing all the pros and cons.

He jumped at the idea and I purchased the kit and paint sight unseen. Now, I normally would not do this, for obvious reasons like needing to test it on camera, getting to know the product, etc, but at the time, I was on location for another project and could not get to the store due to distance.

I did extensive research online and with the costume shop owner, who was very familiar with the product. We were also fortunate enough to have the model stop by the store and test the product on his skin the day before shooting to make certain he did not have an allergy to latex.

As a back up, I purchased some black spandex shorts and tops just in case the latex did not present well. The model prepped his body by shaving the majority of his hair from his chest, arms and legs. He had to endure 5 coats of latex because the effect needed to be very bold, dark and have a shiny finish. This process took approximately 4-5 hours because there is a complete drying time between coats.

As an added precaution and final step I added a Shine Seal Spray. This product dulls the tacky finish latex has and allows for smooth movement. It also adds a dramatic and glossy finish that makes it look like skin.

We equipped our superhero with black gloves, boots, and the new knee braces. I also painted a mask on his face using waterproof eyeliner. He was able to bend, jump and move like a superhero without any difficultly. The latex stretched like a second skin.

The end result was a huge success, and our superhero was very heroic. The images shot went straight from the camera to the editor and was printed in less than two days later. It spearheaded the campaign for the braces and has been used in all of their media outlets.

Best of all, I was able to produce the exact idea my client wanted and in record time. It goes to show that you can find tools in unexpected places and when you have a great team that is communicating and working on the same page, the results can be awesome!  This is a project I am very proud of and I look forward to my next latex painting creation!