Tips for Working with Scar Wax

If you’ve read my previous post about scar wax, you’ll know I’m not a fan. But, if you’ve already got some, and you’re wanting to put it to some use, here are some tips for working with it. Different brands and types come with their own unique challenges, so I’ll try and cover as many of them as I can.

It’s so hard it won’t come out of the pot

A lot of scar waxes are pretty hard to get out of the pot because they’re so solid. Don’t be tempted to heat it up in the microwave to get it pliable as excessive heat can ruin the formula of the wax.

It’s better to scrape wax from the top rather than trying to dig out chunks of it, if you dig out chunks then the scar wax left in the pot starts to get crumbly and chalky. Try running a sturdy blunt tool over the top, like a palette knife or butter knife. If the wax is really hard this will give you shavings of wax that you can put together and work with. This also helps warm it up when you reform all those shavings into a little ball.

It’s too stiff to mould

Wax becomes workable when it gets warm – again, the microwave isn’t your friend here. The best way to warm up the wax to get it pliable is to roll it around in your hands until it becomes nice and soft – but not too soft, if it gets too soft it can be just as much of a nightmare to work with because the softer it gets the stickier it gets.

It’s so sticky

Wax can be impossible to work with when it starts to get sticky, but there’s a couple of different products you can use to stop it from sticking to your hands and tools. My favourites are vaseline, cleanser, makeup remover, or moisturiser. Vaseline is my top pick. Give your hands and tools a VERY thin coat of whatever you’re using and keep topping up whenever you start to have problems with sticking. You don’t want to go overboard or you’ll end up mixing the product into the wax or coating the wax with it, and then you’ll have a new set of problems to deal with.

Skin Prep

Scar wax can end up mushing into your hair, so you either need to shave the area first, or just accept that it’s going to a little painful and you might lose a bit of that hair (for us ladies it’s a bit like getting a free wax) – but, having a hairy base can actually improve how well the scar wax stays on because it has something to grip on to. On the other hand, it can be hard to make it look realistic if you’re working on a super hairy arm because then you’ll have the hairy arm and a bald spot where the wax is.

Aside from hair, you want to make sure you’re working on a clean, dry, oil-free skin, so give it a good wipe down before you start.

When to blend

Blending the wax onto the skin is probably one of the most important parts to get a nice seamless look, if you spend time sculpting your scar or wound, then try and blend it, depending on the consistency of the wax you’re using you could find that all of your hard work and your beautiful sculpting get destroyed when you try to blend it.

I like to blend first because you can get the wax nice and warm and pliable for the blending, and as it starts to get cooler and firm up you can work on sculpting the wound/scar/whatever you’re sculpting. If you do it in reverse your going to be trying to blend a harder consistency of wax.

Pick your spot (blending)

Blending into a firm area of skin is going to be much easier than a squishy spot.  If you’re blending scar wax into the forehead you’ve got the brow bone to offer some resistance as you try and blend and the skin is fairly taut, whereas if you’re trying to blend into the neck you need to be careful with how much pressure you’re applying, and the skin isn’t as taut making it much trickier.

Pick your spot (movement)

Anywhere where there’s a lot of movement is going to leave your edges lifting up over time which’ll most likely lead to your creations falling off. Try and avoid areas where there’s lots of movement or stretching of the skin. You’ll also want to take a look at the model you’re applying it too, some people are very expressive with their faces constantly wrinkling their noses, or furrowing their brows, if that’s the case then you want to avoid those areas too (or at least instruct your model to try and keep that area still).

Glue

Scar wax can stick to the skin on its own, but 9 times out of ten it’ll fall off fairly quickly. To make it last a bit longer you can use an adhesive on the area you want to apply it too before you put it on your skin. Spirit Gum is the most popular as it’s cheap and effective. Make sure you have some spirit gum remover to get it off with otherwise you’ll be left with a nasty crusty residue on your skin that’s a pain to get off.

An alternative is some kind of cosmetic glue, like lash glue or gem glue.

Overcoat

Fixative A is the “standard” overcoat. You apply a layer over the top once you’re happy with your design, then apply whatever makeup or face paint you want to colour it with. Another popular choice is liquid latex. When you use liquid latex you can bring the latex out further on the skin surrounding the scar wax which helps keep it attached more securely as well as giving a more tapered edge.

Using some kind of cover over the scar wax is pretty important when it comes to colouring your piece as it prevents your brushes from sticking to the scar wax if it’s still sticky, and it gives you a clean surface to paint over.

The wax

The wax itself can make a lot of difference. Some people prefer harder wax, some prefer softer. The super-cheap Halloween scar wax tends to be on the lower end of quality (no big surprise there), but different brands have different formulas and consistencies.

There’s plenty of recipes for homemade scar wax which will give you even more control over how your wax comes out. Ideally, the wax should never get to a hard crumbly state. If it does it will be tricky to work with. If it’s slightly soft and pliable then you’ll have fewer issues with the scar wax cracking or the edges lifting when the models wearing it.

Stay small

Trying to do huge pieces with scar wax is a bad idea. The edges on big pieces tend to start lifting much quicker due to the weight of it and it’s much more noticeable because of the size. A small scar or cut isn’t going to be quite so obvious if it falls off.

Use the right kind of makeup

Certain types of makeup are going to help hide the edges, and some types or going to accentuate them, for example, if you use powders like eyeshadows, the powder tends to “catch” on the edge if your blending isn’t absolutely seamless giving you a ring of colour around the edge. To avoid that, if you’re using products that gather in the edges make sure you brush from the scar wax onto the skin rather than the other way round so that you’re not pushing product under those edges.

Face paints, especially thick creamy ones are a good choice as they’re nice and opaque so they’ll make matching colours with the surrounding skin easier, especially if you’re scar wax is way off your natural skin tone (or whatever colour you’re making your skin tone). Once you’ve got a layer of something nice and opaque down then go in with the more translucent products like eyeshadows or powders.

Liquid foundations are another good option – the more full coverage the better. I find scar wax tends to be quite pinkish compared to my skin tone so don’t be afraid to get in there with some colour correctors if need be.

What are your top tips?

I’d love to hear your top tips for working with scar wax! Let me know in the comments so that maybe I can get over my hatred of it.