I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with scar wax. On the one hand, you can create some pretty cool looking things with it. On the other, it can be a tricky medium to work with.
If you’re not making a prosthetic then scar wax offers you that chance to sculpt in detail that you just don’t get with things like liquid latex. But, as I found out the first time I used it, it’s not always the best choice.
What is scar wax?
Scar wax is a special fx wax that can be attached to the skin, blended, moulded into shape (scars, cuts, bullet wounds, warts…) and painted.
Scar wax is fairly cheap and a little goes a long way. You don’t need much product for things like scars and wounds.
There are lots of recipes out there for making your own scar wax from household ingredients which could work out even cheaper!
Speed & Simplicity
Scar wax is a bit tricky to learn how to use, but compared to the process of sculpting, moulding, running, applying and painting your own prosthetics it’s dead simple. If you are having trouble getting the hang of it I have another post with some tips for working with scar wax that might help you out.
Similarly, using scar wax is a hell of a lot faster than making your own prosthetics. You can reasonably make your scars and wounds in half an hour (depending on the size/complexity) whereas making a prosthetic would likely take at least a day because of all the time you’ll spend waiting for things to dry.
When scar wax gets warm it gets softer and more pliable. As it cools down it gets firmer and more brittle. If you’re working on something and it starts to get too firm you can warm it back up a little to make it pliable again. Because of that, you can keep on going with it for however long you want.
Realistic Looking Pieces
Another pro is how the final pieces come out. You really can create amazing looking scars and wounds that look pretty realistic once they’re painted up.
You don’t need a whole lot of equipment to create your pieces if you’re using scar wax. You’ll need to scar wax itself, some adhesive like spirit gum or cosmetic glue, and something to cover it with like fixative A or liquid latex.
For the actual sculpting and blending, you can create amazing pieces using ice-lolly sticks (tongue depressors), toothpicks and a whole load of other things you’ve likely got lying around.
Good prosthetics have great edges and scar wax does shine in the blending department seeing as you’re doing it directly on the skin. If your wax is the right consistency then a few swipes with a tool will give you nice clean seamlessly blended edges – something that can be hard to achieve if you’re starting out with your making your own prosthetics.
Because of scar waxes ingredients, there’s a lot less chance of allergic reaction compared to products like liquid latex. If you’ve got sensitive skin then scar wax can be a good alternative to harsher products. Make sure you pay attention to the type of adhesive you use as well in case you have a reaction to that.
If you’ve ever bought ready-made transfers or prosthetics and you don’t have an average shaped/sized face then you know what a pain it can be trying to get a too big/small piece to fit. With scar wax everything you make is custom fit for the face it’s going on. And of course, you get to customise it! There’s no chance of turning up at a party and bumping into someone with the exact same piece as you!
I know that the working time was up there in the pros section, but it’s getting a special mention down here in the cons as well. While having an eternal working time is great while you’re working on your piece, it’s not so much fun once it’s done. It never properly “sets” so if you’re out at a Halloween party and it’s getting a bit hot and sweaty the wax will start to heat back up and become soft and pliable again making it easy to squish out of shape.
The staying power is really what lets scar wax down. Even with adhesive, it’s hard to get it to stay put. This is especially true for any areas where there’s a lot of movement. You need to completely avoid joints like elbows and knees as the bending will have the edges lifting or the entire thing falling off pretty quickly.
Because scar wax is pretty inflexible when it’s cool you can get the same problems on areas of the face that move around a lot like the brow, around the mouth or eyes. Those lovely blended edges can end up lifting and cracking and eventually falling off completely.
Again, this made an appearance in the pros list but it’s earned a spot in the cons too. It’s much easier to use than to go through the process of creating your own custom prosthetic, but in comparison to using transfers or ready-made prosthetics which can be applied in a couple of minutes, it’s not all that simple.
It’s sticky when it’s warm, it’s brittle when it’s cold and blending can take a long time if you can’t get that temperature right. It takes some practice and getting used to like with anything.
You can reuse scar wax if you haven’t applied it. For example, if you just want to practice making things with it without actually applying it to the skin with an adhesive and painting it then you could stick it back in the tub and reuse it. But, once you’ve stuck it on with an adhesive, covered it and painted it, it’s done with.
Even if you don’t stick it on you could find that after a few uses it’ll start to change consistency at which point you should start using some new scar wax.
Before you get in there to colour your piece you’ll need to apply some kind of cover. The most common product is Fixative A which is a clear liquid you paint over the top, but some people prefer to use a couple of layers of liquid latex. Trying to colour your piece without first covering it is pretty darn hard as whatever you use to colour it with will react with the scar wax.
Even with a cover, you can still have issues with certain products not sticking to the scar wax the same way they do to your skin creating a noticeable difference between the two. There can also be issues with product catching under the edges of pieces creating a “ring” of colour that makes your edges super noticeable. This is more common with powders than liquids so if you use powders, make sure you always brush from the scar wax onto the skin so the product doesn’t catch under the edges.
The Best Use For Scar Wax
Photos! It’s brilliant when it comes to creating gashes, scars and restructuring parts of the face. It gives a nice seamless look that is hard to achieve with other products. Sadly the wear time is too short to do anything too fun with it.
While taking the photo below, the edges started to lift before I was finished because of all the face scrunching going on while I tried to do my best exorcist impression.
For photos, you have much more control over the environment. You can keep the room a nice temperature so the scar wax doesn’t start to get too pliable from heat, or brittle from the cold. You also have more control over how much the model is moving the area the scar wax is applied to, and the ability to stick things back down nice and quick when they start to lift up.
For anything where your models going to be moving around a lot, like Halloween parties, fancy dress, TV or films, I wouldn’t risk using scar wax because from my experience it just doesn’t have the staying power it needs for those kinds of things.