As any professional makeup artist will tell you, building a fully-stocked kit can get EXPENSIVE!
Special effects makeup artistry is no different. Creating the detailed characters that haunt and inspire your social media feeds may take 10, 15, 20 (sometimes more!) different products to complete.
While the best kits take years of trial and error to pull together, there are staple products you may start with to build a well-equipped SFX makeup kit for under $300. (Yes, it’s possible!)
We asked our network of pro-SFX artists which products have earned a permanent spot in their kits. Keep reading for the pro-approved must-haves that made the cut.
Ben Nye Thick Blood
Price: A 6 oz. container costs you $22, but smaller and larger sizes are available at varying price points.
It may look like strawberry jelly, but this corn-syrup based gel will quickly become your go-to for creating dried abrasions, wounds and road rash effects. The easy-to-apply gel has a nice, firm texture that does not drip or dry.
Camera Ready customer Erin K. says, “This is my one and only holy grail fake blood product.”
While it easily washes off the skin, it’s worth noting this product may not easily remove from all fabrics or surfaces. We suggest a quick spot test before use.
Ben Nye Nose and Scar Wax
Price: An 8oz. container costs you $18, but smaller and larger sizes are available at varying price points.
This handy jar of translucent wax imitates the appearance of real skin to create all sorts of fleshy distortions - a broken nose, a witch’s chin, even bullet holes. Whatever your creative desires, this product has your back. The formula is moldable with a medium firm hold.
Camera Ready customer Carolyn K. says, “After trying many other brands of scar wax, nothing compares to Ben Nye.”
3rd Degree Silicone Modeling Compound
Price: A 2 oz. container costs you $24, or you can get the 4 oz. size for $40.
This extremely versatile product is a triple threat - resurfaces the skin, creates special effects and pours into molds. Use the compound to create realistic wounds, scars and prosthetics, or fill uneven texture to smooth the skin.
Camera Ready customer Rachael S. says, “This is the best to work with! I love how smooth the edges blend into the skin. This is easier for me to mold than liquid latex and tissue paper.”
Pro MUA hack: Purchase both sizes and refill the smaller jar for transporting in your kit.
Ben Nye Final Seal
Price: A 1 oz. spray bottle costs you $7.20, and larger sizes are available at varying price points.
Lock your SFX makeup creations in place with this magical misting spray. A few spritzes of this matte sealant spray will ensure your final look is smudge-proof and water-resistant through hours of performing, entertaining or braving harsh weather conditions. It even withstands heavy perspiration!
Camera Ready customer Jeanita H. says, “My makeup doesn’t move all day. I fell asleep for two hours, woke up, and my makeup was still in place. Cried in church, makeup didn’t streak. Sweated outside, makeup did not move.”
Ben Nye Liquid Latex
Price: An 8 oz. container costs you $20, but smaller and larger sizes are available at varying price points.
An absolute must for any special effects kit, this multi-purpose liquid latex - also called “slip rubber” - will get the job done every time. Seal modeling wax, create 3D appliances in a slush mold, or apply directly to the skin for aged, blister and wound effects.
Camera Ready customer Carissa C. says, “I recently bought the latex, and I’m in love with it. It’s so good for the price and works great to create some freaky looks!”
Bonus use: This liquid adhesive is excellent for molding prosthetic appliances and sealing Ben Nye Nose and Scar Wax.
Price: Choose from 14 shade options at just $9.80 each.
The outstanding coverage qualities of these cream-based makeup has made it an SFX must-have for decades. Choose from a variety of skin tone shades, as well as clear, white or gray, to create bright color effects or to effortlessly shade and highlight.
Camera Ready customer Sarah B. Says, “You can’t get better than the Kryolan Supracolor foundation, in terms of finding a perfect color match. It stands up to any conditions (heat, humidity, stage lights) and provides full coverage that lasts all day.”
Some artists also use this product as a normal, everyday foundation to conceal skin conditions, discolorations and textured skin. Its versatility will keep you reaching for it, no matter the occasion.
Mehron Pro Color Ring - Bruise
The affordable, extremely handy compact includes every shade you need to create fresh or healing bruises. A must-have in any SFX kit, the wheel-shaped container includes green, yellow, light brown, dark brown and black shades that easily smudge and blend to create a realistic bruised look.
Camera Ready customer Dana G. Says, “It’s perfect! I love Mehron’s cream makeup, and it blends very well.”
The long-lasting formula won’t fade or melt away even after hours of wear.
Reel Creations Fleshtone Palette
This palette is the perfect tool to conceal tattoos, bruises, scars and more. Activate with Reel Developer or 99% Isopropyl Alcohol with just a few drops, and mix with a brush or sponge until you reach the desired effect.
Camera Ready customer Luke C. Says, “I love this palette! It lasted all night long, and it was very easy to use. This is a must-have in your SFX kit!”
It’s worth noting the product takes a while to activate once you’ve applied the alcohol, but once the product works up, the colors turn opaque. Mix darker pigments with more alcohol to lighten them. Make lighter colors more pigmented by continually mixing your brush or sponge in the activated product until the desired pigment is reached.
Skin Illustrator FX Palette
Designed for just about any injury or illness, this palettes simulates burns, cuts, scrapes, scabs and bruises. Compatible with the Reel Creations Fleshtone Palette mentioned above, mix and blend colors to create varying degrees of gore and injury.
Camera Ready customer Casandra S. says, “I absolutely love it. I use it for everything, whether it’s creating bruises, cuts or painting prosthetics. It’s totally worth it and a must-have for any makeup artist.”
These pigments are rich in color content, which makes this palette go farther and last longer than others on the market.
PPI Glazing Gels
Price: Choose from 19 color options at $16.50 each.
Set apart from other bruising effects makeup, these gels are specially made for extreme closeup film work for bruise and injury effects that appear to be a part of the skin, not on top of it. Sunburn, freckles, shadows, discoloration - whatever your SFX creative needs, these gels will make it look like the real thing.
Camera Ready customer Nina A. says, “It looks like it’s in the skin, not on it. I use it on set for quick bruises, sunburn and dark circles. It works great around the eyes for those who are sensitive. I have every color.”
These water-based, transparent colors wear exceptionally well for the demands of high definition film and television, and they deliver realistic subtlety that cannot be achieved with heavier cream-based products.
Shop The Products
Ready to create your very own, affordable, fully-stocked SFX kit? We conveniently linked all of the products mentioned in this article down below. Click, buy and be fully prepared to venture into the world of SFX makeup artistry!
10) PPI Glazing Gels
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About Camera Ready Cosmetics
Camera Ready Cosmetics was founded in 2003 by pro makeup artist Mary Erickson. An industry veteran for more than 30 years, Mary knows quality and value and understands what an artist needs. Mary is the buyer for Camera Ready Cosmetics and chooses only what she would use on set.
If you don’t find the product you’re looking for on our site, that’s because we have something better. Just ask us!