Still using spirit gum for lace facial hair pieces and battling glossiness, and long clean up times? Join me as I explore whether spirit gum still has a place in our kits. So, if you’re eager to learn about the cutting-edge products and techniques transforming the industry, let’s get started!

is spirit gum obsolete?
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In This Episode We Cover:

  • How being open to trying new adhesive products can revolutionize and improve your makeup applications.
  • Using caution and care with materials like TS 100 and Attagel is essential to ensure safety when working with potentially harmful substances in makeup effects.
  • While using newly developed products can be game-changers, there might just still be a place for the classic spirit gum in makeup kits, offering quick on-set touchups and versatile usage in various makeup techniques.


click here to read the transcript!


Episode 56: Show notes

black handle makeup brushes

I feel like I never stop going on about the years I’ve been fortunate enough to work in the world of makeup.

And in that time, I’ve witnessed some epic advancements in prosthetic makeup applications. One of the most notable developments is the introduction of a product called Super Baldiez, which has raised the question: Is spirit gum becoming obsolete?

In the past, spirit gum was the adhesive of choice for gluing lace pieces, hand-laying hair and wool, crepe hair, and even attaching prosthetics to the face.

It has been a staple in the industry for almost 150 years, used by theatrical entertainers and early movie stars. I have fond memories of using spirit gum, whether in combination with nose and scar wax to flatten eyebrows or to create texture for a gravel rash at a moment’s notice on set.

The hassle of removal has always accompanied spirit gum.

Even with high-quality options available today, there’s always a lingering glossy shine beneath the lace that I like to solve with my favorite anti-shine product.

And additionally, the process of removing spirit gum from your performer’s skin and cleaning your lace pieces can be laborious, creating a repetitive, time-consuming routine for the best of us.

In contrast, the relatively new process of combining Super Baldiez with a mattifying powder has revolutionized the process of adhering lace pieces.
By creating a matte adhesive that is strong and long-lasting with no shine, it seemingly melts the appearance of the lace away, providing a breakthrough in the world of makeup and wig applications, actually.

The use of mattifying powders like TS 100 and Attagel in conjunction with Super Baldiez has transformed the way lace pieces are glued on.
While these materials require caution due to their fine silica dust particles and potent ingredients, they have significantly improved the efficiency and aesthetics of the makeup process.

Let’s say I’m applying a lace front beard over a full silicon appliance. Start with the chin area to get it anchored on in the center, and you will strategically lay the lace piece into the painted on Super Baldiez which can result in a seamless, natural appearance.
And the option to quickly lift and move the lace piece if you need to, and the ease with which any uneven edges can be rectified make Super Baldiez a game changer for all of us.

Unlike spirit gum, Super Baldiez can be easily removed with isopropyl or ethanol alcohol, simplifying the cleanup process and saving time.

Now I might add, I still carry Spirit gum in my set kit and just it for maintenance throughout the day, especially is using lace facial hair pieces on performers’ skin, and not necessarily on top of prosthetic appliances.
The convenience of performing quick touch-ups on set with the use of Allied FX Spirit Gum “X” in a tube also reminds me that there is very much still a place in your makeup kit for spirit gum, for sure.

So, while advancements with products like Super Baldiez may have transformed our industry somewhat, I believe there is still room for spirit gum.

Its adaptability and unique uses, such as flattening eyebrows or adding a gloss finish to makeup wounds, make it a valuable product to have on hand.
As the industry evolves, it’s essential to remain open to new products and techniques while also recognizing the value of traditional products like spirit gum.

The introduction of Super Baldiez has significantly impacted prosthetic makeup applications, offering a modern alternative to traditional adhesives like spirit gum.
However, the versatility and staying power of spirit gum and its unique applications ensure that it continues to have a place in our world.

Embracing new advancements while appreciating the strengths of traditional products is crucial in navigating the ever-changing landscape of the makeup industry.

Click here to listen to this episode!


Episode Transcript

[00:00:00]: In recent years, particularly in the world of prosthetic makeup applications that involve large facial hair pieces as well, there’s been a rather wonderful development with the introduction of a product called Super Baldiez to adhere the lace to the prosthetic and sometimes overlapping onto the skin or just the prosthetic.
Well, this is how I’ve mainly used material and how I love to use the material. Yeah, it’s a marvel. I remember the first time I used a super Baldiez mix with a mattifier to lay down a lace piece, and we’ll get to formulations in a little bit. But I literally watched the lace disappear before my eyes. I never thought I’d see, use, or speak of spirit gum again.

But is this the case? Is there still room for “ye olde” spirit gum that you have to admit has been around the block for quite some time now?

[00:01:26]: First of all, let’s go back to a time when spirit gum was pretty much the only adhesive to use to glue lace pieces, handlay hair and wool, crepe hair, and even glue down prosthetics to the face, since theatrical entertainers and early movie stars transformed for us on screen. And now that’s going back almost 150 years or so.

I also dabbled in spirit gum myself, both in combination with nose and scar wax to flatten down eyebrows and then set the wax with a light coating of the spirit gum and just get tap, tap tapping to just kind of dry and set it after it’s gone on over the wax.
One time, I even remember being on set and using it in a pinch when I had to create a gravel rash at short notice. I stippled it on with a large black stipple sponge so that the application was uneven, but it gave me a little texture where the spirit gum landed, and once dried, I could paint straight over it and have something with a little tenacity, a little bite to it. It wasn’t groundbreaking by any means, but I had to create it right then and there on the spot. And spirit gum was what I had in my kit.

[00:02:53]: I always remember my makeup college days with spirit gum and the seemingly very emollient removers that would take an eternity to remove every last trace of it from my face or from someone else’s face. And no matter which spirit gum you would use, even the best ones on the block today, KD 151 Naimie’s Very flat matte adhesive.

And the Allied Effects Spirit Gums, which are my favorites, I think, including their very handy X Spirit Gum, which is also available in a tube, might I add, perfect for onset quick touch-ups. I always feel like you’re constantly chasing that glossy shine that peeps out from underneath the lace. So whenever you would use spirit gum, you must always carry your trusty tube of antishine right there too, are like a perfect pair and can’t go anywhere without one another. And then there’s the removal.

Getting the crunchy layer of resin-based glue off the skin always seemed so laborious. And once you finally get that done, then it’s time to clean the lace pieces too, right? The bashing, the tapping with your little lace brush.

[00:04:10]: And if you put pieces on a performer on a daily basis, it would end up being this Groundhog Day type dance where you could feel like the second you block your clean pieces fresh for the following day’s outing, it’s time for them to go right back on again. It’s pretty relentless, but I must say, this is not the case with using super baldiez mixed with a mattifying powder to create this matte. Yes, I said matte adhesive that is strong enough to last all day long with no shine, and that just seemingly melts the appearance of that lace away.

How can this be real? It is. I promise you. Okay, so what mattifying powders are we talking about here? The first I’ll mention is called TS 100, and it’s an immensely fine and lightweight powder that in makeup used as a mattifying agent in materials such as spirit gums, paxes, even inside Prosaide to thicken it and create bondo or prosaide cream. If you’re going to try this at home for the first time, please, before you open a jar, know that this is very nasty stuff. I suggest wearing a dust mask.

[00:05:23]: At the very least, work in an area with no fans or drafts, and always open the lid away from your face. The very fine silica dust particles, if breathed in, can cause damage to your lungs and far worse without you even knowing it.

So just think of it being 100 times finer than a grain of sand. So do use it with extreme caution and care, and it is worth taking a look at. The SDS safety data sheet information. I’ll try and find it, and I can link to it in the show notes as well. Now, another material you can use is called attagel. While very similar in texture and in its ingredients to TS 100, Attagel feels slightly heavier than the light as a feather.

[00:06:11]: TS 100. It’s a crystalline silica, but is also made up of magnesium oxide. Again, use extreme caution when working with this stuff, as you do not want to breathe it in and use it to mattify your super baldies. It has a kind of clay look to it, and you may have worked with products containing it without even knowing it. Or maybe you did know. For example, the WM creation spirit gum I suspect contains attagel. In fact, I’m pretty sure it does. Just by looking at it, you can see that residue that usually needs a good shake up before you work with it.

[00:06:52]: The residue that sits in the bottom well, that’s Attagel. And some old age stipple materials contain attagel as well to take that gloss shine out of your end result. And for me, this is my mattifier of choice for making Super Baldiez matte for lace piece adhering.

Okay, now that we’ve got the scary stuff out of the way, let’s talk about all the good things that will save you time, stress, and make your work look that much better, too. Let’s say you are gluing on a lace front beard over a full silicon appliance on a performer’s face. I generally like to start at the chin area, fit your lace piece on so you can eyeball where it needs to sit correctly. Then take away your lace piece and paint a thin but even coating of your super baldies. Mix around the chin area, then simply lay your lace piece into it.

[00:07:49]: And now you do have a little working time if you need to lift and move anything, but work efficiently, as that’s the goal here. Remember now, once you’re happy with the position of the piece, you can use a pronged comb or the metal edge of a tail comb to press that lace through the hair to ensure that it’s attached to the skin.

Now, I’ll link to all these tools in the show notes page also. And once you have your lace piece anchored, you can move up and out on the sides of the beard and lay down the lace into the baldies and get that piece on with ease. And then here’s my favorite thing about super baldies. If you don’t quite get your lace edge adhered, you can easily just come in and paint on top of the lace and press it down with a damp chamois. Or there’s these spongy kitchen wipes that Bill Corso introduced me to by way of my friend Goran Lundstrom. I’ll try and find them on Amazon and link to them in the show notes.

[00:08:51]: But it’s a few millimeters thick and it’s a spongy kitchen wipe and I cut them up into little squares and dampen them and then you can just lightly press over those lace edges and literally watch them disappear.
Seriously, this is a real breakthrough in the world of lace pieces, and I especially love it on top of silicon prosthetics because the materials basically become one, don’t they? The baldiez holding the lace piece onto the material which is encapsulated with a product similar if not the same as super baldies. It may be the original baldies, which is based on an acetone solvent, not alcohol, which the super baldies is just to clear up any confusion. And while we’re on that matter, be sure to always use the super baldiez version.

That way your pieces can very easily be removed with isopropyl alcohol or even ethanol alcohol. Then simply set them in a low pan. I like to use baking trays with some alcohol in the bottom and they can soak while you finish wrapping up your actor or your performer in the chair. And so once you say goodnight to them, then the hard work is already done for you when you come back to your lace pieces and a simple pressing with an alcohol dampened powder puff should see them free of any baldies or paint ready for blocking and dressing for tomorrow or whenever they next go on.

[00:10:21]: And a quick note, if you place a setup towel in the base of your tray and literally just soak the towel with alcohol, you can get this down to an art where the alcohol doesn’t really even touch the hair, only the lace on your lace pieces. And this way you’re not going to disturb or dry out the hair, which again in turn is helping to speed up your dressing work afterwards. Total game changer.

Things do seem so much more efficient and sophisticated nowadays in terms of adhesives and removals on the market, but I do feel that there still is a place for spirit gum for quick touchups on set.

As I mentioned, the x spirit gum in a tube is ready to use and perfect for working on set when you have to work on the spot and quickly. I’ve also used spirit gum very lightly to just brush over the top of a flyaway eyebrow to keep it in place in high winds. I’ve painted it over wounds to give a little gloss-setting finish to the inside of an open wound. And I know many people still use it to this day to flatten eyebrows.

[00:11:31]: So I think for me, while evolving and being open to new products and trying new techniques is absolutely imperative, sometimes the old ones can be the perfect solution, too. And sometimes you can even find new ways of using them as well.

Till next time. And I say always have room in your kit for a little spirit gum. For as brilliant as its descendants are, you never know when it’ll solve a problem for you again.

Okay, see you next time. Bye.

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