Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Pro-Fx Makeup Tips - Safety In the Workshop

Hi again, well we're a bit late posting this months tips as we're so busy now with some very diverse projects, as well as prepping our new Makeup department for the 6 week Prosthetic Effects Course starting on the 5th September (still time to book on if you wish !)

This months Tips is a little serious, but good to address now before you start having too much fun with crazy Fx materials...

Health and safety can be taken too far and compromise creativity, but there is a level to which you must ensure you adhere in order to protect yourself and those around you.

Hand protection...

Many of the materials we use are messy and can either dry out your skin such as plaster, solvents etc, stain (inks, paints), bond to your skin (resins, polyurethane foams etc) or even severely damage you such as hot liquid waxes, Gelatine and Vinyl products.

None of this is a problem provided we protect our hands with the appropriate gloves. The simple use of either a disposable latex or Vinyl glove will be sufficient for most of the above. It is however always important to know which materials each type will best protect you from. For example Vinyl gloves won't protect from Acetone or similar solvents but latex ones will. Latex won't protect from White spirit, but Vinyl will. More robust thicker rubber or strong gardening gloves should also be used when dealing with hot materials.

Eye Protection, Dust & Fume Masks...

Likewise, when working with many products where a likelihood of splashing is to occur, safety spectacles or goggles should always be worn. An eye wash station (and First Aid Box) should always be close at hand in case of emergencies. Never be cavalier, it is so much easier to wear some safety specs than spend ages washing your eye clear of some horrible goo, or worse having to go to hospital and maybe even loosing your sight !

Appropriate masks for the products in use should always be on hand and used when needed. Never re-use a mask for too long as they tend to become over saturated with dust or fume. Dust masks should be changed regularly throughout a long process, as should the fume filters of respirator or similar fume masks.


When dealing with smelly or noxious substances such as resins or expanding Polyurethane foams, it is imperative that good fume extraction is available. If it is not, do not proceed with a process, as often just opening a door nearby is not sufficient ventilation !

Extraction can be in the form of a trunk like flexible tube which is able to be positioned over the work, a strong suction fan at the other end draws the fowl air away from the work and expels it to atmosphere saving you from breathing in the toxins.

Spray booths act in a similar way except they have a large filter at the back of a box onto which the extraction tube(s) are fitted. The filter catches any spray particles from aerosols, and again the tube(s) take the bad smelly air away from you whilst working. Extraction can and should often be used in conjunction with a suitable dust or fume mask also.


When in the workshop, it is advisable to wear clothing that you are not too concerned about getting messed up with spills etc. Disposable plastic aprons are always helpful for particularly messy times, or even full disposable paper boiler suits if really necessary. However, there is no substitute for working cleanly and professionally, so always try to organise all your work in a safe and sensible way, and try to work cleanly and methodically wherever possible, messy workshop projects don't have to take over the whole workshop, careful controlled containment of your processes is always the safest approach to all Special makeup Fx creation tasks.

If you've been working in a particularly fumy atmosphere for a long day, always ensure that you wear fresh work wear for the following day. This prevents contaminated clothing being against your skin for too long, and prevents the risk of allergies and sensitisation developing. It is very easy to develop eczema and similar skin conditions if you over expose yourself to moulding products and solvents etc for long periods of time without changing contaminated clothing, and equally always keep the workspace well ventilated.


Look after your skin, particularly your hands, which will come into contact the most with the materials you are using. After working on a project, or wearing protective gloves for a period, before taking a break or moving onto another process always wash your hands with a mild soap, preferable one with a moisturiser and PH balanced ingredients.

Have fun, enjoy your work but do look after your hands, they are your best tools and you need them to earn a living !