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What Are the Best Tips for Using Scar Wax?

By Christina Edwards
Updated May 23, 2024
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The best tips for using scar wax include proper handling and care for the wax itself, as well as more practical advice like how to make scars look believable and how to help them stay attached to the skin. Getting the wax out of its container or tub properly is usually the first step, and often requires a bit of finesse. Finding the right temperature is also important. Wax that is too cold is often so stiff it looks unrealistic, but if it’s too warm it may become runny and difficult to work with. When it comes to actually creating the scar, it’s usually best to start simple, adding complexities and details one at a time; then, there are a number of tips to follow when it comes to actually attaching the scar to the skin. Using different adhesives and avoiding locations like elbows and knees that get a lot of movement are some of the most common. Finally, the wax is often most effective when paired with makeup and neutral cosmetics to create a believable look.

Getting Started

Scar wax typically comes as a thick putty-like substance, and it can be hard to know where to start when working with it. Professionals usually recommend breaking off a small piece at first, then adding to it as necessary. Some waxes are sold in tubes, which makes dispensing relatively easy — all a person needs to do is squeeze the tube like toothpaste. Wax that comes in a tub or other shallow container typically requires scooping or scraping, though, which can take a bit of skill.

A small palette knife is usually the best tool to scoop the wax from a container, though almost anything that is blunt and flat, like a butter knife or a popsicle stick, can also work. The idea is to scrape off just a little bit at a time from the surface while trying to avoid gouging the wax or taking out any big chunks. These can be harder to work with, and may also cause what’s left in the container to dry out or become chalky.

The wax tends to be sticky, which means that it can gunk up tools and scrapers. Coating the instrument with a bit of mineral oil before beginning can help make the process smoother and more efficient, and may also reduce how much wax is wasted. People sometimes find that coating their fingers with oil or petroleum jelly makes the wax easier to touch and shape, too, and can prevent it from sticking to the hands during formation.

Finding the Right Temperature

Another important tip concerns getting the wax to the right temperature. For best results it should be pliable and flexible, but not too soft. When it’s first scraped out of its container it tends to be somewhat stiff. The best thing to do is usually to knead the wax gently with the fingertips or palms of the hands to warm it slightly. Ideally it will be soft but still hold its shape. Experts do not recommend microwaving the wax or heating it over the stove, since these methods tend to break down the bonds in the wax which can ruin it.

Forming the Actual “Scar”

The best way to turn the prepared wax into a realistic-looking scar is to take the process one step at a time. People should usually start by shaping the wax into the general shape of the blemish, often by rolling it through their fingers. For instance, if a person wanted to create a long, thin scar, he would roll the wax into a long rope. To create a circular mark like a puncture wound, the wax would first be rolled into a ball and then pressed into disc.

It’s often best to start by smoothing the entire surface of the scar. This gives a neutral starting point and allows all embellishments to be carefully executed and intentional. From there the scar can be refined with small knives or precision tools, adding detail and texture.

Keeping the Wax in Place

Actually affixing the wax to the skin can bring its own set of challenges. Simply sticking things on will sometimes work, but can be impermanent. It’s often a good idea to use some sort of skin-friendly adhesive, like spirit gum. Applying a few drops of this or a similar cosmetic “glue” to the back of the scar will often keep it in place for a few hours at least. As a practical matter, it’s often best to avoid putting scar wax on joints or patches of skin that get a lot of use, since repeated bending and stretching can cause even the best affixed wax to come loose.

Creating a Realistic Look

Simply sticking a wax scar onto the skin isn’t always believable, even if the detail on the wound is precise. In order to get a realistic look, people normally have to spend a little bit of time actually blending the prosthetic into the overall “look” of the skin, often with makeup and other cosmetics. This can be done by scraping the edges down, then covering the seams with a liquid foundation that matches the wearer’s complexion. Covering the finished product in a setting powder can also help things look real.

Actors and others who are looking to create the appearance of serious wounds may also find it helpful to add fake blood to the edges of the scar, or to create the look of bruised skin on or around the affected site. Bruises can be created with eye shadow or other makeup that is colored brown, blue, and purple, and can make the wax scar seem more legitimate.

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Discussion Comments

By donasmrs — On Nov 24, 2012

@simrin-- Scar wax doesn't really dry but I'm guessing you're asking that because you're having trouble applying makeup?

If that's the case, you just need to use a sealer or some powder so that it can be painted. I personally use a liquid sealer after I apply the wax on my skin and blend it in. I start painting after that.

Scar wax is awesome because if you do it right, it looks so natural. The bad part is that it never holds its shape so you have to redo-it each time. That's really annoying, especially when you need it often. I act in plays and it's a pain to do wax scars for my roles.

By burcidi — On Nov 23, 2012

@simrin-- Yea, that's the first problem everyone faces when they start working with scar wax. Rub some petroleum jelly into your hands before you start handling the wax. Work quickly and avoid working in places that are hot. The longer you take and the hotter the environment, the more sticky the wax will be. It will be impossible to shape.

By SteamLouis — On Nov 22, 2012

I can't shape my wax because it keeps sticking to my hands. How can I avoid this?

Also, does anyone have any suggestions for getting scar wax to dry more quickly?

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