All right, you whippersnappers, Great Aunt Polly here to teach you about gray.
But Great Aunt Polly, we know about gray. We’ve been graying since 2009.
Shut up or you don’t get any ginger snaps when I’m done talking. I’m here to teach you about GRAY SAFETY. The thing about cosplay is that a lot of methods that come up are things that work, but can permanently damage you, your friends, your costumes, and your reputation. But I’m first going to address damaging you.
(Please note that I’m using USA standards for labeling and safety warnings, since that’s the only thing I’m familiar with. The general advice should apply everywhere, but labels might be more or less specific depending on where you are. Research is your friend)
One of the methods I’ve seen for graying up is mixing acrylic paint with lotion and using that on your body.
NO NO NO NO NO.
A lot of acrylic paints have heavy metals in them. They’re usred to make the right colors. There’s no consistent way in the USA to tell if it does. There’s the AP certification, but I’ve seen the highest safety label on cadmium yellow with real cadmium. Cadmium is a heavy metal, and you don’t want heavy metals in your body.
Story time, children. Almost a year ago, I got lithium poisoning because of some meds I was on. It was a solid two weeks of vomiting and dizziness. I missed two weeks of work. I missed two weeks of class and had to drop my favorite class because I couldn’t catch up. It sucked. My lithium toxicity was still below the range considered toxic.
Lithium poisoning is one of the less shitty heavy metal poisoning.
Your body can absorb heavy metals through your skin.
Do not put acrylic paint on your skin. Heavy metals stay in your body for a long time, sometimes years. They can build up over years.
A lot of people ask if PAX makeup (acrylic paint and pros-aid adhesive) is still okay. I don’t recommend it. Show me one referenced source or scientific study that shows that Pros-Aid neutralizes heavy metals and I’ll change my view. But I don’t believe that PAX with acrylic paint is any safer than lotion mixed with acrylic paint. It may actually be more danger since it is so much harder to remove from your skin.
So I just need to get actual body paint? Party City sells tubes for $1. That’s not too hard!
Hold up again, children. I’m going to put this in bold italic capitals because if you only get one thing out of this write up, it should be this:
DO NOT EVER USE ANY MAKEUP THAT TELLS YOU TO ONLY USE IT LESS THAN (4, 6, whatever) HOURS.
This is really important. Using acrylic paint and lotion naturally feels like it’s a little less than safe, and you’re instinctively going to want to be cautious. Actual body paint, you think, is going to be safer.
Well, that warning’s there for a reason. If they put that label on it, it’s because it needs to come off your skin before the bad ingredients reach toxic levels in your body.
I learned this the hard way. My friend cosplayed as a Weeping Angel once and we got our makeup from the party store. It said it was good for six hours, but apparently she was sensitive to an ingredient. Four hours in, she was unable to walk without help because she was so dizzy, and then threw up for almost a solid half hour in the convention bathroom.
It is impossible to know if you are this sensitive without trying it on, and even if you aren’t sensitive, the chemicals will still build up in your system; your body just isn’t trying to get rid of them.
Great-Aunt Polly, I’m not made of money, damn it. I need to gray on the cheap. You just ruled out the cheapest two paint methods.
Watch your language, kid. First of all, I didn’t rule them out. The makeups ruled themselves out by being dangerous to your body. Let’s say it one time together, Homestuck is not worth bodily harm.
Homestuck is not worth bodily harm.
Good job. Everyone have a cookie.
So, what’s a good option?
Well, the following paint brands are safe and all offer paint I’d say is safe on your face:
Ben Nye (Cream Liners) Mehron (Paradise AQ, Starblend) Snazaroo (All of it) Krylon (aquacolor, color cups) Graftioban (I’ve used their RMG because I got it for prosthetics, but I trust all of their greasepaint)
These all take a lot of paint to cover a body. Paradise AQ’s big $11 thing has covered me for two fullbody paintings and that’s it. I’ve heard you need two or three Ben Nye creamliners to cover a body. This is a lot of money for an unemployed old lady with no kids to take care of her.
You definitely need face-safe makeup for your face. Your skin is thinnest on your eyelids and so you’re going to want to stop anything nasty from getting into your body fast. Just because your body paint is body-safe doesn’t mean it should go on your face for hours at a time.
So you’ve got that, right?
Now you need some water-based cream makeup. I use Mehron Fantasy FX (I like Mehron). You need a tube of gray and a tube of white to get the right color. This comes out to $7. Order a tube of sealer too (this is not optional any time you wear body paint. Seriously. Not optional)
Then I picked up some lotion. I use Body Series Hand and Body lotion SPF 8, but you’re not going to be able to find that in a store. Just pick up any lotion that you like and isn’t super fancy. While you’re out getting lotion, grab some aerosol spray-on sunscreen, some baby powder, and some Monistat chafing relief powder gel. The powder gel’s got the exact same ingredients as Smashbox Primer Potion and doesn’t cost a shitload. You’re also not going to be using it on your eyelids. If there’s empty squeezey bottles, get one too. 3 oz or bigger’s best.
The exact proportions of white to gray are going to depend on your particular face paint that you’re matching. Here’s what I do (to match a 50-50 white and Storm Cloud ParadiseAQ mix):
Squirt a little bit of lotion in the bottle to stop the makeup from getting stuck on the edges. Close the lid and shake the crap out of it till it’s on all of the inside surfaces. Then put the entire 1oz tube of white into the bottle. Shake to mix it up. Then add the gray, little by little, until it looks like the right shade. Mix it up after you add even bit. I add edamame-sized blobs at first and then decrease the dosage as it gets closer to the color.
Put some face paint on your arm so that you can compare the colors.
Put some powder gel on your arm. Let it dry and then put a tiny bit of the face paint over that. Let it dry.
The color should get lighter when it dries, because the lotion’s white when wet but clear when it dries. Add more gray and keep testing until it’s the right color.
To cover yourself in paint:
Primer (powder gel) everywhere the paint’s going
Put the paint on a sponge and sponge the areas with a smushing motion, not a smearing one. A little paint goes a long way.
LET IT DRY ALL THE WAY. Put a second goat on the areas that need it.
Put baby powder on it, let it cook for a minute, then brush it all off with a fluffy
Spray a light coat of sealer. You really only need one on most areas that aren’t going to be touched a lot because
Spray sunscreen over all of it. (it seals it a bit more, and prevents premature aging and sunburn! Your skin’s going to get more heat absorbing if you make your skin darker)
The other way to save money on body paint is to use less body paint. Make yourself some troll arm tights so you can skip painting your arms (and you should never paint your hands anyway or you’ll get gray everyfuckingwhere and that’s not okay, kiddos.), and while you’re buying gray tights for your arms, get some for your legs. Then, if you’re cosplaying Feferi (who I think has the most skin showing. That or a godtier page) you’d just need to paint your chest and back, neck, and face. Saves you a lot of paint and a lot of money.
So, kiddos, to sum it up
Heavy metal poisoning is bad. You can’t know (in the USA) if paint has them or not.
do not put acrylic paint on your skin
do not put acrylic paint on your skin
Do NOT put acrylic paint on your skin
(Don’t even CONSIDER oil paint)
Buy good quality paint. It’ll look better and keep you safer.
Prime and seal.
The gray can’t rub off if the gray’s made of tights and not paint
Don’t get gray on anyone’s clothes.
Thanks for listening, children. Everyone have another ginger snap.