Making a Face Cast

For the longest time I've wanted a face cast so I can start making prosthetics that will really fit my face. Hello, all the character makeup possibilities! So when my friends Klaire and Mandy came to visit recently, I put my life in their hands and let them cast my face. 

What you're going to need:

  • Bin bags or clothing/floor protection
  • Cling film/plastic wrap
  • Vaseline
  • Wood glue + paint brush (optional)
  • Sensible friend plz

First we wrapped my head up in cling film, covering my hair and ears. You can glue this down if you'd like but it's not necessary. We also rubbed Vaseline on my lashes and eyebrows to act as a barrier. This way the alginate won't stick to the hairs and pull them out when you remove the cast. 

You want to start by mixing the alginate*. Closely follow the instructions on the packet to make sure you get the correct ratio of powder and water. I recommend putting the alginate powder in the bucket first then adding the water gradually as you mix. Mix with your hand so you can feel and get rid of any lumps and make sure you work quickly as it starts setting pretty fast. Another reason you want to work quickly is because alginate won't stick to itself once it sets and you only have a few minutes to mix it and get it applied to the face. It took a couple of attempts to become familiar with the alginate setting time (as they can vary from brand to brand) which unfortunately ended in wasted product so make sure you have a back up batch just in case! 

Tip: Using cold water will slow down the setting time, using warm water will speed it up. Try to use cold!

Klaire started at the top of the head and left the nose until last, paying close attention around the nostrils. Apologies for stating what might be obvious here but PLEASE DO NOT COVER THE NOSTRILS! But don't panic even if you do, the alginate would be very difficult to breathe in and is very easy to remove if needs be.

Once your alginate has set you need to create a hard casing over the top with plaster bandages* so it will keep the shape when you take it off. Pay extra attention to the nose, adding a few layers there, because this area can easily break afterwards. It's tempting to skip the messy alginate step and cast with the plaster bandages straight away but please do not do this. Plaster generates heat in the setting process and is known to cause thermal burns. So please don't risk it. Alginate also takes a much more detailed impression so it's worth the effort.

Once your plaster bandages have set you can remove the cast. You just need to lean forward and wiggle and scrunch your face to release the mould. It comes off pretty easily.

I filled my mould with a casting plaster*, tapping the edges of the mould and shaking it slightly to release any air bubbles, and after a couple of days I removed the alginate and plaster bandages. The plaster I used was pretty easy to chip so I sealed it with a wood glue so the cast would last longer. I recommend before using the cast, you take an impression of it using the same process used here so you have a back up.

BOOM. Done!

Klaire documented her friend Stuart casting her face if you're interested in watching the process here instead of just reading about it. Stuart does makeup and prosthetics for a living so the video includes some really useful information.