Putting on Ears Tips
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Putting on Ears and other Prosthetic Tips

We're just staring to put this together.  More later on all the steps.
  Leah with Elijah Wood's ears applied at Comic Con 2003

Ear Application Index

Applying Ear Tips

Illustrated quick steps, with pictures

Foam Latex Basics

You put them on with spirit gum. The best way is to paint the interior of the ear tips (where they'll touch your skin) and your ear each with a thin coat of spirit gum. Let the spirit gum get tacky then carefully apply the ear tips. (Like contact cement - the ears will stick better with glue on both surfaces.)

Once the ears are stuck down, then get a stipple sponge. This is usually a coarse red or black sponge - not the white makeup sponge - and stipple (dab) a light layer of latex (eyelash adhesive) on the edge of
the ear tips.

Do your heavier stippling at the edge of the piece - lightening it as you move away from the piece. What you're trying to do here is to make the edges of the piece blend into your skin as seamlessly as possible. This is why foam latex prosthetic pieces have such delicate thin edges - so they blend in very, seamlessly to your skin.

Once the latex has set (a hair dryer on cool or air dry helps immensely) then you can put the makeup on. Cinema secrets has a makeup called PAX that works on both prosthetic pieces and your own skin but isn't heavy and oily like rubber mask grease. I'd advise that.

Lastly,  you "set" the makeup with facial powder. Use a makeup brush to brush away the excess powder so that the skin looks natural.

== Fran E.

Sweaty Ears

The regular glue does NOT work. (Not for us, at least.)  We always use "Prosaid" adhesive from Burman Industries.  Apply glue to both sides, let each side dry, then use it as a
contact adhesive.  Sticks all day.  But for the love of Pete, don't forget the remover!!!

--Jill & Michael

Foam Latex Painting

Get some stage makeup, in three or four different colors to match your skin tone. There should be highlights, deep skin tones, and middle. I use the Ben Nye product line, which sells four in one pan (inexpensive!)

Use the same little wands you use for eye shadow to apply the makeup to the ears, avoiding the edges. Apply the darkest color all over, especially in the creases (or where creases would be). Look at your own ear. Apply the mid tone on the all the raised surfaces of the ear. Then, apply the highlights to all the highest parts of the ear (The edge, the very tip.) Blend.

Pull your hair back and secure. Paint your ear with spirit gum. Also paint the interior part of the ear tip, where it will touch your own ear. Extend the spirit gum all the way to the thin edges. Let both dry for three minutes, until tacky. Carefully place your ear tip on and press with your fingers, especially at the edges. Now, following the same painting technique you used to paint the ear, paint your entire ear plus the edges and blend them in. So, you will be starting with the dark shade again and covering the edges and your own ear, and blending in, then the midtones, and finally the highlights.

See Leah's pictures of applying the ears <here>

== Leah J

Heavy edges, rubber tips

Okay, as for the heavy rubbery ear tips and ears - those are a lot harder to stick down and to make look good. The edges are very thick and spirit gum doesn't work too well on them.

Trim them to your ears the best you can. Here's where you'll probably need someone's help to hold the ears onto your own and mark with a makeup pencil where you want to cut the pieces. Try and contour the full ears so that the cut ends fall into a natural crease in your own ear - it makes hiding the edge a whole lot easier. With really sharp, small scissors you may be able to thin down the edges somewhat at least on the edges that will be most visible.

Put a coat of spirit gum on the interior of the ears and on your ears as above. Wait for it to get tacky then apply. Repeat procedure as for foam ears. You may have to put on more than one coat of stippled latex with these thicker ears.

Make sure that each coat is dried before your put on the next one. (Again a hair dryer on cool or air dry works very nicely.)

== Fran E.

Woochie Ears

These are a brand by Cinema Secrets.  You can order directly from them or get them in may party and Halloween stores.

Ears are now packaged as elf ears.  The old packaging is small space ears.  Same mold, different packaging.


I've used the fuller Woochie ears before. These are pressed latex. These can also be cut down to just the very tips.  Leave more in the back so they can be glued firmly in place still.

Use Duo adhesive.

== Fran E.

To glue with Duo or Sprit Gum, and techniques

If your ear tips are the soft foam then the Duo adhesive should work to adhere them. Just make sure that you've cleaned the surface of your ear so that it's not greasy or oily (no makeup on it either.) Fit the ear tips to your own ears and trim them before you try to glue them on. Put the Duo on the inside of the ear tips and stick them onto your own ears - hold them there until the Duo dries, which may take awhile. A hair dryer set on low or warm will help immensely. 

Once they're dry then stipple Duo on the edges of the tips to blend them into your skin. Wait until they dry again before messing around with them. It would probably be best to try to do a trial run on the application before the date that you're going to need them. You'll see if the Duo works and how long it will take you.

For a trial run don't stipple the edge of the tips. They'll be much harder to get off otherwise and you don't want to destroy them. (Also try to avoid using any kind of oily and solvent based cleaners on the ear tips when and/or if you do a trial run.)

If the ear tips are the hard rubbery kind - Duo won't really work - you'll have to get spirit gum instead.


Spirit gum techniques are basically the same.   Make sure to let the gum get a bit tacky before actually applying.


If Duo is watery. Is it kind of brownish or yellowish and clear with some streaks of white in it? If so, it's old and has separated. Fresh Duo should be an opaque white and about the consistency of thin cream.

== Fran E.

Makeup over the ears

You can use normal foundation on latex ears but you need to put something called a sealer on the ear pieces first. (Cinema Secrets would carry this.)

Unless you use professional makeup designed for latex pieces or "seal" the pieces they will "burn" through the makeup. That is, they will appear noticeably lighter than the surrounding made up areas.

 RMG or Rubber Mask Grease is hideously greasy - get Cinema Secret's PAX makeup instead. It's designed to be used on both your skin and the latex pieces but is not so very oily.

Castor Sealer

Someone asked what Castor Sealer was and what it was used for. Foam and latex ears "burn" through the makeup. That is, they appear noticeably lighter than the made up skin around them. A no no if you're trying to look as natural as possible. You put the Castor Sealer on the ears before you put them on your own ears. You let it dry then when you put makeup on the ears they won't "burn" through.

Making our own Rubber Mask Grease Paint

If you're poor and can't afford, or find, Castor Sealer - then make your own Rubber Mask Grease. Get whatever theatrical makeup you can. Ben Nye, William Tuttle, Factor, etc. Put some of the makeup on a hard surface like a clean, old, plate and add a couple of drops of Castor Oil. Then using an artist's spatula or a knife start working the Castor oil into the makeup. You keep mixing and pressing and mixing and spreading and mixing. Anyway you get the idea - it'll take awhile but you'll end up with a makeup that will go down over the ears, and any latex you use to blend the edges, without "burning" through. You'll have to powder your ears very, very heavily though - because the Rubber Mask Grease will be very, very oily. And do be careful of your costume.

 == Fran E.


If using spirit gum, make sure to get spirit gum remover to get the adhesive off.

Someone else wisely suggested using Vaseline intensive care lotion. I'd also recommend baby oil or mineral oil. Rub the oil or lotion in and then rub the ear very gently to get the dried adhesive off. Odds are that you will pull off the fine hairs on your skin. Once you've got the adhesive off then gently clean the skin with a mild cleanser or soap. The skin should probably breath for awhile then you could put something like aloe vera on it. I wouldn't use any heavy oils or perfumey moisturizers myself.

Even if you're tired, do not just yank the ears off and go to sleep.  Take time to clean you skin off that night! 

Some folks on the list have found out the hard way what happens if they don't.  They wake-up with a rash or oozy ears.

== Fran E. and Cat

Cleaning the appliance after use

For your own skin, Vaseline will take off the spirit gum and the liquid latex, but regular cold cream is better - and better on your skin. Albolene is also really good. These products will remove 90% of the adhesive products out there. Don't know about the Caster sealer, she never heard of it.

When you use the ears & ear tips that you really need to clean the makeup off the prosthetics and then wash off the cold cream and pat them dry. If you don't do this, the makeup and the cold cream will both start to destroy the latex and you won't have your ears around looking as nice as they did. Just make it part of the removing process!

== Judy

Latex is hard to get off of latex.  We mostly use foam latex now. 

To remove makeup from your prosthetic, use a good quality adhesive/makeup remover like Ben Nye's "Bond-Off," or Burman industries' "Detachall"  (sp?)  Rub them gently with a cotton ball soaked with the remover, and then clean them up with a little soap and water.   Gently dry them and be sure to powder them lightly before storing them.

--Jill & Michael

Warnings on ear tip tricks

Please DO NOT use anything on your skin that is NOT intended for use on the skin. IE - Super Glue, Glue sticks, and Nail polish remover. (Acetone, for your information, is skin absorptive) Which means that it
will pass into your bloodstream without there being a cut or break in the skin. This is NOT something you want to be using near your brain.

As for the putting tiny rubber bands on your ears to shape them.  This is a VERY BAD  idea. Above and beyond the pain - someone with low blood pressure or a compromised vascular system could permanently damage the nerves in their ears or even worse - so damage the blood vessels that they got an infection in their ears. That is NOT something that
you want even to risk.

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This page was last updated 04/22/08