WARNING: There are photos of special effects makeup with bruising and fake blood. If you are sensitive to these images, please do not continue. (I feel the need to always put warnings before posts like this.)
We are starting with the basics, of course. The one thing that every starting special effects artist needs is modeling wax. Not all wax is the same, however. You’d think it would be, right? I thought so too. I was completely wrong!
(Quick side more: none of these products are sponsored.)
Today’s battle will be between Mehron’s SynWax and Ben Nye’s Nose and Scar Wax.
I purchased both of mine on Amazon. Both are 8 oz. jars as well. The Mehron cost me around 15 dollars, where as the Ben Nye cost around 25 dollars. Yikes, that’s a bit of a price difference! So let’s see which one came out to be the better buy.
So, let’s dig through this mess that I like to call my sfx makeup bin. I know I need to get something better one day, because as we can see, it’s getting a little crowded in there.
What I usually use when dealing with any type of modeling wax is:
- Any type of rubbing alcohol
- Wax of choice (of course)
- Sculpting tools (bought online or at any craft store)
- Petroleum jelly
- stipple sponge
- optional: paints, fake blood, foundation.
Before even dealing with the wax, make sure the surface of your skin is clean of any makeup, dirt, or oils. I wiped a little rubbing alcohol on my arm, but any makeup remover or toner works just as well.
If you are using metal tools like I do, please be very careful. I managed to give myself a little nick while sculpting on my arm today. I didn’t notice until I applied fake blood later and wondered why it was stinging, because it never stings.
Just looking at wax in the jar, the Mehron appeared much drier than Ben Nye. I have to be truthful, before today, I had never tried Ben Nye N&S Wax. I figured this was one of the best moments to compare the products because it would be completely unbiased.
See those cracks along the very brim of the Mehron? That was like that when I purchased it, and I wasn’t sure if it somehow dried in shipping (I had ordered it in June or July) or if it was supposed to look like this. Has anyone else used SynWax? I’m curious.
Scooping out piece to use on my arm was when I first noticed immediate differences. I always need a little elbow grease when getting enough SynWax out to work with. Ben Nye? It was like butter. That should have been a good thing, but I worried how sticky it was going to be once I was working it in my hands.
With the SynWax, I always have to massage it in my hands for a good 30-60 seconds before I can apply it to my skin and have it be soft enough to work with. (Let me also add that it is pretty darn cold in my house.) The Ben Nye was ready to go and be applied after only 15-20 seconds.
(top: synwax, bottom: ben nye n&s)
What I always did like about the SynWax was that it matches my pasty skin tone. I never have to worry about trying to applying lighter foundation over darker wax. As you can see in the photo on the left, you can barely see where the Mehron brand wax is on my skin.
Now, the part that everyone probably wants to know about: blending. One problem that I ran into with the SynWax is, sometimes when trying to blend (even with a TON of petroleum jelly on my tools) it will suddenly lift and fall off my skin. I just always worked around it, either adding or taking away more wax than originally planned. I thought I’d have this same problem with the Ben Nye wax. I was completely wrong! It blended beautifully. However, since it was so soft, my tools would accidentally indent into the product. Nothing that my finger couldn’t fix- your hands are your best tools, after all! This was also where I managed to scratch myself with the tool, clumsy me.
Another friendly reminder: be careful with those tools.
To take away the petroleum jelly, I use a stipple sponge and carefully dab and wipe to take the shine away. This also adds texture back into the wax to make it look more like skin. Again, the Ben Nye wax is so much softer than Mehron, it required a lot less pressure to get that skin-like texture back into it. I also used a setting powder (any translucent powder from the drug store, or even baby powder works.)
I will say, even with using a foundation that matches me, I still had a little trouble getting the Ben Nye wax to match my skin tone completely. Although, don’t let this worry you. Usually there will be enough paint and fake blood, that it does not need to be perfect.
Up until this point, the pictures haven’t really showed much difference between the two waxes. They blended well, they are manageable and easy to work with, and they both sat on the skin the same way. However, with all the paint, bruising effect, and fake blood, there will be a clear difference between the two products.
YIKES! Look at these edges!
This is a problem I have always run into when using the Mehron wax. I can blend and blend those edges until there is no wax left, and the paint I use (a grease paint) will just cling to those edge. Where as the Ben Nye wax is barely noticeably. I can blend paint from the wax to my skin, and there is no mark to show where the edge is.
Final verdict: Ben Nye is worth the extra price.
You’re probably wondering, though, what I am going to do with my giant jaw of SynWax? It is still usable and good wax. When practicing looks, Mehron wax can be used. Save the more expensive products for when you are ready for that Halloween event or the camera.