There are three types of body paints that are commonly used for Twi'lek costuming:
water based makeup, alcohol based makeup, and colored liquid latex. There are advantages
and disadvantages to each, and it's up to the costumer to decide what will work best
for them. I use both water and alcohol based makeup. For events that will only last
a few hours, I use water based body paints. For longer events, such as conventions
when I plan to be in costume all day long, I use the alcohol based paint. More and
more often I find myself reaching for alcohol based paints these days, simply because
if I’m going to take the time to paint myself, I want that paint to really stay put!
I do NOT recommend liquid latex.
The easiest thing to do is to paint your headpiece just once... and then paint
yourself to match it every time you wear your Twi'lek costume. Doing so will save
you a lot of time and paint in the long run. If you plan to mix up a custom color
of paint, I highly recommend recording the mix you used so that you can make more
of the same color later on if you need to. I keep two different lekku headpieces
on hand: one that is painted with Ben Nye paint, and one that is painted with Reel
Creations. Yes, the paint stays on the headpieces all the time. It lasts through
dozens of troops with only the occasional need to repaint over dirty or scratched
Brands I have used: Ben Nye, Kryolan, Mehron, Snazaroo
Brand I prefer: Ben Nye Magicolor Liquid
Water based paint is inexpensive, it is found in a wide variety of costume supply
shops, and it is very easy to apply and remove. It is available in cake or liquid
form. (I highly recommend the liquid.) It can be applied with or without an airbrush.
Water based paint is thicker and rubs off over time, especially in areas like the
crook of the elbow and where clothing rubs the skin. You need to carry a small container
of paint with you so that you can duck away for an occasional touchup. (I carry a
small ziplock bag containing a contact lense holder filled with paint and a few q-tips.
It tucks into a pocket on my costume very well.)
Learning how to use body paint was hard at first. It was so hard, in fact, that
I nearly gave up on my very first attempt. I had a very cheap airbrush attached to
a sputtering can of propellant, and I tried mixing cake type paint into a liquid
form. Bad ideas all around! The paint took hours to apply, it made a mess, and it
kept smudging off my skin because it was too thick and tacky. And then to make matters
even worse... that night was the Celebration Party at Celebration 3, and when I began
the ten minute walk to the convention center with my skimpy Twi'lek outfit and poorly-done
paint job, it started to SNOW! I ended up half frozen and covered with spots everywhere
the snowflakes melted on me. Fortunately, I didn't give up that night. Since then
I've worn my Twi'lek costumes dozens more times, and I've gotten the entire makeup
process down to about forty minutes. I've found the right paints to use, I've purchased
a good airbrush and a travel-sized air compressor, and cleanup afterwards is a breeze.
And, most importantly, I've been very happy with the results! The moral of this story:
Twi'lek costumes are challenging, and it does take some practice to get them right...
just don't give up before you find out what you really can do!
Brands I have used: Liquid Latex Fashions, Latex Fantasy
Brand I prefer: NONE!
Liquid latex is fairly inexpensive, is readily found in costume and adult themed
shops, has a very deep and solid color when painted on thick enough, and does not
rub off easily.
Liquid latex smells like ammonia and can cause an allergic reaction in some people.
You must coat your skin with a heavy layer of lotion before you apply the latex,
or it will stick painfully to your skin (and every little hair) as it pulls away.
Instead of washing off, it literally peels away like a coat of paint.... and while
you're wearing it, it will LOOK like you're wearing a shiny plastic coating of paint.
It does not look like natural skin at all. Latex must be powdered, or it will stick
to itself if two painted areas touch, pulling the latex off the skin. If the latex
sticks to the skin or hair, it must be scrubbed with vegetable oil. If the latex
spills, it is very difficult to clean up the stain.
Brands I have used: Reel Creations, Graftobian, OCC Ink
Brand I prefer: Reel Creations
Alcohol based body ink stays on the skin VERY well, and can even be worn two days
in a row with only touchups needed to repair damaged areas. It can be rubbed off
by clothing, but not nearly as easily as water based paints. Alcohol based inks
are also much more tolerant of getting wet.
Body ink is horribly expensive, it is available in fewer locations, the alcohol fumes
tend to burn the eyes and nose while the ink is being applied, and it takes a lot
of work (and remover) to wash it off. It also has a tendency to dry out the skin.
To get an even coating, you must have an airbrush.